Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sabudana khichdi - Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Ground Roasted Peanuts

Sabudana khichdi is one of my all time favorite dishes. Sabudana or sugo (pearl-like, similar to tapioca) is scented with cumin, green chilis and ginger, gently cooked with potatoes and sweet potatoes, and tossed with ground roasted peanuts and red cayenne pepper. Served hot and with yogurt, it is the ultimate comfort food on a cold, rainy night. Absolute perfection. Thank you, Nikki, for reminding me of this wonderful childhood comfort!

The only drawback is that sabudana is nearly all carbs with very little nutritional value like protein or vitamins. Faced with an overload of sweet potatoes from the CSA box, I decided to try a healthy variation using quinoa instead. I used mostly sweet potatoes and only one medium sized potato.

Doesn't the photo just scream autumn? I'm generally not a fan of sweet potatoes, particularly those roasted with marshmallows and brown sugar or maple syrup. I like to contrast the subtle sweetness of sweet potatoes with bold, tangy and spicy flavors like red cayenne pepper, ginger and lemon, cumin and chili powder, or coriander and nutmeg. So basically anything that transforms sweet potatoes into a savory delight tasty enough to convert a non-sweet potato eater into a sweet potato fan!

As an aside, did you know that sweet potatoes are actually very nutritious? Sweet potatoes, particularly the garnet variety, are high in fiber and beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent).

I cooked the quinoa separately, in the same manner I always cook quinoa, added the cooked quinoa to the just tender potatoes and sweet potatoes and then added the ground roasted peanuts and red cayenne pepper.  It turned out incredibly tasty, so tasty that it has become part of my regular lunch rotation, even appearing several days in a row (which says A LOT). I may or may not have stopped someone from eating it for dinner just so I could take the quinoa sabudana khichdi for lunch the next day.

Sabudana Khichdi - Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Ground Roasted Peanuts
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
optional 1 medium potato, peeled and shredded
1 green chili, thinly sliced
1/2" ginger, minced
1 tsp cumin
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper, or more to taste
1/4 cup ground roasted peanuts, or more to taste, see note
1/2 lemon juiced, or to taste
scant 1/4 tsp sugar, or to taste

In a large saute pan, heat canola oil over medium heat until shimmery. Add cumin seeds, green chili and ginger. Once cumin seeds start to sizzle, add sweet potatoes and potatoes. Saute for two minutes, stirring frequently. Season lightly with salt, cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Avoid adding too much salt as the quinoa will be salted separately.

Meanwhile, rinse quinoa in three changes of cold water and drain. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt and quinoa, bring to a boil again. Cover and reduce heat to low, cook for 15 minutes. Drain quinoa and return to saucepan, away from heat. Cover with a paper towel and replace lid. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add cooked quinoa to pan with sweet potatoes and potatoes. Season with red cayenne pepper and ground roasted peanuts. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle a few pinches of sugar. Gently stir to mix well, and cook for another minute or two. Taste for salt and balance, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Note: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, toast peanuts until light brown and fragrant. Remove from heat and working in batches, rub the peanuts in your palms to remove the skins. Set aside. Using a blender or food processor, grind the roasted peanuts into a coarse powder. Store refrigerated in an air-tight container.

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