Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Bubur Pulut Hitam - Black Glutinous Rice Porridge

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone had a terrific start to 2008. I welcomed the new year with my family back in Singapore. I arrived two days ago and I have not wasted time familiarising myself with a Singaporean passion - eating! Yes, Singaporeans are very proud of our food, which is very diversed - Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasion, Middle-Eastern and everything in between. One can find something to eat 24hrs, 7 days a week. Many restuarants don't even close between lunch and dinner. You can get a delicous meal to fit any budget, from just $3 to hundreds of dollars at acclaimed fine dining restaurants.

I promised some of you that I will do my best to learn some of my mother's recipes during my two weeks vacation in Singapore. However, I have to report that all I have been doing is indulging in Mom's lovingly prepared meals. Her dishes are mainly Malay, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Through the years, she has also adapted these traditional recipes to make them healthier (such as reducing the amount of coconut milk and also grilling instead of deep-frying). My tummy has been very happy the last two days and there is more to come.

I have to admit that this sweet porridge is the first home cooked item that I captured on camera because I was too greedy at other times. It was actually my sister who reminded me to start taking photos for my blog. So, where possible and when time permits, I will take photos and share some recipes. I have to warm you though that Mom cooks by estimation, so it's unlikely that I will have exact measurements.

Today's sweet treat is a simple one but don't be fooled by it's boring looks. It can still excite the palate due to the flavours, texture and is oh-so-comforting. Although it's called "porridge", it is not something for breakfast but is usually eaten for afternoon tea. Variations of this sweet porridge can be seen in Malaysia and Thailand. I think the name of this porridge is a misnomer because when cooked, the glistening, long grains take on a deep purple tinge. Perhaps purple glutinous rice porridge does not sound as appetising....

There are two ingredients that make this such a delcious dessert:
Pandan Leaf - The pandan leaf comes from the Screwpine tree, which can be found in Madagascar, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the tropical areas of Australia. Pandan leaf in Southeast Asia is as frequently used as vanilla bean is in western cuisine. Pandan leaf is also commonly used to perfume savoury dishes.
Palm Sugar - Also referred to as gula jawa or gula Malacca/Melaka. It's a type of sugar made from the coconut tree. There are variable quality of palm sugars out there so when mom gets a hold of a good supply, I eat it like candy. I think that my addiction to palm sugar is probably bigger than my love for maple syrup. I can't find good palm sugar in Sydney, so I get my fix annually when I am back in Singapore :-). More info on palm sugar here.
Bubur Pulut Hitam
(Black Glutinous Rice Porridge)

For porridge:
Black glutinous rice
Palm sugar
Pandan leaf

For Topping:
Freshly squeezed coconut milk
pandan leaf

Porridge - Boil glutinous rice with the pandan leaf and water till tender. My mom uses a pressure cooker to save time. The consistency should not be too thick or watery, so add as much or little water to your preference.
Topping - Over low heat, boil the coconut milk with the pandan leaf and a pinch of salt. Add water if it's too thick.

To serve:
The porridge is usually eaten warm but is still delicious at room temperature. Just before serving, spoon some of the coconut milk topping over the porridge.


Susan said...

Happy New Year, Nora! What a beautifully dramatic entry for 2008!

I've never been a huge fan of rice puddings/porridges, but if it's got something extraordinary going for it, I'm more than willing to indulge. I haven't easy access to pandan leaves, but do have a bottle of screwpine water. Could I use that instead?

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Nora, this porridge looks delicious!! I'm looking forward for more recipes from Singapore.. I will be checking your blog every day :)

Happy New Year to you as well!!

Thank you for being my friend ;)


Bellini Valli said...

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet", Shakespeare must have been thinking of Black Glutinous Rice Porridge! Have a wonderful holiday with your family Nora!! All the best!!

Lydia said...

It's so great that you are able to spend the holidays with your family -- and even better that your mom is such a wonderful cook! Looking forward to learning some new recipes in the year ahead -- happy new year, Nora!

katiez said...

So many of my friends in Andorra had lived in Singapore - and all they ever talked about was the fantastic food. Some day I will go there.
Have a wonderful holiday a very Happy New Year!
Hope you get lots of cooking in with your mom! And maybe some shopping...shopping would be good.

Kevin said...

The black glutinous rice sounds pretty interesting. I will have to see if I can find some. The porridge looks good especially the coconut milk swirls on top.

Happy New Year!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

How wonderful to have such a nice vacation with your family! I look forward to getting sneak peeks at the treats your mother prepares.

chemcookit said...

Lovely post! I know very little about Singapore, so I'm looking forward to seeing more recipes (and some pictures? hint, hint. :) :) :) ).
My warmest wishes for a great 2008, Nora!

David Hall said...

Hi Nora

Happy New Year to you too! How do I become a reader of Daring Bakers?

All the best

Nora B. said...

Hi Susan, thanks for your lovely comment. Is the screwpine water that you have a natural extract or artificial flavouring? I would say that the former would be a ok to use as a substitute. If you ever get a hold of the leaves, buy extra and freeze them. As you know, nothing beats the real thing.

Margot, Thanks for your support. It's been great getting to know you. I will do my best to blog everyday but it's so hard to get exact measurements of the recipes from my mom since she doesn't actually use recipes.

Valli, lol! Thanks. I am having a wonderful time with my family but it's not all fun and games. I still have to continue working on my thesis.

Lydia, thanks, and yes it's always wonderful to be around my family. Like I said to Margot, I'll do my best with the recipes.

Katie, you are so right. I failed to mention that shopping was our other passion. I haven't shopped much but I can feel myself weakening, so I might just have to give in :-)

Kevin, I tried to make the coconut milk look "artistic", so I'm glad you noticed :-)

Lynn, thanks. Although they will be sneak peaks because there is just too many dishes to share.

Marta, in that case, I will try to make my post more informative so that you can learn a bit more about our cuisine.

Hi David, I'll get the info to you on your blog.

Big Boys Oven said...

Happy New Year Nora.... what a lovely dessert... one of my favourite!

winedeb said...

I am thrilled that you are having such a good time "at home" with family. Wow, your mom sounds wonderful and you should enjoy every little morsel that she will prepare for you! This porridge looks so comforting, and look at that sweet tablecloth!
Have fun and I look forward to all the yummies that you are fixing!

Happy New Year Nora!

tigerfish said...

Been donkey years since I've had bubur hitam. It's going to be a "lost art" soon, IMO.
Enjoy all the makan-ing in S'pore, girl.

Zarina said...

Ah! ur pic has given me the inspiration to go make some of this bubur for iftar today!