Sabudana kheer is a sweet pudding made with sago, milk and sugar. It is a popular Indian sweet made on Hindu fasting days. We generally make sabudana kheer during the Navratri Festival or during any of the fasting or vrat days.
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Sabudana are also called as sago. These are small round shaped pearls made from the starch obtained from the roots of the cassava plant (yuca, tapioca). Sabudana are also known as tapioca pearls.
In Northern and Western India, these opaque white pearls are called Sabudana. In Kannada, known as sabbakki, in Tamil, they are called javvarisi, in Telugu sagubiyyam, and in Malayalam, known as chowari.
About this recipe
My sabudana kheer recipe is very easy. Sabudana kheer is my mom’s favorite kheer and she makes it very often.
Obviously, I have learned to make sabudana kheer from her and so this is my mom’s keeper recipe – one she has been making for many years.
In our recipe, I cook sabudana first in the water which helps in cooking them faster. You can choose to cook sabudana in milk, but it will take more time.
After the milk is added, the sabudana are slowly simmered further, which softens them completely breaking some of the tapioca pearls.
This process releases the starch from the sabudana which helps in thickening this kheer. The end result is a creamy, smooth delicious sabudana kheer.
How to make Sabudana Kheer
1. Rinse sabudana for few times in running water until the water runs clear of starch. Soak sabudana in fresh clean water for 15 to 20 minutes in a thick bottomed pan or a saucepan. My method is extremely helpful and handy if you have forgotten to soak sabudana.
2. Place this pan on your stove-top and allow to cook sabudana until you see all of them starting to float on top. They loose their denseness and become light.
The opaqueness in the tapioca pearls gives way to translucency and they start swelling up. This takes about 5 to 6 minutes on low to medium heat.
3. Next add milk and the cardamom powder and stir.
4. Add sugar.
5. Continue to simmer until the sabudana has softened well and the sabudana kheer has thickened. About 20 to 25 minutes on a low to medium flame. Stir often so that the kheer or sabudana does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Some of the tapioca pearls would break too and also help in the thickening of sabudana kheer. These sago pearls are plain starch and this helps in the thickening. Switch off the heat and add cashews and raisins.
6. Serve the creamy Sabudana kheer hot or warm or chilled. If you want then you can garnish sabudana kheer with saffron strands or some chopped cashews.
This is a creamy and smooth kheer. Just remember to cook sabudana very well. Once cooked, they should not give you any resistance when you bite into these sago pearls – meaning they should not feel hard or dense to your teeth.
Sabudana kheer naturally thickens after cooling, so keep in mind the consistency you want in case you want to serve it cold.
If the kheer becomes very thick, so you can add some milk to it while serving. Sabudana kheer is easy to digest too.
Serve Sabudana kheer hot or warm. You can even refrigerate and serve it chilled. While serving garnish with nuts.
Sabudana kheer can be had on its own or serve as a part of a satvik (no onion no garlic) meal or platter.
- To soak or not to soak: My recipe does not call for soaking sabudana for hours. So real handy for folks who have forgotten to soak sabudana. But if you have time, then you can soak sabudana for 2 to 3 hours. Soaking sabudana will reduce the cooking time.
- The texture of cooked sabudana: After cooking, sabudana will be soft, slightly sticky and look translucent. They should not have any bite to them.
- Choose the right sabudana: For making sabudana kheer, use the regular sized sabudana available in the market. Do not use nylon sabudana which comes in large sizes as well as small sizes.
- Nuts: Like any Indian sweet dish, you can always add your choice of nuts and dry fruits. Choose almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, dates, dried figs, chironji (charoli). You can also skip adding the nuts or dry fruits altogether.
- Flavorings: I always add cardamom powder or saffron (kesar) in my kheer recipes. But you can experiment and add any bright or floral flavors like orange extract, rose water, screw pine water, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, lavender extract, or anything you fancy.
- Sweeteners: In place of sugar, you can add any sweetener. If using jaggery, palm sugar, palm jaggery, or coconut sugar, when the sabudana kheer is done, place it on your kitchen counter-top for 4 to 5 minutes. This will cool it a bit. Add grated or chopped jaggery, palm sugar, coconut sugar, or palm jaggery. Mix and serve.
- Vegan option: Make the kheer with almond milk. Follow these steps – first cook sabudana in water until they are completely softened. Add almond milk, sugar and gently heat to a slight simmer. Do not boil. Finish off with the cashews and raisins. Use the same method if adding coconut milk. Let the coconut milk become warm or get heated gently and do not boil.
- Storage: Any extra leftover kheer can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
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- ½ cup sabudana or sago (tapioca pearls) – for a thicker kheer, you can add ⅔ sabudana
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups water
- 4 to 5 tablespoons sugar or raw sugar – add as required
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder or 4 to 5 green cardamoms crushed in a mortar-pestle
- 2 tablespoon chopped cashews
- ½ tablespoon raisins
- 3 to 4 saffron strands for garnish – optional
- Rinse the sabudana pearls until the water runs clear of the starch.
- Take a thick bottomed pan or sauce pan in which you will be making the kheer.
- Add the rinsed sabudana pearls and water in the pan.
- Cover and let the pearls get soaked in the water for 15 to 20 minutes.
Making sabudana kheer
- Later keep this pan on the stove top and begin to cook the sabudana pearls.
- Meanwhile heat or warm the milk too. No need to boil the milk.
- After 4 to 5 minutes, add the milk to the pan and continue to cook.
- Add sugar and cardamom powder and simmer till the sabudana have cooked well for about 20 to 25 minutes on a low to medium flame.
- Keep on stirring often so that the kheer or the cooked sabudana does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Switch off the heat and add cashews and raisins.
- Garnish with saffron strands.
- Serve sabudana kheer hot or warm or chilled.
- Soaking: You can choose to soak sabudana in water for 2 to 3 hours. Soaking sabudana reduces the cooking time of the kheer.
- Cooked sabudana texture: Sabudana should be soft, slightly sticky, and look translucent after they have been cooked really well. They should not be hard or dense.
- Choose the right sabudana: Use the regular-sized sabudana available in the market. Do not use nylon sabudana which comes in large size as well as small size.
- Nuts: You can always add your choice of nuts and dry fruits. You can even skip adding the nuts, dry fruits altogether.
- Flavorings: You can experiment and add any bright or floral flavors like orange extract, rose water, screw pine water, vanilla extract, lavender extract, cinnamon powder, or anything you fancy.
- Sweeteners: In place of sugar, you can add any sweetener. If using jaggery, palm sugar, palm jaggery, or coconut sugar, when the kheer is done, place it on your kitchen counter-top for 4 to 5 minutes. This will cool it a bit. Add grated or chopped jaggery, palm sugar, coconut sugar, or palm jaggery. Mix and serve.
- Vegan option: Follow these steps with almond milk – first cook sabudana pearls in water until they are completely softened. Add almond milk, sugar and gently heat to a slight simmer. Do not boil. Finish off with the cashews and raisins. If adding coconut milk, let it become warm or get heated gently and do not boil.
- Storage: Leftover kheer can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This sabudana kheer recipe post from the archives (September 2013) has been republished and updated on 12 December 2020.