Sago payasam: learn how to make Sago Payasam with sago, also known as javvarisi payasam in Tamil, chavvari payasam in Malayalam, and tapioca pearls in English (since they are made from tapioca starch).
Onam was always special growing up. Kerala comes alive during this time more than at any other and everyone joins in the celebrations. It’s also the first 10-day break we get from school and college after they reopen post summer. So Onam meant a break after the first round of serious exams and tests, new clothes, pookkalam, songs, dance, and food. Of course the food, the Onam sadya.
Click here for a list of Onam menu items and recipes.
Amma made a modest sadya every year that wasn’t over the topic but always had two payasams. We had very split preferences in my family over payasam – some preferred the milk-based payasams and some favoured the brown, earthy, jaggery-based ones. I belong to the latter category. A good jaggery-based payasam gets my vote any day.
Check out 8 easy payasam recipes for Onam.
Strange that I say that when I am about to share this milky creamy sago payasam recipe with you but here’s what. Over the years, I have grown to like everything. When you are younger and your family makes the meals and all you have to worry about was dressing yourself and getting to school, it’s easy to be picky and say bleh when your mom puts a lovely bowl of payasam in front of you. I am older and wiser (I think) now. I make whatever food my memories are made of and make it the way I remember it being made for me – with easy ingredients and lots of love.
Sago payasam is very easy to make and quite similar in process to semiya payasam. The sago is cooked in water or diluted milk and then more milk is added, cooked down, before sugar and cardamom.
- 3 tbsp of sago pearls
- 1 cup of water
- 4 cups of milk
- 3 tbsp of condensed milk (optional - see notes)
- 3 tbsp of cashew nuts
- 2 tsp of raisins
- 2 tbsp of ghee
- ¼ tsp of cardamom powder
- ¼ cup of sugar (adjust to taste)
- Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan and roast the cashew nuts until golden
- Drain and set aside
- Add raisins to the same pan and fry until they puff up
- Drain and set aside
- To the same pan with ghee, add the sago and lightly roast until they turn a very light brown
- Top up with 1 cup water + ½ cup milk
- Cook on low flame until the sago turns soft and gloopy
- Add the remaining milk and bring to boil
- Continue to simmer and cook until the milk reduces to about ⅔ volume, about 15-20 minutes
- The payasam will turn thicker due to the starch from the sago
- When the milk has thickened to the desired consistency, add the condensed milk (if using) and sugar
- Mix well and bring to a gentle simmer
- Finally add the cardamom powder and roasted cashew nuts + raisins
- Give everything a final stir and remove from heat
- Serve warm or chilled
- As the payasam cools down, it will become thicker so add more milk before serving for looser consistency
Step by step pictures to make sago payasam
Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan and roast the cashew nuts until golden. Drain and set aside.
Add raisins to the same pan and fry until they puff up. Drain this as well and set aside.
Add 1 cup water and 1/2 cup milk.
- Condensed milk is optional, you can just use thick full cream milk to make the payasam and it will taste just as delicious. I add some since I used low fat milk and wanted a fuller milk flavour
- Add more or less sugar to your taste. Add a bit more than you think you need since the sweetness level goes down as the payasam cools
- You can omit raisins if you don’t like them
- The sago pearls get quite a bit thicker and enlarged as they cook. I had originally used 1/4 cup of sago with the same quantity of milk and it made my payasam quite thick
- 1 cup = 250 ml in this recipe
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