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)
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 4 people
  • Yields: 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.
1. In a large bowl, mix idli rava and sabudana together.
2. Add yogurt to it. See the thickness of Greek Yogurt?
3. That's why the additional 2 cups of water. Refer my Tips section for more details.
4. Mix well along with salt until blended.
5. Cover and set aside for around 10 hours. I do this the previous night (hence the bad yellow light!)
6. This batter does not double like normal idlis.

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.

8. Add the coconut and give it a good mix.
9. I usually at this point take half the batter and store the remaining in the fridge.
10. 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.
11. Mix it well and when blended, drop ladleful of the batter to your Idli moulds.
12. Steam them for around 20 minutes,
13. or until the knife/stick/spoon inserted in the middle comes out clean.
14. Cool it for few minutes

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

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

Recipe Reference

from my kitchen notes

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6 Member Reviews

By Yasmeena on Jun 12, 2013

By Beena on Mar 16, 2012

thanq for the recipie ..my husband loved it

Read All 6 Reviews →


By Alice on Sep 20, 2015

Are sago pearls/sabudana the same as tapioca pearls sold in boxes in the US? I used to work with a lady from Bangalore and she got me hooked on idlis! I must learn to make them!

Yes. Actually, to the best of my knowledge, I think Sabudana and Tapioca are same. Sago is from a different plant but can be used as a substitute. It would just need more soaking time. --DK

By Sowmya on Mar 3, 2015

Loved the recipe

By Sabudana idli | Geeths Dawath on Aug 8, 2014

[...] Sabudana is one of my favourite ingredient and I have posted few dishes earlier.To name a few, sabudana pops,sabudana kichdi,sabudana laddoo and today it is Sabudana idli.Very soon will be posting sabudana kheer.I had prepared this idli long time back and found it in a folder.There was a time when I used to prepare this idli every now and then….This is a very easy recipe and I love the taste and texture  too.Recipe adapted from:Chefinyou [...]

By Rekha on Jan 21, 2014

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

By Lilla on Dec 11, 2013

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.

By Madhvi on Sep 29, 2013

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

By ritu on Jun 13, 2013

loved the recipe...will try it soon

By sravani on Dec 28, 2012

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 :)

By Sulochana Sharma on Oct 17, 2012

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!

By shobha shenoy on Mar 26, 2012

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

By Chitra on Mar 22, 2012

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.

By Nandini on Mar 19, 2012

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

By nandini on Mar 15, 2012

: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

By Eric on Mar 15, 2012

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!?

By Usha on Mar 14, 2012

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

By Usha on Mar 14, 2012

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

By Divya on Mar 8, 2012

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

Yes --DK

By Punam on Mar 6, 2012

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

By sathya on Mar 6, 2012

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?

By Chaitra makam on Mar 6, 2012

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

By Anu on Mar 6, 2012

Perfect idli. Very new to me. Thanks for sharing

By Ranganathan on Mar 6, 2012

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.

By La @ FoodSlice on Mar 5, 2012

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.

By Jaya on Mar 5, 2012

When to add the baking soda???

Please refer Step 10 Jaya. --:) DK