During the holy Islamic month of Ramadan most Malaysian mosques prepare massive vats of Bubur Lambuk and dish it out for free to the faithful in order to break their fast after the Asr prayers (Afternoon Prayers).
Bubur Lambuk may be mainly associated with Malaysian Ramadan but it’s so scrumptious that you should be able to enjoy it during any month of the year; it’s a bit like having pancakes throughout the year instead of just eating them on Shrove Tuesday; too good to just limit yourself to once a year.
Rice porridge is common throughout Asia; in China it is known as congee, in Thailand it is chok, in Japan it is Kayu and in India it is known as Kanji. The base of these rice porridges are similar but the spices and cooking methods vary across the continent. In Malaysia it is a thick porridge made with many spices and aromatics such as pandan leaf, lemongrass, cinnamon, fennel, cardamon and it is always garnished with Bawang Goreng (Crispy Shallots) which gives it a nice crunch against the velvety rice. Traditionally it is made with beef but the today’s version with chicken is becoming quite popular.
For Bawang Goreng:
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 pinches coarse sea salt
Plenty vegetable oil
For Bubur Lambuk:
1 large chicken breast, diced into small pieces
200g jasmine rice, washed
1 litre chicken stock (or plain water)
1 Tbsp ghee (optional)
2 Tbsp shallot oil (from making Bawang Goreng)
4 shallots, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
5cm fresh ginger, finely diced
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed and cut into three pieces
4 pandan leaves, tied into a knot and the ends cut off
2 star anise, whole
1 cinnamon stick, whole
1 tsp. clove (whole or ground)
1 Tbsp. fennel powder
1 tsp. fenugreek
4 cardamoms (whole or ground)
1 tsp. black pepper
Salt, to taste
200ml coconut milk
Parsley, finely chopped
Red chilli powder (optional)
First we need to make Bawang Goreng:
1 Place finely sliced shallots on a plate with kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt in order to make them sweat. Leave for around 30 minutes while you prep the Bubur Lambuk ingredients and then dab with more kitchen paper to remove excess moisture.
2 Fry shallots in enough vegetable oil to completely cover the shallots. Start frying them from cold oil and cook on a low flame. Stir shallots continuously as to prevent them from burning and fry them until they have turned brown; it’s a fine line between brown and burnt so make sure you remove them just before you think they might need just a bit more colour. Strain shallots and leave on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil. Leave to cool until garnishing time. Do not throw the oil from cooking the shallots as it will be full of flavour and be used in the Bubur Lambuk.
For the Bubur Lambuk:
1 Fry shallots in a combination of ghee and shallot oil until slightly translucent.
2 Ad garlic, ginger and lemongrass and after a few minutes add pandan, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, fenugreek, cardamom, black pepper and fry until fragrant.
3 Add chicken to seal the meat and then add rice; combine well and then add chicken stock (or water). Bring to a boil and then simmer on a low flame for 10 minutes or until the rice has broken down and has become mushy. Season to taste.
4 Add coconut milk and stir in well and then remove from the heat. At this point you can play with your desired consistency; if you like it less mushy add more water or coconut milk.
5 Finally, garnish with parsley, Bawang Goreng and red chilli powder if you wish.