Black glutinous rice porridge, or bubur pulut hitam as it is more commonly known here in Malaysia, often gets a bad rep. It’s rich, laden with carbs, sweet and served with as-much-as-you-like coconut cream (aka santan). But recent findings have come in support of black glutinous rice as being pretty darn healthy, and coconut cream is the go-to replacement for health nuts and vegans when it comes to emulating dairy. And then there’s pandan, sea salt, the lower GI coconut sugar and a hint of ginger and one starts to realize that hey, this dessert is vegan, gluten-free and maybe it isn’t so bad after all!
We’ve all been brought up thinking that glutinous rice or pulut is something you should eat sparingly. It’s heavy, sticky and starchy, and can’t possibly be all that good for you. But did you know that black glutinous rice is actually believed to be healthier than brown rice? Say what? Not only is it unprocessed – meaning it retains most of its nutrients – glutinous rice does not contain amylose. This causes the rice to be sticky while slowing down digestion and lowering insulin levels. It’s got lots of insoluble fibre, which makes you feel full more quickly, as well as tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! We can absolutely get with that!
Yes, we admit that black glutinous rice porridge isn’t exactly a ‘health’ dish considering the amount of sugar that goes into the pot to make it. However, coconut sugar contains nutrients like iron, calcium, zinc and antioxidants, compared to regular white sugar, which contains no nutrients at all. Furthermore, coconut sugar contains inulin, which slows glucose absorption, making it a great lower glycemic index alternative to regular sugar.
The slow cooker advantage
Typically, a good black glutinous rice porridge requires an overnight soak and 30 to 60 minutes cooking time with constant stirring to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and burns. The intent is to cook the glutinous rice until it softens, expands and ‘breaks’. This is where making this dessert in a slow cooker becomes extremely useful. First, you don’t need to soak the rice at all (although a rinse is necessary), and all you need is three or six hours of cooking time depending on the temperature setting you prefer. Then there’s a little bit of stirring at the end and voila! Your incredibly delicious and legit bubur pulut hitam is ready for the eating.
If you’re thinking three or six hours cooking time isn’t reasonable at all, well, the good thing about making this in a slow cooker is being able to pop in the ingredients at night, or before you go to work, hit the mall, watch a movie, go to the gym, etc., and then come back to a dessert that’s just short of a few minutes ready. There’s no need to worry about unattended fires, stirring, or things overcooking. That’s a pretty good deal, right?
As with many, many other dishes in this country, be they sweet or savoury, everyone likes black glutinous rice porridge their way. Our recipe below makes for a rich and creamy bubur pulut hitam, but if you like your porridge less thick, feel free to add more water or coconut milk. And because we used gula Melaka instead of regular sugar, this recipe is not overly sweet and has a lovely deep caramel flavour. Add more or less coconut sugar depending on how sweet you like your dessert.
Ginger is also not typically used in black glutinous rice porridge. However, we find that adding just a little gives this dish a subtle but nice heat that enhances the experience of eating this dessert. It also adds a zing and freshness that complements and lightens the richness of this recipe. Finally, a little bit of sea salt enhances the flavours and sweetness of this porridge. If you’re cutting down on your salt intake, add less, but we don’t recommend getting rid of it altogether.
Black glutinous rice porridge
- 150g black glutinous rice
- 9g (3 medium leaves) pandan, knotted
- 150g coconut sugar (gula Melaka), grated
- 3 L water
- 13g ginger, peeled & bashed lightly
- 75ml coconut milk
- 1 tsp sea salt
Coconut cream sauce
- 300ml coconut milk
- 1 tsp sea salt
Cooking black glutinous rice porridge
- Place glutinous rice in a sieve or strainer and give it a short rinse to remove impurities. There is no need to rinse black glutinous rice until the water runs clear as it is known for its dark purple colour! Toss to remove excess water.
- Select the sauté/sear function on high temperature, and add the rinsed black glutinous rice into the pot. With a wooden or plastic spoon, toss and toast the rice for about two minutes, until the rice looks drier and you can smell the lovely scent of toasted glutinous rice.
- Next, add water, coconut milk, knotted pandan leaves, ginger and salt. Give everything a good stir to combine.
- Set your slow cooker on high temperature for 3 hours.
- Once the slow cooker has finished cooking, add in coconut sugar and stir it into the porridge until it is completely melted and combined. This will also darken the colour of your bubur pulut hitam.
- Remove pandan leaves and ginger and serve with creamy coconut sauce (recipe below) while still warm. This dessert is not suitable for eating cold!
Coconut cream recipe
- In a small pot, add coconut cream and salt and cook it over low heat.
- Stir regularly while bringing it up to almost a boil.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with black glutinous rice porridge while still warm.
- If you’re planning on cooking your bubur pulut hitam for a longer period, set your slow cooker on low temperature for 6 hours.
- We used the Phillips-all-in-one cooker which has a great sauté/sear function. If your slow cooker doesn’t, feel free to toss your rice in a regular pan over medium heat before proceeding with the other steps in your slow cooker.
- If you have lots of porridge left over, refrigerate or freeze it in airtight containers for later eating. Just make sure to heat it up and have it nice and warm later!
- Cooked coconut cream is not suitable for refrigerating or freezing as it may split when reheating. Feel free to make a small batch of coconut cream whenever you feel like reheating your leftover black glutinous rice porridge as it only takes a few minutes.
- Fresh coconut cream is always best, but you can use the boxed version as well.
- We like our coconut cream thick and creamy. If you’re using fresh coconut milk, let it sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours until the milk starts to separate. Use the top part of the cream for a thick and rich coconut cream sauce. However, you don’t want it to be solid cream!
- Feeling fancy and know where to get some amazing coconut ice cream (coconut cream-based and not coconut water-based)? Swap out coconut cream sauce for a small scoop of coconut ice cream and sprinkle a little bit of sea salt flakes over the top. The warm black glutinous rice porridge goes oh so well with the cold ice cream, and once it melts and combines, the whole dish becomes a lovely porridge of comforting deliciousness!
No slow cooker? No problem
If you don’t have a slow cooker, soak your glutinous rice overnight before proceeding with step 3 (minus the coconut milk) in a pot over low heat. Simmer until the rice breaks and then only add in the coconut milk and sugar. If you only have a few hours to soak your glutinous rice, the rice will take longer to expand and break, therefore requiring a longer cooking time. And you may need to add more water along the way. We definitely recommend the overnight soak.
We don’t know about you but we honestly thought bubur pulut hitam was a lot more difficult to make. Who knew a slow cooker would make this dish so much easier to handle? We might be tempted to have black glutinous rice porridge all the time now! Ohh… our ever expanding waistlines…
Don’t forget to tag your bubur pulut hitam pictures with #butterkicap. We’re super excited to see how your black glutinous rice porridge turned out when you try making it in your slow cooker!