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Sago Pudding recipe: the South African Way

By August 28, 2020January 17th, 2023Newsletter

Sago Pudding recipe: the South African Way

August 28, 2020


Do you often have fond memories of Ouma dishing you up a bowl of warm sago pudding smothered in custard? Or perhaps she treated you to some cold sago topped with ice-cream and custard after a Sunday lunch feast? Sago pudding is not a foreign concept to the average South African. In fact, we grew up with it! Sago pudding in South Africa is the ultimate treat.

Sago Pudding

Before we can understand where sago pudding’s popularity comes from, we should take the time to understand what it is and how it is made. Sago pudding is many things to many people. For some, it is a vegan treat, for others it is a staple pudding delight for many, and the product of South East Asia; largely Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. While the pudding has its roots in South Africa through the Cape Malays, it actually has an English background too.

Sago is a starch that is removed from the stems of palms, the Metroxylon Sagu palm to be exact. The pith is removed from the palm and it is then washed, crushed and strained in order to get to the starch. The starch is then manufactured into the beads, which are called “sago pearls”.

Sago pudding is typically made by boiling the pearls in water and serving it with a coconut and palm sugar syrup. In English countries, the sago is boiled in milk and sugar and then corn flour is added to it, to thicken it while oven-baking.

Baked Sago Pudding

If you’re living on foreign shores, perhaps sago pudding isn’t the norm to those around you. That doesn’t mean that you should miss out (and neither should they). Why don’t you introduce a delectable baked sago pudding to your new friends and colleagues – and treat both them and yourself?! We’d love to share not 1, but 2 baked sago pudding recipe options for you to check out. After all, there’s more ways than one to make a sago pudding!

Sago Pudding Recipe South Africa

This baked sago pudding recipe can be whipped up the traditional way or the vegan way – it provides a generous 6 servings. Follow these simple instructions.

What you need:

  • 1 cup of Sago pearls
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 litre of cow’s milk (or plant milk of your choice)
  • 2 eggs (or 6 tablespoons of aquafaba)
  • 5 tablespoons of sugar
  • 5 tablespoons of butter (or vegan marge)
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla essence
  • Stick of cinnamon

What to do:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
  • Soak the Sago pearls in water for approximately half an hour.
  • Boil the milk with a stick of cinnamon on high heat until it boils rapidly.
  • When the milk is boiling rapidly, turn the heat down to medium and remove the stick of cinnamon.
  • Add a pinch of salt to the milk to bring out the flavour.
  • Add the soaked Sago pearls to the milk and stir the mixture consistently to ensure that it doesn’t catch to the saucepan. Keep stirring on low to medium heat for around 15 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the sugar and vanilla essence. Stir them in so that they both melt thoroughly.
  • Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding the eggs and the butter. Mix vigorously.
  • Pour the Sago-milk mixture into a greased baking dish and then lightly sprinkle cinnamon powder on top.
  • Place the baking dish into the oven and let it bake firm for the next 30 to 40 minutes. Just keep an eye on it so that it does not burn.

No-Bake Sago Pudding Recipe South Africa

If you feel like it’s time for a warm pudding that’s quick and easy to make, no-bake Sago pudding is just the thing to whip up. Follow the easy instructions below.

What you need:

  • 1 cup of Sago pearls
  • 1 litre of milk (or plant milk of your choice)
  • 160ml of sugar
  • 50ml of butter (or vegan marge)
  • 5 eggs separated (or 10 tablespoons of aquafaba)
  • 1 pinch of salt to taste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (you can use ground cinnamon if that’s more accessible)
  • 2ml of ground nutmeg
  • 5ml of vanilla essence

What to do:

  • First, soak the Sago pearls in the milk for at least 2 hours. Some people soak the pearls overnight for the best pudding texture.
  • Place the Sago and the milk mix into a saucepan on the stove and simmer on medium heat.
  • Add the sugar, egg yolks (aquafaba), cinnamon, and salt to the mixture and stir it in.
  • Stir the mixture continuously for around 20 minutes and keep adding small amounts of milk as you go, to ensure that the pudding doesn’t become stiff.
  • Keep cooking the mixture until the Sago becomes transparent in appearance and the remove the saucepan from the stove.
  • Add the butter and vanilla essence and stir it in thoroughly.
  • Beat the remaining egg whites until they become stiff and peaky. Add this to the Sago mixture and stir it in to create a thick yet fluffy texture.
  • Transfer the mixture into a serving dish and sprinkle the top with a little bit of nutmeg.

You can eat both of these versions of Sago pudding hot or cold – your choice!

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