Whenever we have a fasting day coming up, the most commonly used ingredient is Sabudana or Sago pearls. In India, it is manufactured from extract of cassava i.e. tapioca-root, and popularly known as Tapioca Sago - Sabudana (Hindi:साबुदाना; Marathi:साबुदाणा; Kannada:ಸಬ್ಬಕ್ಕಿ; Gujarati:સાબુદાણા; Tamil:ஜவ்வரிசி and Telugu:సగ్గు బియ్యం). Once we have zeroed down on sago, the next thing to do will be to decide what to make out of it.
Sabudana Khichdi, Vada, Kheer, Bonda, Halwa...the list of things that can be made from tapioca is endless. If you like a low calorie dish, you would generally make khichdi out of it. And on days when you wish to splurge on calories, the choice is bonda or vadas. As a kid I used to enjoy the sabudana vadas with my grandmother on all fasting days. My grandparents used to keep the fast and the entire family would feast!! Sabudana vadas, Samo Khichdi, Potato sabji, Kadhi and something sweet to end the meal. Fasting days called for a celebration every time.
Now, as a part of a Jain family, and far away from home I miss all the feasting fasts I have enjoyed. The concept of fasting in Jains is pretty different from the concept I have seen for years. So now the sabudana khichdi is made as a casual dinner and sabudana vadas have become a tea time snack. Also, gone are the days when we used to enjoy fried snacks. Slowly but surely we have moved our choices to using alternate methods for fried snacks.
In this continuous effort to use alternate cooking techniques to frying, the ebelskiver pan or appam stand is a solution that comes handy all the time. From making bondas to to paniyarams, this pan uses just quarter tsp of oil and the result is generally better than the fried version of the same dish. Using this pan, I decided to make the Sabudana Vadas and they came out so crisp and well cooked. We enjoyed lots of these vadas for dinner with spicy cilantro mint chutney and yogurt. Here is how you can make it too.
Tapioca pearls 1 cup
Potato 1 medium
Roasted Peanuts 1/2 cup
Ginger, Green Chili paste 3-4 tbsp
Black Pepper Powder
Salt, Sugar, Lime Juice
Soak tapioca in 1/2 cup water for a couple of hours. After that, separate out the pearls in a plate. Let them dry for about half an hour. Pressure cook the potato with a pinch of salt. Once cooked, let them cool and and peel them. Grind 1/2 cup of roasted peanuts. If you have unroasted peanuts, roast them on a pan till they are light brown. Completely cool the roasted peanuts and crush them to a coarse fine powder. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl mash the boiled potatoes. To the mashed potato add ginger chili paste, roasted cumin powder, black pepper powder, salt, sugar and lime juice. Mix everything well and then add the tapioca pearls. Taste and adjust any condiment as deemed necessary. Using a potato masher, mash the mixture well. The mixture will be a little dry at first but once the potato releases its moisture, the mixture will become moist. Now, using your palms, mix everything well. Add the roasted peanut powder and cilantro.
Now it is time to use your hands to do all the remaining work. Using some oil to grease your palms, make lemon sized balls of the sabudana potato mixture and flatten them a little. Keep the vadas in a plate and cover them to avoid them from drying.
In an aebleskiver pan, add 1/4 tsp of oil in the cavities and heat. Once hot, add the sabudana vadas in the cavities and cook them on one side. Once the side browns, turn them over and brown the other side. The entire process can take anywhere between 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the pan and the size of the vadas.
Serve hot with green cilantro mint chutney and yogurt. If you are not fasting, you can serve them with garlic chutney or ketchup. This tea time snack can be best enjoyed with a cup of hot Masala Chai.