Thursday, 16 February 2012

Black Sticky Rice Pudding

Black Sticky Rice Pudding with Red Adzuki Beans and Coconut Cream

I had a variation of this on Valentine's Day, at Kopapa, an all-day little cafe/restaurant at the Seven Dials started by chef Peter Gordon. The menu was interesting, a very creative fusion of asian and western. The dessert I had was "warm black rice and coconut pudding, pineapple caramel, pandan marshmallow, furikake". It was good, but it only brought back cravings for a familiar favourite dessert from home--something much simpler, but I find much tastier.

We call it bubur pulut hitam, though I think the Thais also have the same dish, by a different name. It's a sweet black rice porridge, with lashings of thick coconut milk. My mum makes it a "deluxe" version by adding a handful of red adzuki beans too, and that's the one I'm sharing.

This is made using black glutinous (but it doesn't have gluten) rice, also known as "forbidden rice", so it cooks up really sticky and starchy much like short-grain pudding rice or plain glutinous rice. Like brown rice, it's a wholegrain, with unevenly-coloured black husks, but it cooks into a gorgeous deep purple. The antioxidants in black foods are notoriously high (think black garlic, blackberries) and this is no exception, though you'd want to make sure you get all these benefits by soaking it nice and long to make all that fibre easier on your tummy.

Black Sticky Rice Pudding, with Red Adzuki Beans and Coconut Cream
serves 6 to 8
1 cup uncooked black glutinous "sticky" rice
1/2 cup red adzuki beans
2/3 cup unrefined palm sugar "gula melaka", or to taste
10 cups water, more or less as desired
thick coconut milk, to serve

1. Soak rice and red beans overnight in cold water.
2. The next day, drain, and replace with 10 cups of fresh water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Let simmer for about an hour or more, or till the rice and beans split and are cooked till soft. Stir once in a while so the grains don't settle at the bottom and and burn, and top up water as needed, though at the end, the water in the pot will be mostly gone and the rice will be pretty much like porridge. I like it less thick and sticky so I add more water than normal.
4. Stir in the chopped up palm sugar till dissolved, then remove from heat.
5. Scoop into bowls and serve warm with a generous spoon of thick coconut milk over. For summer/tropical weather: Refrigerate leftovers, and then serve with a scoop of coconut or vanilla ice cream as a cold dessert.

The black sticky rice pudding is heaven in a bowl. Glorious chewy little amaranth grains, studded with soft sweet red beans, and the best part of all, that ripple of rich coconut cream running through it all. The gula melaka is a very Singaporean-Malaysian flavour that just makes this dish sing, you can replace it with another sugar (preferably unrefined), but this adds a delicious caramel toffee-like sweetness and depth.

I know porridge for pudding doesn't seem like the most glamorous dessert, but this is my antidote to the the lingering winter cold; to missing home; to dessert cravings; and to health-- all in one.


  1. Hi Shuhan - this looks great. I have a favourite Chinese restaurant in Paris and they serve a dessert a bit like this, usually topped with a piece of "Chinese flan", whatever that is. It's so good, and your bowl of pudding looks awesome - especially with the coconut milk on the side. It's a really great, warming dessert, which isn't too sweet at all, and, for me at least, is really different to the kind of desserts I normally have as a European, so it has a touch of exoticism about it :)

    Thanks for posting the lovely recipe - now I just need to try and find some adzuki beans.... :/

  2. Que plato mas sano y delicioso.
    Traete un trocito a mi blog jeje.
    Un besito ^^

  3. I'm so interested to hear about this recipe, I have a bag of Forbidden Rice on my counter and I am still deciding what I want to do with to with it. Your dessert looks exotic and delicious.

  4. I'm sure I've had something similar to this in Thai restaurants. It is a really tasty and delicious and filling dessert. I must work out where I can buy those beans and the black rice.

  5. i love this black sticky rice pudding soaked in creamy sweet...I especially enjoy the chewiness of the black sticky rice :) thanks for sharing the recipe

  6. mmmmmm mmmmmmm mmmmmmm! I had some ice kachang in Tanjong Pagar the other night - quite an old-school one with just gula melaka and coconut cream over the top - it was sooooo good, and this recipe is making me greedy for more gula melaka. It's such a quintessentially local flavour that I absolutely adore, I'm going to miss it SO MUCH when we leave! (Not sure Scottish Sainsbury's carry it!)

  7. This is one of my favorite 'thong sui'! Looks really good with black glutinous rice & fresh coconut milk! Never thought of adding gula melake though. Still have a little gula melaka in my pantry, so I'm trying this recipe!

  8. Yesterday I also cook this soup but my was red bean soup with little glutinous rice, your look so good too.

  9. Amazing dessert! The colours are gorgeous and the ingredients so original (at least for me :-) ) It's been ages since I haven't had a warm dessert. I have a bag of azuki beans and since I'm not a big fan of Japanese typical azuki sweets, I might use them this way. Thanks for the wonderful idea.

  10. This is brilliant, I would love this I know. The black rice looks stunning I could just eat it right now. Gorgeous. I could eat palm sugar raw it's so good1

  11. charles: chinese desserts are very different from european desserts. they're actually all meant to be very tonifying, and best of all they're always very simple to make, most of them just involve a long boiling that's all!

    jana: thanks! (:

    sue: black rice is most often eaten as a congee/porridge, whether sweet or not, you can give either a go! rmb to soak!

    michelle: thank you!

    hotly spiced: chinatown!

    yi: i also enjoy its chewiness, a nice change from usual rice congee!

    little macaroon:I like ice kacang old school! the new ones with all the multi coloured jellies don't do it for me. some nice sweet red beans, a generous splash of coconut milk and gula melaka is the best thing on a hot day! hmmm, try chinatown? i found mine in the chinatown supermarket!

    i: the traditional way is to use gula melaka actually! yay let me know how it goes!

    sonia: haha great minds think alike ;)

    sissi: chinese desserts are very often warm porridges. I hope you try it (: even if you can't get hold of the black rice, you can just as simply make red bean soup, and sweeten it however much you desire (:

    laura: thanks laura! haha when I chop it up to add to my cooking, I always pinch a few pieces.

  12. Amazing. Now I know what to do with some of the short grain black rice that's been in my cupboard for awhile. This will be a good stretch for me!

  13. Hi Shu!

    i am wondering if I can get black rice here around, I ll have to look out for them, because I realy lost myself looking at your rice pudding. Plus it sounds super healthy with the adzuki beans and jaggery sugar and the unpealed rice...
    Its a killer dish! thanks a lots for sharing!

  14. why have I not ever tried this before? Wow! It looks amazing

  15. one of my favourite desserts and i love to chew on the rice texture. pandan marshmallow sounds a little different too.

  16. Ommmmnom, I love the stuff with pandan in it as well. Never thought to add beans, but that would indeed make it even healthier and add another really nice textural component to this comforting dish.

  17. ohhh we always make it with red beans too!! sooo yummmy and nutritious :) i normally use black rice and not black glutinous rice though..but i do prefer the stickiness of the glutinous one!

    btw, furikake in a dessert?! wow creative :D

  18. I missed eating bubur hitam... my grandma used to cook them for me when I was little. I reckon eating this traditional dessert can be very comforting. Yours is really interesting with the addition of red beans in this dessert.

  19. Hi Shu Han! What an unique rice pudding! I have not tried black sticky rice pudding before but I love eating dessert with azuki in it. I wish to try this one day!

  20. jenni: haha good to know this helped! chinese desserts are always a simple-to-make affair(:

    helene: try chinatown or health food stores? if not, it would be delicious with just red beans too!

    kitchen bellecious: alot of dishes from my hometown are overlooked for the more common things like..hmm fried rice or something ):

    lena: I didn't liek the pandan marhsmallow to be frank..

    zo: yup, not just texture, but also taste. and definitely nutrients!

    viv: yayyy great minds think alike (: hmm never heard of non-glutinous black rice..?

    zoe: it's a childhood favourite of mine too(:

    nami: I hope you do, let me know if you do!

  21. Mummy will serve the dessert hot and then top it up with cold vanilla ice-cream!

    1. hmm she puts in the fridge and then have it with ice cream for cold dessert, then warm one is with coconut milk! new variation ah? but sounds good, warm with cold, like warm brownie with icecream yummm

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