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.