Have you ever heard a Muslim person say they are “oppie berg”? The term is often used by Muslims in particularly the Western Cape to refer to the 15th evening of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
Literally translated, “oppie berg” means “on the mountain”, although for many Muslims it has become a metaphor for reaching the halfway mark, or the summit, of Ramadan.
Traditionally, Muslims celebrate this milestone – the 15th evening of Ramadan – with boeber, a much-loved sweet treat usually including sago, sugar milk and rose water. In Afrikaans, the evening is called “boeberaand” (“boeber night”), a highlight where people of all cultures and religions enjoy the dessert.
Boeber, pronounced “boo-buh”, is not just limited to Ramadan. You can enjoy your own boeberaand with the following recipe from Fatima Sydow, a well-known Cape Malay chef:
60 grams of butter
6 balls of lokshen (crushed)
3/4 cup of sugar
2 liters of milk
3/4 cup of sago soaked in 2 cup of water for 30 minutes
5 cardamom pods
5 sticks of cinnamon
Melt the butter in a large pot on high heat. Next, add your cinnamon and cardamom. Take the lokshen balls and crush it into the pot, allowing it to turn golden brown while stirring continuously.
Next, add the rest of your ingredients and stir. Cook for 30-35 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Different variations and tips
- You may add a dash of rosewater and toasted almond flakes. Some people also add sultanas.
- You may also add a few tablespoons of desiccated coconut. If so, do this at the beginning so it can toast nicely.
- Instead of sugar, you can add condensed milk (to taste).
- Fresh cream or Ideal milk (evaporated milk) can also be added, to give it a more decadent and rich taste. Some people also add just a dash of vanilla essence as well (to taste).
- If you prefer a thinner texture, add 1/2 a cup of sago. If you like your boeber thicker, add 1 cup of sago. Always soak your sago in water before using.
- You can also use lokshen pasta or Vermicelli, which should always be crushed. You may add as much as you like.
For more of Fatima Sydow’s recipes, check out fatimasydow.co.za. You can also find her latest book, entitled “Fatima Sydow Cooks”, at your nearest bookstore.