Bubur pulut hitam is rice pudding like you’ve never had before. The South East Asian trifecta of coconut milk, palm sugar and pandan leaves hits the spot every time!
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Bubur Pulut Hitam in English
- bubur = porridge (can be sweet or savoury)
- pulut = glutinous rice
- hitam = black
Bubur Pulut Hitam = black glutinous rice porridge, literally. So it’s a rice pudding made with glutinous rice.
And since it has no dairy, it’s a vegan rice pudding too.
Bubur, Bubur Everywhere
This is kampung food, or village food in English. It’s basic, it’s rustic and it’s so easy to make. We have so many different types of bubur in Singapore and Malaysia, made from various ingredients. They can be rice based like today’s bubur pulut hitam and that Ramadan favourite, Bubur Lambuk. The latter is spiced rice congee.
They can also be root based like Bubur Cha Cha (with sago) or made with legumes, like Bubur Kacang (with mung beans). These are both sweet puddings, and recipe soon!
But it doesn’t just stop there. There are so many ways to make bubur, you don’t actually need a grain or a starch. Look out for recipes as time goes by.
Bubur Pulut Hitam Recipe
Bubur pulut hitam is very very easy to make, requiring some basic ingredients. All we do is:
- Soak the glutinous rice overnight (or a minimum 4 hours).
- Cook the rice with water, sugar and pandan leaves for 1 hour.
- Stir in half the coconut milk, reserving the rest.
- Serve in bowls with a drizzle of more coconut milk.
Some people leave out the coconut milk completely, reserving it just for serving. But I’ve always preferred it with lots of coconut milk so stir some through at the end of the cooking time.
Black Glutinous Rice
There are 3 different types of black rice, the one you want is the glutinous or sticky variety, and it is sold as Thai black glutinous rice outside of Asia. So we don’t want the Chinese Forbidden rice, nor do we want the American black japonica, a cross breed rice.
Black glutinous rice appears practically black in colour, but upon soaking, releases its purple hue caused by the presence of anthocyanins, the antioxidant responsible for the colour in purple and red fruit and vegetables. I briefly mention this in my purple juice article on LinsFood.
Once cooked, the rice takes on a purple colour. In this recipe, because of the use of the dark gula melaka (palm sugar), our pulut hitam has a brown-purple colour.
If you have access to fresh coconut milk, that’s the way to go. Use the first pressing for the final topping before you serve the bubur pulut hitam. The second pressing is for adding at the end of cooking time.
If you only have access to canned coconut milk, as I do, then give the can a good shake, and use it that way.
You could also use just coconut cream, for both the cooking and the garnish. In this instance, you may need a little more water when cooking the pulut hitam.
Gula melaka is the palm sugar that’s commonly used in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s more often than not, made from the flower buds of the coconut palm.
Unlike the Thai palm sugar, gula melaka is very dark and hard. It is intensely rich and sweet with toasty, caramel flavours. I will advise against having a taste, because you will not be able to stop yourself from going back for more. Again and again!
To use gula melaka, you either chop it up into little pieces or grate it, the latter is much easier to do.
Gula Melaka Substitute
Don’t sub gula melaka with Thai palm sugar, as it’s just not sweet enough. Coconut sugar is a great substitute for gula melaka if you happen to have it lying around.
Otherwise, your best substitute for gula melaka is brown sugar (light or dark). Molasses is just too strong for this. As a last resort, white sugar makes a perfectly acceptable substitute to cook our bubur pulut hitam.
Click here to read more on LinsFood. The pandan leaf has a wonderfully, sweet aroma with dashes of freshly cut grass, and is a very common ingredient in South East Asian cooking, for flavouring both sweet and savoury dishes.
I have a pot of this but before I could get my hands on a plant, I resorted to the frozen kind too. In fact, I still freeze excess leaves to preserve them.
If you can’t get pandan leaves, leave them out or see if you can get hold of pandan essence or the Indian kewra from the usual suspects. I am not a fan of pandan essence as it is, to my knowledge, artificial. But things may have moved on in the last 30 years, who knows!
How long will Bubur Pulut Hitam Keep?
Bubur Pulut Hitam will keep for 2 days if stored in the fridge. It will thicken considerably the longer you keep it, and especially when it’s cold.
Just heat it up gently with added water and a topping of coconut milk before serving. You may also need to add more sugar.
It can be eaten warm or at room temperature.
And now shall we get cooking?
If you enjoy the recipe, drop me a comment and let me know. And if you are feeling like a star, don’t forget that 5-star rating!
If you make this recipe, post it on Instagram and tag me @azlinbloor and hashtag it #linsfood.
Bubur Pulut Hitam (Black Glutinous Rice Pudding)
- 1 large bowl for soaking
- 1 large saucepan
- 1 ladle
- 200 g black glutinous rice
- water as needed for soaking
- 2 pandan leaves
- 1½-2 litres water for cooking
- 250 ml coconut see article above for explanation
- 100 g gula melaka you may need more
- 1 pinch salt
The Night Before – soak the rice
Place the rice in a large bowl and top with water. Soak the rice for a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight.
Let's get Cooking
Drain and rinse the rice, then place it in a large saucepan with 1.5 litres water (6 cups), the pandan leaves and gula melaka, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 1 hour. Stir occasionally, especially in the last 15 minutes, to stop it from catching and burning at the bottom. Skim off any excessive foam and discard.
At the end of 1 hour, stir in half the coconut milk and salt. Bring it back to a simmer and taste. Add more sugar, if not sweet enough. Take it off the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
To serve, discard the pandan and dish out into individual bowls, topped with more of the coconut milk.