‘Saatu’, Flaky Sugar Glazed Indian Doughnut Holes Spiced with Cardamom





There are some things which are healthy and good for you and then there are things which are so special that you really don’t care how it’s made!

What I have today is one of those very very special recipes which is always associated with large gathering, special celebrations and lots of family and friends around. It’s something you share it with everybody. It’s deep fried, sugar glazed and has NO healthy ingredients in it but you know what, I think it’s great and had to make an appearance in my blog. It’s very unique to my region and I had to document it.

‘Saatu’ is India’s answer to doughnuts! Or that’s the closest comparison I can think of. These are flaky, buttery, crispy and melting soft at the same time, golden brown balls with just a hint of cardamom and a sweet sweet sweet sugar coating. To sum that up in one word – DIVINE.

My today’s recipe is special also because it’s not made by me. These sinful sugary treats are made by my family cook. Every time there is a gathering, celebration or pooja at home we always have a family cook who comes home and cooks a delicious elaborate meal with varieties of South Indian delicacies. I am sharing a glimpse it with you all.

I don’t’ really want to waste too much time talking about saatus as they  speak for themselves … all I have to say is that PLEASE make this Sothern Indian specialty as it’ll be very different from everything you have tasted before.

I shot everything in very little light with food all over while a super fast professional cook was churning out hundreds of ‘saatus’! This is the first time I am shooting like this so pardon me for the not so sharp photos.

First let me introduce our cook Mr. Venugopala Bhat who is the creator of these gorgeous beauties.







































  • 6 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of ghee
  • 1 tsp freshly pealed green cardamom pods
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • Oil for deep frying


Heat ghee till it’s piping hot. Do not burn it, heat it till it melts and is fragrant only.

Peal the cardamom and use only the inside seeds. Keep them whole as crushing them is going to make the patties turn darker in colour when deep fried. Place the flour in a wide vessel, mix in the cardamom and pour the hot ghee on it. Mix it with a spoon till its combined well. When it cools down enough to handle mix the dough with your hands. Hot ghee cooks the flour with its heat and makes it smell like roasted flour. Add water and kneed this into a dough. This will require quite a lot of water as we need a very soft dough, much softer than pizza dough but not sticky. Mix it well but do not work it more than required. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes

Heat oil in a pan. Usually by the time oil is hot, dough is ready to be used. Make the dough into small lime sized balls. Roll them between your palms well to smoothen the surface, flatten it a bit and make a light thumb mark in the center. This will even out when the balls puff up after deep frying.

When the oil is ready for deep frying add the dough balls one by one into the hot oil. Fry them in low flame for about 20 minutes or more till they turn golden brown. Do not under cook them. Make sure you cook them in low flame or you will have crisp brown outer skin with uncooked sticky center. Cooking it to the flaky, perfectly cooked center with a golden skin is where the trick of perfect ‘saatu’ lies!

Once done let them sit for a couple of hours till they cool down completely. It’s usually left overnight for best results.

Place 3 cups sugar with 1 cup water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Let it boil till it reaches a nice syrupy consistency. We call it the ‘single thread’ syrup. Basically, place a drop of syrup on your thumb and press it with your finger. When you pull your fingers apart, syrup should form a thin thread and that’s when the syrup is ready. It’ll be as thick as honey.  Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool down. Keep stirring it till it gets thicker and starts changing colour. When the syrup cools down enough, throw about 10 to 15 of the deep fried balls inside. Mix them well for the syrup to coat it all over. If the syrup is too hot it will not coat the saatus enough and if it cools down to much, sugar coating will be too thick outside. If you feel like the sugar syrup is not think enough allow it to cool a little more. if the syrup is coating saatus too much, bring it back to a boil once again and let it cool enough only to coat the saatus with a thin layer. Carefully take them out one by one and place them on a non stick surface. We use a banana leaf but silver foil or butter paper should serve the purpose. Turn them over to help them cool on the other side as well. Repeat with rest of the deep fried balls.

When completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 15 days outside and a month if refrigerated.



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  • Samruddhi

    Hi Chinmayee,

    Made this the other day as I was really missing home and all the sweets we get there.Saatu came out just perfect My MIL visited us and she couldnt believe that I made them at home. Thanks a tonne for the recipe.

  • Rachel

    Hi Chinmayie, i’m writing from New Zealand and was wondering if you could let me know what ghee is??? We don’t have it here or maybe it goes by another name. Really want to make them, they look delicious. Just came across your blog from Pinterest. Your blog is beautiful and i shall be back!


    • Chinmayie

      Hi Racheal, ‘Ghee’ is also known as Clarified Butter. It’s made just like ‘brown butter’ but all the milk residue is skimmed after that to get a clear golden liquid. If you make these please let me know how they turned out!

  • Navya

    wow, wonderfull chinnu , this sweet is famous in south india You have captured the making so beautifully!thank you for sharing.

  • shrikripa

    Hi Chinmayie,I am also from Puttur.When I saw your post about saatu,wanted to try immediately.When I tried ,used exact amount of ingredient.It was a total disaster.Then, today I tried it again with same quantity of flour with 1 cup of ghee,came out really nice.I think in our native,cooks always use their eye measurement..so, he must have told you according to that.But whatever, worth trying..husband and kids liked it a lot.Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Chinmayie

      Hey Shrikripa! Thanks a lot for stopping by.
      It’s really strange that the quantity of ghee didn’t work for you! Our cook actually measured everything right in front of me and made everything!
      I am definitely trying this out once again to get it right!
      Thanks for sharing this with me :)

  • Prathibha

    This is one of my favorite sweets!! My mouth’s watering :)

  • Saee Koranne-Khandekar

    Gorgeous! I love the crumb! I was reminded of the balushahi, too. Loved your blog–promptly bookmarked!

  • pavithra

    Beautifully done..love it totally. Wish I can have one now.:)

  • Shrikripa

    waw………..really want to go to native.Hats off to Havyaka cooks.No match to their saatu’s and saaru.

  • Rosa

    Those doughnuts look fantastic! Thanks for sharing.



  • Harini Prakash

    This sweet is known by various names and made in various shapes in different regions all over India. Who cannot love them? They are so tasty! You have captured the making so beautifully!

  • tina

    first time here….beautiful clicks and recipes dear….

  • Magic of Spice

    What an incredible post! So fun to see all of this :)

  • Nash at Plateful

    So true, who cares about calorie count when you see such delicious beauties?!! To be honest, I’ve never heard of this treat before, let alone taste it. It sure sounds and looks too good to be missed. And hey don’t worry about the shots, they’ve all come out great!

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook

    OMG… I need him to be at my house next. I love how these doughnut holes are made and I just forget about dieting for one day just for these delicious treats. I love cardamom so much and the doughnut won’t last too long at my house!

  • Jackie

    These do sound Divine. Thanks for sharing.

  • Angie@Angiesrecipes

    Those Indian doughnut bites look fabulous!

  • anh

    What a great post!!

  • Heidi @ Food Doodles

    Those look fantastic! I love the cardamom, it sounds delicious :)

  • Miriam @ Sometimes I Veg

    Those look amazing, I love the step by step pictures. It’s wonderful that you can really appreciate your family’s cook’s special treats!

  • Chinmayie

    Thank you all for stopping by :)

  • Sasha @ The Procrastobaker

    Your photos are gorgeous, as is your lovely writing style :) I adoorree cardamom but have yet to use it in anything but curry type foods, i really would love to give these yummy little things a go some time. You have a beautiful blog and i will visit regularly from now on for sure :)

    • Chinmayie

      Thank you so much Sasha! In India Cardamom is used in many desserts. Try it instead of cinnamon when you bake next time. It tastes great in cookies, muffins, scones, puddings and porridges. It has a strong flavor though…

  • Tanvi@SinfullySpicy

    That balti full of ghee has made me nostalgic! Love such gatherings, the amount of fun and the food cooked with love…this recipe sounds very similar to north indian “shakar pare”..except that these are round…I m drooling..can pop fe of these into my mouth if possible via screen! :)

  • Lindsey@Lindselicious

    Super cool photos! This sounds yummy I love spiced desserts.

  • Sharmilee! :)

    Wow beautiful pictures n yummy looking

  • kankana

    I agree with you .. i don’t care how it’s made .. how much calorie it has .. i just love it :)

  • Shruti

    Wow, those family gatherings and functions with topless cooks sweating & rolling out the best aromas of Saaru, Obbattu and what not. Chinmayie you have captured it well. I can only imagine devouring the food on plantain leaf with loads of family-gossips and laughter!

  • Brooke

    So simple and beautiful. I bet they taste great, too! Nothing but ghee and flour, they have to!

  • Sanchita

    First time on your blog and I simply love it. Will be a frequent visitor to your blog now :)

  • Pia @ Peppercorns in my Pocket

    My mother-in-law was famous for her doughnuts. Every time the jar emptied, we’d request another batch. This post, and the gorgeous photographs, reminded me of those. Good memories.

  • anushruti

    This is similar to the famous “balushahi”! Wonderful!On what occasion were these made? Love south Indian celebrations.

    • Chinmayie

      Hey Anushruti! Sorry for the late reply! just totally missed your comment! It was made for a small puja at home :)

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