Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sabudana Vada (Sago Dumplings)

These sago dumplings are an Indian dish, called sabudana vada. "Sabudana" meaning sago and "vada" meaning a fritter or dumpling type thing.  Don't be put off if you've never cooked with, or even heard of, sago.  It's actually a fun ingredient to work with, and economical and versatile to boot. If you don't know, sago is a starch that comes from the stem of a tropical palm tree. In this recipe sago pearls are used and they look like tiny white balls. Maybe you've heard of them used in puddings, but they are also great in savoury dishes such as this one.

The use of sago  helps create a moist dumpling, while the outside crisps up delicately and delivers a satisfying "crunch".  The flavour of the filling is subtle with just a hint of spice and is interspersed with freshness from the coriander and flecks of peanuts which give texture. If you're a fan of dumplings or fried patties then these are a fun variation The texture even reminds me of rösti made from raw potatoes, just with beefed up flavour. You could even beef them up further if you have any fresh chilli on hand; they would be a great addition too.

I've served the dumplings with a coconut and tamarind chutney that the manthing and I also created, but you could serve them alone or with another suitable chutney of your choice. I think the coconut tamarind chutney is an ideal match because it compliments the mild dumplings with a wonderful tang and bite thanks to the tamarind and garlic. 



1 and 1/2 cups sago
3 medium-sized potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely ground (or chopped into small pieces)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
juice of a lemon
salt to taste
oil for deep frying or shallow frying

Place the sago in a bowl. Pour in enough water to cover the sago. Let it soak for two hours then drain off any excess water.
Mix the sago with the potatoes, peanuts, coriander powder, chilli powder, coriander leaves and lemon juice. Add salt to taste.
After it is well combined, divide the mixture into 16 balls. Use your palms to flatten them into patties.
Heat a sufficient amount of oil, whether you choose to shallow fry of deep fry. Cook the dumplings over a medium heat until they are golden brown.
Drain on absorbent paper.
Serve with chutney.

Makes 16, serves 4 


90g tamarind (this would equal a ball about the size of a lime)
1 cup warm water
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup dessicated coconut (ideally fresh)
3 dried red chilli, chopped
salt to taste

Soak the tamarind in the water, pick out any seeds.
Once it has softened, add the garlic, coconut and chilli. Blend until it is a thick smooth consistency.
Add salt to taste then refrigerate.
If you have good blender then you could skip the soaking stage however I use a stick blender that loves to overheat, so I need to soften the tamarind before I blitz it.

Makes plenty, if you have any leftover it goes great with grilled fish or even as a sandwich spread.


  1. These look so great! I've eaten sweet sago but not savoury and can imagine how great the texture is...

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