• 3/4 cup pearl sago
  • 4 tsp finely diced dried plums (prunes)
  • 100g jaggery (about 3 cubes)
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup thick coconut milk
  • Salt to taste

First up from Cook Kandalama Style is sago kanjee, which the book describes as “a coolant considered to take away the body’s ‘heat-ness’, and can be enjoyed any time of the day”. Starchy, sugary goodness? What’s not to love! Googling the term yields varying results, some closely matching Cook Kandalama Style’s version, others deviating into savory territory. The dish appears to be a staple in India as well as Sri Lanka.

Step one: figure out the ingredient list! Luckily the only two anomalies were sago and jaggery, which were easy enough to get that I decided to make the recipe as-is. If you have a hard time tracking them down, you can try substituting tapioca pearls and light brown sugar, respectively.

Step two: make calculations, adapt the recipe to my own tastes, and post. Figuring out the conversions from ml/grams to something like cups was a bit of a challenge, especially with the jaggery. Should it be crushed and packed tightly like brown sugar? Weighed in cube form? Etc. Since I wasn’t sure, I left it in the original grams format and used the number of cubes that equalled 100g in weight.

Recipe is adapted from Cook Kandalama Style

  1. Rinse the sago and cover with water in a bowl. Soak for 1 hour
  2. In a small nonstick pot, combine drained sago, water, jaggery, cinnamon stick and plums
  3. Bring to boil
  4. Add coconut milk and salt, and immediately reduce heat to a simmer
  5. Stir frequently until the sago is cooked through
  6. Serve, garnish with a drizzle of coconut milk

Some additional observations and notes:

  • When I soaked the sago, it was only for about 30 minutes. My friend Nitya suggested an hour, which is why the recipe instructs the duration. If you experiment with this recipe and find it needs longer or shorter, let me know in the comments!
  • I found the sago took a good 20 minutes at the final stage to get soft enough to eat – but because of the soaking issue, it was still a little too al dente. Hopefully with extra soaking, the cook time wouldn’t be as drawn out.
  • I say a nonstick pot because I’d imagine a different one would become a disasterious nightmare if not stirred CONSTANTLY – the mixture is very sugary/syrupy and the last thing you want is it to cement itself onto the surface.
  • The coconut milk was a little overwhelming, but needed due to how sugary the mixture was with the jaggery. Next time I might try swapping out half the coconut milk for something else like vanilla soy milk.
  • I originally thought I might suggest replacing the dried plums with something like medjool dates – but the sago is so saccharine already that a more neutral/less sweet fruit is preferable. If you don’t have dried plums, I think dried apricots would be a good substitution.