boeber – the ultimate cape malay ramadan treat

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Ramadan, which takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is considered to be its holiest month, and is observed by Muslims worldwide. During this celebration, which is initiated by the sighting of a new moon, Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset for thirty days to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad receiving his first Quranic revelation. This particular month holds a special place in my heart and childhood (for those who didn’t know I was Muslim, the fact that my name is Fatima should be a strong distinguishing factor).

Growing up in Cape Town our local neighbourhood would come alive this time of year with neighbors exchanging cakes before iftar, citizens donating goods to those in need, and tables laid out with traditional Cape Malay cuisine as the community gathers to break the fast. Every night of the month we would create a feast of savory bites and delicious sweets to share with our closest friends and family – from samosas, bollas, and dhaltjies to everyone’s favourite Boeber. This sweet, milk drink made with vermicelli, sago, sugar and flavoured with cardamom and stick cinnamon is traditionally served on the fifteenth night of Ramadan to celebrate the middle of the fast, for those who have completed the first fifteen days of fasting, but its so good most prepare a few times during the month.

boeber recipe

  • serves served eight to ten persons
  • prep time five minutes
  • total time thirty minutes

ingredients

  • one cups of vermicelli, crushed
  • three cinnamon sticks
  • six cardamom pods
  • three tablespoons of almond flakes
  • half a cup of sago
  • half a cup of granulated sugar
  • two liters of milk
  • one tablespoon of full fat cream (or you can substitute with butter)

instructions

  1. In a measuring jug soak the sago in one cup of water for fifteen minutes, until the sago has doubled in size.

  2. Place a deep saucepan on medium-high heat and toast the vermicelli, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and almond flakes until it becomes slightly brown in colour.

  3. Combine in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil.

  4. Once it has boiled reduce the heat. Stir in the sago and simmer until the sago becomes transparent.

  5. Place the saucepan lid and leave to simmer for another five to eight minutes, depending on your preferred consistency. Stir occasionally to prevent burning or sticking to base of pot.

  6. Serve warm with ground cinnamon and/or almond flakes.

notes

Depending on how thick you prefer your boeber, more or less milk can be added. Adding approximately eighty five to one hundred milliliters of condensed milk and less sugar also make a richer boeber.

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