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This is a traditional Indian recipe for Navratri and it is made with soaked sabudana, also known as tapioca pearls. It is stirred together in tempered spices and served with more roasted peanuts on the side. A filling snack or meal that can be made in little time.
I must start by addressing what is Navratri. In Sanskrit Navratri means nine nights. It is an Indian Hindu festival that lasts for the duration of nine nights which is celebrated in the season of autumn held in honor of the divine feminine. It is an occasion that has a diverse set of festivities all across India. Some people use it as a time for reflection and fasting while other use it for dancing and feasting. Offerings of value are mad to the Goddess for good fortune. It often ends with Dusshera – another festival that we won’t get into now. However Navratri depends on the lunar calendar and hence might be celebrated for eight nights as well, depending on the calendar. There are many festivals that might have the same name but Sharad Navratri is the most significant – which begins on the same day as the Durga Puja.
During this time there are a lot of specific dishes that are made to celebrate and break the fast (for those who are fasting), this Sabudana Khichdi has to be one of them. The first time I ate this Khichdi was during Navratri, when our neighbor shared a large plate with us. I was so amazed at the sabudana aka tapioca pearls. How they were soft but not mushy, the flavor was spicy, sweet, salty and sour all in a bite. The pieces of potato had this earthy flavor to it even though they were so tiny I could taste them as well.
The first time I tried making this recipe, it was a disaster. I soaked the Sabudana too long and it crumbled into a powder which made no sense. The second time I tried making this recipe I over cooked the potatoes and they turned into a mash instead of staying pieces the third time I tried making the recipe it was a success but I couldn’t find the large sabudana so I used the teeny tiny ones which didn’t go with the recipe well. However, once I got everything right there was no going back. We make this at home every 10 days as it is great for breakfast, as a snack or even paired with some veggies for a meal.
So let us talk about some pressure points so that you don’t have to make the recipe many times to get it right, I want you to achieve the perfect Sabudana Khichdi in the first go itself.
- Use the large Sabudana. They might be called tapioca pearls, it is fine. If you can’t get your hands on the large Sabudana, don’t make this recipe until you get it.
- Soaking the Sabudana – For 1 cup Sabudana I used 1 cup of water to soak it. However this will depend on the type of container you use to soak the Sabudana. Ensure the water is just covering the top. You might need to add more as time passes. I soak the Sabudana for at least 3 hours before making the Khichdi. You know the Sabudana is ready when you mash it between your fingers and it isn’t grainy or hard. In which time I get everything else ready and go relax.
- Boiling potatoes – I like to boil the potatoes unpeeled, whole with a little turmeric and salt. Once you can poke a knife through the potato without struggling turn off the heat and strain the water out. Pour cold water into the pot and peel the potatoes. Let them cool a bit before dicing up into cubes.
- Peanuts – I like to roast my peanuts and then grind them in the blended by pulsing. You can use a mortar and pestle or even a knife. I have put the nuts in a bag and bashed it with the rolling pin as well. But they need to be crushed and not chopped. I do like it rustic tho.
- Ghee – You can use oil here but a little goes a long way and it adds a healthy amount of flavor to the dish as well. Be patient to temper the cumin seeds well. Once you can smell it only then you add everything else as the recipe calls for.
- Ginger – Now you can chop the ginger but I don’t like the taste of ginger chunks in my mouth in this recipe hence I grate it into the pan directly so the juice and minced ginger paste all falls into the pan. More flavor.
- Cooking – the major cooking here is the tempering. Tempering of your spices, aromatics, potato and the coconut. Once the Sabudana has been added to the pan, we stir it around to combine all the flavors and to heat it which should take 1-2 mins tops. DO NOT GET TEMPTED TO COOK THIS LONGER! It will become a jellied mess that is not pleasant to look at or eat.
Once the Sabudana Khichdi is ready you can garnish with fresh coriander leaves and more peanuts. It is best served warm. My mum likes to have it with yogurt and pickle. It is delicious on its own, I promise you. It stores well in the fridge for 2 days but when you want to eat it, I would recommend heating it ever so lightly in the microwave for 30 seconds at least before serving.
It doesn’t take time to cook but it takes time to soak so this great to make during the week since you don’t need to do anything for those 3 hours while it soaks. Now that we have understood how to make this Khichdi let us get to the recipe. Happy Cooking Ninjas!
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- Sauté pan
- 1 cup Sabudana
- 1 cup Water + more if needed
- 2 medium Potatoes boiled, peeled, diced
- 1/2 cup Roasted peanuts crushed
- 8 Curry leaves
- 2 tsp Ginger paste
- 1/2 Green chili
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup Fresh coconut grated
- 1/2 tsp Coconut sugar
- 1 tsp Lime juice
- 1/4 tsp Pepper powder
- 3 tsp Ghee
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 3 tsp Coriander leaves
- Soak the Sabudana in 1 cup water for 2-3 hours until soft. You might need to add more water if it is completely soaked. You should be able to mash it between your fingers and it shouldn't be grainy.
- Drain the Sabudana once soaked and set aside.
- In a pan on medium heat add the ghee and let it get hot. Add the cumin and temper until you can smell the spice.
- Add the ginger paste, curry leaves and green chili. Stir and cook for a min.
- Add the boiled, peeled and diced potatoes into the pan and let it cook for 1-2 mins. Gently stir around without breaking them.
- Add the peanuts and stir again for about 15 seconds.
- Add the coconut and stir for 10 seconds.
- Add the strained Sabudana into the pan, season with salt, pepper, sugar and lime juice. Stir for 1-2 mins.
- Take off the heat and add the coriander.
- Serve while it is hot.
- Add more chili based on your palate and spice level.
- Check the write up above on my tips on boiling the potatoes.
- I like to grate my ginger into the pan to get the juice and the paste into my Khichdi.
- You can use any sugar you have, but the sweetness is important to balance the other flavors.
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