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.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Kadai Chicken

Kadai chicken is a chicken curry from India that has great depth of flavour. This version has a tomato based sauce and features spices like garam masala, which gives flavourful heat, and coriander seeds and bay leaves which provide a fresh earthiness. The dish is a little hot, but you can reduce the amount of chilli and you'll still have a tasty meal. 

- By the way, a kadai is a type of cooking vessel similar to a wok. This is what this dish is traditionally cooked in. I use a cast-iron wok and it's ideal, however, any wok or other suitable cooking pot would suffice.

Because this is such a simple meal to throw together it has become my boyfriend's signature dish. My man-thing is not much of a cook, he's adept at making Indian-style omelettes, is fantastic at giving me recipe ideas and cooking tips that he's picked up from his mum and granny, but it's not often that he is actually hands-on in the kitchen. I'm grateful that there are tasty simple dishes like this that inspire him to get cooking. I think it's a great dish for other home cooks who enjoy creating tasty dinners, but hate all the fuss. Usually it's served with chapati, but other breads or rice are fine accompaniments too.


3 teaspoons coriander seeds
4 whole red chillies (use less or de-seed them if you don't like it hot. Don't say I didn't warn you!)
4 tablespoons oil
2 bay leaves
1 onion, sliced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced. When they're not in season, I just use a 400g tin of tomatoes instead.
1 kg chicken pieces. It's economical just to cut up a whole chicken, but I quite like boneless chicken so sometimes I'll just use 600g of breast or thigh. It's all good.
1 teaspoon red chilli powder (reduce or even omit this if you want it mild)
4 teaspoons garam masala
coriander leaves for garnish


Grind the coriander seeds and whole red chillies into a coarse powder.
Heat the oil in the kadai.
Add the bay leaves, cook for a minute then add the onions and cook them until they are lightly golden brown.
Add ginger and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes.
Throw in the coarse powder that you created earlier. Stir well.
Next in go the tomatoes, keep stirring and cooking until they are well cooked.
Add the chicken and chilli powder. Mix well.
Cover the kadai, cook until the chicken is tender.
Sprinkle on the garam masla, give it a stir.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Serves 4 hungry folk