Black Rice (Boo Boo Cha Cha)

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Black rice gives a colorful and delicious to this dessert called Bubo Cha Cha (Bubo means congee,  a thick rice porridge in Malay, and ‘cha cha’ refers to dancing) is a dance of different cultures. Bubo chacha is a typical Nyonya dish. In the Malaysian language, the word “Nyonya” is used to address an older lady with respect and affection, especially elderly women. The term “Nyonya cuisine” refers to the cuisine that developed as a result of the amalgamation of the cuisine of Chinese settlers with that of Malaysians and Indonesians.  The Nyonya style of cooking food is aromatic, tangy, and spicy with local herbs.

Traditionally this dish is made with tapioca pearls balls (sago) Instead, for this version of Bubo Chacha, I like to introduce black rice, which has a unique gentle nutty flavor. Black rice gets its color due to its anthocyanin content. It has a gentle nutty flavor and has its own beautiful fragrance like basmati and jasmine rice. Once cooked, it turns a beautiful purplish color.  As it is unpolished, the endosperm, bran, and germ have a very high nutritional value. When cooked thoroughly, it gets sticky due to its gelling capacity which aids in digestion. When cooked properly and combined with coconut milk, cream, or butter with coconut sugar, rice syrup, and ginger juice in this recipe the rice gets an incredible texture and taste.

Black Rice Bubo Chacha

Dessert Asian
By Monisha Shivananada Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 45 mins Total Time: 1 hour

Let's try something unique ad different by making Black rice Bubo Chacha that is a true essence of an amalgam of cultures.


  • 1 cup red rice
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 block of coconut bar
  • 2 tablespoons sliced or grated fresh ginger
  • 4 cups of water to cook the rice thoroughly
  • 1 cup rice syrup if unavailable use (optional) coconut sugar and dark brown molasses
  • A pinch of salt.
  • Options include
  • 1 ripe golden banana
  • 1 one pandan leave
  • 1 purple sweet potato or any sweet variety will do
  • Lemongrass essence oil



Rinse the rice in water twice. Add the water and rice to a large pot and cook over medium heat.


As the rice cooks, it will absorb the water and turn soft and creamy. Once it reaches this stage, add the ginger, rice syrup, pinch of salt, and coconut milk, and sliced up creamed coconut bar. Simmer for a few minutes, then remove from heat.


The dish is delicious as it is, and can be served with a dash of coconut milk or cream. If you’d like a more elaborate version, continue as per the instructions below.



Once the rice is almost cooked, add cooked sweet potato cubes and diced bananas to the rice. Simmer until the rice is completely cooked.


Originally made with pandan leaves for fragrance (you can buy it in Asian stores) if it is unavailable you can use lemongrass or vanilla extract.


Remove from the heat and stir in a few drops of lemongrass oil or vanilla extract.


Serve while hot, in a shallow bowl with a topping of coconut milk or cream.


This keeps for two days in the refrigerator. You could also buy crystallized ginger from an Asian grocery shop as a replacement for fresh ginger for this dessert.

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