Sago Porridge of Ambon

I never consider myself as melodramatic people. Well yes I can’t stop sobbing every time I watch The Notebook, whether for the first or the sixth time. Or a moment to remember. Or any tear jerking movies, actually. But my face is designed without bright big eyes and full red lips and chubby red tomato cheeks that deliver range of human expressions. Some says my face is emotionless instead, a little bit eerie, though deep inside my heart I must say that I’m a good person. And a cool one.

But there are times, we always have some moments that stick in our brain for years, buried deep inside and just waiting the right time to explode and spark our tears. And this Sago Porridge is one of my tear jerking memories.

My mother always make Sago Porridge every Ramadan for takjil (snacks made during Ramadan, eaten just before iftar), and share them with our neighborhood. It wasn’t an expensive food, it is a really cheap, humble yet simple one, instead. I don’t even know what’s so special about Sago. I mean my mother is not only make sago porridge, she also made tapioca pearl porridge and other porridge or ice I don’t even know the name. But there’s something about sago.

Maybe because of its appearance. When it was raw, it does look like a baby biscuit, except that it is so damn hard to bite. Or maybe because its origin. Originated from Ambon (that’s why some people called it Ambonese Sago), a far faraway exotic island I’m always curious about. Or maybe it’s everything about Sago. When cooked, the texture is uniquely grainy with a hint of Javanese palm sugar and pandan leaves. But one thing for sure, all I remember about sago porridge is my mother’s warmth. Her figure when she cooked in the kitchen, when she soaked the sago or strained the coconut milk after grate the coconut flesh with her bare hand in an old wood grater which has a yellow turmeric stain in it (that made the coconut milk has a slightly yellow color). Right after it’s cooked and cool, she divided it in at least 15-20 little bowl and pour it with thick coconut milk. She then handed me the old cheap plastic tray and asked me to share them with my neighbors. I remember every detail like it was a movie scene.

Couple of days ago when I found Talas/Taro, the first thing came to my mind is making sago porridge with cubed talas in it, just like what my mother used to make. And while making the porridge, my son help me to soak the sago, strain the coconut milk and yes, I asked him to share bowls of sago porridge to my neighbor. He looked so happy when he took the porridge, especially when one of my neighbors gave him a glass of soy milk in return. Quietly I hope he will remember this day. They joy of making something from scratch and the joy of sharing. Hopefully..

Sago Porridge
100 gr sago, soaked in a liter of water overnight or at least 3 hours until dissolve
200 gr steamed talas, cut in cubes
200 gr palm sugar
2 pandan leaves
Dash of salt

Coconut Milk Sauce
1 litre of thick coconut milk
2 pandan leaves
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp tapioca flour dissolved in 1 tbsp water

Sago Porridge: mix all the ingredients except talas in a sauce pan, bring to boil until the sago is thicken. Add the talas, stir evenly. Turn off the heat, let cool.
Coconut Milk Sauce: Mix the coconut milk, pandan leaves and salt in a saucepan, bring to simmer. Add the tapioca mixture, stir until simmer and the sauce is thicken.
Serve the porridge with coconut milk sauce.

Share with your neighbor. This 100 gr of raw sago resulting almost a litre of porridge, enough to feed 6-8 bellies. 

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