I fell in love with Sabudana /Sago
when my mom made Sabudana Kichidi
for me. The Maharashtrian style Sabudana Vada
then came into my world followed by the South Indian version Javvarisi Vadai
. Marriage saw me trying out Sago (Sabudana) Idlis
and loving it too. All in the same order. For some reason, I cannot recall when was the first time I had this payasam, although it was one of those things which I knew I would like right away.
I made it so many times in my first year of marriage that my husband wondered if I knew to make any other kheer at all :) Guess that shows you my love for this one. Something about this pudding is comforting to me. That chewiness combined with the creaminess that it imparts makes it extremely satisfying for me.
There are variations in the way its made from family to family ( and quality to variety of sago). I chose to show two methods I usually resort to. The pressure cooker method happens when the craving for it exceeds the patience for soaking the sago pearls and the local Indian grocery always carries the variety that needs soaking for at least 5 hours! So I found that the pressure cooker method satisfies this need promptly. You can use small or large pearled sago but I prefer large pearls.
: Depending on the size and quality you might need to soak the Sago for 15-20 minutes (smaller variety) or overnight (the large pearled variety). Some quick cooking variety don't need soaking at all. You would need to test your sago to know under which category it falls under. I generally opt to use the large pearled ones for this recipe 'cos of personal preference.
: Though you can use low fat milk, the whole milk is recommended. My way of cutting down on some of the fat is by using part water to cook the sago but you can make it richer by using all milk instead.
: The amount of sugar will depend on your taste preference. We don't like too much sugar hence the amount specified. You might need 3/4 to 1 cup instead.
Stove Top Method (Suited best for Quick cooking/Small pearled/Overnight soaked Sabudana)
Wash the sabudana well until the water runs clear. Soak in enough water to cover the sago.
Next day drain it well.
In a pan, add the ghee and when hot, add cashews to it. When its almost roasted, add the raisins. When plump, remove them both and set aside.
In the same pan (in remaining ghee), toast the drained sago for a minute. If yours is a quick cooking variety, then you can right away come to this step and saute it in ghee instead of soaking.
Next add 1-1/2 cups water to the sago and let it cook for another 10 minutes or so.
Note: For a richer version, instead of water - add all milk instead , that is around 4 cups milk instead of 2 and you will need to cook sago in the milk directly.
Keep stirring until you find the sago turning translucent (and soft when pressed with fingertips). The stirring is essential to avoid the sago from sticking together into a clumpy mess.
While that's happening I generally tend to boil the milk on the side alternatively (or use a microwave). Take 1 tbsp of that milk and add the saffron to it. Set aside.
When the sago has cooked, add the desired amount of sugar to it. Stir until it melts and combined well.
Next add the boiled milk, making sure to keep stirring.
Cook until it thickens - another 5 minutes or so. Then add the saffron milk and cardamom powder.
Stir to combine and garnish with nuts and raisins. Serve warm.
Pressure Cooker Method: (Ideal when time is short and you want to cook faster and/or when you have forgotten to soak the Sago)
I opt for this method when I do not want to baby sit the cooking. If you have the quick cooking variety or if you have soaked the sago, then you would need to cook it for only 1 whistle.
But if yours is the overnight soaking variety and you have forgotten to soak it (and have no time), then you would need to cook it for 6-7 whistles (may be around 15 minutes). Just cook for few whistles and open it to see if it has cooked. But I would recommend the soaking method since I somehow (no particular reason except instinct) feel that method is better. This method is for the times when you have absolute craving for this kheer but have no soaked sago on hand. (can you guess that I have had such moments before?;))
Rest of the procedure is same as mentioned in the "Stovetop" method. Add sugar, boiled milk, saffron, cardamom powder and toasted nuts (in that order) to that mixture and serve warm.