Beverages/ Cape Malay recipes/ Ramadhan recipes

Cape Malay Boeber

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

In our home there were two things we always had to have for breaking the fast at the time of iftar, soup and / or boeber. Soup and Boeber are usually eaten with Daltjies spinach and corn fritters or Cape Malay Pancakes with coconut or Sweetcorn fritters. 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 Cape Malay 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!

In Dubai I was introduced to an Indian vermicelli and milk dessert referred to as Seviyan Kheer and similar Semiya Payasam. Both look like Cape Malay Boeber but tasted nothing like it and I found them too sweet and not very flavorful.

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.





Course: Beverages
Cuisine: Cape Malay
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 472 kcal
Author: Razena Schroeder
Creamy, sweet and delicious milky beverage flavored with browned butter, cardamom and cinnamon and thickened with vermicelli and sago.


  • 50 grams butter
  • 80 grams fine vermicelli approximately 500 ml or 2 cups
  • 80 ml sago pearls approximately 1/3 cup
  • 5 pieces cinnamon approximately half of a small quill
  • 5 green cardamom pods bash open
  • 2 litres milk
  • 395 grams condensed milk approximately 1 can
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 125 ml almond flakes toasted


  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. Add the cinnamon and cardamom pods and ensure that it fries a little in the butter as this releases the essential oils.
  4. Allow the butter to brown while stirring the vermicelli, but do not allow it to burn. This should not be longer than 5 minutes.
  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 on low heat 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.

Recipe Notes

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.

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving (250 ml)
Calories 472 Calories from Fat 198
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 34%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 180mg 8%
Potassium 400mg 11%
Total Carbohydrates 59g 20%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 36g
Protein 10g 20%
Vitamin A 7.7%
Vitamin C 2.7%
Calcium 25.8%
Iron 6.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Cape Malay Boeber

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







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  • Reply
    Michaela @ Wild & Precious
    June 1, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    This looks and sounds absolutely delicious! Thank you for sharing– and thank you for providing such rich context for the recipe, as well!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2017 at 1:45 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 5, 2017 at 8:28 pm

      You are unlikely to find this served in any restaurant, at least none that I know of 🙂

  • Reply
    Kerry May
    June 1, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Never heard of it before, but it is something I would try. Thank you for posting the back story to it too.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 1, 2017 at 12:19 am

      I think it is always useful to give context to recipes, especially ones that are not well known outside of a small geographic area.

  • Reply
    Dorothy at Shockingly Delicious
    June 14, 2016 at 1:25 am

    I’ve never had anything like this but it sounds completely wonderful!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

      It is very simple to make but very satisfying and delicious 🙂

  • Reply
    Bintu | Recipes from a Pantry
    June 14, 2016 at 1:14 am

    This is absolutely stunning! We will be trying it once the weather turns colder!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

      I love it hot, but my friends say that they loved it just as well cold. One says her husband finished it and ate it like a cold pudding 🙂

  • Reply
    June 14, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Browned butter and cinnamon are such delicious flavors together…I bet this drink is absolutely wonderful!!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      June 14, 2016 at 10:34 am

      It is probably my favorite and the smell that perfumes the house while it is cooking is amazing 🙂

  • Reply
    June 13, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    I love desserts with cinnamon! I would love to try this!

  • Reply
    December 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      If it’s cold where you are, then this is the perfect thing to have 🙂

  • Reply
    Framed Recipes
    December 7, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    This is so much like the vermicelli sago kheer we make. Never tried it with cinnamon, but your recipe is forcing me to try it with cinnamon. I am surely going to try adding some cinnamon next time I make it. – Sreelatha

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 8, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      I hope you like it and let me know what you think of the flavor with cinnamon.

  • Reply
    Rafeeda @ The Big Sweet Tooth
    December 6, 2015 at 8:56 am

    This looks just like our vermicelli sago kheer… but we roast in ghee, you have roasted it in brown butter, and the addition of cinnamon is totally new… got to try this…

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 6, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      The brown butter gives it a completely different flavor to ghee and the cinnamon and cardamom add a very warming spicy note.

  • Reply
    December 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 5, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      The brown butter and condensed milk gives it such a delicious flavor. I hope you try it some time 🙂

  • Reply
    Claudia | Gourmet Project
    December 4, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    perfect for cozy winter nights on the couch, watching christmas movies!

  • Reply
    June 29, 2015 at 1:31 am

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

    • Reply
      June 29, 2015 at 4:49 am

      Lol @ Justin Boeber. I hope you will try it sometime 🙂

  • Reply
    Rebecca Winkler
    June 27, 2015 at 2:27 am

    This has so many flavors I love–cardamom, butter, almonds…the list goes on. Sounds so good!

    • Reply
      June 27, 2015 at 12:26 pm

      You should try it 🙂

  • Reply
    Byron Thomas
    June 26, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    This is a brand new thing for me… I’ve never seen anything like it. I imagine having a cup of this before bedtime. Is that wrong? 😉

    • Reply
      June 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Tina Sawyer Roberge
    June 26, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Never heard of this, but I have to say, it looks delicious!

    • Reply
      June 26, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      Haha… you are not the first person to say that.

      I guess it is a Cape Town original 🙂

  • Reply
    June 26, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    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

    • Reply
      June 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      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 🙂

  • Reply
    Angela Field (PatisserieMakesPerfect)
    June 26, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, but it looks so delicious. I love the cup you’ve served it in and your pictures are great.

    • Reply
      June 26, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      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.

      • Reply
        Angela Field (PatisserieMakesPerfect)
        June 26, 2015 at 4:17 pm

        Ah so they’re like pyrex? I have a colleague taking part in Ramadhan. I feel very guilty eating my lunch in front of him. Chilled sounds amazing.

        I’m trying to improve my photography too, so I know the feeling.

        • Reply
          June 26, 2015 at 6:22 pm

          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.

  • Reply
    Fareeha Ahmed
    June 26, 2015 at 11:54 am

    We call this as sheer khurma but without the sago pearls.. I love them, would be great to add in the vermicelli and try.. gonna try it soon

    • Reply
      June 26, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      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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