Sabudana Khichdi (Tapioca Pilaf)

sabudana khichdi 4

Tiny sago pearls/tapioca pearls cooked with a very few ingredients to make a fluffy pilaf! Sabudana Khichdi is one of the most popular fasting dishes during Navratri festival season. It’s quick, gluten free and takes very minimal effort to bring it together.

What is Sabudana Khichdi

It is a famous North Indian dish that is prepared all year round for a quick light lunch or snack. It is a lot commonly prepared during Navratri.

I like it with a cup of tea or coffee. The tricky part of Sabudana Khichdi is to keep it fluffy and non-sticky. Please watch the video to understand it better and follow all the tips that I have mentioned below.

Key tips to make Sabudana Khichdi fluffy:

  • Once you soak the sabudana and it puffs up, make sure to layer it on a big plate or tray to remove any excess moisture in it.
  • Try to use a flat non-stick skillet so that you can cook the sabudana in one layer and the non-stick pan helps to keep it separated.
  • As you add the sabudana to the pan, do a very quick stir to mix everything around. You don’t want to cook it for too long or else, it will start sticking to the pan.

Navratri special fasting food | Playful Cooking #glutenfree #tapiocapearl #pilaf #foodphotography #navratri #indianfood

What is Sabudana?

Sabudana, also referred as sago pearls, are tiny opaque pearls that are prepared from pith of sago palm tree. In its dried form, it’s a tiny hard white pearl.  Once you soak the sabudana, it softens and swells almost double the size. On cooking, it gets translucent and starchy.

Sabudana is very popular ingredient used during Navratri Celebration to prepare pilaf, fritters and even desserts.

Sabudana  Khichdi (Tapioca Pilaf) 2

This is truly my favorite time of the year. Being a Bengali, Durga Puja is the one celebration that I wait for all year long. Although the vibe out here is nothing compared to India, we still get to enjoy a lot and give a feel of the Indian festive traditions to Avyan.

Being married to a North Indian, we also celebrate Navratri and Diwali in full swing. I don’t fast during Navratri and thankfully, my Mother-in-law never even asked me to do that. However, I love all kind of fasting food that is prepared during this season. Sabudana Khichdi is definitely one of those dishes.

What ingredients are added in Sabudana Khichdi?

Sabudana (Sago Pearls/Tapioca Pearls): For this particular dish, it’s important to rinse the dried sago several times before you soak it. Once puffed, the next step is to strain and layer it on a big plate or tray to remove the excess moisture. This step will ensure that the sabudana pilaf turns out fluffy and non-sticky.

Cumin Seeds: This is the only spice that goes in making this Sabudana Khichdi for Navratri.

Potatoes: Tiny bite size potato helps to add a creamy bite to the dish. You can add tomatoes too, if you like, or some peas or carrots. I kept it extremely simple with just potatoes.

Raw Peanuts: I like to dry roast the peanuts, leave a few aside and coarsely pound the rest. If you are allergic to nuts, you can definitely ignore it and add some veggies for extra texture and taste.

Desiccated Coconut or fresh coconut?

This is not traditionally added but I like it because it adds a mild sweetness to the dish.

Fresh Green Chili: If you don’t want it spicy, remove the seeds of the fresh green chili or you could choose to not use it. The flavor and the heat help to bring the dish together.

Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice: Typically, only lemon juice is used but I like to use a little lemon zest too.

Ghee: Although it is not required, try to cook this dish with ghee as it will not only add a lovely nutty flavor, but it will also enhance the taste. Here is a recipe if you want to make Ghee

Sabudana Khichdi | Playful Cooking #glutenfree #tapiocapearl #pilaf #foodphotography #navratri #indianfood

I prepared this Sabudana Khichdi keeping Navratri in mind and so, I kept is simple and pure vegetarian. You can definitely make it more filling by adding more vegetables, onion or some fresh ginger for extra flavor. Sabudana is an excellent blank canvas to make pilaf and you can change it as you like. Just keep the key tips in mind to get a fluffy pilaf.

Here are few other sabudana recipe:

Sabudana Vada with Methi

Sabudana Vada Fried and Baked

sabudana khichdi 4

Sabudana Khichdi/Tapioca Pilaf

Yield: 3 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Sabudana Khichdi is one of the most popular fasting dishes during Navratri festival season. It’s quick, gluten free and takes very minimal effort to bring it together.


  • 1 cup sabudana
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into tiny bite size
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest, optional
  • 1/3 cup raw peanuts
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 green chili, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut
  • few chopped cilantro leaves


  1. Rinse the sabudana multiple times and then, soak it in enough water for 2 to 3 hours. Check after 2 hours and if you are able to crush the pearl easily, it’s ready. Else, continue soaking for more time.
  2. Once it is puffed and ready, drain the excess water and layer the sabudana on a tray or a plate to remove excess moisture. This step will make the khichdi fluffy.
  3. Use a flat skillet (preferably non-stick) and dry roast the peanuts for 2 minutes. Once cooled enough, keep a little bit of whole peanuts aside and pound the rest to a coarse texture.
  4. To the same skillet, add the ghee. Once it melts, add the cumin seeds and stir it around. Add the potato bites and salt. Stir it around for 2 minutes. Then, add the green chili. Stir it around and add the roasted whole peanuts kept aside.
  5. Cover the pan and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  6. After 5 minutes, the potatoes would have softened. Add the desiccated coconut and stir it around. Add the pounded peanuts and stir around for 1 minute.
  7. Scatter the sabudana and quickly mix everything around.
  8. Add the lemon juice and few cilantro leaves. Mix it around one more time to bring it all together. Check for salt and add any, if needed.
  9. Serve warm.
Sabudana Khichdi | Playful Cooking #glutenfree #tapiocapearl #pilaf #foodphotography #navratri #indianfood

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  • Reem | Simply Reem
    Reem | Simply Reem
    April 23, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    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 Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      April 26, 2012 at 1:16 PM

      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! 🙂

  • Reem | Simply Reem
    Reem | Simply Reem
    April 23, 2012 at 9:04 AM

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

  • Nash at plateful
    Nash at plateful
    April 23, 2012 at 9:07 AM

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

  • Rosa
    April 23, 2012 at 9:30 AM

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

    This pilaf looks absolutely beautiful! Lovely flavors.



  • Sublime Palate
    Sublime Palate
    April 23, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    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
    April 23, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    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 Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      April 26, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      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
    April 23, 2012 at 10:12 AM

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

  • Soma
    April 23, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    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
    April 23, 2012 at 11:10 AM

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

  • erin @ yummy supper
    erin @ yummy supper
    April 23, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    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!

  • Kitchen Belleicious
    Kitchen Belleicious
    April 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    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
    April 23, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    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 Saxena
      Kankana Saxena
      April 26, 2012 at 1:18 PM

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

  • Sayantani
    April 23, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    amio saradin khete pari eta…ki bhalo baniecho.

  • tigerfish
    April 23, 2012 at 2:14 PM

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

  • torviewtoronto and createwithmom
    torviewtoronto and createwithmom
    April 23, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    delicious looking colourful pilaf

  • Radhika
    April 23, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    Breathtaking pics K. It is my fav too

  • Kala
    April 23, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Beautiful presentation in these photos, Kankana.

  • San
    April 23, 2012 at 8:36 PM

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

  • Amrita
    April 23, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    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
    April 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM

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

  • hemalata
    April 24, 2012 at 3:48 AM

    Delicious looking kichidi n love the presentation.

  • Sanjeeta kk
    Sanjeeta kk
    April 24, 2012 at 8:27 AM

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

  • Eha
    April 24, 2012 at 5:40 PM

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

  • Sara{OneTribeGourmet}
    April 24, 2012 at 5:48 PM

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

  • myfudo
    April 24, 2012 at 6:34 PM

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

  • Maureen
    April 25, 2012 at 12:19 AM

    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.

  • Deeps @ Naughty Curry
    Deeps @ Naughty Curry
    April 25, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    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 😀

  • Radhika@JustHomemade
    [email protected]
    April 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    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
    April 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM

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

  • Tanvi@SinfullySpicy
    [email protected]
    April 25, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    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.

  • Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}
    Roxana GreenGirl { A little bit of everything}
    April 25, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    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
    April 25, 2012 at 10:14 PM

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

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook
    April 25, 2012 at 11:36 PM

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

  • Lubna Karim
    Lubna Karim
    April 26, 2012 at 1:37 AM

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

  • Wandering Spice
    Wandering Spice
    April 26, 2012 at 4:00 AM

    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
    April 26, 2012 at 5:33 AM

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

  • reese@SeasonwithSpic
    [email protected]
    April 26, 2012 at 5:46 AM

    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
    April 26, 2012 at 1:13 PM

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

  • Charles
    April 26, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    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!

  • Jennifer (Delicieux)
    Jennifer (Delicieux)
    April 26, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    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
    April 26, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    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.

  • Yadsia @ShopCookMake
    Yadsia @ShopCookMake
    April 26, 2012 at 7:31 PM

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

  • easyfoodsmith
    April 27, 2012 at 4:12 AM

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

  • lisaiscooking
    April 27, 2012 at 7:53 AM

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

  • Namitha
    April 27, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    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
    April 27, 2012 at 1:40 PM

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

    Hope you have a great weekend!

  • Magic of Spice
    Magic of Spice
    April 29, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    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 🙂

  • Sandra's Easy Cookin
    Sandra's Easy Cookin
    April 29, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    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
    May 4, 2012 at 5:17 PM

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

  • angiesrecipes
    October 2, 2019 at 7:22 PM

    Looks absolutely beautiful and so delicious too!

  • Papori
    October 6, 2019 at 10:20 AM

    One of my favorite dish… Yummy!!!

  • marie johson
    marie johson
    October 15, 2019 at 11:23 PM

    This dish is my favorite. Sabudana Khichdi is a traditional Indian breakfast recipe and i really loved it 🙂