Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Sabudana Khichdi (Tapioca & Potatoes)

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Khichdi is usually made from rice and dal (lentils) and is commonly considered an easy-to-cook comfort food, but it can also be made from sabudana (tapioca) in much the same way as making sabudana kheer, except the khichdi is salty instead of sweet. It is made mostly during fasts or during the navaratri season by the devout as it contains no onions or garlic.
Sabudana is a starchy substance and comes in tiny thin or thick pellets, sometimes called pearls. Because it is high in carbohydrates (86 grams of carbs in each 100 gm), sabudana is used to provide an energy-boost in dishes.
Just as the rice version, this khichdi is quick and easy to make and is great nourishment for those people who are recovering from a sickness. This served just like regular khichdi, when someone suffers from stomach problems as it is easily digestible and it is made for the elderly or as a first solid food for babies.
Although this is a rather bland, starchy dish, it can be perked up with some black pepper and olive oil. It becomes tastier with some achaar (pickles), especially nimbu (lemon) and some yogurt. However, for those wanting to experiment, sabudana khichdi can it can be easily added onto with other ingredients and made into a comforting snack food.

1 cup sabudana (sago or tapioca)
4 cups pani (water)
2 medium aaloo (potatoes – white, thin skinned, chopped)
1 tbspn olive oil
Spices: namak (salt), mirch (pepper) – to your taste

1. Pour the sabudana in a bowl full of water, cover and let it soak overnight so that it swells up.

2. Pour the 4 cups of water in a saucepan or small pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Throw in the potatoes and the spices and bring to a second boil.

3. Pour the sabudana through a strainer to drain the water, then pour it into the  boiling water. Add the oil and stir.

4. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and let the khichdi sit with the cover on.

5. Sprinkle the top of the khichdi with black pepper and serve while still hot. This dish tastes good with nimbu ka achaar (lemon pickle) and some plain yogurt.



After cooking desi food, there is often a lingering smell of the prepared dishes which can be hard to get rid of, especially if you are expecting company.

There is an easy and cheap way to eliminate this odor. Simply pour  3 cups of water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil then add two tablespoons of rose water. Turn the heat to low and let the mixture simmer uncovered. In a short while, the food odors will disappear and the delicate smell of roses will fill the air. If you prefer other types of natural smells (like jasmine or vanilla), you can experiment with these too, but vary the quantity added to the water.

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Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.