Monday, December 3, 2007

Fasting & Feasting: Sabudana Khichiri | Sago Kedgeree

In India, feasting very often follows fasting. It is customary to observe fasts on numerous days throughout the year. Indeed, people fast on particular days of a week, month, and year to please and honour particular Gods and Goddesses, to give thanks for blessings received, or to pray for that their wishes be granted.

A fast usually begins at dawn and broken at dusk. During this time those undertaking the fast tend to partake of only water, fruits, nuts and milk. Yet, the entire day is often filled with the joy and camaraderie that accompanies a shared kitchen. Family members regardless of age come together to prepare for the feast that inevitably accompanies the successful completion of a fast. Some feasts are humble and traditional meals where only certain categories of foods permitted on fasts are prepared. And others are grand meals where the host's largess is shared with friends and neighbours.

Sabudana Khichiri or Sago Kedgeree is a traditional dish that is most commonly prepared to end a fast with. This simple yet delicious dish is viewed as a complete meal and oftentimes as the ultimate treat at the end of a day characterized by abstinence from carbohydrates and salt. I developed a taste for Sabudana Khichiri early in life and though it was prepared in several different ways by my Mum and my Grandmum, I choose to make it the traditional way.

Sago itself is tricky to cook. A little over soaking, a little overcooking and it has a tendency to dissolve into a gelatinous, gluey, and sadly inedible mass. My experience with sago has seen all these phases, and after numerous misses (considerably more) and hits, I have this recipe down to a T! Trial and error are a great methodology, yet in the end I have come to believe that it turns out best whenever I trust my instinct.

2 cups sago
3/4 cup raw peanuts
2 medium sized potatoes
6-8 curry leaves
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp oil
2 green chillies
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 level tsp red chilli powder
Salt to taste

  1. Clean the sago, and soak it in cold water overnight in a deep bowl. The water should cover all the sago in the bowl and should be at least 1 inch over the level of the dry sago. In the morning the sago should be plump and soft. If you see any excess water, drain it completely. Alternatively if the sago is still hard, sprinkle with more water and let sit for a few minutes longer.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan.
  3. When oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and curry leafs. Stir them till they begin to pop.
  4. Chop the green chillies; peel and cube the potatoes. Stir them into the seasoning in the pan. Cover the pan and and cook for 10 minutes or until tender.
  5. Coarsely grind the raw peanuts.
  6. Mix the ground peanuts, red chilli powder, and salt into the soaked sago.
  7. Turn this mixture into the frying pan.
  8. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then remove the cover, add 1 tbsp oil and cook another 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir occasionally. The sago will acquire a translucent appearance once it is fully cooked.
  9. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. Serve with freshly set yogurt.

My husband adores Sabudana Khichiri, and so I do make it with a comforting regularity every so often and usually during the Navratras. But it will always remain for me a childhood memory where this simple fare would become the feast after the fast. And as I am new to the world of Food Blogging, I am dedicating this entry to all you fabulous food bloggers out there who have inspired me to create my own food blog. As a part of this dedication I am sending this recipe out as an entry to Meeta's Monthly Mingle - Traditional Feasts, 3 December 2007.

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  1. I loved your recipe...c'se I'm a sabudana kichdi fan. Thanks for putting this in such a simple way.

    keep writing!

    Annarasa fan.

  2. What an interesting and unique way of making kichdi. Nice one!


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