GUJARATI SABUDANA NA VADA
WHAT IS SABUDANA?
Sabudana is essentially tapioca pearls or sago that is famous in India, but also famous all over Asia as well. You will see it popular amongst Indians as a fasting food, usually eaten during the Mahashivratri and Navratri festivals. Sabu literally means soap and dana means seeds. They look like white pearls, are chewy in texture when soaked for the right time, in the right amount of water and cooked well. They get sticky and mushy in texture like soap when soaked in more water than recommended.
Asians typically use sago pearls to make a cold tapioca pudding, which I love! They usually make it with tropical flavors and it tastes really delicious!
Mom made sabudana na vada quite often as an appetizer, when we had guests over, or simply as an after school snack, or a Sunday light dinner, many a times. We typically ate it with ketchup, or cilantro chutney, along with pipping hot masala chai. What makes it gujarati is the addition of sugar and lemon to the vadas, to give it that sweet and sour taste, which is typical of Gujarati cooking. I mean we are known to add sugar to any and every savory dish out there!
SABUDANA NA VADA INGREDIENTS:
The typical ingredients in sabudana na vada are as follows:
Sago pearl or tapioca or sabudana : These are soaked in hot water for about 2 to 4 hours, when the sago pearls soak in all the water and plump up nicely to get that typical chewy texture that we are looking for in the vadas.
Boiled potatoes: Boiled potatoes are typical in the vadas. I like them mushy, but if you prefer your potatoes slightly meaty, you can keep them half mushy and half tiny pieces. You require it to be slightly mushy so that you can bind the vadas.
Coarsely to almost finely ground roasted peanuts: Again for the roasted peanuts, some folks prefer coarsely chopped peanuts to get a bite out of the peanuts. But I like an almost ground mixture, as it distributes throughout the vada mixture.
Green chillies and ginger: Aadu/Marcha or ginger and green chillies is a vital part of the Gujarati food, and is seen in all savory dishes. We cannot live without aadu/marcha combination. So both are added to the vadas to give it that fresh spicy taste.
Lemon Juice: Lemon juice is required to give it that characteristic sour taste that goes perfectly with the peanuts, and the green chillies in the vadas.
Cilantro: Cilantro is a must to provide a fresh herby taste to the vadas.
Sugar and Salt: In the Gujarati culture, salt does not exist without sugar. They balance each other and help to bind all the flavors together. So a bit of sugar is required to round up the overall taste of the vadas.
ARE THE VADAS HEALTHY?
Sabundana na vadas, although they are gluten free and vegan, are full of starch and carbohydrates. They do not really have much nutritional value, but because of its high carb content, are known to be good to provide energy during the fasting period.
It does contain peanuts which provides the protein content.
Vadas are typically deep fried in hot oil. I shallow fry them on both the sides and that works out well for me. That is how my mom made them as well. She would then drain them on a paper towel to drain off the excess oil, which helped them to be slightly better than deep frying the vadas.
TIPS TO HELP MAKE THE BEST VADAS:
- Soak the tapioca pearls for atleast 2 to 4 hours in hot water. Hot water helps to make the pearls softer, faster.
- Boil, cool and peel the potatoes while the tapioca pearls are soaking. This is all part of the preparation for the vadas.
- The vadas do not take time to assemble. It is a matter of putting the ingredients all in a bowl, mixing and moulding the vadas.
- The vadas are usually deep fried, but I shallow fry them and they taste just as delicious! With less oil used in the process.
- Shallow fry them on medium to high heat so as to have an even browning on the vadas.
- Vadas can be stored in an aluminum foil for upto a week. Put them in a toaster oven to crisp them up again before serving.
Hope this recipe and tips inspires you to make these amazing vadas. We love them, especially my kids and a little planning can help to whip these up pretty quickly once the tapioca pearls are soaked and potatoes are boiled.
If you do make this recipe, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram, and/or leave a comment on this blog post!