Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Balinese Treat

In anticipation of my upcoming trip to Indonesia, I’ve been experimenting with some native dishes from this Southeast Asian country. Earlier in the month I made Indonesian fried rice using brown rice, and this time around I played with a black, sticky rice to make a Balinese dessert called Bubur Ketan Hitam (literal translation: black sticky porridge). The recipe I used was found here, with a few minor modifications. I guess you could call this Indonesia’s version of rice pudding, loaded with the flavors of pandan leaves and coconut milk. The pandan leaf is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian cooking that is used in both sweet and savory dishes. The scent is characteristic for its rich and nutty fragrance and this lovely aroma was definitely evident in my house as the black rice simmered on the stove top. The ingredients for this dish may sound exotic but don’t let that stop you from giving this one a try. The black rice, coconut milk (canned is perfectly fine to use), pandan leaves, and palm sugar can be readily found at a Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese grocery store. The only ingredient I did have to search a little deeper for was the pandan leaf which I ended up finding in the frozen food section. To give it a bit more Indonesian flare, I topped off the rice with some chopped up jack fruit but I think lychees, or mango would work out nicely too. Overall, I enjoyed both making this recipe, as well as eating it. The creaminess, flavor, and color of the rice made me feel, if for a moment, transported to Bali, sitting on the beach or underneath a coconut tree. Well, we can always dream, can’t we? I hope you enjoy.

1 comment:

Terry said...

Augustina,

Thanks for the fabulous recipe!!!! Last night we entertained our book club as we discussed the book "Eat Pray Love". We designed the dinner around the book - Italian appetizers, Indian food for the main course, and your recommended Indonesian dessert Bubur Ketan Hitam. We discussed each section of the book during the appropriate dinner course. I have to admit that we did not discuss the book's section on Bali much. Our discussion was focused primarily on our pure enjoyment of this yummy dessert, which might be the point of Bali after all.

I have to admit, finding the pandan leaves was a bit like the hunt for the Holy Grail. After looking in the Asian markets I knew of in our area, I finally found it in a small Vietnamese grocery store after stopping in our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and asking the owner if she can give me ideas of where to find it. The quest for the pandan leaves was well worth the effort.

I served the Bubur Ketan Hitam with canned coconut milk and fresh pineapple. Everyone really enjoyed our dessert! They commented on how the pineapple complemented the flavor of the coconut milk and the perfect texture of the sticky rice. This recipe's a keeper. I will definitely transport my guests to Bali again through the magic of Bubur Ketan Hitam!