Boeber is a creamy, sweet, delicious and warming Cape Malay dessert type beverage flavored with browned butter, cinnamon and cardamom; thickened with vermicelli and sago and sweetened with condensed milk.

In our home there were two things we always had to have for iftar, soup and / or boeber. As a child I must admit I was not very fond of soup, so my mother (may ALLAH have mercy on her soul and grant her the highest paradise) always made boeber too, although my father preferred meat and vegetable soup.

Origins of Boeber

I had never heard of anything named similarly but our ancestry always made me wonder if there was something out there I was yet to discover. One night I was re-watching an episode of John Tirode’s Malaysian Adventure, and heard his Malaysian guide for the day mention a dish they always had at iftar called Bubur Lemak. It turned out to be a porridge of rice, meat and spices eaten at iftar. Further research brought me to a dessert dish called Bubur Cha Cha in which the Malays use coconut milk and sago!

I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my mother’s recipe for boeber is the best I have ever eaten. The difference between hers and others I have tasted is the browned butter that gives it a rich and nutty flavor, and the condensed milk used for sweetening instead of sugar.

Although my mother had standard quantities of milk to vermicelli and sago, I have not seen her make it in many years and have developed my own recipe based on her list of ingredients.

Boeber and daltjies

It was customary during Ramadan that the 15th iftar was commemorated with the making of boeber by all the Cape Malay households and it became known over the generations as ‘Boeber Night’.

I must admit that as a child I found it weird, because we had boeber served on most nights at iftar. However, on Boeber night my mother would send a jug of boeber to our neighbours in addition to the normal sweet or savoury snack plate.

The smell when the boeber is cooking will perfume the home with the most delightful fragrance. It requires slow simmering and occasional stirring to ensure that the milk doesn’t catch and burn. However, it is worth the end result.

As I came into the kitchen and smelled the cooking boeber my first thought was ‘it smells like my mother’s kitchen’. May Allah have mercy on her soul and those who have left this life, and grant them the highest paradise.


Alhamdulillah, it is delicious and has all the flavor components that I recall from my childhood. As it simmers and thickens a skin will form on the top… do not strain or remove it. Stir it into the bubbling liquid and it will make it creamier and more luscious.

It can be eaten cold as a dessert, or hot as a beverage. When reheating, don’t add milk immediately because it will become looser as it heats up. If it still looks to thick then add milk and allow to come to the boil before serving.


5.0 from 6 reviews
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Creamy, sweet and delicious milky beverage flavored with browned butter, cardamom and cinnamon and thickened with vermicelli and sago.
Recipe type: Beverages
Cuisine: Cape Malay
Serves: 6
  • 50 grams butter
  • 80 grams fine vermicelli (approximately 500 ml or 2 cups)
  • 80 ml sago pearls (approximately ⅓ cup)
  • 5 pieces of stick cinnamon (approximately half of a small quill)
  • 5 green cardamom pods (bash open)
  • 2 litres milk
  • 1 can condensed milk (approximately 395 grams)
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 125 ml toasted flaked almonds
  1. Rinse the sago, cover with water and allow to soak for 20 minutes.
  2. On a low heat, melt the butter in a pot and add the vermicelli.
  3. Allow the butter to brown while stirring the vermicelli, but do not allow it to burn. This should not be longer than 5 minutes.
  4. Add the cinnamon and cardamom pods and ensure that it fries a little in the butter as this releases the essential oils.
  5. When you can smell the brown butter and the vermicelli is golden, add the milk.
  6. Increase the heat to medium and allow the milk to come to a slow simmer.
  7. Stir regularly to ensure that the milk does not burn on the bottom of the pot.
  8. After simmering for 20 minutes add the sago.
  9. Allow the boeber to simmer until the sago pearls are completely clear and cooked. This may take 15-20 minutes.
  10. Add the condensed milk and fill the empty can halfway with hot water and add to the boeber.
  11. Stir thoroughly and simmer for five minutes more for the flavors to combine.
  12. Add 1 teaspoon rose water and stir to combine.
  13. Serve topped with toasted flaked almonds.
The boeber will thicken as it cools but don't add milk until you need to use it again. Check the consistency after it warms up before adding more milk, if required.


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This recipe was first published on 22/06/2015 has since been updated.

Author: Razena Schroeder

Always remember life is short, so live it well and be kind.

40 thoughts on “Boeber”

  1. I can honestly say I have never had anything like this. I would definitely be interested in giving this a try; although I may have to go to a restaurant to get the authentic taste!

  2. This looks and sounds very similar to the sevai kheer we make in India. It’s one of my favorite desserts, and your recipe really makes me want to get up and make it right now!

  3. This sounds delicious. Admittedly, this is the first I’ve heard of Boeber but the ingredients like brown butter and condensed milk always bring me thoughts of comfort.

  4. My taste buds are indeed tantalized!
    And can I call this amazing recipe Justin Boeber?! 😀
    Amazing stuff! Thank you for sharing. 🙂 FIVE STAR!

    1. Haha I had it before bedtime last night. Save the recipe and make it in Winter for a nice warming bedtime drink 🙂 Although one of my colleagues says her husband ate it cold the other day, like rice pudding.

  5. Condensed milk, cardamom, cinnamon and sago – yes, I am sold! This sounds wonderful! We have something similar in Sri Lanka – almost the identical ingredient list – but it’s more like a pudding

    1. I suspect that boeber may be more liquid than a dessert as we tend to eat it like soup or drink it from a cup. Try it, you may like it 🙂

    1. It is delicious cold as a dessert or hot as a beverage. I love having this during Ramadhan with something savory. My photography skills are a work in progress, you are too kind…

      PS: I found the cups at Crate & Barrel the other day, and apparently they are made from the same type of material used for lab beakers.

      1. The glass is much thinner than pyrex and apparently can withstand very high temperatures.

        Don’t feel guilty about eating in front of your colleague. Our fasting should not impact the people around us except that it makes us better people and more compassionate and empathetic towards them.

    1. I have eaten something similar at Peppermill Indian restaurant but the taste was completely different. It had vermicelli but no flavor.

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