• Vanilla-scented sago cakes (cantik manis) (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

These simple-to-make cakes are popular in Indonesia, especially during Ramadan as part of a fast-breaking spread. Cantik means “pretty” in Bahasa and manis means “sweet”, although they are not so sweet as the name might suggest. Their prettiness comes from the deployment of pink and green dyed sago pearls, which you can easily find an Asian grocer.






Skill level

Average: 4 (5 votes)


  • 125 g coloured sago
  • 40 g mung bean starch
  • 100 ml water
  • 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Setting time 1 hour and 30 minutes

Cook the sago in a saucepan of simmering water for 20 minutes or until translucent then drain well.

Combine the mung bean starch with the water and stir to form a smooth paste.

Combine the sugar and coconut milk in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Whisking constantly, add the starch mixture and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture simmers and becomes very thick.

Whisk in the vanilla and salt then stir in the drained sago to combine well.

Divide mixture among 6 x 150 ml lightly oiled moulds, smoothing the tops.

Cover each with plastic wrap and stand at room temperature until set.

Turn out onto plates to serve.


Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.