Pastel de nata for lunch?


You will be forgiven for mistaking it for a mini milk tart at first glance, but the Pastel de nata, which is a custard filled delight, is anything but.

Even though they are sold in many Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Guinea-Bissau, Timor-Leste, Goa, Malacca, Macau and recently in the mainland of China.

Pasteis de Nata
Food Styling & Photography by Jon Lewin

Pastéis de nata as they are actually known has had quite a divine origin dating back to the 17th century. Believe it or not, they were first made by Catholic monks from the Jerónimos Monastery, in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém located in Lisbon.

Convents and monasteries used to starch their clothing with egg whites and they used a hefty amount. This resulted in them baking cakes and pastries from the left over egg yolks.

As the extinction of monasteries and convents became more prominent, monks started to sell their pastries to generate some revenue to a nearby sugar refinery.

When the monastery closed, the recipe was sold to the sugar refinery. The owners then started selling them in 1837 when they bought the Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém.

The descendants of the owners still own the place to this day.

Try Vida e Caffe, Broadway Bakery, Jason Bakery or Toni’s on Kloof to try a Pastel de nata.


Chilton Mellem
Editor, With a National Diploma in Journalism from CPUT and experience as a newspaper reporter, Chilton shares Dino’s passion for the Portuguese community in South Africa.