Happy Vijaydashami to all my lovely readers. Presenting here another simple but delicious festival special : Sabudana kheer or Sago pudding or Tapioca pearl pudding .
“Solitude is the salt of person hood. It brings out the authentic flavour of every experience….”
…and as we were waiting impatiently for our boat to return, I let myself completely immersed in the eclectic aura of the beach life at Railay beach of Phuket. The air was fresh and crisp that day, the sun was bright and high and with every ebb of the tide, the tiny island was getting filled with people, from all walks of life. The sheltered cave carved out of the huge limestone massif was getting crowded as more and more people were trying to squeeze into the little space to escape from the scorching heat of the tropical sun.
The laid back and idyllic moments in the limestone caves were truly blissful, and after snapping the perfect postcard shot of the lone limestone massif jutted out in the middle of the sea from all different angles, much to the satisfaction of an amateurish eyes, the shutterbug in me decided to explore the surroundings, to go beyond the off beaten path, to follow the unfamiliar tracks dredged in the sand, to have a glimpse of local life. The island was inhabited by the gypsies, few immigrants from across the border who loves to wander in the small boats preferably in the night when the vigilance will be leanest, making this tiny island their source of livelihood and habitat. As we were drifting aimlessly through the narrow alleys of the island, a strong waft of chicken satay lured us into the so called market street of the island dotted with three four eateries and trinket sellers.
The strong flavour of the chili and garlic sauce and the burnt smell of the charcoal that kept the chicken satay sizzling hot was enough to stir the momentum that was missing in the laid back life of the island and our endless wait for the boat to return. Satay were so mouthwatering and unmatched in their taste when compared to some of the famous street food joints of the Bangkok that we ended up tasting the satay in all the flavours. A forgotten television in the corner was keep playing some local music that was creating more noise than anything else but then we were not music connoisseur. But more than the music itself what attracted me to that little shop was the radiant smile of the charming old lady who finally had convinced me to buy the cup dessert that was lying in forgetful manner in a shabbily looking dessert counter. She kept explaining me in broken English and perfect Thai that this dessert of hers was delicious and healthy. The plastic dessert cups was looking unattractive but the fresh mango topping was looking deceptively appealing and pleasing to the eyes. Without much thought we decided to try the dessert. Each measure of the white pearly pudding carefully paired with slices of mango pieces, filled our heart with the unspoken delight and the mouth was filled with deliciousness that the lady has promised it will do. As we were slowly finishing up the chilled dessert, relishing each and every bite of it, soaking into the the slow but interesting life of the island, it finally dawned upon us that what we had just eaten was nothing but sago pudding or sabudana kheer that is extremely common and popular in our own country and culture. Little did we know that it could taste so magical when paired with fresh tropical fruit.
In India sago or tapioca pearls are best eaten during fasting season or Navaratris and a bowl of sago kheer will be unmistakably filled with some flecks of dry fruits to add some embellishment to the otherwise dull and boring looking sago pudding or kheer. I wonder why we never thought of adding fresh fruit to the bowl of sago pudding but then that is the magic of every culture that brings unique flavour to the shared dish.
Sometimes life discover the small things in very unmindful way. On that fateful day, we had rediscovered the taste of beautiful tapioca pearls or sago in very unusual way but then strange are the ways of life.
- Tapioca pearls : 1 cup (200g)
- Coconut milk: 400g can
- Water: 1 cup (250ml
- Palm sugar / jaggery: ½ cup
- Pandan leaves / bay leaves for flavour : 2 (optional)
- Caramelized bananas: few slices (see note)
- Jaggery / palm sugar: 2 tbsp
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 mango or any other tropical fruit like pineapple thinly sliced, to serve
- Place the tapioca pearls in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 2 hours or more to soak. Soaking time entirely depends upon the quality of sago or tapioca pearls.
- Strain through a fine sieve. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until opaque. Drain well.
- Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, water, sugar and pandan leaves / bay leaves in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture is heated through.
- Add the tapioca and gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- Spoon the sago kheer / tapioca pudding in serving bowl.
- In a separate non stick pan, melt the jaggery or palm sugar with little water in high heat. Cook and stirring for couple of minutes till the jaggery / sugar dissolves completely.
- Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds over it and let it cook for few seconds more.
- To serve, add the caramelized banana over the sago pudding, drizzle the sesame and jaggery syrup over it.
- Serve with fresh cut mango or pineapple slices.
- Taste best when the pudding is served chilled.
Cut the banana into thick slices. Roll the banana slices in granulated sugar or jaggery powder. Coat them evenly. Melt some butter in a pan. Add bananas and sugar. Cook till the bananas started showing golden brown color. Flip it over and cook the other side as well.