How To Make Saboodana Wada: Crispy Fried Sago & Potato Cakes Recipe by Cyrus Todiwala

Sago pearls are used quite extensively in various parts of India but none more so than in Maharashtra and in Southern India where most of the tapioca is also grown.

Sago cakes taste great and are pretty addictive. Peanuts are best but if you are allergic, then add cashew nuts. Sago is readily available in most supermarkets, though do try and purchase the large pearls instead of the tiny ones.

An important tip: soaking time will depend on the quality, size and age of the sago pearls. Some smaller balls take only 15–20 minutes to soak well, expand and become soft, whilst some larger ones are best left overnight. I have used the larger pearls for this recipe.

Excerpt from Mr Todiwala’s Bombay by Cyrus Todiwala (Hardie Grant, £24), Photography by Helen Cathcart


Ingredients for Saboodana Wada

  • 200 g (7 oz / generous 1 cup) sago pearls (preferably large)

  • 2 large floury potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed

  • 3 heaped tbsp raw skinned peanuts

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • 2 green chillies, deseeded if liked, and finely chopped

  • 1 tsp lime juice

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1–2 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

  • About 2 tbsp rice flour

  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

    To serve

  • Any chutney or tomato ketchup (catsup)


How to make Saboodana Wada

  1. Wash the sago as you would rice. Place in a bowl, just cover with water and leave to soak for several hours or overnight until the water is absorbed, the pearls look plump and one feels soft when lifted out and crushed in the fingers. Drain the sago well in a colander for at least 15–20 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, dry-roast the peanuts in a frying pan, stirring, until light brown, then coarsely chop by hand or in a food processor (but be careful not to grind too finely as the texture gives a delightful crunch to the Wadas).

  3. Mix all the ingredients (except the rice flour) in a large bowl until well combined.

  4. If the sago has been well drained, the mixture should bind together to shape into cakes. But if too wet, add a little rice flour.

  5. Dust your hands with rice flour and then shape the mixture into small cakes.

  6. Chill, for 30 minutes or more, until firm.

  7. Heat the oil for deep-frying to 180ºC (350ºF) or until a cube of day-old bread browns in 30 seconds. Have a colander set over a bowl ready to drain the cakes. Do not place them on paper towel to drain or they may stick.

  8. Fry two or three at a time, turning once until golden on both sides. Drain in the colander and keep warm whilst cooking the remainder.

  9. Serve with any fresh green chutney or ketchup, as some Indians do.

© Speciality Cooking Supplies Limited 2024



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