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  Age on Sunday   26 Aug 2018  Sago for the soul

Sago for the soul

Published : Aug 26, 2018, 6:40 am IST
Updated : Aug 26, 2018, 6:40 am IST

A must-have ingredient in any Indian kitchen, sabudana or sago nourishes the soul as well as the stomach.

Indian medicine relies on sago and rice to cool the system, counteracting the heat produced by many spicy foods.
 Indian medicine relies on sago and rice to cool the system, counteracting the heat produced by many spicy foods.

Visit any Indian vegetarian restaurant during this month and you will be greeted with an additional menu titled ‘Fasting Items’.

During the holy months of July, August and September, Sago or sabudana is in high demand as devout Hindus eat no meat or fish and rely on certain foods during their weekly fasts. Sago or sabudana is one of the most prominent items in this list of unique fasting foods along with peanuts, yoghurt and root veggies.

Although we here of sabudana vadas and kheer all the time, only few know of its origin.

Sago comes from the sap of a tree that thrives in hot, dry climates like ours. Just like with the rubber tree, farmers cut grooves in the trunk of the sago palm at intervals to allow the sap to ooze out.

This gooey liquid is strained through a sieve and collected in the form of small droplets and subsequently allowed to harden into balls. The size of the balls depends on the size of the holes in the sieve used.

Health benefits of sago
Indian medicine relies on sago and rice to cool the system, counteracting the heat produced by many spicy foods. A thin sago gruel is given to those who complain of excess bile due to body heat and it yields great results.

Sabudana is made from the roots of tapioca which is known for its resistant starch and is loaded with calcium, iron, potassium and vitamin K. These minerals are good for healthy bones and recommended for children in their formative years

“Sabudana is also very soothing for the stomach and is a cure for bloating, indigestion and flatulence. Sago khichdi or kheer is also used to arrest an upset stomach.  Since it lacks fibre, it is recommended in cases where there is a need to reduce irritation in the gut such as ulcers and other intestinal damages. Sabudana is also prescribed for lactating women to increase the breast milk production” says  Dr. Manoj Kutteri, Wellness Director at Atmantan Wellness Centre, Mulshi, Pune.

Cooking with sago
Experts recommend washing the sago and leaving it to soften. Once it is malleable it can be mashed or squeezed with the fingers and used to prepare both sweet and savoury items.

“The second way is to boil sago. It takes approximately an hour to cook but we keep it in hot water for few more hours to make it  completely transparent.” Suggests Chef Ashish Bhasin, Executive Chef, The Leela Ambience Gurugram Hotel and Residences, Gurgaon.

Basic preparation of sago

100 gm uncooked sago
600 ml cups water
Optional (½ cup granulated white sugar)

Put sago in fine sieve and wash under running water.
Boil water and add sago and cover it.
Cook on medium heat with occasional stirring.
If you are making sweet sago then add sugar after 30 mins.
Cook for another 30 mins approx, turn of the gas and leave sago covered in the hot liquid only till it gets to room temperature.

Some common ways in which it is prepared include mixing it up to form a dough with potatoes to make vadas that are shallow fried adding depth and texture. And of course the bubble wrap-like sago pappadums are big hit with any meal.

Pumpkin Chettinad and sago croquette

250 gm red pumpkin
150 gm tomatoes  
100 gm onion  
20 gm garlic  
30 gm tamarind pulp
Salt as per taste
50 gm sambar masala  
15 curry leaves
5 gm mustard seeds  
10 gm split urad dal  
5 gm fenugreek seeds  
2 gm asafoetida (hing)
50 ml oil

Cut pumpkin roughly.
Heat oil and add the mustard seeds, urad dal and fenugreek seeds.
Once mustard seeds start crackling, add curry leaves.
Add asafoetida and chopped onions, sliced garlic, once its cooked add finely chopped tomatoes.
Once tomatoes are completely cooked, add pumpkin.  
Stir for a while and then add sambhar masala and season it with salt.
Add the tamarind extract and very little water.  Cover the pot and cook on medium flame till pumpkin is cooked. (ensure you add water just enough to cook and achieve a dry preparation).
Crush the preparation keep aside.


For outer sabudana crust
75 gm sabudana n  250 gmpotatoes boiled
Salt as per taste
5 gm chilli powder
5 gm chopped coriander leaves  
4 gm chopped green chillies

Put sago in fine sieve and wash under running water.
Soak sabudana for an hour in room temperature water.
Drain and mix with mashed potatoes, salt, chilli, coriander and  green chillies.

Stuff the pumpkin mixture in sabudana mixture.
Shape it like a croquette.
Deep fry in hot oil.
Serve it hot and crispy.

Sago and corn pudding with tender coconut meat

50 gm sago
250 ml water
50 gm sugar
5ml pandan extract
100 gm sweet corn kernels
50 gm tender coconut meat
100 ml coconut milk
A pinch of salt


Put water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Wash sago in running water and then add to boiling water, stir in between to avoid lump formation
Cook for 15 mins and then add sugar, pandan extract and salt.
Let simmer with occasional stirring. Add corn kernels and gently stir together.
Once cooked, cover and let it come to room temperature.
Mix tender coconut meat.
Serve with coconut milk.
You can serve with palm sugar syrup also (optional).

Sabudana subz seekh
n 100 gm sago
n 50 ml oil
n 2 gm cumin seeds
n 50 gm finely chopped onion
n 10 gm ginger-garlic paste
2 gm green chili finely chopped
30 gm gram flour
85 gm carrot grated
100 gm peas
20 gm coriander leaves
15 gm mint leaves
50 gm cashews chopped
175 gm potato boiled and mashed
5 gm red chilli powder
5 gm turmeric
5 gm coriander powder
3 gm cumin powder
3 gm garam masala powder
Salt to taste
5 gm back pepper crushed
7 ml lemon juice
30 gm corn flour (for binding)
Pinch of chaat masala


Put sago in fine sieve and wash under running water and soak it for an hour in room temperature water.
Heat oil and sauté jeera. Add onions, ginger-garlic paste and green chilli.
Add vegetables and cook.
Add besan till the mixture become dry.
Add coriander leaves, mint leaves and chopped cashews. Blend them coarse.
Add mashed potatoes, cornflour, powdered spices and mix. Add lemon juice.
Insert into skewer and give shape.
Crust the kebab with soaked sago roast the kebabs.
Sprinkle chaat masala and serve hot.

Tags: sago, sabudana vadas