Bubur Cha Cha for Chap Goh Meh

The 15th day of Chinese New Year is called Chap Goh Meh, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.  It is a big deal here in Penang with events all over including a big gathering at the Esplanade in George Town hosted by the Penang State Government.  Read more about what the holiday is about in last year’s post.  Also visit the curated photo blog Living in Penang illustrated to see images from Instagram of the Chap Goh Meh celebrations.  Find out why young singles are throwing mandarin oranges into the sea.  This year I want to share one of the traditional dishes eaten during Chap Goh Meh, Bubur Cha Cha.


Bubur Cha Cha is the name for a Nyonya dish that is sometimes confused with a similar dish called Pengat.  It is a sweet dessert that is said to make the new year sweeter.  The Cha Cha is supposed to sound like ‘che che’ which in Hokkien means ‘prosperity’ or ‘abundence’.


This is a dish to be shared, so serve it to friends and neighbors today.  It is also the last day to hand out those red envelopes.  Children should be getting their last bit of loot before the river runs dry.

Bubur Cha Cha recipe


  • 1 cup cubed sweet potato – the orange variety – because orange is the color of Chap Goh Meh11008187_906182509402059_1341056860_n
  • 1 cup cubed yam, yellow and purple for more colors.
  • 100 g pearl sago
  • water
  • sugar
  • coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 pandan leaves, tied in a knot


  1. Boil Sago Pearls on their own in water until they are soft and translucent.  This should take about 15 minutes
  2. Steam the yam and sweet potato.  They should get soft but not mushy.  If you don’t have a steamer, sprinkle with water and microwave for 10 minutes.
  3. Bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 a cup of sugar to a boil.
  4. Drop to a simmer and add the pandan leaves.
  5. Add 1 cup of coconut milk and simmer for 4 minutes.
  6. Remove pandan.
  7. Add steamed sweet potato and yam, stir to coat.
  8. Serve over a heaping spoonful of sago pearls.