101 gluten free breakfasts : sabudana khichdi or a pilaf made with sago pearls : fasting recipe

Sabudana khichdi is a popular snack, breakfast dish and one pot fasting meal for some Indian festivals. Many of us believe the fasting foods are the tastiest even though they are made with restricted ingredients, although we all know it is not the meager ingredients that make the food tasteful it is the way the ingredients are cooked and seasoned that matters most in this regard. And sabudana or sago pearls is one ingredient that is tasteless. odourless and sticky when cooked. Not an easy ingredient too cook if you are a new experimental cook but responds well if you know it well.

No I am not scaring you from cooking sago pearls, sabudana or tapioca pearls. But it will be good to know that once soaked in water they cook evenly and become soft and gelatinous. While making this sabudana khichdi we need to soak them well to get the best texture and to coat them with a seeds or nut powder so they don't stick together and get clumped. Read on the recipe to know better, not too complex I promise.

Sabudana is also accused of being a high calorie food but it is not the whole truth. The calories are almost as much as buckwheat, rice, barley or wheat by weight but sago pearls (or Tapioca) doesn't have any other nutrients than starch and almost no fiber. But the good thing is that the Glycemic index of Tapioca is 85, a little lower than potatoes, cooked rice etc. So not such a bad food choice if the serving size is moderate and there is enough inclusion of proteins, good fats and some greens in the same dish. It helps that it is a gluten free ingredient too and can be used to make an energy packed gluten free meal. 

This recipe of sabudana khichdi uses peanut (roasted) powder traditionally, but after a talk with a friend who is allergic to peanuts and wanted sabudana khichdi for herself, I told her to use seeds and nuts instead. She reported that she loved the khichdi and then I was tempted to cook it for myself too. I would say I liked it better than the peanut version as I like sesame and flax powder more for the rich flavours and keep using them to make chutneys and pestos too. You can use any seeds and nuts of your choice.

(2 breakfast servings)
sago pearls 75 gm (soaked overnight, the volume becomes more than double)
one medium potato about 80-100 gm
sesame seeds 1 tbsp (30 gm)
flax seeds 1 tbsp (30 gm)
chopped almonds 5-6
chopped coriander greens 1 cup
ghee 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
chopped/minced ginger 1/2 tsp
chopped green chilly 1/2 tsp
salt and pepper powder to taste (use pink salt if fasting)
lime juice to taste


Soak the sago pearls overnight in about 120 ml of water. The sago looks dry and swollen after the soaking, fluff up the pearls and proceed for the next steps. It looks like the left picture in the collage below.

Powder the sesame and flax seeds together and mix with the soaked sago along with half of the salt required (just enough for sago) and pepper. It looks like the right side picture after mixing the seeds powder.

Wash and chop the potato in very small cubes. Keep the peels on if possible.

Heat the ghee in a pan and tip in the cumin seeds and wait till they crackle. Add the chopped ginger and green chillies followed by the potatoes. Add half of the salt, just enough for the potatoes and fry on low flame till the potatoes start turning pinkish brown. It takes about 5-8 minutes.

Now add the sago and seed powder mix and give it a good stir. Cook covered for a couple of minutes and stir again. Add the chopped coriander greens and stir to cook more for a couple more minutes. The sago pearls start looking translucent and that is a sign of getting cooked.

Adjust seasoning and add lime juice too. Serve hot with chopped almonds over it.

This is one of the most satiating foods you would eat. The taste and texture of the sago pearls transforms in this particular recipe and that is the reason why it is popular all over India not only for fasting meals but for occasional snacking and breakfast too.

This recipe is enough for breakfast for two and I must tell you that I had it for a late breakfast with a nice buttermilk and felt full till the evening when I had a plate of papaya and black grapes.

Some friends were concerned about the calories when I shared this picture on my facebook page so I calculated the calorie count as well. The total calorie count for one serving will be around 350 calories even if you are a bit generous with the chopped almonds. Great for a breakfast in my opinion for a normal active person.

Sabudana khichdi is not a such calorie dense food. You can include a few slices of raw cucumber and tomatoes if you want a bigger meal with almost the same amount of calories. Knowing portion sizes is a key to eat right sometimes. And now that you know about sabudana khichdi you wont be scared to enjoy it occasionally.


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