A luscious black rice pudding made with coconut milk and palm sugar. Vegan and gluten free, this is a traditional Indonesian breakfast.
We spent a few days in Ubud, Bali, in December. It wasn’t our favourite part of the trip – I blame Elizabeth Gilbert for ruining Ubud – but it’s definitely where we ate the best.
We stayed in a gorgeous hotel while we were there, guesthouses arranged around a courtyard garden. Our room was huge, with marble everywhere, and elaborate woodcarvings, and a great big canopy bed. On the first night I was lying in it reading by the light of my e-reader, with Paul, who was a little under the weather, snoozing beside me. I could hear insects buzzing around the room (those woodcarvings had a lot of openings to the outside) and I figured I’d finish my chapter, find my earplugs, and then just ignore them and go to sleep in the safety of our mosquito net.
No sooner had I finished my chapter when I sensed a thwack, as if something rather large had flown up against the net, so reached over and turned on the light only to discover that something large had flown up against the net. A bat. A freaking bat was clinging to the outside of our mosquito net.
Cue about 10 hysterical minutes with me tiptoeing around the room trying to catch the bloody thing with a sarong, with Paul was directing the operation from within the safety of the mosquito net. In the end we got it out of the room (I made Paul get out of bed and do the deed after I had finally trapped it) and then spent a very sleepless night listening to every chirp or scratch around us.
Anyways, that hotel had amazing breakfasts, and this was one of them. They only made black rice pudding once a week, and it had to be ordered a day in advance, but thankfully our days were aligned and I got to enjoy it. The pudding I had there was far too sweet for my tastes, but I knew as soon as I tried it that I wanted to recreate it here.
The good news is you don’t need to travel to Indonesia or fend off bats in your room to try this luscious pudding. So long as you can find some black rice, also known as forbidden rice, it’s incredibly easy to make.
The pudding I had in Indonesia was scented with coconut, and sweetened with palm sugar. I bought some natural palm sugar while I was there, and really enjoy the subtle sweetness and smoky flavour it provides, but I suspect that a good number of you won’t be able to get your hands on the stuff – and nor should you make a big effort for just a couple of tablespoons. I think that coconut sugar would work like a charm here, as would any other sweetener you like to use in moderation. Maple syrup, honey, sucanat, or muscovado sugar would all work nicely.
You need a bit of time to make this, so it’s not ideal for a weekday morning breakfast. My preference, however, is to eat it cold, or with the chill just taken off, and in that case it works well for a make-ahead meal.
I like my black rice pudding topped with some chopped fruit, and a sprinkle of seeds or nuts to add a touch of protein. An extra drizzle of coconut milk isn’t mandatory, but you definitely won’t regret it.
Black rice, also known as forbidden rice, is a type of sticky rice produced by heirloom plants in Indonesia, Thailand, and China. Legend has it that during the Ming Dynasty in China only the emperors were allowed to eat black rice, hence the name forbidden rice. The black colour (actually a deep dark purple) belies a powerful punch of antioxidants from anthocyanins, the same antioxidants as are found in blueberries and other purple foods. These fight inflammation, free radicals, and are thought to improve cardiovascular and brain function. Black rice is a rich source of zinc, copper, and iron, and is a significant source of dietary fiber.
Indonesian black rice pudding
- 1 cup / 200g black rice
- 1 can full-fat coconut milk
- 1 ½ cups water
- a pinch of salt
- 1 -2 Tbsp natural palm sugar coconut sugar, or other sweetener of your choice
- diced banana and hemp hearts for garnish
- In a medium-sized pot, combine the black rice, coconut milk (reserve a couple of Tbsp for drizzling if you like) salt, and water.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the temperature to low and simmer covered until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (you still want a little liquid as the pudding will continue to thicken as it cools). This will take about an hour, so be sure to give it a good stir every once in a while and check on the cooking progress.
- Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat, then stir in one Tbsp of your chosen sweetener, and taste. You may or may not want to add another.
- Serve hot, warm, or cold (my favourite) drizzled with a bit of extra coconut milk, and garnished with diced banana and a sprinkle of hemp hearts.
Adapted from My New Roots