The Legacy of Sago Fryums

Deborah Sybil   |   August 9, 2022 

When I was 14 years old we moved to a different city where my parents rented a little house in the outskirts. The house had a little gate leading to the small front yard, a backyard that was bigger than the house itself,  stairs on the side of the house which led to the terrace, and a teeny-tiny room under the stairs. Among the many houses we lived in, this was the first one with a terrace of its own.

Every summer this terrace was put to good use by my mother. The coconut trees in the backyard were too far away to provide any shade leaving the terrace open to sunlight for most parts of the day. This made it a perfect place for drying the fryums that mumma made every summer – fryums not just for the summer but for the entire year and not just for us but for all her friends too. That was a whole lot of fryums to be made in one month!

Mumma was known for many of her recipes. It will ever remain a mystery how she kept her vadais super-crispy on the outside and soft on the inside or how her biryani tasted the same every single time or how her paniyarams were just perfect in shape and taste. Among many things, she is still remembered for the fryums she made. Every time I go home, mumma’s friend from church—Jayshree aunty—gifts me a box of homemade fryums in my mother’s memory.

Making homemade fryums is a tedious process but the rewards outweigh the efforts. Mumma ensured that my sister and I were part of the tedious process. She made many kinds of fryums – rice, sago, semolina, finger millet (ragi); many flavours – cumin, onion, tomato, pepper; different shapes - spiral, spherical, circular, cylindrical, and irregular. The spiral ones were the most difficult to make. We needed the murukku instrument to make the spirals and there was only one of those at home so basically I didn’t need to help with the spirally ones (not that I ever got them right anyway!).

The sago ones were the easiest and every time mumma made them, we were rudely woken up by 5:30-6:00 in the morning. Mumma would have been up earlier to get the sago mix ready. My sister’s role was to secure the plastic sheets on the terrace with heavy stones or bricks (and then she could go back to sleep). My role was to carry the big cauldron of hot sago mix up the stairs and help her spread it on the plastic sheet using a tablespoon. Around 10 litres of the mix to be spread one spoon at a time at 6:00 in the morning. At that time, I did think that the world was better off without fryums!

Mumma is in heaven now and all I have are her memories and her recipes. The following is her famous sago fryum recipe (slightly modified by me) –

Sago Fryums


Sago - 1 cup

Salt - 1 tbsp

Cumin - 1 tbsp

Ginger (grated) - 1 tsp

Asafoetida - 1 pinch

Lemon juice - 1tsp

Vegetable Oil - 1 tsp

Flavouring agent (use any one)

Onion (finely chopped) - 1 cup

Tomato paste - 1 cup

Pepper (coarsely ground) - 1 tbsp

Green chilli (finely chopped) - 1 tsp


  1. Soak 1 cup sago in 4 cups of water and salt for 6-7 hours. The sago granules should be mushy at the end of soaking.
  2. Drain the soaked sago granules and boil them in 4 cups of water till the sago granules become translucent. This could take about 20 minutes.
  3. In a separate pan, heat the oil and lightly fry cumin and ginger. Add asafoetida and lemon juice. Add this mixture to the boiling sago along with the flavouring agent of your choice and cook for 4-5 min.
  4. Let the sago mix cool for 10-15 min. Meanwhile spread food grade plastic sheets or butter paper on a suitable surface. (A surface which gets direct sunlight is preferable)
  5. Take one tablespoon of the warm sago mix and spread it over the sheet to make a small circle. Let the fryum dry. This quantity of sago will give around 50-60 fryums.
  6. Flip the fryums for complete drying. This would require two days of drying.
  7. Deep fry the sago fryums and serve as a snack/side with rice/roti.


Photo by VD Photography on Unsplash

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Deborah Sybil

Deborah loves reading, enjoys cooking and is ready with book/restaurant suggestions for all who ask. She likes travelling and interacting with almost anyone she meets. Nothing interests her as much as the riches of God's word and His work in the present times. She is a professor of Oral Surgery by vocation and lives in Delhi with her husband, Augustine and two adorable sons, Caleb and Bryan.

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