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Recipes | A Few Healthy Savory Indian Breakfast treats with Sago and Semolina

2 October 2012 14 Comments

Indian healthy breakfasts

I have lost count of the number of times I tried soaking sago for making this popular breakfast recipe and using the same for starching my sarees. Those were the days when I stayed away from mom for higher studies in Delhi and later for job prospects. Bored of my usual sandwich breakfasts I wanted to try my hands on some of the Indian breakfast recipes I used to love eating but would dare not make it.

I simply couldn’t get the correct sago consistency to make the Sabudana Khichdi which is non sticky and fluffy. And most of the times the soaked sticky sago was used to starch my office sarees.

A signature dish of Maharashtra in India, Sabudana Khichdi or Sago breakfast recipe is mainly cooked during fasting period when certain food items such as grain, pulses, onion & garlic are avoided. But then neither do I fast nor do I wait for any occasion to cook what I love 🙂

It was only after I met this newly married Marathi couple who shared the common floor with us in the same building. We would share our breakfasts on holidays and I learned this recipe watching her cook in her house. Sabudana or sago are machine made pearls from the roots of Cassava or Tapioca. These white transparent pearls are widely used in making Indian desserts and savory dishes. You can get these sago pearls in any Asian super market.

More about Tapioca or sago on Wiki.

The other popular breakfast recipe at my home is Upma, a specialty from South India. This quick, healthy and delicious breakfast recipe often gets transformed into a filling dinner and snack at times.

1. Quick Suji Upma or Savory Breakfast with Semolina

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma

Semolina Upma (picture taken long back with P&S)


  • 1 cup semolina or suji/rawa
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1”ginger piece
  • 2 green chilies
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp Bengal gram
  • 1 tsp. de husked black gram
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • Coriander leaves
  • Salt as desired
  • A pinch of asafoetida powder

Method; Dry roast the semolina till it turns light golden in color. Peel and slice onion and chop tomato.

Chop green chilies finely. Boil water in a vessel and keep separately.

Heat oil in a wok and crackle mustard seeds, add Bengal gram and de husked black gram (dhuli urad daal) in hot oil and saute for a minute.

Add chopped green chilies, onion, tomato, ginger and cook for 3 minutes on low flame.

Add roasted semolina and saute for 5 minutes to let each grain well coated with oil.

Pour hot water little by little and keep stirring the wet ingredients. Cover the wok with a lid and let it cook for another 3 minutes. Take off the flame and sprinkle chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with pickle or any chutney of your choice.

2. Sabudana Khichdi or Savory Breakfast with Sago

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma


  • 1 cup sago or sabudana (Tapioca)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. groundnuts
  • 1 small potato
  • 2 green chilly
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • A few sprigs curry leaves
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Salt as desired

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma

Method; Wash the sago pearls and soak in water for 3-4 hours. The sago perls will double in size.

Drain excess water and spread on a clean kitchen napkin. This step will ensure that the sago does not stick to each other when cooking.

Dry roast the groundnuts in a pan till they turn dark brown from outside. Rub the groundnuts to remove the skin. Fill the roasted groundnut in a zip lock or in a cloth napkin and crush it with a rolling pin. You could even grind it to make coarse powder of it.

Peel and dice the potato in very small cubes.

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma

Heat oil in a non-stick wok or pan and crackle cumin seeds. Add cubed potatoes pieces, curry leaves, ginger, turmeric powder, salt, sugar and cook for about 6-7 minutes till the potatoes are soft and well cooked.

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma

Add the soaked sago pearls and mix it gently with the other ingredients.

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma

Served with crushed roasted groundnuts

Pour the lemon juice and sprinkle the roasted groundnut powder before serving.

Indian healthy breakfasts, sago and couscous upma

This recipe is adapted to my taste and may differ from the authentic Sago khichdi recipe cooked during fasting period, in which turmeric is avoided and cumin seeds are used to temper the dish. I like my sago pearls with the dramatic yellow hue.


  1. If you like slightly mushy upma, add one more cup of water while cooking the semolina mixture.
  2. Add fresh veggies such as peas, carrots, beans to the semolina upma to make it healthier and tasty.
  3. If you like fluffy semolina Upma , increase the water content by half a cup.
  4. The sago variety used to make this recipe is smaller transparent pearls. Large sago pearls will require more soaking hours.
  5. Many recipes call for boiled and cubed potatoes for sago khichdi, I like this version of fried potatoes.



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  • mjskit said:

    All of the tapioca or sago that I’ve tried was so bland. That is certainly not this case here. Your sago looks delicious and with all of those spices it would be a great eye opener in the morning! I love it! Your Semolina Upma also looks delicious! I really need to try these and dress up my morning routine which compared to yours it quite boring. Beautiful pics Darlin!
    mjskit recently posted..Experimenting With Pizza Stone – Pizza with Poolish Method by AlterkitchenMy Profile

  • Kiran @ KiranTarun.com said:

    That sabudhana kichdi looks absolutely yum!!
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com recently posted..Whole Wheat Sunflower Seed BreadMy Profile

  • chinmayie @ love food eat said:

    I am craving upma suddenlyl!! The saro kichdi also looks delicious 🙂
    chinmayie @ love food eat recently posted..100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Loaf (My Version With Some Tricks & Tips)My Profile

  • Maureen said:

    This looks so good. I’ve just begun cooking Indian dishes and I’m in love. 🙂
    Maureen recently posted..Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Wattleseed Cream SauceMy Profile

  • Latha said:

    Sabudana khichdi looks so yummy and the lovely shimmering yellow color is very inviting.
    Latha recently posted..Aval / Poha Puliodharai / Spiced Flattened Rice ~ Quick VersionMy Profile

  • marla said:

    I have got to try this! The color is so pretty and I bet the texture of those little semolina pearls is awesome 🙂
    marla recently posted..Roasted Maple Coconut Apple ButterMy Profile

  • usha said:

    The sabudhana can be soaked for half an hour in enough water and then drained through a sieve and kept overnight,so that it is ready for breakfast in the morning.

    Traditionally turmeric and ginger are not added to this dish ,only jira is added to the tempering and peanut powder and green chill mixture is mixed with the sabudhana before cooking .Salt ,a bit of sugar ,lime ,corriander lvs and grated coconut make up the rest of the ingredients.

  • sanjeeta kk (author) said:

    @Usha, Thanks for the info, useful for those looking for the authentic sabudana khichdi. I like my sago khichdi with yellow pearls and avoid cumin as my children don’t like it.

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspective said:

    What a unique breakfast post. I need to branch out more at breakfast time!
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective recently posted..Creepy Crawly Cake TrufflesMy Profile

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook said:

    I’ve used tapioca before and I still have some left in my pantry. Chinese or some Asian dessert uses it but it’s not common Japanese ingredient and I don’t know many recipes (I’ve seen a couple on blogs). How interesting to eat tapioca for breakfast, not dessert!
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  • Vijitha said:

    A delicious breakfast. I love anything that’s healthy, light and low glycemic. I make upma with these and they are so filling. I loved the first picture. Looks so good Sanjeeta.
    Vijitha recently posted..Vietnamese Cooking: Chicken Satay with lettuce, herbs, peanut sauce and brown riceMy Profile

  • Priya said:

    Both makes me hungry..Wonderful foods.
    Priya recently posted..Chocolate Milk Powder BurfiMy Profile

  • foodwanderings said:

    Love this semolina savory breakfast Sanjeeta. Love how the grains are popping yellow and clear. You caught me just with coffee in my belly so you can imagine these images made me hungry!
    foodwanderings recently posted..Fig ChutneyMy Profile

  • usha singh said:

    This dish looks wonderful i remember my granmother making sabudana kichdi for her Ekdassi fast. Do you have a recipe for the the ekadassi khadi that they make

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