Oh heavenly joy of joys, I do believe this is the world’s most perfect dessert (at least for the lactose-intolerant like me).
To start with, make sure you get decent palm sugar – the Indo and Malaysian stuff is the best to buy in Australia.
So, for 4 dishes, take about 200g gula melaka and melt it in a pan with a cup of water. Simmer until a nice, honey-like consistency then set aside and leave to cool. This is your palm sugar syrup and will keep in a jar for ages and ages.
Next, bring a pot of boiling water to the boil with a pandan leaf, ripped and knotted, half a cinnamon stick OR vanilla pod. When boiling, sprinkle in 1 cup of sago pearls while stirring. Simmer until all pearls have turned translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Remove pandan leaf/cinnamon stick/vanilla pod. Pour into a large, fine sieve and rinse with cold water. DO NOT push or press the sago down as it is delicate and will end up as mush coming through your sieve and down the drain. When rinsed, divide between four bowls. Top with 1-2 tsbp coconut milk and chill until required (best within 24 hours).
To serve top with syrup to taste.