Bubur Mutiara: Pearl Sago Dessert Porridge (Vegan)

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Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

It’s been raining the whole week and the weather is still cold and gloomy. The typical day has been as follows: a brief appearance of the sun only in the morning, followed by a sad, cloudy day that ends with heavy rain. It’s almost the end of the year and we are in the midst of the rainy season in Indonesia.

For the sake of my sanity, I’ve been craving for a piping hot and sweet porridge to defend against this awful weather. Something that can cheer me up along with a blanket and Netflix. Something delicious and easy to make, which will give me extra comfort while I’m curling up on my sofa enjoying my favourite shows. 

I looked at my kitchen to see what I had there and found some leftover pearl sago from the last time I made mango sago dessert. I also had coconut milk on hand. Great! Everything needed to make bubur mutiara, a traditional dessert made of pearl sago, coconut milk, sugar and pandan leaves. It’s simple, sweet and yummy. An awesome treat for rainy days. 


I started preparing it. The cooking time is only around 50 minutes. Most of the time spent on boiling the pearl sago and then leaving it alone until done (nothing to do except wait). It was the perfect recipe for lazy me on a lazy day.

Taste profile

Great food doesn’t need to be complicated. The dish turned out marvelous! The pearl sago was sweet, soft and chewy. The texture was just lovely. I liked the sensation of scooping one spoonful of the sago (which resembles ikura or caviar) and letting it glide in my mouth before chewing.

The slightly salty coconut milk sauce lends itself deliciously to the desserts, making it full-flavoured and balanced. The dessert is sweet, savory, creamy, but not heavy. The porridge also looks dazzling with its bright cheerful red color. This is a contrast from the dark grey unfriendly weather. It instantly lifted my mood — I was happy. The hot bubur mutiara or pearl sago porridge successfully cheered up my gloomy day. 

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Bubur Mutiara: Pearl Sago Dessert Porridge (Vegan)

Bubur Mutiara: Pearl Sago Dessert Porridge (Vegan)

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Boiling
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Vegan


Bubur mutiara is a traditional dessert porridge made of pearl sago, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. It’s vegan, not too heavy, and can be enjoyed hot or cold.


  • 150 gr pearl sago
  • 125 gr sugar
  • 1 drop vanilla essence
  • 1 lt water
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pandan leaf , knotted or cut to pieces


  1. Boil the water, and cook the pearl sago with sugar and vanilla essence over medium heat for 45 minutes. Half-cover the pot and stir occasionally to prevent the sago from sticking to the pot.

    cook the pearl sago with sugar and vanilla essence

  2. While waiting for the sago to cook, put the coconut milk, salt and pandan leaf in a small cooking pan. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly to prevent the coconut milk from separating. When it starts to boil, set aside.

    Cook over medium low heat

  3. When the pearl sago is cooked, cover the pot tightly and leave it for 10 more minutes. This will allow the sago to cook completely and the color will turn translucent.
  4. When the sago is ready, scoop it in a serving bowl, drizzle with the coconut milk sauce and serve.


  • The porridge is equally delicious when enjoyed hot, warm or cold.
  • Pearl sago comes in a variety of colours. I’ve chosen the red one, but feel free to pick a colour of your choice.

Keywords: Vegan, pandan leaves, coconut milk

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