Friday, November 12, 2010

Sago Payasam (Tapioca {"Bubble"} Pudding)

Sago Payasam on a plate of uncooked sago pearls
Sago Payasam is really the familiar tapioca pudding made slightly different with the added cardamom, saffron, nuts and raisins. It is delicious served hot, warm or cold. A homey dessert made for informal occasions in our home, children adore this lovely pudding full of the cooked sago "bubbles"!

Sago is also known as Sabudana (Hindi) or Jawwarisi (Tamil) and is made from the starch of sago palms, Metroxylon sagu. Tapioca pearls are made from the starch of yuca or cassava root (Manihot esculenta). Since both sago and tapioca are composed of predominantly odorless and colorless pure starch, they can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for one or the other - I have used both types with good results.


Fat-free option: roast the cashews and sago/tapioca in a dry skillet; the raisins don't need toasting. Proceed with the recipe.

This is naturally gluten-free; dairy-free when dairy ingredients are omitted.

Sago, saffron, cardamom, and raw cashews are available in Indian markets; tapioca is available in most grocery stores as well as Latino markets.


1/2 cup Sago or Tapioca Pearls
1 Tbsp Ghee or unsalted butter (optional)
1/4 cup raw Cashews, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup Raisins

1 quart (1 liter) milk, any type
1/2 cup sugar
5 Cardamom pods
1 tiny pinch Saffron (optional)
A couple of pinches Sugar


Bring the milk and sugar to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer gently stirring occasionally.

Heat the ghee if using, in a large, heavy bottomed, pot and saute the cashews until golden. Stir in the raisins and cook until puffy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pot add the sago pearls to the remaining ghee and cook until pale gold. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Stir in the toasted sago/tapioca into the simmering milk and cook stirring often until cooked through - the individual pearls will become transparent when cooked completely. Remove from heat and keep covered.

Crush the cardamom pods slightly and extract the seeds. Combine cardamom seeds and saffron with a pinch or two of sugar in a mortar and grind finely; sugar crystals help to grind the spices finely.

Stir in the spice mixture into the payasam and mix well.

Cover and set aside until ready to serve.

Serve warm or chilled garnished with the sauteed nuts and raisins. Enjoy!

1 comment:

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