Sago Gula Melaka Kueh (Tapioca Balls Palm Sugar Snacks)

After the past 2 Malaysian kueh recipes, have they whet your appetite for yet another one? I’m on a roll, people! In fact, as I am typing this, I’m in the middle of making yet another recipe. But we’ll save that for another day ya.

Today’s recipe is, as the title implies, a sweet one. I daresay that palm sugar (gula melaka) can elevate any regular ol’ dessert. This sweet sweet bronze nectar is perfect just drizzled over ice cream, cakes, pastries… much like caramel (but better… if that is even possible!). Better still, it lends its nutty warm sweetness to desserts when it’s used as a crucial flavouring.

As such, I’m using palm sugar as an integral ingredient for this dessert. We don’t want to merely use it as a forgettable topping. We want to have it immersed into every pore and fibre of this delectably simple kueh. Or rather, every sago ball of this kueh. I’m waxing lyrical… that doesn’t feel like me. Let’s get down to the recipe!

Naturally, we need sago balls! Soaked and drained.
Sago Kueh 1

Sorry for the bad picture of gula melaka. It’s brown, usually tubular and smells like coconut. You get it.
Sago Kueh 2

There really isn’t much to this other than melting the sugar then mixing sago in.
Sago Kueh 3

Some people like to steam this but the klutz in me feels it’s better to cook it off on the stove just so I can control the amount of water that goes in. Mushy sago kueh is NOT what I am going for.
Sago Kueh 4

I found that 2:1 ratio for water:sago balls is just about right. It takes a bit of elbow grease to stir this until it thickens but I feel it’s worth having control over the texture.
Sago Kueh 5

Always a good idea to wet the platter a bit to prevent severe sticking. This is one sticky mixture and will further set when cool. Some of the sago balls won’t turn fully translucent and that’s okay. As long as most are, it’s fine.
Sago Kueh 6

The exciting part comes!
Sago Kueh 7

Freshly grated coconut flesh and gula melaka sago pudding! My mom stole a bite by the way. Pretend you didn’t see that.
Sago Kueh 8

Spoonfuls of sago pudding tossed into grated coconut = fresh bliss.
Sago Kueh 9

This is a kueh of delicious textures. Soft sweet sago pearls, some very soft, some al dente, covered with fresh sweet shreds of chewy coconut.
Sago Kueh 10

Super easy dessert that takes very little brain work.
Sago Kueh 11

It may look pretty weird or plain but it’s anything but.
Sago Kueh 12

Super tropical, no?
Sago Kueh 13

This is going to be my future party trick. 
Sago Kueh 14

If I ever get invited to one. 😉

Have you ever cooked with sago? If so, how?

I’ve used it in my Sweet Potato Soup.
Mung Beans Sweet Potato Dessert 6


And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19).

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Sago Gula Melaka Kueh (Tapioca Balls Palm Sugar Snacks)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I made a double batch of this which resulted to that large platter of sago pudding. The recipe below will yield half of what I had in the above pictures.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 20
  • ½ cup Sago Balls, rinsed & soaked in clear water for about 20 minutes then drained
  • 1 cup Water (extra if needed)
  • ¾ block (6oz or 180gm) Palm Sugar / Gula Melaka (more if prefer sweeter)
  • 1 cup fresh desiccated Coconut Flesh
  • pinch of Salt
  1. In a large deep sauce pan, place palm sugar into water & simmer until sugar has melted.
  2. Pour in soaked sago balls. Bring to a boil then turn down to medium low heat, scrapping bottom of pan to prevent sticking or burning.
  3. Simmer mixture until it starts to thicken substantially. Turn heat to low and stir constantly. Once mixture has become gluey and most of the sago balls have turned translucent, turn off heat. The pudding should be firm enough to hold up when scooped with a spoon but not so hard that it seems dry. Add tablespoons of water if necessary to loosen mixture until cooked.
  4. Prepare a 8x8 inch pan by wetting the base and sides. Pour sago pudding into pan and leave to fully cool and set. If keeping overnight like I did, cover with cling wrap & store in fridge.
  5. To serve, spread out desiccated coconut flesh on a flat platter. Drop spoonfuls of sago pudding into the coconut and roll to cover.
  6. Best enjoyed chilled!

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