What is Bubur Lambuk?
Bubur Lambuk is a light spiced, savoury rice porridge (bubur = lambuk) that is synonymous with Ramadan in Singapore and Malaysia. It traces its origin back to the mid 20th century, to a mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can read more about the history of Bubur Lambuk on this page, where you’ll find the traditional recipe, made with a small amount of beef, image below.
This rice porridge is more than just a recipe, it’s a tradition during the fasting month. Mosques would make it in large quantities and someone from most Muslim households (rich or poor) would stop off to pick a tub up for iftar, breaking of the fast.
Bubur lambuk is a great way to break one’s fast, it’s comforting and not so heavy on one’s empty stomach.
Vegan Bubur Lambuk
I’ve had many requests for a vegetarian version of this much loved Ramadan rice porridge, so I thought making a Vegan Bubur Lambuk would tick all the boxes. And keep everyone happy!
So all I’ve done is taken out the beef, as well as the dried shrimp and replaced it with vegetables. You can use whatever vegetables you fancy in this bubur lambuk, there are no hard and fast rules.
We’ll be cooking the rice porridge for at least 30 minutes, to allow the rice to fall apart. The vegetables will be pretty well done too by this stage. If you prefer your vegetables to be less cooked, add them after 10 or 15 minutes of cooking the rice.
But I think the beauty of the bubur lambuk or any bubur for that matter, is the rather soft feel of every mouthful.
Your vegan bubur lambuk will thicken upon cooling, so you want it fairly wet when it’s done. If kept for the next day, it’ll want a little water added.
Vegan Bubur Lambuk Ingredients
So the only “pesky” ingredient in this recipe is the pandan leaves. These are a much loved herb in many parts of the world, and should be available either online or in frozen form in East Asian shops.
If you can’t find pandan leaves, not a big deal, leave them out, and just finish the bubur with chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and spring onions (scallions), as we are doing anyway. Those two alone, will more than make up for the lack of daun pandan.
As mentioned above, use whatever you like, but you do want a balance. The vegetables are meant to complement, not take over. So I’ve got:
- green beans
- shiitake (mushrooms)
If you don’t like mushrooms, you could leave them out. I love shiitake, they are my go-to vegetarian umami ingredient. And in this vegan bubur lambuk, they basically take the place of the dried shrimp, which just screams umami, with its strong scent of the sea.
Other vegetables that you can use:
- pulses (like kidney beans, chickpeas – out of a can is great, as they won’t need a long cooking time)
- capsicum (bell peppers)
- courgettes (zucchini)
Right then, shall we get cooking?
More Ramadan Recipes
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Vegan Bubur Lambuk (Vegan Savoury Rice Porridge)
- chopping board
- 1.25 litres water
- 100 g Basmati rice or any long grain rice
- 60 ml coconut milk
- 1 small cinnamon stick (kayu manis)
- 1 small star anise (bunga lawang)
- 2 cloves (bunga cengkih)
- 2 cardamoms (buah pelaga)
- ¼ tsp whole cumin seeds (jintan manis)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground coriander (serbuk ketumbar)
- ¼ tsp ground cumin (serbuk jintan manis)
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric (kunyit)
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper (serbuk lada hitam)
- 1 small carrot (about 80 g)
- 100 g shiitake
- 12 green beans (about 50 g)
- 1 celery stick
- chopped coriander leaves cilantro (daun ketumbar)
- crispy fried shallots bawang goreng
- chopped spring onions scallions (daun bawang)
- chopped fresh red or green chillies OR chilli flakes
Prep the Vegetables
- Clean and slice the shiitake (see image, step 3).
- Chop up the carrots into little cubes.
Slice the green beans into tiny pieces too, and slice the celery, as you see in the image.
Boil the water with spices and aromatics
- Bring the water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
- Add all the whole spices to the water. So that'll be 1 small cinnamon stick, 1 small star anise, 2 cloves, 2 cardamoms and ¼ tsp cumin seeds. Leave the water to come to a boil.
Chop up the onion, garlic and ginger fairly finely. You can do it by hand or place everything into a chopper. Tip the whole lot into the water as it is heating up.
Bruise the end of the lemongrass, by hitting down hard on it with the back of a knife. Add it to the water. You can read more and watch a video on how to prepare lemongrass on this post.
Tie all the pandan leaves up with a knot in the middle. Drop them in the water.
- While waiting, rinse the rice, drain and set aside.
When the water is boiling
Tip in the rinsed rice. Bring back to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and add all the ground spices. So that's 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp ground cumin, ¼ tsp ground turmeric and ¼ tsp black pepper. Stir to mix.
Add all the vegetables in, stir, and bring back to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, until the rice is all cooked and breaking up slightly. Add a little more water if it's getting too thick, but don't forget, we still have 1 cup of coconut milk to be added in. You can cook it for longer if you like a more uniform porridge consistency. You will need more water, the longer you cook.
Stir in the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer, cooking for no more than a minute. Check seasoning, add more salt if you think it needs it.
Serve up, garnished with the fried shallots, fresh coriander leaves, spring onions and chilli slices. If your bubur is too thick, just add a little water to thin it down, and check seasoning.