Are you looking for a low fodmap pudding with a Malaysian twist? This low fodmap pudding made from sago is just the thing you need. This traditional Malaysian dessert actually goes by the name ‘Gula Melaka Sago,’ but I’ve given this recipe a bit of a tweak by making the sago pandan flavored.
Aside from the actual recipe, here are a few topics we’ll cover:
- What Is Sago?
- Palm Sugar And FODMAPs
- Palm Sugar Alternatives
- About Coconuts And FODMAPs
- How To Cook Sago For This Low Fodmap Pudding
- How To Serve Pandan Sago Dessert
This low fodmap pudding mimics the Malaysian cendol green jelly drink commonly found on the streets of Malaysia and definitely does the trick if you can’t get cendol and are looking for a quick fix.
If this coconut pandan pudding sounds enticing, then stick around while I take you on a journey through FODMAP lane and introduce you to the ingredients needed for this recipe. If you’re familiar with sago then go ahead and skip the next section but for those of you making the first introductions with this beloved Asian ingredient, the first stop on our trip is sago!
What Is Sago?
Sago are little white pearls made from a plant native to Asia. This palm plant is called Metroxylon sagu or true sago palm. These starch balls are utilized differently across cultures and in some it’s even regarded as a staple food. In Malaysia, you will find sago used in dessert dishes rather than savory ones. Because sago is essentially a starch it is the perfect low FODMAP vegan ingredient that is a great base for ibs friendly desserts.
You know what’s tricky to navigate when making low fodmap dessert recipes? Sugars and sweeteners. Which is why in the next section we’re going to talk about the sugar component of our dish: palm sugar.
Palm Sugar And FODMAPs
Ah, the crux of any low fodmap dessert or low fodmap sweets; sugar. It’s an understatement to say desserts low fodmap are hard to find. But let’s talk about the sugar in this recipe: Palm sugar is made from the sap of the Palmyra palm or Borassus flabellifer -that’s one heck of a mouth full- and is different from coconut sugar. Palm sugar has a deep earthy caramel flavour and is not overwhelmingly sweet.
Fortunately for us, Monash University has tested this natural plant-based sugar and it is low fodmap at one tablespoon.
If you want to know more about palm sugar and the difference between palm sugar and coconut sugar and the answer to the questions “is coconut sugar low FODMAP,” have a look at this post:
Psst. This is one of those palm sugar dessert recipes you need to try!
Palm sugar is a staple pantry ingredient in many Asian households and can easily be found in any pan-Asian grocery store. But if you can’t get a hold of it and want to make this low fodmap dessert, you’re in luck. The next section covers substitutes and alternatives for palm sugar.
Palm Sugar Alternatives
Unable to find palm sugar or coconut sugar at your local grocer? No problem! You can still make this vegan low fodmap recipe with these substitutes:
- Dark brown sugar (muscovado sugar)
- White sugar
Dark Brown Sugar (Muscovado Sugar)
Muscovado sugar is sugar with a high molasses content. Much like palm sugar, it has a deep earthy flavor, is a dark brown color, and has a bitter edge. It is a perfect substitute for palm sugar. However, it has not been tested by Monash and should be eaten in moderation -like all other sugars I suppose.
Great news! As of Spring 2019, Monash University updated the low fodmap serving side of white sugar from 14 grams to 50 grams! I will take this as a win and deliberately choose not to ask how and why the recommended serving size tripled.
If you only have white sugar at home, simply add it to a small saucepan, caramelize it and add water to make a rich burnt sugar caramel syrup to replace the palm sugar syrup. As long as you have a sweetener with a bitter edge to help lift the dish, you are solid.
Speaking of lifting the dish, let’s move on to the final component of our dessert: the coconut cream.
About Coconuts And FODMAPs
Palm sugar syrup? Check. Sago low fodmap pudding? Check. Coconut cream? Che-. Are coconuts low fodmap? Coconut products are a little tricky to navigate on a low fodmap diet because not every product is safe.
Here’s what Monash University and their food app have to say about coconut milk, cream, and canned coconut milk:
UHT (Ultra High Temperature processed) coconut milk is low FODMAP at 125ml or 1/2 cup servings. It should be noted that a serving size of 150ml contains moderate FODMAPS and 250ml or 1 cup makes it high in FODMAPs.
This coconut product has not officially been tested by Monash. BUT coconut cream does have a higher fat content than coconut milk, so there is a possibility that coconut cream may have lower FODMAPs.
Canned Coconut Milk
Canned coconut milk has a lower serving size, about 1/4 cup or 60ml is low FODMAP but larger serving sizes exceeding 1/2 cup contains moderate to high levels of sorbitol. The serving size of coconut products may vary but what is an all-around recommendation about them is to avoid any that have inulin!
Now that we’ve covered every ingredient, let’s get into the practical stuff. Next on our post is how to cook sago!
How To Cook Sago For This Low Fodmap Pudding
Honestly, I could go on and on about how not to cook sago but I will not because I have actually done that here and here. There are definite no-no’s when it comes to cooking sago but there are a few things that will differ based on the type of dessert you’re making.
Clumpy sago, for instance, is a huge no. But for this coconut pandan dessert, we are depending on the sago to clump in order to form the little pudding cakes. The methodology and recipe for sago pudding is easy. It goes like this:
- Cook sago
- Turn off heat
- Drain sago and add pandan extract
- Place in moulds
In five easy steps, you too can make this low fodmap pudding. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get right into it.
Place the sago in boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Did you know sago only needs 10-12 minutes to fully cook? A common mistake people often make is cooking the sago until the pearls are completely transparent. These little pearls continue to change appearance as they boil and that isn’t entirely visible in the water:
Turn Off Heat
Turn off the heat after the sago has boiled for 10 minutes. Place a lid over the pot and allow the sago to stand for an additional 3 minutes. Look at all the difference that makes:
The sago pearls were visible after being boiled for 10 minutes but after 3 minutes, it’s as if they’ve disappeared. Fret not, they haven’t gone anywhere and the next step will show you just that.
Drain Sago And Add Pandan Extract
The next step is to drain the sago after 10 minutes of boiling and 3 minutes of resting in the hot water. Transfer the cooked pearls into a bowl and mix in the pandan extract.
And voila, pandan sago dessert done! The last thing you have to do is decide how you want to serve them.
Place In Moulds
After the pandan extract is mixed through and fully incorporated, you can place the pandan dessert in individual moulds like I have done below:
Or if you’re not in the mood for finicky tasks like this, simply place it in a serving plate like this:
People can scoop the sago with a spoon when they serve themselves.
Allow the sago to set and become firm. You can do that by letting it cool at room temperature or setting the sago mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes. While the desserts chill in the fridge, you can assemble the other components.
Add the palm sugar to a saucepan with water and cook until everything is dissolved and thickened. This took about 5-6 minutes:
And for the coconut cream, I just mixed it with water, a bit of salt, and a pandan leaf, brought it all to a simmer to allow the salt to dissolve and all done. After that, you’re ready to serve this delicious dessert. I prefer it cold or chilled but in my childhood home, my mother often served it warm.
How To Serve Pandan Sago Dessert
Now that you know how to make this traditional gula melaka sago recipe, let’s show you how it’s typically served and eaten. What I love about this dessert is that it really is for the masses. Depending on your tastes, you can decide on the coconut cream to sugar ratio. Some like it sweeter, others milder, and that’s a-okay for this dish.
Let your guests construct their own bowl and have fun. The usual order is as follows; add some sago into a bowl, followed by either the coconut milk or sugar. I like to go in order of coconut milk and then sugar. Stir everything together and your coconut pandan recipe dessert is completed.
There you have it, folks. Did I not promise an easy and delicious low fodmap pudding with a twist? I doubt you’ll be seeing this on many dining tables. Unless you live in Malaysia, then I can’t help you there folks… If you’re looking for more sago pudding Malaysian dessert recipes, have a look at our other vegan Malaysian sweets recipes below:
Coconut Cream Mango Sago Dessert
Looking for more low FODMAP desserts? We’ve got 9 for you!
Malaysian Low FODMAP Pudding (Sago Pudding)
This 4 ingredient low FODMAP pudding is a pandan-flavored sago, paired with decadent coconut cream and palm sugar syrup.
- 150g sago pearls
- 1/2 tsp pandan extract
- Coconut cream:
- 180ml coconut cream (roughly 3/4 cup)
- 200ml water (1 cup)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- *optional: Pandan leaf
- 200g palm sugar
- 200ml water
Fill a pot 3/4 of the way full with water and bring to a boil.
When the water comes to a boil, add your sago pearls *see notes 1. Cook the pearls for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and cover with a lid. Let the pearls stand for 3 minutes.
Strain the sago. DO NOT RINSE *see notes 2.
Transfer the sago to a bowl and stir in 1/2 teaspoon pandan extract.
Place sago pearls in individual moulds or into a large serving dish.
Let the pearls set and cool in the fridge for 30 minutes.
In a pot, combine the coconut cream, pandan leaf, water and salt together and allow to simmer until the salt has dissolved. Set aside until ready to serve.
Palm sugar syrup:
Chop your palm sugar into pieces.
Add palm sugar and water to a pot on medium-high heat. Once the palm sugar has dissolved, cook the sugar syrup for an additional 3-5 minutes. This will give you a slightly thicker syrup.
This dish can be served cold or warm.
Place the pandan sago pudding in a bowl, add coconut cream and palm sugar syrup to liking.
- Only add sago to boiling water. Sago is made from a type of starch. If it comes into contact with cold or warm water, the balls will dissolve and disintegrate into the water.
- Do not rinse the pearls. The starch is needed for the pearls to stick together and hold their form in a mould or when serving.