Bubur Bali

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

A favourite breakfast across much of Asia is rice cooked until collapsed and made creamy by its own starch. I have always found the name ‘rice porridge’ an unappealing way of describing this, the savoury flavours jarring with the description. A risotto is a far better culinary cousin to call to mind for its similar texture and depth of flavour. Bubur Bali is velvety, comforting, nourishing. This fantastic version with spinach urap comes from the Bambu Indah hotel kitchens. The toppings make every mouthful different, so play around with these, adding some crunch, some spice, perhaps something pickled. Without the bumbu spice paste it makes perfect baby food. Add a scarlet spoonful of sambal oelek for some extra fire and it will soothe away the fiercest hangover.


  • 200 g (1 cup) brown rice, washed
  • 2 salam or lime leaves
  • 125 g ( oz) finely grated fresh or rehydrated coconut
  • 1 lemongrass stick, bruised and tied in a knot
  • 2 small red Asian shallots, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded and sliced
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 50 g (2 oz) spinach or pak choy
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 tablespoon crisp-fried shallots
  • 4 tablespoons Wok-fried Peanuts

Bumbu spice paste

  • 2 small red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 large red chilli, seeded
  • 1 red bird’s eye chilli (optional)
  • 4 cm ( inches) galangal, skin scrubbed
  • 3 cm ( inches) turmeric, peeled, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 cm ( inches) ginger, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons oil


Put the rice in a pan with one of the salam leaves and top with 500 ml (2 cups) cold water and a good pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then give the rice a good stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to stop sticking. Half cover with a lid and leave to cook on a gentle simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally, especially towards the end of cooking. The rice grains will burst open to make a thick and creamy mixture with the consistency of oatmeal. Add more water if needed during cooking. If you make it in advance (it lends itself well to this), then reheat with a splash of water.

Make the bumbu whilst the rice is cooking. Put all the ingredients for the spice paste into a food processor and blend to a puree. Season with salt and pepper. Cook in a shallow pan for 5-10 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture darkens and the oil begins to separate from the paste. Tip in most of the grated coconut (keeping some back for later), the whole knotted lemongrass and the remaining salam leaf. Add 150 ml (generous ½ cup) water and a pinch of salt and cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes. The mixture should be a fragrant, loose sauce.

In a small pan, fry the shallot, garlic and chilli slices in the oil until golden and crisp.

Remove three-quarters of the spiced coconut sauce from the pan and set aside. Add the spinach to the remaining mixture and wilt over the heat. Turn off the heat and stir in the reserved grated coconut, the lime juice and the fried shallot/garlic/chilli mix. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, spoon the bubur into bowls. Divide the spiced coconut sauce over the top and then the spinach. Finish with a scattering of crispy shallots and fried peanuts.