Sago Gula Melaka: Sago Pudding with Palm Sugar

Sago Gula Melaka is a classic Malaysian dessert that transports you to a world where simplicity and flavor coalesce into a delightful gastronomic experience. At its core, this dessert features just a few humble ingredients: sago pearls, coconut milk, and the rich caramel flavor of Gula Melaka, or palm sugar. The translucent pearls offer a playful texture, while the sweetness of the palm sugar syrup and the creamy layer of coconut milk create a balance of decadent yet refreshing tastes. It’s a traditional and beloved end to many Malaysian meals, served either chilled or at room temperature, and it’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate.

Sago Gula Melaka: Sago Pudding with Palm Sugar


  • 1 cup sago pearls
  • 6 cups water (for boiling sago)
  • 200g Gula Melaka (palm sugar), chopped
  • 1 cup water (for palm sugar syrup)
  • 1 pandan leaf, tied into a knot (optional)
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking Steps

  • Rinse the sago pearls in cold water and drain.
  • Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a pot, then add the sago pearls. Cook them, stirring regularly, until they turn translucent. This usually takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the sago pearls are cooked, drain them and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch.
  • Spoon the sago pearls into individual serving bowls or a large mold, then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour to set.
  • For the Gula Melaka syrup, combine the palm sugar, 1 cup of water, and the pandan leaf in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar fully dissolves and the syrup thickens slightly. Remove the pandan leaf and set aside to cool.
  • Mix the coconut milk with salt in a separate bowl. Stir until the salt is fully dissolved, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • To serve, unmold the set sago onto plates, if using a large mold, or simply take the individual serving bowls out of the fridge. Top with a generous drizzle of the Gula Melaka syrup and a spoonful of the chilled coconut milk.

Sago Gula Melaka is not just a dessert; it’s a cultural tapestry that speaks of resourcefulness and tropical abundance. Sago itself is a source of carbohydrates, offering energy, while coconut milk provides fats that are necessary for a balanced diet. The key to this dish lies in the quality of the ingredients, especially the Gula Melaka, which should have a deep, rich flavor and an aroma that hints at smoky caramel. When shopping for coconut milk, look for options that have a high percentage of coconut extract to ensure the creamy texture and taste that this dessert deserves. Sago Gula Melaka is a perfect example of how the simplest ingredients can come together to create a dessert that is both comforting and exotic, much like the land it comes from.

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