Pearl Tapioca with Ginger Vanilla Coconut Milk

Sago cendol is pearl tapioca. Other types of cendol are made with rice flour. It is a bit like chewy jelly. Only better.

Street hawkers sell cendol by walking around urban and rural neighbourhoods (kampung) often carrying two ceramic bowls at the ends of a stick held on their shoulders with arms looped over for balance. They congregate outside school fences waiting for the morning tea rush of kids eager for their sugary, chewy and refreshing snack. It comes in different shapes and all the colours of the rainbow (plus some!): bright pinks and greens, sugary browns mixed with white. Sometimes it is served with ice, sometimes with condensed milk. Sometimes both. The children sit along nearby wooden benches, slurping the milk with a straw and scooping out the cendol with a spoon.

This dessert version is made with a gingery, vanilla coconut milk. Perfect for the onset of the cool dark evenings here in Canberra. Or, do as the school children do and have it for morning tea.

Pearl Tapioca and Ginger Vanilla Coconut milk

serves four


250 gm of pearl tapioca (any good asian store stocks this)

1 can of coconut milk (cow’s milk is an acceptable alternative)

1 thumb-size of ginger, sliced thinly

1/2 vanilla pod

1/2 cup of palm sugar (or less depending on your sweet tooth)

10 slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1 t desiccated coconut, lightly toasted

10 cups of boiled water

1 tray of ice


Place 10 cups of water in a large pot and bring to the boil, then pour the tapioca in, stirring constantly. When the tapioca becomes plump, turn the heat to medium and put the lid on for 5 mins. Drain and let the tapioca sit in iced cold water (otherwise it will stick together).

Place the coconut milk, vanilla, and ginger in a pot and bring the boil slowly.

Lightly toast the slivered almonds and the coconut

Put the tapioca in a bowl, pour the milk mixture over it and serve with the almonds and coconut on top.

Can be refrigerated for five days. Served cold also good.







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