Sabudana (Sago) Idli

By DK on Mar 05, 2012
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Those days are still fresh in my mind. The days of "transition", of new beginnings, of venturing into realms unsought before. Like cooking for example- my mom is still shocked at this culinary enthusiasm of mine. But the funny part is - so am I :). We all dream of our future, don't we? Well, cooking for sure was not on mine. There were umpteenth things - but never ever in the wildest of dreams, cooking formed part of it. Let's just say,  I did not hate cooking, instead, only not too interested in it :).

But it happened when the marriage happened. New place and new situation found me "jobless" - both figuratively and literally. Life was so much easier in the new place and I hardly had anything to do to keep me occupied 24X7. Having been extremely busy with my job before marriage, this sudden state of idleness simply made me even more restless. I started doing and exploring stuff that I never did before - which included cooking. Once I started reading up more and experimenting, the interest seeped in abundantly.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Idli, is one of the most loved South Indian breakfast items. Due to the cold weather, during those days, my idli(s) were almost always a disaster and hence, I started trying out other varieties. This was one of them and that time, amidst the famine of good idlis, it was such a life savor. Instead of regular rice (both raw and par boiled rice) and Black Gram Lentil (Urad), this one uses Sago pearls (also knows as Sabudana in Hindi, Jevvarisi in Tamil, Sabakki in Kannada) along with Idli rava (Cream of rice). What I love about this is the addition of yogurt. While normally sour yogurt is used, I tend to use fat free Greek yogurt  for its high protein-low fat content. We especially love it when its paired with spicy chutney or sambar since the Sabudana idli by itself, like the regular idli, is bordering bland if no vegetables are added. It is little dense than regular idlis but not too dense that you find it hard to eat. If you think your idlis fall in that category, then please refer the Tips section (point 4)
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Those were the days when the thought of noting down the source of the recipes did not naturally arise in my mind, as writing it down on a scrap of paper did. So now, I am left with my original source (the scrap of paper) but no clue to how and where this original comes from. The thing is, I don't even recall if this is a recipe that I tinkered with as a result of my experiments. But, I make these judiciously at least once a month with minor variations for our breakfasts.

from my kitchen notes

Basic Information
Prep Time: 8 hours to 1 day
Cook Time: Under 30 min
Serves: 4 people
Yield: Half the batter makes 16 idlis (whole batter makes 32-35 idlis), depending on the size of your idli mould
  • For the Batter
  • 2 cups Idli Rava (Cream of Rice)
  • 1 cup Sabudana (Sago pearls/Jevvarisi/Sabakki)
  • 2 cups fat free Greek Yogurt + 2 cups water (see Tips)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (frozen works too)
  • little salt to taste (see Tips)
  • Tempering/Seasoning for half the batter
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • handful of roasted cashews (see Tips)
  • 1-2 green chillies, thinly sliced, as per taste (optional)
  • few curry leaves, torn
  • few cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda (see Tips)
  • 1 tsp Ghee (or oil)
1. Yogurt Use any sour plain yogurt you have on hand. You would need 4 cups of yogurt. Since I use Greek yogurt and its very thick, I tend to add 2 cups of yogurt mixed with 2 cups water to make 4 cups.

2.Cashews: I personally use 16 - one for each idli that half the batter makes. But there is no hard fast rule for this. Use as much or as little you like - whole or broken.

3. Salt: Since Sago has a salty taste, I personally find that adding a little less salt than what you would normally add for regular idlis works best for this recipe. But its my personal opinion and taste. If you think usual amount of salt works better for you, please feel free to do so.

4.Baking Soda: More often than not, I find the given amount perfect. But there are occasions when may be cos of weather or quality of ingredients, a little more works better. Start with 1/4 tsp and if you feel that the idlis are very dense, add a pinch more next time.
In a large bowl, mix idli rava and sabudana together.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Add yogurt to it. See the thickness of Greek Yogurt?
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
That's why the additional 2 cups of water. Refer my Tips section for more details.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Mix well along with salt until blended.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Cover and set aside for around 10 hours. I do this the previous night (hence the bad yellow light!)
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
This batter does not double like normal idlis.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes

Give it a good mix.

Important Note: At times I find that the batter is at the perfect consistency in the morning while at few other times I am in need of additional cup or so of water to bring it to regular idli batter consistency. In both cases, the idlis turn out fine. So feel free to add little bit of water if required.

Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Add the coconut and give it a good mix.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
I usually at this point take half the batter and store the remaining in the fridge.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
In a pan, heat some ghee - 1 tsp. or so. Add mustard seeds and when it starts popping, add it to the batter along with roasted cashews, baking soda and cilantro (or any vegetable you care to add). If you want to use the whole batter, simply double the ingredients in the "Tempering" section.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Mix it well and when blended, drop ladleful of the batter to your Idli moulds.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Steam them for around 20 minutes,
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
or until the knife/stick/spoon inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Cool it for few minutes
Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes

and then remove from the mould. Can you see the glistening sago pearls in there?

Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
Serve immediately along with any chutney of your liking. I served it with Eggplant sambar and Idli Chutney powder Tapioca pearl (Sabakki) Idli Recipe | Indian Breakfast Recipes
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6 members have made this recipe!
Did you make this recipe?Please click below to share your experiences while you were making this recipe. Thanks for your input!
23 Responses to “Sabudana (Sago) Idli”
  1. Rekha

    Does the batter have to soak for longer in winters, especially in cold places like Chicago?

    Generally yes – depends on your kitchen and placement of the batter as well. Soak as long as it needs to get soft. –DK

  2. Lilla

    Where can I buy this idli mould/cooker in Canada? Looks like a pressure cooker was used. I understand you can microwave them as well, however will they be rubbery or hard as a rock if not eaten right away? Your thoughts on this would be very helpful.

  3. Madhvi

    Doesnt the curd turn very sour when you leave it overnight?

  4. ritu

    loved the recipe…will try it soon

  5. sravani

    Hi There..
    Today i tried sago idli recipe..idlies are extremely soft and tasted heavenly. As i dont have idli rawa in hand, i prepared rice rawa and combined sabudana to it. While tempering i added onions as well..taste is too good. Thanks a ton for lovely recipe :)

  6. Sulochana Sharma

    This is a very nice recipe. I will try soon. It is a pleasant variation from normal rava Idli.very tempting! Thanks for the idea!

  7. shobha shenoy

    this is one of the superhit idlis in our family , n friends .thank you so much Chef in for this lovely recipe

  8. Chitra

    I made this but with normal rava.It turned out good. Also have a little left over batter which i shallow fried like Punugulu. My easier version of Sabudana vada :) Perfect Receipe. Thanks.

  9. Nandini

    Hi Dk,
    Thank you 4 ur reply.S the knife was clear.
    may be i think the sago i used is different which is something get powder when we press hard. Next time i will try with some different sago. can you tell me what u used?

    aah that could be it. I think I used the large pearled variety of Sabudana. Or at least the one that takes a lot of time to soak than just 2-3 hours variety. I think it will probably be 2-3mm – its sure not the smallest one. –DK

  10. nandini

    :wink: Hi ,
    Very helpful recipe for me. Yesterday i made this idly, when i saw ur photo it looks spongy, but mine the taste was good but it was sticky i dnt knw why.

    Did you steam them enough? Was your knife clear when you did the “doneness” test? –DK

  11. I thought those were cookies at first! The cookie sandwich is a specialty of ours – I wonder if that concept would translate to your delicious recipe!?

  12. Usha

    The idlis came out just awesome….thanx so much for the recipe…I ate it with red bell pepper chutney.

  13. Usha

    Have soaked the stuff for 2maro morNing. Hope it comes out well. Will let u know.

  14. hai,
    will try this recipe soon, any alternative for sour yogurt? can it be replaced by normal yogurt

    Yes –DK

  15. Punam

    i didnt have rawa so i used suji(semolina) … it turned out superb…. :-P

  16. sathya

    Hi DK, This recipe is very new to me. I dont have idli rava with me. Can we use regular rava or wheat rava? Should we grind the rava and sago or just a stir is enough?

  17. Chaitra makam

    I make this all the time. But instead of Idli rava I use raw rice rava. This way it does not come out dense. Also if I run out of raw rice rawa I just soak the sabudana overnight and add regular rava (roasted) along with tempering. Comes out even better. Just like rava idli with sago pearls.

    That’s a good idea. Will try it the next time around Chaitra. Thank you for the tip :) –DK

  18. Perfect idli. Very new to me. Thanks for sharing

  19. Ranganathan

    Living where I do (in central Europe), finding sour yogurt is a challenge. I have finally learned to make yogurt at home, but letting it stay at room temperature makes it not sour but sort of unpleasant bitter. I have no clue how to get sour yogurt. I have not seen fat free greek yogurt here. Most of it has 10% fat, almost prohibitive for me. I will try with normal yogurt and post the results.

  20. I woke up this morning with a hankering for idli. I was thinking of browsing rava idli recipes because they are almost instant and thought this would be too. I too love idlis a lot and will try this recipe soon.

  21. Jaya

    When to add the baking soda???

    Please refer Step 10 Jaya. –:) DK

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