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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gula Melaka Sago Pudding


Gula Melaka (palm sugar) Sago pudding is one of the popular dessert among the Peranakan (Chinese-Malay origin). Gula Melaka is originated from a state in Malaysia, the Melaka State (Malacca). Melaka is one of the historical towns in Malaysia besides Penang. It preserved the historical values in every aspect of its town, such as the building architectural, streets, historical items found & of course food. A brief of Milaca’s history here Melaka is one of the state the Baba & Nyonya (峇峇娘惹) originated.

A little touch of Baba & Nyonya from here - Peranakan is descended from Chinese migrants who first came to Malacca many centuries ago. Adopting Malay customs and cultures, theirs is a unique heritage unlike any other. Peranakans are also referred to a 'Straits Chinese'.

It is still a subject of debate whether the Peranakans actually intermarried with the local Malay population or maintained a pure bloodline, but most are said to be of Hokkien ancestry. 'Babas' refer to male Peranakans while 'Nyonya' refer to females. Often Nyonya is used to substitute the term 'Peranakan' as well. Peranakans also settled in Penang, the only other state than Malacca.

In terms of dressing, the women wear traditional Malay costumes, notably the 'Baju Kebaya' a form of blouse woven with silk. Foot-binding, a practice carried over from China, used to be common among the affluent folk but over the centuries, it is no longer practised and for good reason. Perhaps the Peranakan's most famous legacy is Nyonya food, a fusion of Malay ingredients with Chinese cooking styles. Some of the most popular dishes include 'Belacan', 'Assam Laksa', 'Cendol' and 'Kuih Talam'.

Peranakans speak a dialect of the Malay language called 'Baba Malay' which has some elements of the Hokkien language. Their most notable musical entertainment form is the 'Dondang Sayang'; or 'Love Song' where Babas and Nyonyas exchanged poems in a humorous style, accompanied by a violin, accordion and traditional instruments; the Rebana and Gong. Many Malaccans, regarded less of their ethnicity, often indulge in Dondang Sayang; such is its popularity.

Peranakan cuisine has variety of Authentic taste between the combination of Chinese & Malay cooking. Nyonya food has becomes Malaysian's favourite food nowadays, there are many Nyonya restaurant in town or other states apart from Melaka. The exotic range of Nyonya food served in Melaka or Nyonya restaurant has becomes one of the main attraction for tourists or local residents, such as Kapitan Chicken, Assam Curry Fish, Bubur Cha Cha & many more.

Sago Gula Melaka with coconut milk is one of the famous dessert in Peranakan / Nyonya food. Gula Melaka has been using widely not only in Melaka but also in many of the high class hotels and restaurant. Gula Melaka or palm sugar has it exotic flavour, brings the cuisine an authentic yet delicious taste.

Gula melaka is made by making several slits into the bud of a coconut tree and collecting the sap. Then, the sap is boiled until it thickens after which, in the traditional way, it is poured into bamboo tubes between 3-5 inches in length, and left to solidify to form cylindrical cake blocks. Alternatively it can be poured into glass jars or plastic bags. Gula melaka is used in some savory dishes but mainly in the local desserts and cakes of the Southeast Asian region. Gula Melaka Sago pudding, shown in the picture, is one of many desserts made with gula melaka. It is among some of the more popular gastronomic delights of Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) origin. This dish consists of a bland sago pudding served with gula melaka syrup. In some ways it resembles the international Creme Caramel and differ only in the ingredients used. It can be served either cold or hot. To enrich the pudding, coconut milk or 'santan' its Malay name, is added. Santan is the South-East Asian non-dairy counterpart of the dairy cream, the latter either whipped or in liquid form, is used mainly in Western cuisines but both add richness or provide viscosity when these are required. Reference from Wikipedia

Sago is a starch extracted from the pith of sago palm stems, Metroxylon sagu. It is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea and the Moluccas, where it is called saksak and sagu. It is traditionally cooked and eaten in various forms, such as rolled into balls, mixed with boiling water to form a paste, or as a pancake.

Sago looks like many other starches, and both sago and tapioca are produced commercially in the form of "pearls". Sago pearls are similar in appearance to tapioca pearls, and the two may be used interchangeably in some dishes. This similarity causes some confusion in the names of dishes made with the pearls.

Pearl sago, a commercial product, closely resembles pearl tapioca. Both typically are small (about 2 mm diameter) dry, opaque balls. Both may be white (if very pure) or colored naturally grey, brown or black, or artificially pink, yellow, green, etc. When soaked and cooked, both become much larger, translucent, soft and spongy. Both are widely used in South Asian cuisine, in a variety of dishes, and around the world, usually in puddings. In India, pearl sago is called javvarisi, or sabudana ("whole grain") and is used in a variety of dishes such as desserts boiled with sweetened milk on occasion of religious fasts. Reference from Wikipedia

Gula Melaka sago pudding is my all time favourite, whenever I have a chance to dine in any Nyonya restaurant, I would surely order a bowl of this sago pudding. It is made of pearl sago, topped with a dash of coconut milk and gula melaka. I like the chilled way. I would request for some shredded ice on top of the sago pudding to make it more chilled.

I have found a superb Authentic Melaka Nyonya restaurant near my working place which served the best Nyonya authentic food in town. The restaurant is decorated with Baba & Nyonya home-style decoration, consists of traditional basket, flowers, table clothes, furniture, fan, teapot, bird’s cage & many more. It gives you a feel of Nyonya’s home & cuisine.

Besides, they serve variety of home made Melaka Nyonya kuih & desserts. They also serve the gula melaka sago pudding as one of their dessert besides then bubur cha cha & cendol. This has inspired me to make Sago Gula Melaka at home to savor with my family. It is indeed a simple, easy & delicious recipe to make at home. Let's enjoy!

Simple & easy to find ingredients


Below recipe is adapted and modified from Women's Weekly Food Book - Easy healthy meals.

1 cup Pearl Sago
3 liters Water
4 cups / moulds

Gula Melaka Mixture:
1 cup Gula Melaka (palm sugar), chopped
2 tbsps Sugar
1/2 cup Water (you need to reduce the amount of water to 2 tbsp)
4 Pandan leaves (screw pine leaves), washed and knotted

Coconut milk mixture:
1 cup Coconut cream/milk (Fresh press is preferred)
A pinch of salt

1. Soak sago in water for 15 mins and drain well. Lightly grease 4 small moulds or bowls with oil.
(I didn't grease the cup as I want it to be served in the cup)
2. Bring 3 liters water to boil. Add in sago. Lower the fire and simmer until sago are translucent. Approx 30 mins.
3. Remove from the fire, drain sago and rinse under running tap water. Drain well. Immediately spoon sago into the cup/mould and lightly press with the back of a spoon. Set aside in the fridge to chill for 2 - 3 hours.
4. Meanwhile, combine gula melaka, 1/2 cup water and pandan leaves in a pot and simmer over medium fire until sugar dissolves and a thick syrup is formed. Stir occasionally. Discard the pandan leaves and set aside the gula melaka mixture.
5. In another pot, heat up coconut milk and salt.
6. To serve, drizzle gula melaka mixture and coconut milk over chilled sago and serve.

• Make sure you cook pearl sago until translucent completely.
• Cook Gula Melaka mixture till thick and smooth.
• The gula melaka mixture is a bit diluted as per the original recipe. You may need to reduce the amount of water to 2 tablespoons.

I am submitting this recipe for Merdeka Open House 2009 - MY SWEET MALAYSIA hosted by Babe-KLThis is a great way to introduce Malaysian Authentic and Traditional cuisine to everyone in the world. Let's participate and enjoy! Happy 52nd Merdeka Day, Malaysia!

23 Comentários:

♥peachkins♥ said...

I'm loving the looks of this dessert. I love sago!

Charmaine said...

I love this dessert. Hv nt had it for years. Might try your recipe. Thanks for sharing.

mycookinghut said...

I love sago and palm sugar. This will be a great dessert for me!! :)

The Little Teochew said...

Great post! Love your pics, and your dessert looks so heavenly :)

Selba said...

Like sago but without the coconut milk :)

Btw, what is the "4 cups / moulds" in the Ingredients?

Little Corner of Mine said...

Great post! I heart this dessert too, simply irresistible!

Food For Tots said...

I luv this dessert too. Beautiful shots!! Selamat Merdeka!!

Craft Passion said...

What a good research on Peranakan :) Sago pudding is my childhood favourite dessert, yummy yummy!!!!

homeladychef said...

Help!! Help!!! You are killing me with your Gula Melaka Sago Pudding!!!!

CY said...

This is one of my favourite dessers, so yummy and fatteningly sinful! :)

Pam said...

I've never had this before but I am sure I would love it - it looks wonderful.

pigpigscorner said...

yumm!!! Love creamy gula melaka desserts!

ICook4Fun said...

Great dessert. My second fav dessert beside cendol. Wish I can have some now in this hot weather.

Bits of Taste said...

peachkins: Thank you so much! So glad you like it.

Charmaine: Thanks! let me know if you have tried it.

mycookinghut: Oh! This is indeed many peoples favorite!

TLT: Thanks! Glad you like it.

Selba: Haha... you must be thinking of the Calories in coconut milk?
4 cups are used to put the sago dessert, you may use any jelly mould too but you need to grease it with some oil, put in the sago, chill them in the fridge. When it is chilled, turn upside down the mould and push the sago on a bowl or plate to serve. I prefer to just put in a desert cup, chill it and serve directly.

LCOF: Thanks! Hope you like it.

F4T: Thanks my friend! Selamat Merdeka to you too!

Craft Passion: Thanks Joanne! My all time favourite too!

homeladychef: Hahaha.... thanks! You may need to try it out some day!

CY: Hehehe... oh yes! So eat moderately and savor slowly till the end.

Pam: Thanks Pam! You may get it from the Asian Cuisine restaurant, may be China Town?

PPC: Haha... me too!

ICook4Fun: Oh yeah! A simply mouth watering dessert during this hot season!

babe_kl said...

Thanks for participating. This is our fave dessert ;-)

ck lam said...

Coconut milk and gula melaka goes hand in hand. This is one of my favorite dessert...

Lianne said...

Nice dessert selection :-) Might want to try them later today to be enjoyed infront of telly. Happy Merdeka!

Jin Hooi said...

hmmm.. yummy !! Looks great !! thanks for sharing

Bits of Taste said...

Babe KL : Thank you so much for hosting this event. It is in fact a great way to promotes Malaysian's Authentic food.

CKLam : Great! I bet Penang has more authentic Sago dessert compared to KL?

Lianne : Thanks Lianne! Happy Merdeka to you too! Hope you like it.

Jin Hooi : Thank you! Glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

i saw on Food Safari, they added beaten egg white and stirred into the cooked sago before moulding it. Is that necessary?

Bits of Taste said...

Hi anonymous, as far as I am concern, I haven't heard of this method yet. Could you please provide us the link? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I tried making this dessert. The gula Melaka mixture harden up when it cool down before I serve. Why is that so? Is it because I put too little water? Thanks

Bits of Taste said...

Hi Anonymous,
Thanks for trying out this recipe. I am a bit surprised as the gula melaka mixture harden after cooling down. I haven't face this problem. First, are you using those cylinder shape of pure gula melaka? How much of water did you added in? How did you mix the gula melaka mixture? If you have further question that I can help, you may email me at

Thanks again!

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