Sabudana or tapioca pearls cooked with sweet potatoes and cashews is a popular vegan and gluten-free dish that is consumed in Gujarati households, especially during fasts. Growing up, I remember having Sabudana Khichdi every Saturdays as my father used to fast each week. It kind of became a staple in the house we looked forward to. In many Indian households, it’s even considered somewhat of a comfort food. Sabudana khichdi is very popular especially during Hindu festivals when many people fast and this is their one meal of the day they are allowed.
WHAT IS SABUDANA?
Sabudana or tapioca pearls are derived from the starch of tapioca roots. The starch is dried once extracted and created into little pearls. There is very little nutrient density in them as they are nearly pure carbs and have no protein or nutrients in them. Because people most often eat these on fasting days, sabudana are ideal for them as they provide the energy needed to make it through the day.
Over the years, the trickiest part for me as far as making Sabudana khichdi has been making sure they are not sticky and clumped together. I recently learned the most amazing trick from my cousin Vaishali which helps each pearl cook through without becoming gummy and a lump in the process.
Before you make sabudana khichdi, you have to soak them for at least 4 hours, if not overnight. In this process of soaking lies the trick of producing the best khichdi. Rinse your pearls very well so that all of the excess starch powder has cleaned off. Once you have thoroughly rinsed your pearls, place them in a wide and flat dish. I’ve even used a skillet which works just as well. Fill this with water until it is just covering the pearls. Cover and let soak for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain any excess water before you start cooking. That’s it. That’s the trick that has forever changed the game for me.
ADDITION OF SWEET POTATOES AND NUTS
Traditionally, sabudana khichdi is made with potatoes and roasted, ground peanuts. I chose to change this up a little by switching out the potatoes with sweet potatoes. This is especially good for your body if you are fasting as the sweet potatoes provide more fiber and give you a sense of feeling full longer.
As to the cashews instead of the peanuts, we have a peanut allergy in the house so I have not used peanuts in my house in years. I roast the cashews then set them aside while I cook the sabudana khichdi. If you have noticed, I do keep my cashews whole. I tried to crush them as I would have the peanuts but they don’t taste as good so I choose to keep them whole. Feel free to replace the cashews with peanuts if you prefer.