theboywhoatetheworld cooks: Bubur Cha Cha

After a long hot day in the tropics, few desserts are more refreshing than an ice cold bowl of Bubur Cha Cha. At the core of this popular and traditional Malaysian dessert is a sweet, coconut milk-based broth that has been scented with pandan leaves and flavoured with Gula Melaka (dark palm sugar from Malacca).

Bubur Cha Cha is traditionally served with steamed sweet potatoes and yam pieces that have been cut into diamond shaped chunks. However, its popularity over the years have resulted in all sorts of ingredients being added to the broth, from tapioca pearls to coloured jelly cubes, black-eyed peas to sliced bananas. It can also be served warm during the colder months. Here’s my take on this classic Nyonya dessert!

Bubur Cha Cha

Bubur Cha Cha! (Photography shot in collaboration with Hugh Johnson)

Ingredients (serves 4 6 people)

  • 300g sweet potato – skinned and cut into-bite-sized pieces
  • 200g yam – skinned and cut into-bite-sized pieces
  • 3 small bananas (ripened) – cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 30g small tapioca pearls (or sago pearls)
  • 50g Gula Melaka – grated
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 litre coconut milk
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3 pandan leaves


  1. Steam the sweet potato & yam pieces for 10 – 12 minutes until cooked. Set aside to cool.
  1. Boil tapioca pearls in water until they change from opaque to translucent (about 8 – 10 minutes). Once cooked, refresh in ice water and chill in the fridge.
  1. Bring the coconut milk, pandan leaves, sea salt, grated Gula Melaka and caster sugar to a gentle boil to make the broth. Simmer for 5 minutes until the pandan leaves have infused the broth, then remove the leaves. Cool the mixture down to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 2 – 3 hours until chilled.
  1. Slice some bananas into bite-sized pieces. Lightly coat with 2 tsp of lemon juice to prevent them from going brown.
  1. When ready to serve, add the steamed sweet potatoes, yam, banana and tapioca pearls into a small individual serving bowl. Ladel over the cold broth and serve immediately.