Goula, or more commonly gula, is a pudding common and well liked in Southeast Asia. It is made from sago, a starch that is extracted from palm trees, particularly the sago palm. Although it may be ground to a powder, the starch used in gula is passed through a coarse sieve to produce pellets or pearls, that are similar to tapioca.

The pudding is flavored with coconut, sometimes with pandan or screwpine leaves, and sweetened with a syrup made of palm sugar.

Sago Pudding (Gula Melaka or Goula Malacca) From Charmaine Solomon's Encyclopedia of Asian Food


2.5 litres/5 pints/10 cups water 300 g/10 oz/2 cups sago 2 Tbsp fresh milk or coconut milk pinch of salt

For Serving:

250 g/8 oz palm sugar or brown sugar 125 ml/4 fl oz/1/2 cup water 2 strips pandan leaves 300 ml/10fl oz/1-1/4cups coconut milk pinch of salt


Bring water to a fast boil and slowly dribble in the sago. Let it boil fast for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn off heat, cover the pan with a well-fitting lid and leave for 10 minutes. The sago will finish cooking in the stored heat and the grains will become clear. Run cold water into the pan, stir, then pour contents of pan into a sieve, shaking the sieve so the water runs off.

Put sago into a bowl, stir in milk and add salt. This quantity of milk is just enough to give it a pearly white appearance. Divide between individual dessert dishes or moulds, or pour into one larger mould and chill.

To make the syrup, chop palm sugar into small pieces. Put into a small saucepan with the water and pandan leaves and heat gently until melted. Strain through a fine sieve or tea strainer to remove any small impurities.

Either extract coconut milk from grated fresh coconut or use a good brand of canned coconut milk. Canned coconut milk may need diluting with a little water if very thick or lumpy. Stir in a good pinch of salt as this accentuates the flavour. Coconut milk should be served at room temperature, as chilling will solidify the fat.

Serve the sago accompanied by palm sugar syrup and coconut milk in separate jugs.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8