Long Sunday afternoons dragging on – with the kids riding their bikes and running around in the garden – followed by time around the kitchen table enjoying a big bowl of Melkkos as a family. This is a memory that most South Africans have in common. Some might say that it’s the typical SA family lifestyle. While we have all done this in our own kitchens over the years, it can’t be denied that every home-grown South African has come to love and look forward to a good old-fashioned bowl of Melkkos. It’s what we have in common and it’s something that we pass on from one generation to the next.
Melkkos is a South African heritage dish and one that is much loved. Most South Africans have fond memories of their grandma serving them a mouth-wateringly creamy dish of Melkkos and for many expats it takes them right back to their childhoods spent in their beloved home country. If you are having thoughts of home and missing SA treats just like this, perhaps it’s time you learned a bit more about the dish and tried your hand at making it for yourself (and your family and friends too of course).
Where does Melkkos come from? If you do a bit of online reading on the history of Melkkos you will find that there is no definitive “inventor” named. Sadly so, because that man/woman certainly deserves a Bells! As it turns out, several countries have similar sweet milk drinks that are made with sago, sugar, vermicelli, and cinnamon. It is evident that Melkkos is a very similar dish to “boeber” which is a traditional Cape Malay treat. The Cape Malays living in SA are mostly of Indonesian descent. How did they come to live in South Africa? The community is the result of many Indonesian exiles and enslaved people from other African countries and China, who were brought to the country in the 16th Century!
While the Afrikaaners do not call their dish “boeber”, the traditional recipe is almost exactly the same as the Cape Malay boeber treat. Nowadays several varieties of the Melkkos recipe exist. Some feature Sago Melkkos while others feature condensed milk Melkkos. Either way, most families tweak the recipes to add a twist of their own… which often ends in a “secret family recipe” or “grandma’s secret recipe” doing the rounds in South African families.
That being said, it doesn’t really matter who invented the dish – what matters most is how you are going to get your fix! Because so many people tweak the original Melkkos recipe, which usually just features milk, flour, butter, and cinnamon sugar; our recipe is going to be a little different. This will include sago, vermicelli, and condensed milk. Hmm! Yum!
Below is an easy way to make Melkkos and you should be able to get these ingredients absolutely anywhere in the world.
Melkkos Recipe: Melkkos with Condensed Milk and Sago
Because Melkkos is a much-loved treat, it’s always a good idea to make a little (or a lot) more than you think you need. This is a Melkkos recipe with a Cape Malay Boeber twist and serves 8 people.
What you need to make melkkos:
To whip up a few bowls of delicious Melkkos, you will need to gather the following ingredients:
- 125ml of almond flakes (toasted)
- 1/3 of a cup of sago pearls
- 2 cups of fine vermicelli
- 50 grams of butter
- 2 litres of milk
- 1 tin of condensed milk (approx. 395 grams)
- 1 teaspoon of ground or powdered cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon of rose water
- 125ml of water
- ¼ cup of sugar
Melkkos cooking instructions
The trick to making a delicious Melkkos is to take your time and pay attention to what you are cooking. Because you are working with butter and milk, there is a real risk of it burning or at least sticking to the bottom of your pot. Make sure that you are careful and don’t try to rush the recipe by increasing the heat. Here’s what you need to do:
- Soak the sago for around half an hour.
- In a pot, melt the butter on low heat and then add the vermicelli to it.
- Add the cinnamon powder and allow it to cook in.
- Stir the vermicelli, allowing the butter to brown. Make sure that it doesn’t burn while stirring for around 4 minutes.
- Add the milk to the vermicelli and increase the heat to medium, allowing the milk to simmer slowly.
- Keep stirring the mixture to ensure that the milk doesn’t burn. It should simmer gently for around 20 minutes.
- Add the sago to the milk and vermicelli and let it simmer until the sago pearls are cooked and clear. This should be done on low heat for around 20 minutes.
- Empty the condensed milk into the mixture and pour hot water into the tin and add that to the mixture too.
- Stir constantly for around 5 minutes, allowing the flavours to cook into each other and a soft milky mixture form.
- Stir in 1 teaspoon of rose water and the dish is done!
How do you serve Melkkos? This particular version of Melkkos is usually served in a dessert bowl with a generous layer of sugar and toasted almond flakes on top.
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