Boeber | Cape Malay Milk Dessert

A Cape Malay special milk drink with vermicelli and sago, usually served during the mid of Ramadan…




I had bookmarked this recipe a long time ago, just because it looked like a different version of our Semiya Payasam and Sheer Kurma, yet different. I had to sign up for the theme “Travel to Africa” in the Blogging Marathon #136 to finally get to making it. Now why is it similar? Boeber is a dessert made in South Africa by a community called Cape Malays, whose ancestors trace to Indonesia, India and East Africa. This dessert is usually made on the fifteenth day of Ramadan to celebrate the mid of the blessed month and on Eid as well. Boeber is made with vermicelli and sago cooked in milk, and flavored primarily by cardamom, cinnamon and rose water, all very strong flavors.


Just like many recipes, this one is made as per family interpretations. I made a Boeber, which was quite thick and like a dessert. But if you want a “kheer” style consistency, then you can reduce the quantity of the vermicelli to half. Most of the recipe used the thin Pakistani style vermicelli, and hence I chose to use the same as well. I loved how the vermicelli is toasted in butter. Most of the recipes used a lot of it, but I kept it to the minimal. The main differentiation comes from the flavoring – the combination of the three flavors used gives a very different yet refreshing flavor to this dessert. Maybe when you are in a mood for some payasam, you can try this out for a difference. I loved how I could scoop up the dessert, the intermittent bites of sago and just a warmth provided by this deliciousness, knowing quite well that a lot of our ancestors moved out for better pastures and cultivated their eating habits, which evolved to adjust to the local cultures of the country they settled in. Off to this recipe…



5 from 1 vote

Boeber | Cape Malay Milk Dessert

Course Dessert
Cuisine South African
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 8
Author Rafeeda AR


  • 175 gm thin vermicelli refer notes
  • 1/2 cup sago soaked in water for 1/2 an hour
  • 30-50 gm butter
  • 3 cardamoms crushed
  • 1 clove optional
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 litre milk
  • 1/4 tin condensed milk use more for sweetness
  • 2 tbsp rosewater


  • In a saucepan, melt butter. Sizzle the whole spices.
  • Crush the vermicelli and add. Toast till slightly browned.
  • Add half of the milk along with the drained sago and bring it to boil.
  • Cook on low flame till the vermicelli soaks up the milk and the sago plumps up.
  • Add the remaining milk along with condensed milk and simmer for around 5 minutes.
  • Switch off and add rosewater. Serve hot or cold, garnished with chopped nuts of choice.


I used one whole pack of vermicelli. If you want the dessert to be of drinkable consistency, then reduce the quantity to half. 


Join the Conversation

  1. I am always amazed when I find recipes like these so far away from home. It would have made adaptations over time but still so much similar to what we make back home! Lovely bowl of yumminess there!

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic! This is exactly the dish we make for Telugu New Years day, Ugadi, and its been a family handed down recipe or dish as my Mom makes it, especially for the festival!..only we don’t use butter but ghee…how interesting to find exact same recipe in a different cuisine..though it traces to ours…so wonderful..your bowl surely looks awesome Rafeeda. I think I would love these thin vermicelli…:)

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