Sago Porridge is one of my all time favorite porridges. Cornmeal porridge comes in a close second. Sago pearls are made from edible starch from the pith of the sago palm. It looks a lot like tapioca pearls but unlike tapioca it is not made from cassava starch. I always thought sago would be hard to find in the US, until a friend shared that Indians call this sabudana and it is readily available in Indian markets or grocery stores like Patel Brothers. Once I got my hand on a bag of sago, I couldn't wait to whip up some porridge.
Spices for porridge
I typically add the same combination of spices to my porridges: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and sometimes cardamom. I don't deviate much from this because I want my porridge to have a familiar taste that I link to porridges from my childhood. Using whole or ground spices is simply a matter of preference. To make it easier to remove whole spices from the finished porridge, you may simply place the spices in a muslin cloth and tie into a knot, then fish the spice bundle out once you're done making the porridge. I don't mind encountering a clove or two while drinking my porridge, and the longer the spices sit in the porridge the more flavorful it becomes.
Rinse and your soak sago
I always give my sago a quick rinse and then let it soak, in just enough water to cover it while my water and spices are boiling. This really helps the sago to cook to the right translucency and get that signature gelatinous texture that sago is known for.
Sweetening your sago porridge
As a child, my parent sweetened our porridges with powdered full cream milk or evaporated milk and brown sugar, or condensed milk. In my quest to choose more diary free options and because diary gives my children tummy troubles, I sweetened my porridge with coconut milk and sweetened condensed coconut milk.
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The Printable Sago Porridge Recipe
Printable Recipe Card
- 1 cup of Sago Pearls
- 4 cups of water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 whole cloves
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or extract
- 1 teaspoon of almond essence or extract optional
- ½ cup of coconut milk or other milk of your choice
- ½ can of sweetened condensed coconut milk about ¼ cup, or
- sugar to taste
- Rinse the sago pearls in cool water, then soak in just enough water to cover the pearls and set aside
- Then add water and spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom) to a medium sized sauce pan on high heat and bring up to a roaring boil. Boil for about 5 minutes (or longer if you want a stronger spiced flavor)
- Next, stir in the soaked sago pearls, reduce the heat to medium and continue to boil, stirring non-stop, until the pearls are completely translucent. This may table about 5-8 minutes
- Then add the grated nutmeg, vanilla essence and almond essence if using and mix together well
- Finally add the coconut milk and sweetened condensed coconut milk and sweeten to your taste
- Serve Hot
Thank you for the tip about finding real sago pearls in Indian food markets — I can’t wait to try this. I’m curious — I saw a video showing the difference ( https://hot-thai-kitchen.com/real-sago/ ) and the host stated that she thought real sago pearls had a lot more taste than tapioca pearls — have you had both? If so, would you agree and do you prefer the sago pearls?
Althea Brown says
I do prefer real sago pearls. I can't explain the difference in the taste but it is there. Hope this helps.