Honestly speaking, fasting during navratri or the fasting food aka 'vrat ka khana' is an alien concept to me as a south Indian. As a vegetarian, I know that onion and garlic are taboo during religious occasions and rice is not consumed sometimes when fasting. However I had no clue that there is a long list of ingredients that people wouldn't consume during fasting in other parts of the country until I moved to U.S. and saw some of my Indian friends fasting at the drop of a hat in the name of festivals.
Sabudana or tapioca pearls is one of the ingredients that is allowed during fasting and can be used to prepare yummy, light snacks such as khichdi or vadas. Sabudana vada, a traditional deep fried snack from Maharashtra is also equally popular as a fasting food. They are yummy but the flip side is that they are deep fried and need a bit of pre-planning since sabudana needs soaking. This 'crunchy on the outside and softer inside' vadas make a great snack along with your evening cup of tea.
1 cup sabudana / sago pearls
2 small sized potatoes
1/4 cup peanuts
2 -3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust the quantity as per preference.)
1 - 2 tbsp. finely minced cilantro
Salt to taste (or rock salt if fasting.)
1 Tbsp. rice flour (optional and if fasting, rice flour can be replaced with buckwheat flour or chestnut flour.)
Oil to fry (I used canola oil. Vegetable / peanut oil can be substituted.)
* Soak sabudana in just enough water to cover them for about 2 - 3 hours or overnight depending upon the sabudana variety. Drain in a colander and keep it aside until all the water is completely drained. (check notes.)
* Peel and cook the potatoes in a pressure cooker. Drain completely and then mash finely.
* Roast and skin the peanuts. Grind them coarsely and keep aside.
* Heat oil in a kadai / frying pan to deep fry the vadas.
* Add soaked and drained sago pearls, mashed potato, peanut powder, green chillies, cilantro, salt and flour if using to a wide bowl. Mix well to combine.
* Pinch about lemon sized portions from the mixture.
* Gently pat them into patties and gently slide them into hot oil. Fit as many patties as the pan could hold without overcrowding.
* Deep fry them until they turn golden brown and are done.
Notes:1. I have used large sabudana pearls here. The soaking time depends upon the quality and the variety of sabudana. I have heard from my mom that the best quality sabudana needs just sprinkling of water to make the pearls soften but the variety I usually get here requires overnight soaking. Some soften in lesser time than the other and so check accordingly. When you press a soaked sago pearl between your finger tips, it should be moist and spongy.)
2. I usually deep fry keeping the flame at somewhere between low and medium. Vadas cooked at high temperature would brown faster leaving the insides uncooked while a low cooking temperature would make vadas greasier.
3. During fasting months, amaranth flour / buckwheat flour or water chestnut flour can be substituted for rice flour and rock salt can be used in place of regular salt.
4. For a healthier version, they can be shallow fried in a appe pan.
5. Minced ginger, 1 tsp of sugar or lemon juice can also be added to the recipe.
This goes to Blogging Marathon #50, under the theme of "One ingredient - Three different dishes", Sabudana / Sago / Tapioca pearls being my chosen ingredient. Check out the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.