Sabudana Khichdi/Tapioca Pilaf

I wonder whether learning about the culinary world would have come easy if I was not blogging about food. Every other day, I read about a different cooking technique to experiment, a different type of cuisine to try or come across surprising news like asparagus could be eaten raw (I didn’t know that!)

Just the other day, I learned that Sabudana (Tapioca Pearl) and Sago are different species and are often confused or mentioned as the same product. Tapioca Pearl, commonly known as Sabudana or Sabu in India, is a starch extracted from cassava (Manihot esculenta) and Sago is a starch extracted from Metroxylon sagu. Two completely different plants!

While Sago needs to be soaked for a few hours before you cook, Sabudana doesn’t require as much soaking. Just rinsing Sabudana with water a couple of times adds moisture and helps it to fluff up in size, there by keeping it dry and non-sticky.

Both Sago and Sabudana looks very similar and can be used as a substitute for each other. It comes it different shapes from small, medium to large.

Arvind loves Sabudana Khichdi any time of the year! After couple of attempts, I finally could make it just the way he likes it.

Although khichdi mostly refers to a one-pot meal made with rice and lentils, this dish doesn’t have either of the two. Comforting in it’s own way, Sabudana Khichdi is a stir fried dish, cooked with vegetables, flavored with spices, curry leaves and is very light on the tummy.

The tricky part is to cook the tapioca pearls fluffy and not mushy. As soon as the pearls are dropped in the hot pan, it’s important to quickly stir them and within the next 5 minutes, it will be cooked through. Preferably, use a non-stick pan, as they tend to stick very easily.

The crunchy bite from the peanuts, the aroma from the herbs and the comforting soft pearls makes this meal perfect for the season. Dried fruits, nuts or shredded coconut could also be used!

Sabudana Khichdi/Tapioca Pilaf

Serving Size: 2

Sabudana  Khichdi/Tapioca Pilaf


  • 1 cup sabudana/tapioca pearls
  • 1/4 cup whole peanuts, with or without skin
  • 1/2 cup peas, frozen or fresh
  • 1 medium potato, cut in tiny bite size
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • handful of fresh curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida/hing
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • handful of fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped for garnish
  • juice of half lemon
  • salt
  • oil


  • Rinse the pearls in water a couple of times, spread it on a plate and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
  • After 5 minutes, rinse it once again and let it rest in the plate for 5 more minutes.
  • In a non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil and fry the peanuts for a couple of minutes. Take it out and keep it aside to be used later.
  • In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and drop the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, green chilies, curry leaves and let it sizzle to release the flavor.
  • Drop the chopped onion, season with salt and let it cook until it's translucent.
  • Add grated ginger, potato and continue cooking until the potatoes are almost cooked through.
  • Add the rest of the spices (chili powder, cumin powder) and continue cooking for a couple more minutes.
  • Drop the sabudana/tapioca pearls and quickly stir it to mix everything together.
  • Season with salt and cover the pan for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the fried peanuts and give it one more mix.
  • Squeeze in the lemon juice, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve it warm.


It's important for the sabudana/tapioca pearls to look fluffy and almost transparent before you start cooking with them. Most Indian stores sell Sabudana and what I used didn't require long hours of soaking. I rinsed it twice and they increased in size within 5 minutes.

At times, the package may say Sabudana but it actually might be Sago and that definitely requires more soaking. I would suggest you try with a little quantity of the pearls before you start preparing the dish.

comments on this post are currently closed.

You know Kankana I love sabudana chichi but I get so freaked out about them becoming sticky n glue like…
I am now going to try this again, may be I don’t stir them thats why they kind of get mushy…
Beautiful and such comforting recipe, Kankana. And awesome pics…

Kankana says:

yeah the trick is to rinse it if you are using Sabudana. I had the same problem and now it’s not only easy but quick too! 🙂

Khichdi*, God I hate when auto spell check comes up with crazy words…LOL

Simply awesome photos my friend, I’m so in love! And the dish looks mouthwatering, I want to try it now!!

Rosa says:

An amazing way of using tapioca! I’ve only had it in desserts…

This pilaf looks absolutely beautiful! Lovely flavors.



Kankana, these look so delicious!! I recently ate a version which is mostly had during fasting.. Will try your recipe the next time i am making sabudana.
Your photos are excellent as usual !:)

Nisha says:

Lovely, colorful pictures. Sabudana Khichdi looks good!
I actually thought tapioca & sago was the same thing. Hmm.
And it increased in size in 5 minutes!? Oh man, I have to soak mine overnight or generally a minimum of 4-5 hours! I must try to find better pearls next time.

Kankana says:

In India, I think it was Sagu cause I too had to soak it for at least 5 hrs if not overnight. But out here, at least the ones I used puffed up in 10 minutes 🙂

Ambika says:

Wow!! Beautiful pics!! I love sabudana khichdi. Your version sounds a little different from mine, would love to try this 🙂

Soma says:

I do love this much! but never make it… don’t know why. There are certain things that never get done around here 🙁 Lovely photos Kankana and I love that cute kadai.

Shruti says:

never tasted sabudana khichdi. will try this out .. i make poha the same way. i love sabudana in kheer…

Kankana, You must have read my mind:) We are skipping meat this week for Earth Week and I am looking for yummy veggie dishes. This one looks great and I am fascinated by your discussion of tapioca. SO much to learn!

tapioca has never looked so good! Love it and I love how incredibly delicious and flavorful you make veggie dishes to be! You are truly talented

Spandana says:

I only make kheer or payasam with sabudana, never tried a savory dish.
Sabudana and Sago are indeed very confusing!!! I wish I could tell them apart just by seeing them!
Beautiful pics, his looks absolutely yummy!

Kankana says:

My mom makes only payasam with sabudana. I learnt this from Arvind 🙂 I think it’s more of a North Indian dish.

Sayantani says:

amio saradin khete pari eta…ki bhalo baniecho.

tigerfish says:

There is so much creativity in this pilaf! I just love it.

delicious looking colourful pilaf

Radhika says:

Breathtaking pics K. It is my fav too

Kala says:

Beautiful presentation in these photos, Kankana.

San says:

Good to see the differences between sago and sabudana kankana. Kichidi is yummylicious.

Amrita says:

This took me back to my childhood when I remember eating something similar. I think what I used to eat was made with Poha though. What a great way to bring back memories. I miss home so much after reading this post and ogling at your pictures. Lovely post, Kankana!

Tes says:

Though I am not used to with tapioca peal as savoury but this looks so delish 🙂

hemalata says:

Delicious looking kichidi n love the presentation.

My anytime comfort the crunch of peanuts and the pearly sabudana in every bite! What gorgeous pictures, Kankana…

Eha says:

Looks interesting and moreish enough to go to the top of the ‘try’ list! Thanks Kankana 🙂 !

I have never cooked a savory dish with tapioca, this khichdi looks delish and love the pic with the curry leaves!

myfudo says:

Truly a unique dish! I’d love to try this out sometime…Thanks for sharing.

Maureen says:

I couldn’t agree with you more! I have learned more about food from other food bloggers/writers than I had in the past 30 years. I’m always finding new foods or new ways to cook or new combinations. Like your dish for instance! Looks great.

i had no idea that sago & sabudana were different! thanks for that piece of info.. the khichdi looks wonderful… it also happens to be my husband’s fav 😀

Kana, gorgeous gorgeous recipe! I’ve never ever cooked Sabudana in my whole life. Yes, mom would make payasam out of it and I, hated it!

I’ve got to try this..Too easy to not to!

BTW, the first pic is neat!

Tiffany says:

I’ve only had tapioca sweet… I love your savory version!

This looks absolutely wonderful! I make sabu with lots of potatoes,tomatoes & your version with whole lot of things.Will try whenever I ll make next time. My husband dosent care for it 🙁 ..been ages I made it.

i recently bought some tapioca pearls but have no idea which types they are. I have to look carefully on the bag (hopefully I’ll find the answer).
Lovely photos as usual Kankana

sreelu says:

Kankana i just had my dinner and looking at the pics make me hungry and crave for some saboo dana pilaf again. lovely pics

This looks so delicious. I’ve never thought of using tapioca for pilaf! Your photos are my inspiration, Kankana!

One of my personal favorite one pot meal….drool worthy pics….

You have opened my eyes to an entirely new way of using tapioca. How ingenius! I’ve only ever had it in sweet dishes. So excited to try this.

Joanne says:

i’ve never seen tapioca used in a savory dish before but this sounds so delicious! I’m excited to try it.

Hi Kankana – I had the same thought as well. Food is such a basic (yet so crucial) part of our lives that we often take it for granted. But when we start paying attention, we realise there is so much knowledge to gain from it. This is a creative dish. Never seen tapioca served in this way since we usually use it in desserts. It looks wonderful with all the spices. I can imagine the flavors and am certainly curious to try.

Anzz says:

Lovely one pot meal. Never tried this before. Very tempting indeed..!

Charles says:

Hi Kankana – you know I don’t think I ever cooked with tapioca before… it’s not something you see that often, but it looks lovely. In the shot of the tapioca in the spoon… looks so clean and white. You’re inspiring me to get out and buy some so I can cook up some delicious meals – thanks for sharing this!

What a gorgeous dish and an unusual way to use tapioca. I’ve never cooked with tapioca before, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever eaten it either.

Reeni says:

I didn’t know these could be used in savory dishes! I’ve only ever seen them in sweet recipes. And I too thought they were one and the same. This looks wonderful! I would love to taste it – I’m curious.

It had never occurred to me that it was possible to make a savory dish with tapioca. It looks delicious!

This is my all time favourite snack and my daughter loves it in her tiffin. Your shots look beautiful and yummy.

The tapioca pearls remind me of Israeli couscous. I’d love to try this. Sounds delicious with the nuts, herbs, and chiles!

Namitha says:

It has been a while since I had this. I have a packet of sabudana lying in my pantry :)Love how you have captured the fried curry leaves

Ameena says:

I’ve never heard of this before! What a fantastic alternative to rice…it looks delicious my friend.

Hope you have a great weekend!

This is absolutely delightful! I have some tapioca pearls in my pantry that I have been meaning to get to, will have to try this 🙂

Yup, we learn every day something new..see I didn’t know about asparagus either until few weeks ago LOL! Your dish is soooo yummy! I could eat that in a heartbeat! Great post, Kankana, and amazing photos!!!

Asmita says:

Your sabudana khichdi reminds me of my mom. It looks incredible! Now I am craving this so badly.