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Bubur Cha Cha 磨磨查查

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This is the unofficial favourite dessert of many Malaysians.

Funny name, Bubur Cha Cha
Bubur means porridge in Malay, Cha Cha is...hmmm... no idea..
Will I do the Cha Cha dance after eating this dessert.... hehe.. maybe I will.
The cantonese pronunciation for this dessert is even funnier.. Mo Mo Cha Cha (touch touch, grasp grasp)

There are many variants of it, some with bananas, some with cassava or tapioca, some w/o the black eyed peas, some with those wriggly worm like multicolour rice flour bits, and I even heard a version with kuih bakul.

Some people find this dessert very time consuming to prepare, they say it's because one has to dice most of the main ingredients. I find that to be not much of a problem if one doesn't use a ruler to measure every cut the knife goes down on. The time consuming part is cooking the black eyed peas, that's the real problem, 3 hours and that's after soaking for another 3 hours!!!

This is a version commonly made by the Chinese in central Perak, with black eyed peas, taro (mistakenly refered as yam in msia), two types of sweet potatoes, fresh coconut milk, and sago pearls. And we (majority of central perakians) dun favour a salty bubur chacha, unlike our northern friends.

There is a missing ingredient... I dunno what it's called.. but I know it's made with tapioca starch, dyed red and made into squiggly chewy gummy jelly. I have no idea how it's made. The last time I had this gummy jelly in my bubur chacha was.. say.. 20 years back, made by my neighbour.

I make quite a big batch of this, cos I love to keep it in the fridge and eat it for days... it's really yummy.

Bubur Cha Cha recipe

3/4 rice bowl of black eyed peas (mei dau, soaked for minimum 3 hours)
4 leaves of pandan (shredded and tied into a knot)
1.5 L water (about 6 rice bowls)

2.5L water (about 10 rice bowls)
1.5 rice bowl taro (cut into 1cm cubes)
1.5 rice bowl yellow sweet potato(cut into 1cm cubes)
1.5 rice bowl orange sweet potato(cut into 1cm cubes)
1/3 rice bowl fish eye sago pearls
1 1/2 Tbsp fish egg sago pearls

350 gm rock sugar or normal white sugar
150 gm gula melaka (palm sugar)

fresh coconut milk from 2 coconuts (about 4ooml undiluted)
1/2 tsp salt (to prevent the coconut milk from going bad fast, but not enough to turn the whole thing salty)

** Conversion: 1 rice bowl is approximately 1 cup 250ml

1. Boil 1.5L water, simmer black eyed peas and pandan knot on low fire for 2-3 hours or until peas are soft.
2. When peas are almost soft, put in fish eye sago pearls (Do not presoak them). Let them simmer together.
3. Cut taro, sweet potatoes and put them in together with 2.5L of water after peas are soft. Bring to a boil and lower down fire to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Take out pandan knot. Sprinkle in fish egg sago pearls. Put in rock sugar and palm sugar. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
5. Turn off the fire, and leave pot uncovered for 5 minutes.
6. Pour in coconut milk and salt. Stir to combine. Wait for 15 minutes before putting lid back onto the pot. This is to prevent the coconut milk to turn oily.

** If you put in coconut milk too soon after turning off fire, it will curdle. If you put in too late, the whole thing will turn bad faster(hmm.. in 1-2 days, eventhough it's in the fridge) due to the coconut milk being `uncooked'. With properly cooked uncurdled coconut milk in the bubur chacha, I kept them in the fridge up to 5 days, and it tasted alright.

** I do not recommend purple sweet potatoes in this dessert. It makes the whole thing purple!!! A little overpowering on the colour. This is my personal opinion.

20 lovely notes:

janei,  August 19, 2008 at 9:20 PM  

Dear Wendy,
If you would like try make those gummy jelly, it is actually made from "tepung ubi kayu". I don't have the quantity measurement as I always make it by "feeling". Pour hot boiling water to the flour, and mix until you can knead it like glutinous dumpling. Add water until you got the right "feeling" but remember, only hot water or else it won't success. Roll the dough into long strip and cut into same size of your others ingredient such as taro or sweet potato. Prepare boiling water while you knead and cut, throw into boiling water and cook until they float. Do not delay the time from the kneading to cooking it as those dough, if left for quite some time, will somehow "melt". Do keep some to do experiment and you will understand what I mean. After straining the floated jelly, soak into iced water to prevent sticking. Mix into hot or cold bubur cha cha before serving. All the best! Oh ya, you can mix some colouring agent the time you knead with hot water, to make it more colourful(or for you to find it easily as it will become more transparent than sago pearls).

wendyywy August 19, 2008 at 11:20 PM  


ICIC... my grandaunt always said that it's damn tedious to make.. but after hearing from u, it doens't seem to be that hard.

Anonymous,  February 14, 2011 at 3:34 AM  

Hi Wendy, thanks for the recipe. What happens to the 2.5L water which you listed in the ingredient? When to use it?


wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more February 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM  

Thanks for pointing out the mistake.
The instructions are rectified.
The 2.5L water should be added in together with the cubed ingredients

Anonymous,  September 12, 2011 at 5:43 PM  

ummm...... about those gummy jelly.... its actually water chestnuts cubed..... put into red flavor coloring .... and into a plastic bag filled with tapioca flour...... then shaked..... and put into hot water until they become transculent.... then tske it out and put it into ice cold water..... drain it... then.... TAADAA!!!!

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more September 14, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

thanks for the recipe.
But i'm very sure those that i ate has no waterchestnuts in it.
Janei (1st commentor) has given me the answer.

Anonymous,  February 27, 2012 at 4:42 PM  

Could you please kindly advise on the following:
1. This recipe could serve how many people? If I'm cooking for 12 people, do I need to double this recipe?

2. If I haven't got black-eyed peas, is there any other substitution?

3. If there's no substitution, could you please advise on the amount of water? Does that mean I could omit the 1.5 litre water in step 1?

4 Do I still need the 1.5 litre water in order to cook the sago pearls or need less water? How much water would you advise?


wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more February 27, 2012 at 8:17 PM  

1. 12 pax, enough. But then it depends on how much they eat. 1 person 2 bowls also can, but depending on how big the bowl is ;)

2. Black eyed peas are very common, shouldn't be a problem obtaining them. Yeah, skip step 1.

3. The amount of water here is just a guidance, although I did measure it. It depends on the evaporation rate whether the water used is enough. Some pots evaporate a lot of water, some don't. You can start with less water and add more if it's needed, judge the consistency by looking at it. Maybe you can use 1L water to cook the fish eye sago pearls until they are almost fully translucent. Then use 2L subsequently, but.. still let your eyes be the judge. Even the amount of sugar.. it also depends on how much water is left in the pot after all the simmering. Just remember that some like it thick, some like it thin, some like it sweet, some like it not so sweet. Sweet soups can never be 100% accurate to the dot. You have to make the judgement yourself, ok :)

Let me know how it turns out.

Anonymous,  February 27, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

Thanks Wendy for your advice. I went to a grocery shop just now but I think they run out of the black-eyed peas...So I think I will just cook without the peas...In that case, do you mean my first step is (1) boil the fish eye sago pearls with approximately 1 litre water with pandan leaves, till almost fully translucent. Does it take long for them to turn translucent?
(2) add the yam and sweet potato
(3) take out pandan leaves and sprinkle the egg sago pearl.

Actually is the difference between egg and eye sago pearl is the 'size' but both made from tapioca starch?

Many thanks!


wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more February 27, 2012 at 10:21 PM  

Yes, both made from same stuff, just the size.
Yes, that's how you do it, if you want to save time, just use fish egg sago and skip the large ones. The big ones can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes to cook until almost translucent.

Anonymous,  February 28, 2012 at 7:21 AM  


Just out of curiosity, why we shouldn't presoak the eye sago pearl? Normally when I use the egg sago pearl, I do presoak them.


wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more February 28, 2012 at 3:53 PM  

I don't know about those that you have. But mine always falls apart when soaked. I don't even wash them, even by washing, they melt away

Anonymous,  March 4, 2012 at 7:49 PM  

Dear Wendy,
Can I cook this and then transfer it to a slow cooker as it has 'warm' function? By keeping the bubur chacha at 'warm' function, will the coconut milk curdle?

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 4, 2012 at 7:52 PM  

I am not sure as I have never tried that before.
If you intend to finish up the pot of Bubur Cha Cha on the same day, (I assume because you want to keep it warm all the itme), then you can just spoon in the coconut milk onto the bowl of warm bubur cha cha upon serving.

Anonymous,  March 5, 2012 at 5:29 PM  

I've tried out your bubur chacha over the weekend, following your instructions. Thank you!
It's very delicious!


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 5, 2012 at 5:40 PM  

Thanks for the feedback!
EVerybody had seconds?

Anonymous,  March 6, 2012 at 9:06 AM  

Yes, everyone has seconds and some even had thirds!! haha...Very delicious. I just used canned coconut milk yet it tasted really good. Thanks a lot for your great recipe!

WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 6, 2012 at 9:13 AM  

Haha.. that sounds great. Thirds!
I'm sure they will request more of it from you next time. They hope to get their fourth bowl.

Anonymous,  March 6, 2012 at 3:30 PM  

Dear Wendy,
If I only add the coconut milk before serving, will it turn bad faster? Also, the yam you used, is it all parts are soft after cooking? My yam, some part still hard, some already soft upon cooking. is that normal?


WendyinKK @ Table for 2..... or more March 6, 2012 at 3:35 PM  

All parts of the taro are soft.
If you add coconut before serving, if you can finish it up within few hours, shouldn't be a problem.
How long it can keep, depends on how hot the soup is when it's added.

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