Lemony Sago in Coconut Milk | Sabudana Coconut Payasam

Sago is back in fashion!

Lemony Sago in Coconut Milk

Sago is back in fashion! It is wonderful when it is paired with enough lemon juice that it is tangy, and enough jaggery that it is sweet, and swimming in coconut milk. A truly delicious and cooling dessert, just made for hot weather. It can be served hot, cold and at room temperature.

Are you after other Sago dishes? Try Sago Pachadi, Sago Payasam, and Sago Pilaf.

You might like to browse all Sago recipe and explore all of our Dessert recipes. See the complete set of Indian recipes too.  Or be inspired by our Late Spring dishes.

Lemony Sago in Coconut Milk

Lemony Sago in Coconut Milk

Source : traditional recipe
Cuisine: SE Asian in style
Prep time: about 1 hours soaking
Cooking time: approx 30 mins
Serves: 3-4 people, depending how you use it.

2/3 cup sago
boiling water
finely grated rind of lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 – 1/2 cup jaggery or brown sugar
1 tspn butter (optional)
1/3 cup coconut milk

Cover the sago with sufficient boiling water and allow to stand for 1 hour.

Place the sago in a saucepan and add more water if necessary. Bring to the boil and simmer until the sago is cooked. Stir occasionally while it is cooking. The sago is cooked when most of the pearls are translucent.

Add the coconut milk. Add the half of the lemon juice and rind, not quite all of the jaggery and the butter if using. Stir to incorporate and taste for flavour. Adjust the lemon and jaggery until the lemon tang and the sweetness suit your palate.

Stir while it comes back to a gentle simmer.

Most people prefer this served cold, as it sets as it cools. You can place it into serving bowls and allow to come to room temperature before placing in the fridge.


recipe notes and alternatives
Add some pandanus leaf, and/or kaffir lime leaves.

8 thoughts on “Lemony Sago in Coconut Milk | Sabudana Coconut Payasam”

    1. Thanks, Kathy. Sago is a starch that is extracted from certain sago palms. You can buy it in little balls that are white when raw. They expand while soaking and turn translucent when cooked. Because of the starch the liquid that it is cooked in thickens during the cooking process.

      Sago is used extensively through India and SE Asia in both sweet and savoury dishes. In the West is it mostly used for sago pudding – and went out of fashion a decade or two ago. But you still see it on occasion in cafes etc.

      You can buy it in most supermarkets. The recipe above is delicious! Enjoy!

    1. Hi Shaanthz, actually sago and tapioca are different, derived from different plants. There is a lot of confusion around this because of the mislabeling of tapioca pearls as sago. Tapioca is often labeled as seed taopioca, cyad sago, sago tapioca, Although they are both starches and usedin the same way to make puddings, I prefer the taste of sago.

      These links have good information about the differences:
      From Botanical Gardens Sydney
      From Wikipedia
      From Pure

      Also, sago, like tapioca, comes in different grades – small, medium and large pearls. Note the following differences: sago has to be washed once in cold water, then drained. Hot water (not boiling) is then poured over the sago until the water just reaches the surface of the sago, and is left, covered, for 2 hours. It will completely soak up all the water, double in size, and become separate and fluffy.

      Tapioca should not be washed, and just soaked in cold water for half an hour only.

      1. Thanks so much for this clarification — I would never know if I did not comment on your post — I’m glad I did. You have some amazing recipes, I’ll be back for more 🙂

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