Pearl Sago Fritters
Makes 12-14 fritters
Sabudana or pearl sago, is produced from tapioca, a starch extracted from the cassava plant. It is also called tapioca and sold as flour or as pearls. The type of sago used in the Konkan is white and smaller than the tapioca used in Japan and parts of South East Asia.
Sabudana khichdi, a stir-fry of sorts and sabudana cutlets SABUDANA WADÉ
are consumed by Hindus during religious fasts when garlic, onions, cereals and grains are not permitted. These vegan, gluten-free fritters are soft and crunchy, salty, sweet and nourishing. I like to serve them as appetizers-they just fly off the plate!
i always make them during Passover, the Jewish holiday when the observant abstain from grains or leavening agents. They make an excellent starchy side dish.
I prefer to steam or bake my potatoes rather than boil them in water, because they absorb less liquid. The key to a crisp wadi is a dry dough. Flatten the cutlets if you prefer a crisper cutlet.
250 gms pearl sago or sabudana
500 gms medium-sized potatoes, boiled, peeled, mashed
200 gms coarsely crushed, unsalted, roasted peanuts
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves (optional)
8 fresh green curry leaves , chopped (optional)
1½ tsp whole cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida powder
3-4 Indian green chillies, 1”- 1½” long, very finely chopped or to taste
2 tsp salt or fasting rock salt if you prefer (to taste)
Unflavored vegetable oil for deep-frying
Put the sago into an oversized bowl. Pour water at room temperature over the sago and then drain immediately. Return the sago to the bowl.
Pour fresh water at room temperature into the bowl again, to barely cover the sago.
Cover the bowl and set aside for 2 hours. The sago will absorb most of the water, puff up slightly and soften. But it must not be mushy. If the sago feels hard, toss it in a little more water and wait 15 minutes.
Drain completely. Pat down lightly with paper towels to remove all traces of liquid.
Heatone tablespoon oil in a small skillet or tempering spoon. Add the cumin seeds, torn curry leaves and asafetida. Saute 30 seconds. Switch off flame. Cool.
Put the sago into a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients including the potato, tempered spices and their oil.
Mix gently with your hands without mashing the sago seeds.
Form the mix into 12-14, balls, 2” round. Flatten each ball slightly to form a flying saucer shaped cake or patty. The centre should not be too thick or the insides will not cook. Place them on a large plate and cover with a clean, slightly dry cloth.
Pour 2.5” of vegetable oil into a kadhai or small wok on high heat. When hot, test the oil by dropping in a vadi. If it sizzles and rises to the surface immediately, the oil is ready. Fry till golden, drain and taste for seasoning. Add more salt if required. Fry, drain and serve immediately. This can also be accompanied by a potato, peanut and yogurt sauce or a regular green chutney.