Bubur Cha Cha - Recipe

The first recipe and post of 2013- not a bake at all, but I think the name alone of this dessert makes it worthy of its own post. So let's begin 2013 with a laugh.

Bubur Cha Cha!

Pronounced 'boo-boo cha-cha'.

I can't say the name of this dessert without giggling like an idiot. Even writing it out phonetically just now made me crack a smile. 'Boo-boo cha-cha'. Ha! Anyway, 'bubur' is Malay for 'congee' (porridge), and 'cha cha' means 'plentiful'.

Bubur cha cha's main ingredients traditionally consist of sweetened coconut milk, sweet potatoes, taro (or yam) and tapioca pearls, usually served warm but occasionally over ice, and is popular in Malaysia. It is in fact a nonya (or nyonya) dish- that is, a fusion of (but not limited to) Chinese and Malay food in particular.

Sweet food, colourful food. You guys already know what I like.

Here's my take on this traditional dessert, where I've made flavoured and coloured 'dumplings' out of tapioca instead of loose tapioca pearls.

Ingredients for Potatoes:

- Potatoes.

Just kidding, I know that part's pretty obvious.

- 1 large normal (orange) sweet potato
- 2 small taros/ yams (sometimes sold as eddoe)
- 2 small purple sweet potatoes (if you can find them- usually found in Chinese supermarkets)

Ingredients for Tapioca Dumplings:

- 3/4 cup tapioca pearls (get the tiny 'seed' ones, or sago)
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2tbsp cornflour
- a few drops of pink and green food colouring (I used pandan paste and rose syrup for extra flavour)

Ingredients for Sweet Coconut Soup:

- 1 tin thick coconut milk
- 2tsp cornflour to thicken
- 4tbsp caster sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 2 pandan leaves, slightly shredded and tied in a knot (again, if you can find them, and again found in Chinese supermarkets)


1) First you want to prepare your potatoes. Peel and dice them as big or small as you want, and steam them. I did this in the microwave (place in a microwavable bowl, cover with clingfilm and microwave for about 3mins, or until tender). Make sure your yam is fully cooked in particular- yams and taro are toxic when raw, and could give your stomach a really rough ride if eaten raw. Set them aside for later once cooked.

I burned the purple sweet potatoes. *Cries* Curse you, dodgy microwave timer!

2) Make your tapioca dumplings (or tapioca jelly, if you prefer). Mix the boiling water with your tapioca in a bowl, stirring until sticky. Divide into two bowls, and colour as you wish. Then add about a tbsp of cornflour to each bowl and knead until dough-like.

Pandan extract comes from the pandan leaf, as shown here.

3) Roll each of your dough lumps into long, thin sausages, and cut little coin-shaped slices.

Uneven dividing of tapioca led to an over-abudance of pink.

4) Boil each colour separately in a pan of water and stir lightly until the dumplings start floating. Now keep them on the boil until they go clear-ish (about half an hour), and then fish them out and put them in separate bowls of lukewarm water to keep them from sticking to each other (not cold water, or you'll lose some of the chewiness and they'll become tough).

5) Now make your sweet coconut soup: put your can of coconut milk in a saucepan with your pandan leaves (or without), sugar and salt. Take out a tablespoon of coconut milk and mix with your two teaspoons of cornflour in a small bowl until liquid, and add back to the saucepan. Now thicken on a low heat for about five minutes, stirring continuously, and bring to a simmer.

The pandan perfumed the coconut soup with a wonderfully fragrant smell and flavour.

6) Now divide up your potatoes, tapioca dumplings and hot coconut soup into three bowls and serve.

Happy new year, everyone!


Want more Malaysian desserts? Check out my recipes for Kueh Dadar: sweet coconut-stuffed pancakes,and layered Kueh Ubi Bingka: a custardy, chewy steamed cassava cake.


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