I was 8 years old the first time I tasted this dish. That was roughly 17 years ago (give or take about 6 months). And yet, every morsel as I eat this dish today, takes me back to school when my best friend’s stainless steel tiffin-box opened up, and in it were little yellow pearls with specks of green and chunks of brown. Curious about something that looked so interestingly pretty, I asked for a bite. As best friends do, she willingly obliged. There was no turning back since then. Precocious as I was as a child, I promptly demanded that my mother make it for me, asap. Obligingly, she gave into my demands (mostly because I was an extremely picker eater back then and me asking for a particular dish was reason for celebration).
Ah, those simple days of instant gratification…
And so, I welcome you to partake in the small joys of my childhood.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup sabudana (sago or tapioca pearls)
1/2 cup drinking water
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
3 – 4 tbsp oil
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped
1 medium potato, boiled and chopped
2 – 3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1/2 inch ginger, crushed and chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 medium sized green chilly, chopped (chillies are sneaky, so add in the chopped chilly only as much as you can handle. Tolerance for spicy heat brings in no cookies, in my kitchen)
juice of 1/2 a lime (substitute with 1 tbsp lemon, if limes aren’t available, or 1tsp of vinegar)
3 – 4 leafy stalks of coriander, chopped finely
salt to taste
1. Rinse the sabudana about two to three times with regular tap water discarding the excess starch. When the water turns more or less clear, you will know when to stop.
2. Soak the sabudana in the stainless steel bowl with drinking water for an hour or until all the water has been soaked up and the pearls double in size. Cook the potato in the pressure cooker for 4 – 5 whistles.
3. Meanwhile, get all your chopping done and dusted. If you have time to spare, go ahead and wash that chopping board and knife.
4. Heat the oil in your kadhai (wok) on a medium flame (or medium heat if you’re using an induction stove).
5. Once the oil is hot, add in the onions and saute until translucent.
6. Add in the ginger, garlic, green chillies and potato and fry until all the potato is coated with the oil.
7. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder and coriander powder, and fry well until the masala comes together.
8. Add in the sabudana and mix well until all the pearls are coated with the masala. Add in the roasted peanuts and fry until the pearls turn translucent. If the mixture becomes too sticky, drizzle in a little oil and fry on high heat.
9. Add salt to taste ( I use about 1 tsp), squeeze in the lime juice and add the chopped coriander. Turn the heat off and mix well. Check for seasoning and you’re ready to serve!
Sabudana or sago cooks very fast because of it being soaked. If you’re pressed for time, heat the water before soaking the pearls in it to speed up cooking time.
If you don’t want this to be too heavy a meal, ditch the potatoes and increase the quantity of nuts. Feel free to experiment with other vegetables, like frozen peas or diced carrots.
Allergic to nuts? Opt in for roasted seeds from the melon family. This includes watermelon, cucumber, musk melon and even pumpkin seeds.