Sabudana Vada Recipe (Sago fritters , Javvarisi Vadai )
The term "Sabudana" in Hindi refers to Sago. While many recipe websites use Tapioca and Sago interchangeably, I found articles which insist that these are different, with different origins though their similar appearance might be confusing. They mention that these can be used interchangeably in the recipes with only difference in cooking time. I personally, having never used Tapioca, have no idea. So though you might be able to use them interchangeably in this recipe, I cannot confirm to the same. When I use Tapioca will update this post with my thoughts.
Sabudana Vada Recipe (Sago fritters , Javvarisi Vadai )
While the North Indian version of these fritters uses potatoes and peanuts, this South Indian version instead uses buttermilk/yogurt as a binding agent. Refer to my Sabudana Vada (Maharashtrian Style) for the Navartri Vrat/Fasting recipes. This recipe, to day is for a Southern version of these vadas and is from a Tamil cook book called "Samaithu Eppadi" that my mother gave me after I got married and moved away from home. Though I have made only few recipes from this book ( cos my mom provides for all our traditional recipes), I use it as a handy reference whenever the evil time zone strikes and I cannot call home when I want to :( ! There is no special occasion associated with this dish cos its enjoyed at all times- as a snack or a quick appetizer. We mostly enjoy it during evening tea time esp. during winter/rainy weather! Nothing beats munching on fried goodies when its raining! Its chewy on the inside and crispy outside with a slight tang from the buttermilk.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 4 people
  • Yields: Makes about 10-14 vada(i)s depending on the size
  • 1/2 cup Sago/Sabudana/Javvarisi , see Tips
  • 1/2 cup Rice flour
  • 2-3 tbsp grated fresh coconut (frozen works too)
  • 2-3 green chillies, sliced thinly (as per taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or as per taste)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup plain yogurt/soured buttermilk (you need just enough to be able to knead the mixture into a tight dough)
1. Sabudana : Depending upon the size and quality, the prep also changes. The smaller varieties need only around 15-20 minutes of soaking, while the larger kind needs soaking for 5-6 hours (or preferably overnight). Strictly, the quality also has a huge role in the soaking. The best quality requires just a sprinkling of water to make it soft and spongy. With trial, you would have to find out under what category your Sago pearls fall under. I have used small pearls for this recipe and the quality I have does not require long hours of soaking.
1. Add all the ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Add enough yogurt to be able to knead it well into a dough. I used Fat free Greek Yogurt and since its thick, I had to use more. But if you are using buttermilk (or plain yogurt mixed with water), you might need less.
3. Let this mixture soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or more) or until the Sago is soft. Tips: Different varieties of Sago are available, each with varying amount of soaking time - so soak it until its soft. If after an hour you find that the mixture is v dry and the sago is still hard, add sprinkling more of yogurt/water to it and let it soak further until you find it getting soft.  You do not need to soak the sago separately. You will mostly find that at this time you mixture seems v dry and crumbly thanks to all that yogurt being absorbed by sago. Add few tbsp of water (if needed) to make into a tight consistency which is not dry nor loose.
4. Something like this. You should be able to break it into a small piece and roll it in your palms into a small ball.
5. Break some dough to make a ball about a size of a lime.
6. Roll it in your palm (greased with water/oil) and pat it into a disc. You can alternatively use a greased plate or plastic sheet to do the same.
7. Repeat for the rest of the dough
8. Meanwhile heat up some oil for deep frying. Tip: Make sure to keep the heat med-High. Too hot will make the outsides crispy quickly without cooking the insides and too less heat will make the fritters oily. Drop the disc into the oil.
9. Fry until golden yellow or reddish brown. Tip: You can fry these up in batches but make sure not to crowd the fryer since it will bring down the temperature of the oil making these oily.
10. Drop them on paper towels. Tip: If you have adopted correct frying techniques, you should find that not a lot of oil has drained on the paper towel and the fritters themselves are not oily. Refer to this article on proper frying technique.
Serve these hot as it is or with any condiment of your choice. I have known few families to enjoy them with ketchup(ahem like mine!!) or with coconut/mint chutney. We also like them just as they are. The outsides are crispy while the insides are slightly yet deliciously on the chewy side. Sabudana Vada Recipe (Sago fritters , Javvarisi Vadai )

Recipe Reference

From cookbook : Samaithu Eppadi

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2 Member Reviews

By Meenakshi on Sep 1, 2011


I used boiled mashed potatoes instesd of rice flour. the rest was same. It was yummy...!! :)


Thanks :)

By Shelina on Oct 14, 2010




DK's comments

The time when you let sit the sago mixture along with buttermilk is actually the soaking time for the sagoo. The quality and size of the sago determines how long it takes. If you found at the end of the hour that the sago is still hard, you can sprinkle some water and soak it for some more time. This recipe does not need additional sago soaking time


By Afshan Ahamed on Sep 27, 2012


By Afshan Ahamed on Sep 25, 2012

i made this recipe...i followed each & evry step..but the result was'nt tht gud bcoz aftr frying golden red the texture inside was sticky & aftr couple of minutes the vada turned out chewy like chewing gum.... :cry:

Looks like the sabudana was not soaked enough. Was it soft after soaking?--DK

By water37013 on Apr 17, 2012

recipe looks delicious, can we bake them?

By Meenu on Apr 12, 2012

Ur presentation is very nice.. I told my mom to prepare this . It is very delicious

By Meenu on Apr 12, 2012

My mom tried it.. came out very deliciously....

By Sj on Mar 15, 2012

I soak sago seperately and use boiled potato to bind them. Add some chopped fresh coconut, corriander leaves and ginger paste. This comes out well too. Will try your recipe as well......:)

By Mimi on Mar 7, 2012

Hi,your recipe is interesting. Tapioca from my understanding comes from the cassava or yucca root, not sure what you may call it in India. I will try but will substitute sago with millet.

There is a slight difference between sago and tapioca. Havent used Tapioca for this myself. Using Millet sounds interesting :)

By Sana' on Jan 13, 2012

:-P DK u r just plainly AWESOME!! This is my first attempt at South Indian cuisine, and I have to say it came out well. Not having ever eaten this dish, I can't say anything about its authenticity or similarity to the original. I had one question, are these supposed to be thin? i.e. Mine were a little fat, and the inside was perhaps a little too chewy, but then again I used tapioca so it could be due to that. Thanks again for a wonderful website, recipes, and discourse. Lots of hugs! -Sana'

Thank you so much Sana. Yes - they are chewy in the middle and extremely crisp on the outside

By Shubha on Dec 14, 2011

Can we bake this dhivya?? Any idea?

By Jaya on Dec 24, 2010

Dearie.... your recipe is great ... i do make quite a few...the easy ones... your palm / hand looks beautiful in the pix... :wink:

By Preethi on Oct 24, 2010

Hi...Great looking vada...was wondering what you do with the leftover oil after you fry such snacks, puris etc..Can we use for other purposes? Please let me know Thanks

I use only minimal oil for frying...I reuse it twice or thrice (provided I dont expose it to v high heat) and then throw the rest away. Mostly by the time I have used it 3rd time or so, its hardly left..

By Sri on Oct 23, 2010

Hi DK, I made these just now and somehow the sago is sill hard after soaking everything together for about an hour and half. The taste was very good though. Next time, I will try to soak the sago separately and try again.

By Jaya on Oct 17, 2010

Hey Thanks fo sharing this .. w :wink:

By Cynthia on Oct 10, 2010

Your frying exploits are always a work of art. I have some ground sago and will give this a try to see how it comes out.

By Apu on Oct 8, 2010

Delicious!! I made a batch this morning for breakfast!!

By Jyothsna on Oct 7, 2010

Very different from the Maharashtrian way of making it. The rice flour should add a crunch!

By Trupti Mistry on Oct 7, 2010

Too tasty snack with high energy and cal content. I make them with potatoes like in Maharashtrian dish and then instead of deep frying them shallow fry the sabudana pattice using lil oil...

By Sunita on Oct 6, 2010

hi dk i was looking for an easy recipe for this vadai never could make it thinking how will it come out, u heard me out i suppose dk thanks thanks this is a special food for maharashtrian on fasting day omitting the rice flour.will be making this soon

By jothi on Oct 6, 2010

hmm look yummy..

By Nilima Balaji on Oct 6, 2010

hi , I have become your fan.Your recipes are simple and easily available.I make sabudana wada using potatoes.Your recipe sound interesting, would try it some time.For the fasting , we dont use rice flour,potatoes bind it well or we use Araroot powder(available in Indian stores as araroot powder only).One can try sabudana wada with beaten curd mixed with salt and freshly roasted cummin powder.

By Nisha on Oct 6, 2010

Do we have to soak the Sabudana first for this recipie too..thanks

You are soaking it with the need to soak separately

By harini-jaya on Oct 6, 2010

The vadas look awesome! gr8 clicks too ..

By Deepti on Oct 6, 2010

These are my favorite,and love the detailed description given

By Nishi on Oct 6, 2010

The vadas look great divya :)