SABUDANA VADA – साबूदाना वड़ा (Tapioca Pearl Fritters)

Beginning Thursday, we are ushering in the Hindu festival of Navratra or Navratri which entails nine days of fasting and cleansing – both body and mind.

Sabudana vada is a popular dish consumed during the nine fasting days of Navratri. They are fritters made using similar ingredients that are used for making Sabudana Khichdi which are primarily sago pearls/ tapioca pearls, boiled potatoes, green chillies, peanuts. These are mixed with a few spices and a couple of other ingredients, flattened into disc shape and then deep fried or shallow fried, whichever you prefer. If you are averse to the idea of having deep fried vada, you can shape them in balls and make them in appam pans or aebleskiver pan. Check this post.

And why just Navratri, these fritters are great to have on their own for snacking. They are delicious – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and served with chutney (Coconut Chutney or Green Chutney) though I find it tastes really nice with the good old ketchup/ tomato sauce. (Those fasting can swap the garlic or onion with ginger for making the chutney.) They are great enjoyed on a rainy day or on a cold winter day with your favourite cuppa! Do try these addictive fritters but do keep in mind some of the tips and tricks I have shared towards the end of the post.

1 C Sabudana (Sago Pearls / Tapioca Pearls)

¾ C Water (for soaking)

350 gm boiled Potatoes

½ C – 2/3 C Peanuts / Groundnuts

1 tsp Jeera (Cumin Seeds)

2½ tsp finely chopped Ginger

1 tbsp finely chopped Green Chilies (amount depends on the heat of chillies)

½ C finely chopped fresh Coriander

Salt to taste (Sendha Namak for those observing Navratri)

Oil for deep frying

Wash the sabudana in plenty of water and then discard the water. Keep repeating this process till the water runs clear.

Transfer the sabudana in a wide bowl or dish and soak it in three fourth cup of water. My sabudana was soft and plump after three and a half hours of soaking. And sometimes it takes even less time!

(There is no standardised soaking time for sabudana. Soaking time is dependent on the quality of sabudana and it is possible that every fresh batch that you buy from the market may vary. Therefore, you need to work out how much soaking time the sabudana requires, to plump up and soften. Some may require six hours while other might need to be soaked overnight)

To check whether the sabudana has softened or not, simply press a sabudana pearl between your forefinger and thumb. It should flatten easily with pressure.

Transfer the sabudana over a fine mesh sieve/ colander to get rid of any excess water. Keep it over a pot to catch any drips. Let it sit for at least half an hour. Then transfer and spread it over a plate to get rid of extra moisture.

Peel and grate the potatoes, just as we did for making potato cutlet. It yields better texture. Set aside.

Roast the peanuts on low medium heat till the skin begins to crackle and starts to char. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Rub the peanuts between your hands to get rid of the skin. Crush the peanuts to a coarse powder using mortar and pestle. You can also grind it by pulsing it in a grinder but mortar and pestle does a better job here. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, add the sabudana, potatoes, peanuts, jeera, ginger, green chillies, salt and fresh coriander. Mix everything well ensuring not to squish the sabudana pearls. Ensure that the mixture is neither loose nor sticky. If the mixture is loose i.e. if it is not binding, you probably need to add some more potato. If it is sticky, add some rice flour. (Those fasting can use singhade ka atta i.e. water chestnut flour)

Place a frying pan or kadahi over medium heat. While the oil is heating, start shaping the mixture. Divide the dough into 20 or 24 equal portions and shape them in balls and then gently flatten them to make the vada.

Drop a small portion of the mixture into the oil to check if it is at the right temperature or not. If it floats to the top, the oil is ready for the vadas and if it sinks the oil is still not hot enough.

Once the oil is hot, gently slip-in the vada one at a time, no more than four to five, and let them fry undisturbed for a minute or so. Gently flip and cook the other side. Fry till both the sides are golden brown in colour. Remove on an absorbent sheet or kitchen roll. Serve with the chutney of your choice and some piping hot chai or coffee. Enjoy!

Makes – 20 to 24 (depending on size)

Note – We prefer more peanuts in our sabudana vada hence I use two third cup but if you prefer less amount, half cup would suffice.

Note – Do not over hydrate the sabudana. It will lead to mushy sabudana and a wet mixture for vada.

Note – If you drain the sabudana well and your potatoes and not over boiled, you won’t need to add any flour to the mixture.

Note – The vadas need to be fried on medium heat. Low heat will make them soggy as they will absorb oil and high heat will make them cooked on the outside but leave them raw inside.

Note – The vada are meant to be served hot and served immediately.

Thank you for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe! 

6 thoughts on “SABUDANA VADA – साबूदाना वड़ा (Tapioca Pearl Fritters)

    1. Thank you so much John! I am sure you will enjoy these 🙂

      It seems there is some issue with your blog. I have tried visiting several times but I always get the message ‘this site can’t be reached’.

  1. Another very unique dish – for me anyway. I love fritters but have NEVER heard of or seen this type of fritter. Have seen Tapioca Pearls at the grocers, but have never bought. Now I am not only curious, but inspired. A delicious looking fritter.

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