What? Having Rice As A Dessert?–The nutritious black glutinous rice porridge


Yes, having rice as a dessert. This rice is even more nutritious than the white rice. It is black in color, it is sweet and it is sticky. The rice dessert is black glutinous rice porridge which is a popular dessert among the all races in Malaysia and Singapore. In Malay, it is called “Bubur Pulut Hitam”.


“Black rice is cultivated in Asia and is considered to be heirloom rice. The rice is unprocessed and appears black in its raw state. After it is cooked, it changes in color to a deep purple. Black glutinous rice or sweet black rice is a type of black rice which is short grained and viscous when cooked. Studies show that black rice health benefits even exceed that of brown rice.” (Source: http://www.diethealthclub.com/health-food/black-rice.html)



Black glutinous rice porridge (hereinafter refer to as “black glutinous porridge”) is a dessert that I loved since young. In Singapore, I don’t usually cook this dessert as the black glutinous rice that were sold here are mainly from China and Thailand of which its fragrance were different from the glutinous rice from Sarawak.

Not many people may know that Sarawak do produce rice and in fact, Sarawak aims to be rice self-sufficient in year 2020. These rice were cultivated mostly by the Iban or Bidayuh tribes in Sarawak. When I was a kid, we were told that the harvest was from the shifting cultivation where forests were burnt in order to plant the rice. However, nowadays, most padi was planted on fixed plot of lands. Beside the black glutinous rice, Sarawak locally produce rice also include brown rice, red rice, white glutinous rice and not forget the famous Bario rice. In recent years, as the Sarawakian became more affluent and health conscious, the shift and focus now is on Sarawak  locally pesticide-free produce rice.

Two days ago, my mother in law who flew from Kuching gave me 1 kg of the black glutinous rice and I have decided to cook this traditional desserts for my guests and family members yesterday.


Black glutinous rice porridge is rather easy to cook and the ingredients are minimal. As usual, all the measurement units here are for reference and you can adjust it accordingly to suit your taste.


You will need:

  • Black Glutinous Rice (2 cups) – Most groceries shops or supermarket would have sold and usually in the dry goods section.
  • Coconut milk (200 ml) – Coconut milk is optional. If you are very health conscious, you can substitute it with evaporated creamer or don’t put any coconut milk at all. The role of coconut milk is to make the porridge creamier. By the same logic, of course cream can also be used.
  • Palm Sugar or White Granulated Sugar (1 cup) – Adjust to suit your personal preference
  • Sago balls (0.25-0.5 cups) –Optional again. Depending on the type of glutinous rice you bought. Some of the rice when cooked are not that sticky of vicious, therefore, adding some sago balls will help to make your dessert smoother. Just soak the sago balls in a cup for one two minutes and you will see that all the balls disappeared.
  • Pandan Leaves (1 bundle) – Optional. Personally, I strongly insisted on putting the Pandan. Pandan and coconut milk are two local ingredients that differentiate our (Malaysian and Singaporean or rather South East Asian Countries’) dessert from others parts of the world.




Well, the pictures are rather dull and let’s start cooking.

  • Wash your black glutinous rice in a pot of water. The water should be quite clear but the color will be dark and become purplish black.. The amount of water should be about 5 times your glutinous rice volume. Well this is an estimated volume and if it too liquid after you complete the cooking, add in more sago balls. If in the process of cooking, you noted that it is overly sticky and difficult to stir, add in more water.
  • Add in pandan leaves and bring to boil over high heat. Once it start to boil, you can switch to medium heat and let it boil for at least 30-45 minutes until the rice are cooked, soft and sticky. At this juncture, you can  add in the sago balls and sugar and let it boil for another 15 minutes.
  • If the texture are to  your satisfaction (meaning resembles the one that you have ever eaten before), add in coconut milk, pinches of salt and bring to boil and off the fire immediately.
  • Served when hot or cold. Drizzle a few table spoon of coconut milk before serving, if necessary.



Note that I have added the coconut milks before I off the fire and I let it boil for a while. This is the way my mothers used to cook. Most recipes would advised you to drizzle your fresh coconut milk over the cooked dessert. The same applies when you have  the dessert in the hawker stalls or posh restaurants.

I have to defend my ground that cooked coconut milk are more friendly to your gastro intestinal system and actually, a lot of people are not able to consume raw coconut milk. Secondly, when cooked, the coconut milk blends well with the dessert and easier to keep in the event you can’t finished the dessert. It is rather hard to keep a container of fresh coconut milk in Malaysia and Singapore’s hot weathers. For these two reasons, I will always have my coconut milk cooked in the black glutinous rice dessert and you can see the small bubbles in the dessert.



It is funny that you add pinches of salt to a sweet dessert. Do you  feel very bloated after you have a bowl of coconut creamed based dessert, be it this dessert or other desserts such as Bubur Chacha and rather reluctant to have the second bowl? Well the reason is simple, added pinches of salt will reduce the greasiness and bloated feeling of coconut oil (coconut cream will be come oil when cooked).



Glutinous rice are rather difficult to cook. There are three ways you can try. One is the one using open fire as mentioned in my recipe above.

Option 2 is using a rice cooker, . For those rice cookers where there are digital menu, select the “glutinous rice” or “porridge” options. In fact, in the picture above, I have selected the porridge option and let it cooked for one round (about 45 minutes also). Well, as not all raw ingredients are the same, in the event that after one round of cooking, your porridge is still not the texture that you are looking for, continue to cook for the second round. Always “visit” them and see how they transformed. You can just off the electricity in the middle of the second round as long as you feel it has been cooked to your preferences.

Option 3 is using the slow cooker and let it “slowly cooked” over the night. But look out for the hardening of the top portion, just scope it away before serving.

Another way to shorten the cooking time is to soak the glutinous rice in advance for say 2-3 hours and you will be able to shorten the overall cooking by about half. But don’t throw away the water that you soaked, all the vitamins and minerals are there. Just use the same pot that you soak the glutinous rice for the cooking.



Almost all ingredients have substitutes and no two recipes are exactly the same, be it for steps of preparation or ingredients. This mean that there are no fix and fast rule on this dessert.  Therefore, just go ahead to cook it and when your guests comment, just say it is your own style..LOL

Main Ingredients

Variants  or substitutes

Black glutinous rice -quantity can be adjusted by varying the sago balls used
– Can be cooked with red beans or longan, both have high level of iron content
Sugar – brown sugar, rock sugar (too wasted), coconut sugar (gula melaka) or palm sugar (sugar atap?)
Coconut milk – Fresh Cream, evaporated milk or not milk based at all like in China restaurants that serves eight treasure porridge


It is not my intention that you come here solely looking for the recipe. We shall learn together and know what we eat. Do you know that black rice (in general) have the following health benefits:

  • Black rice contains many vitamins and minerals that are essential to the bodies. It contains high iron content and therefore it is good for those with anemia. The Chinese called this blood glutinous rice (血糯米)and believed that this dessert (without coconut milk) is especially beneficial to women who have monthly menstrual affairs. Some recipes have added dried longan (龙眼干)or red bean (红豆) to the dessert and believed that  it is extremely nutritious (很補!)
  • Black rice contain high level of antioxidants anthocyanin and is even higher than blueberries!
  • Black rice assists in weight loss!  Black rice is low in calorie content and made up of mostly of carbohydrates. One may question is it not these two statements are contradictory. Food high in carbohydrates are easier to make you full and does not mean that it is high in calorie content. Therefore eating a small bowl of black rice will make you feel full faster than eating a bowl of ice cream!
  • Black rice for diabetics. Black rice has low quantities of sugar and contains beneficial plant compounds and fiber which are known to protect the body from diabetes and cancers.



Black glutinous rice pudding is an easy but time-consuming dessert to prepare. It is high in nutritional value and there is no fix and fast rule that the dessert will have to be prepared in a certain prescribed manner.  So, you should be proud of your own version and share with us.

The purpose of this post is not only sharing with readers my style of preparing this dessert, but more importantly, to create an awareness of its nutritional values and share some “tips” that it might be of interest to you.

No matter how delicious  and nutritious this dessert is to you, moderation is still the key! Consideration has to be taken into its high sugar level content and the fact that glutinous rice is rather unfriendly to our gastro intestinal system, Therefore, eat moderately with caution!

For readers who are not residing in the South East Asia Region, you should be able to enjoy it in Malaysian, Singaporean or Indonesian restaurants. But keep it in your notes as a “must try” dessert when you visit the region!

Thanks for reading this long-winded post and have a nice day. Give me a like if you think that you have learn something from my post and please share with me any other areas that I have not mentioned. Cheers.


3 thoughts on “What? Having Rice As A Dessert?–The nutritious black glutinous rice porridge

  1. Pingback: What Are the Healthiest Thai Menu Items? | Thai Ginger

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