Fast Recipes

Sago pudding

This dessert is popular in Malaysia and Singapore, and we can why – it's pretty, simple and sweet with palm-sugar syrup.

By Tony Tan
  • 30 mins cooking
  • 2 hrs marinating refrigerating
  • Serves 6
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Sago pudding is a very popular dessert in Malaysia and Singapore. This pretty, simple sweet is served with syrup made with gula Melaka – a dark palm sugar derived from the nectar of a coconut palm flowerbud. Serve these on their own, or with passionfruit or diced mango.


  • 2 pandan leaves (optional; see note), tied into a knot
  • 160 gm (1 cup) sago pearls
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
Palm-sugar syrup
  • 250 gm gula Melaka (see note), chopped
  • 2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot, or 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped


  • 1
    To make sago, place pandan leaves in a large saucepan and cover with 3 litres water. Bring to the boil, then rain in sago pearls, ensuring water remains boiling, and cook until semitranslucent (7 minutes). Remove from heat, cover and leave until sago is translucent (10 minutes).
  • 2
    Discard pandan, then strain sago through a fine sieve and rinse under cold water to remove excess starch. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in milk and a pinch of salt, then stir over a bowl of ice until chilled. Sago can be served at this stage, however, the texture will be quite soft. Alternatively, spoon into 6 x 220ml dariole moulds and refrigerate to set (2 hours).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for palm-sugar syrup, stir gula Melaka, pandan and 250ml water in a saucepan over low-medium heat until sugar melts. Reduce heat to low and simmer until a light syrup (5 minutes). Strain, discard leaves and cool.
  • 4
    Combine coconut milk with a pinch of salt. Turn out sago from moulds or spoon onto plates, spoon over salted coconut milk and drizzle with palm-sugar syrup to serve.


Gula Melaka and pandan leaves are available from Asian grocers; if gula Melaka is unavailable, use another palm sugar (the flavour will vary).