Sago Pearls or as we call them in India, Sabudana are tiny hardened Tapioca pearls, usually found in the lentils section of the supermarket, or the specialty foods section too. In India authentic Sabudana Khichdi is made with potatoes and peanuts and is actually eaten during fasting days. This is a delicious, versatile meal and works out perfectly as a lunchbox idea. Most folks have it for breakfast and it's quite light on the tummy.
For those of you with sugar and diabetic health issues, the first thing the doctor is going to advice is stay away from all white goods- white rice, white flour, white potatoes, white sugar and so on. At our home, we were already off white flour and white sugar. But the rice and potato staple food bit was a challenge for me. We have managed to make do with red rice or wild rice that's easily available in the supermarket, but how about potatoes? Sure we can skip deep fried potatoes and chips, but then there are a 100 other ways that I use this humble spud in cooking.
Since I thrive on such challenges, I quickly thought about what would really entice my kids. Here's my healthy version of 'Sabudana Kichdi', it's can be made nut free too, but if you aren't really allergic to peanuts, please go ahead, it's an important ingredient of the authentic version. My kids love my new version and so does hubby, it's more like an anytime meal for us. Sometimes, when I make this fresh, it gets eaten straight from the pan, and I'm left with empty lunchboxes that I need to fill for the next day's requirements! The best part is this is an entirely gluten and grain free and a vegan meal that says winner all the way!
2 cups Sabudana/Sago pearls (soak this overnight or for a minimum of 5 hours)
2 tbsps sesame or peanut oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3-4 fresh curry leaves
2 green chillies finely chopped (optional)
1 medium sized carrot peeled and cubed (around 1 cup)
1 cup fresh/ frozen green peas
1/2 cup fresh/ frozen corn
Himalayan Salt to taste
1 tablespoon Lemon juice or to taste
a handful finely chopped cilantro (garnish)
½ cup roughly crushed roasted peanuts (opt out if you are allergic)
The first and most important step is to soak the sago overnight in plenty of water, and I mean a lot of water. This gets the pearls to triple in size and soften up a bit too. Drain this before the cooking process. If you have fresh green peas and corn, it's best to lightly blanch this and if you have frozen corn/ peas, just wash them well before you get them on the hob.
Heat the oil in a wok or a deep pan on high and crackle the mustard seeds. Now toss in the curry leaves and green chillies and give this a stir, roughly for a minute. In goes the carrots, green peas and corn, add your required amount of salt, start with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt for the veggies. Give this a good stir and cover with a lid on medium heat. In five minutes or so, the carrots would have softened up a bit, now is when you add the pre-soaked sago pearls. Once this goes in, you have to be very careful to stir it around, as it can turn out to be a soggy squashed up mess. So take care, make the heat low and keep stirring this around. You can add more salt for the sago now, at your discretion. In 7-10 minutes you will notice a colour change in the sago, it will lose it's whiteness. It should be done by now, soft and chewy is the texture we are looking for.
Never overcook your sago, or else it becomes hard. Sprinkle the crushed roasted peanuts on top and cover this, with the flame off. After five minutes, open the lid, add in the lemon juice and the chopped cilantro and this is ready to be eaten hot.