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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sabudana Khichadi - Tapioca Pilaf

This is a dish made on special occasions in Maharashtra. It is made as a special breakfast item and is generally regarded as a delicacy. It is often made on auspicious days when people fast and are allowed to eat limited ingredients. Personally, this is a dish I associate with special celebrations, holidays and spending time with family. This is a rich, festive dish and is generally cooked in ghee (clarified butter), with a lot of peanuts. It doesn't have too many ingredients, but is absolutely flavorful. I don't make it too often, and whenever I do, it is a special treat. I hope you enjoy this treat as much as we do.

1 cup sabudana/tapioca pearls
water, just enough to cover the sabudana
1/4-1/2 cup roastepeanuts, ground coarsely into a powder
green chillies, split lengthwise - to taste
salt to taste
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
1 medium potato, boiled and diced

Soak the tapioca for a few hours. Do not add a lot of water. You need just enough to cover all the tapoica pearls. You need to soak it till the tapioca is completely softened and this generally take from about 2 to 5 hours. You can even soak it overnight. Then drain the water and keep aside.

To this tapioca, add the ground nut powder, the salt and sugar and mix them so that the tapioca gets lightly coated with these ingredients. This helps in even dispersion of all the ingredients and you don't get any unseasoned bites. Also, add a little salt to the boiled potato pieces and mix to ensure even seasoning.

In a broad pan, heat the ghee and add the cumin to it. Once, the cumin starts to change color (do not let it burn), add the chillies and the potatoes. Cook the potatoes for a couple of minutes till they get a nice fried look. Since you are using boiled potato pieces, you will not need to cook it for a long time (see tips on usage of raw potato). Then add the seasoned tapioca and groundnut mixture and stir fry. As tapioca cooks through, it becomes transparent. You will know it is cooked when all of it has turned transparent. Turn off the heat. Over cooking it will make it dry. Serve with a slice of lemon or with some yoghurt/dahi.

Do not skimp on the ghee or oil, else the end result will be sticky. Roast the raw shelled peanuts lightly till you can get the roasted smell and they start to darken a little. Then let them cool and grind till you get a coarse powder. Do not grind it for too long, else they will release the oil. To make this a lighter dish, substitute the ghee with olive oil. If you like the potatoes to have a bite, substitute the boiled potato with raw sliced potato. Follow the recipe and fry the potatoes till they are cooked through and then add the remaining ingredients. To prevent raw potato slices from oxidizing and turning dark, cut and put these slices in a bowl of water.


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