Friday, April 29, 2011

Sabudana/tapioca khichdi

So, we got back from our trip to India a few days ago. We had the most wonderful time, such as can only be had in the company of family and old friends. It was way too short and after our return, I couldn't get used to the fact that it was only the three of us at home. I kept thinking there must be more people! The quietness here takes some getting used to, after the hustle and bustle that is India! Anyway, we have all recovered from jet lag and all that and are feeling quite refreshed.
I ate so many yummy things on this India trip that I have a long list of dishes to talk/blog about. We flew Emirates and I opted for the "Pure Vegetarian/Vegan" meal and was very happy with their selection. For lunch/dinner, it was usually pasta dishes, a green salad and fruit for dessert. And they even had chocolate cake once for dessert! And it was quite good. For breakfast, they had pancakes, I think. All in all, I really enjoyed their vegan meals. More about the foods that I ate in India later.
The recipe I have today for you is one of my all-time favorites, I learnt it from my mom. It is made from tapioca or sabudana (Hindi) or javvarisi (Tamil), which looks like small white pearls. My mom spent her childhood in Maharashtra (Pune), which is where this khichdi has its origins. This dish is so tasty and filling that I am sure it will become a staple in your house too. The preparation may seem a little involved at first, but if you do some of it in advance, it comes together in minutes. So give it a shot.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of tapioca
2-3 cups of water to soak the tapioca
2-3 small potatoes, boiled
1/4 cup peanuts
2 tsbp oil
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin/jeera
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
small buch of cilantro for garnish, chopped

Soak the tapioca in water for 3-4 hours, preferably overnight. While its not necessary to soak overnight, the tapioca is much softer this way. Once soaked, squeeze out all the excess water. This step is critical and if all the excess water is not removed, the khichdi tends to become a sticky, sticky mess. Don't let my warning scare you though, just make sure all the water is gone and you're as good as gold. Now, roast the peanuts in a non-stick pan on a medium flame, until they start to brown. Remove from flame and let them cool. Once they've cooled, place them in a food processor and pulse briefly until you have very small pieces. Alternatively, you could place the peanuts in a zipper bag and pound using a rolling pin. Next, chop the boiled potatoes into bite-size pieces. Then, prep the green chillies by chopping them very finely. Now, place a non-stick pan on medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the jeera, turmeric and green chillies. Stir this for a minute and add the chopped potatoes, stir briefly to coat with the oil and spices, and then add the tapioca and salt. Give it all a good stir. Cover with a lid, reduce the flame to medium-low and let it cook for 5-10 minutes, until all the flavors have mingled. Don't worry if the tapioca sticks a bit to the pot, it will be okay once it cools down slightly. After 5-10 mi., check to see if the tapioca is nice and soft and then add the peanuts and cilantro. Stir it all in, turn the flame off and let it sit for 5-10 min. Your sabudana khichdi is ready!! Fair warning, this dish makes you quite thirsty, so make sure you follow it with plenty of water.

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