How Did Sabudana Save Millions Of Lives? Find Out

Shardiya Navratri is around the corner and there is one thing that has to be there when we talk of this festival. Do you what we are talking about? Yes, our beloved sabudana. Sabudana khichdi paired with sweetened curd signifies Navratri in the best way it can. This dish is loved in all parts of the country but is made extensively during Navratri.  

Considered appropriate for vrat as it follows a strict onion and garlic base, sabudana khichdi is very simple and quick. It is often paired with a kick of green chilies and crunchy roasted peanuts that make it a super culinary indulgence. Apart from having a delicious taste and texture, sabudana also has a long history of saving millions of people and becoming the sole source of sustenance in a great crisis. Let us see more about it. 

Though the preparation of sabudana is quick and easy, the preparation of its raw ingredient is quite a tedious task. This produce is actually extracted from the cassava root. You didn’t know this, did you? Many of us think that the consumption of sabudana is associated mainly with the northern and central parts of India but it was actually introduced in South India, especially Kerala. But how did this cassava from Brazil travelled all the way to Kerala? 

As per some known legends, it all started somewhere around the 1800s when a great famine hit the erstwhile Travancore kingdom. Ruler Ayilyam Thirunal Rama Varma with the help of his brother and successor Visakham Thirunal Maharaja adopted several measures to help the people cope with the famine. One of the measures was to introduce this starchy produce as an alternate source of food to revitalize a starving population. King’s youngest brother Vishakham was a botanist and it was his discovery that helped the Travancore people survive the wrath of famine.  

Though people were hesitant initially to embrace this foreign root into their diet, fearing it to be poisonous and this originated its cooking style. Vishakham instructed the cooks to make this dish in a certain way and made it a part of his royal meal. According to his instructions, the raw ingredient had to be thoroughly cleaned and boiled. This was to ensure that kappa, which would be the end product is free of its bitter taste. As the years passed, this became a reliable and nutritious source of nutrition. Even at that time, rice was expensive and this increased the popularity of kappa which was cheap. Even now, kappa or sabudana is a vital part of Kerala cuisine. Intriguing right? 

Let us now give you a quick recipe of Navratri special sabudana khichdi that you can make at home. Have a look! 

  • 1 cup sabudana 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds 
  • 1 medium potato 
  • 2 tsp raw peanuts 
  • 2 green chilies 
  • Handful of green chilies 
  • ½ tsp salt 
  • 1/2 lemon juice 
  • Handful of coriander (chopped)  


  • Take sabudana and rinse it under water until clear.  
  • Transfer the rinsed sabudana to a large bowl and add 1 cup water to it.  
  • Then drain it using a colander just to get rid of excess water the next day. 
  • Press the pearl between your thumb and index finger to check. 
  • Take a pan and heat the oil on medium flame.   
  • Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. 
  • Add diced potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. 
  • Add the raw peanuts and let it cook for another 3 minutes. 
  • Add green chili and then add curry leaves.  
  • Add the drained sabudana to the pan and add salt and sugar. Mix until well combined. 
  • Cook until the sabudana becomes translucent. Make sure you don’t cook it for a long time else it will become sticky.  
  • In the last, add lemon juice and coriander.  
  • Serve sabudana khichdi hot with chilled yogurt.