Bubur cha cha (Malaysian-Nyonya coconut milk dessert)

What is bubur cha cha? In Malay, “bubur” means “porridge”, and“cha cha” means “well”My grandma said it should be “che che” in Hokkien Penang spoken language which means “prosperity”. My grandma doesn’t have a proper amount for the ingredients nor method.

To me, it’s just a coconut milk dessert; come from Malaysia-Nyonya (Peranakan Chinese), which make up of a mixture of sweet potatoes (in yellow, orange, and purple colour), yam and a few other ingredients that my grandma used to make for us during festive seasons in Penang and when we requested.

Two weeks ago, my mom makes this bubur cha cha, give me some. I ask her for the recipe; my mom too no proper amount ingredients but got a method, at least. She said to me you alone just do a small portion.

As she is making for us all; she said she uses about 300 g sago, a mixture of sweet potatoes, 1 small yam, 3 cans coconut milk plus salt, sugar to taste and enough water. This is our traditional recipe handed down from my grandma to mom. Of course, Chinese desserts aren’t my strength nor am I capable of cooking/making them.

Anyway, I prefer Western creamy desserts more than Chinese desserts. Also, I had learned at school how to cook in Penang. I never was interested in cooking. I prefer math, reading novels and making/counting money in my palace. As, I am retired and nothing to do in the house, I decided to learn how to cook Chinese meals and dessert again.

I managed to get sago, yam and orange sweet potato. I didn’t have pandan leaves nor gula melaka (palm sugar) like my grandma and mom use. My mom latest bubur cha cha uses white sugar.

Phew!!! I had to make this bubur cha cha six times to get the right consistency, texture and not burn, nor is the sago clumpy. My sago from 1 kg had become 150 g the last few and just enough yam and orange sweet potato. So much coconut milk, sugar, yam and sweet potato wasted.

I took a picture to show my mom. Then she said to me, you forgot to add purple and yellow sweet potatoes, and banana. Then, I turn around on my fruit bowl there is a banana. So, I cut up and add in as seen on the picture above.

Glad, that I tried my hands at it. The more I practice the better it get. Never lose hope is my encouraging words to all who has no experience or no handed down recipe. Search the google, pick the one you like and try it.

I prefer mine creamier than my mom. This is a satisfying Chinese and my one and only one ever Chinese dessert that I have mastered well after 5 times and the 6 times I am in heaven; except I forgot to add banana. Hahaha!!! Learn and relearnt. Oh, you can search for it on google there are plenty recipes to choose from. Perhaps try mine from scratch. Let’s cook. Enjoy!!!!


150 g sago
1 small sweet potato, cut to bite size
1/4 yam, cut to bite size
4 cut pieces banana
1 – 1 1/2 L water
300- 400 ml can coconut milk
120 -150 g granulated sugar, to taste
750 ml -1 L water
a pinch of salt


Microwave yam and sweet potato until cooked about 15 -20 minutes, drain and set aside. Boil sago on medium heat in a large pot with 250 ml water, give it a quick stir. Remember to stir occasionally and reduce heat for 10 minutes, until translucent. Remove from hob.

Next add 500ml water to the cooked sago to prevent them from clumping together. Give a couple of stir again; checking the bottom not stuck before putting back on hob; medium heat. Now add 120 g sugar, adjust the sweetness according to taste. Then, add 300 ml coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolved. When sugar had dissolved, reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add in cooked yam and sweet potato into the sago and coconut milk mixture. See if not creamy, add the remaining100 ml coconut milk. Let it simmer, stir occasionally for about 10 minutes. During simmering taste again for sweetness, add the remaining 30 g sugar, texture: soft not clumpy and creamy thick. If too thick add about 200 ml water and mix well. Serve it cold or hot or warm up to individual.

Note: I serve mine with more coconut milk. You can make more or less the portion. You can add the other colour sweet potatoes and banana. You can use palm sugar and add pandan leaves.