Saagu Bon’Dibaiy ~ Maldivian Sago Pudding

The Maldivian version of the sago pudding, spiked with pandan and rose water flavors…




Like I mentioned last month, I am intending to make the book review section on the blog a regular every month. The catch is, that I hardly have any drafts for this series, so I will have to be a bit proactive and start cooking from my books on and off. Hehe… As usual with my feelilngs when my fellow bloggers release their own cookbooks, I become very excited for them and get their books, but then reviewing it and giving a thumbs-up usually takes a really long time. Whether it was Jehanne’s book or Fajee’s, it happened that way. Jehanne’s took four months while Fajee’s took a year, but then I wished that things could be better when it came to reviewing Nazeeha’s book but alas, history repeated itself in a worser way… Darn!


I have known Nazeeha since a long time, I really can’t fathom for how long. The main thing that attracted me to her page, was of course, her nationality. Being from Maldives, the land of vacation, it was intriguing to know of someone who was sharing their food and culture on her blog, Chillies and Lime, which incidently is the name of her book as well. She had done a guest post on my blog some time back too. Nazeeha, or Nammi as most of us know her, released her book in 2019. She gifted me the book for Eid Fitr that year with a hand written note. I was overwhelmed by the love that I felt when I unpacked the package. Ever since I have recieved the book, I have been wanting to do the review for it, but then I guess the destined time only arrived now…




Her book “Chillies and Lime” concentrates on her background cooking. Maldives has a cuisine which is very true to its nature of being surrounded by sea all around. Fish and coconut seems to be the main food, just like how it is in Kerala. Nammi starts the book with an introduction as to how she went on to document her local cuisine and then moves on to divide recipes by sections like sweet, fish, poulty, etc. I love that for every recipe, there is a small paragraph explaining something about it. She has kept the book really simple whether it is the quality of paper, the print and clicks for the recipe. The book is lightweight and hence easy to handle.


There is on thing I noticed – the use of tuna is immense. The main fish that seems to be used is tuna and there are so many ways of using up this humble fish, like the Mugu Kavaabu (Spicy Dal Fish Fritters) and Maas Huni (Fish Sambal). I am surely going to try something very soon, since my family is not a big fan of tuna and her recipes may be a way to mask it up. Hehe… I have even bookmarked a very interesting Bashiriha, which is an eggplant and tuna curry. because we can’t think both of them together. 😀




As usual, I ended up trying something sweet. I had pandan extract in my pantry, that I used while trying this chickoo pudding. Pandan seems to be a repetitive used flavoring in most of the dishes. Since it is difficult to find it here, I replaced it with pandan extract. A word of caution – pandan flavor is something that grows on you. It has a peculiar smell and may not be of your liking in the beginning. But as you have it, it sinks in and tastes good. I love sago in my dessert like this delicious payasam and this Emirati sago pudding, among all the other difficult choices. Hehe… The main reason why I wanted to try this was the ease of making it plus the interesting flavoring in the dessert.


Usually sago is soaked and then cooked, but Nammi cooks it directly. After it is cooked and drained, it is then cooked again with simply some condensed milk and sugar till it gets done completely. As per her instructions, if using pandan leave directly, then it needs to be added at the beginning of the second cooking stage. I loved that there is no extra fat addition, making it a very simple recipe to make. The only couple of changes I made are cooking the sago completely in water before draining, and adding way less sugar than mentioned in the recipe. I still found it quite sweet to my liking, but as it sat and got chilled, it tasted much better. If you are looking for an uncomplicated sago recipe with different flavors, then this one is definitely a must-try…



If you wish to purchase this book to learn more about this interesting cuisine, do contact her directly on her blog for more information…




Saagu Bon'Dibaiy ~ Maldivian Sago Pudding

Course Dessert
Cuisine International
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rafeeda AR


  • 250 gm sago pearls
  • 1/2 can condensed milk can use a small can
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pandan extract refer notes
  • 2 tbsp rose water refer notes


  • Boil the sago in 2 litres of water till it becomes almost transparent, with a small white portion inside.
  • Strain into a colander and wash well to remove the starch.
  • Add back into the pan, along with the condensed milk and sugar. Bring to simmer and cook till the sugar melts and the sago looks entirely done.
  • Add the flavors and switch off. Keep it closed to allow the flavors to mingle.
  • Enjoy warm or cold...


If you are using pandan, add one leaf along with the condensed milk and sugar and remove off while serving.
If using rose essence instead of rose water, then add around a tsp.
Add more sugar if needed. 







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