How to Make Nita’s Black Sticky Rice

In today’s blog post, we head to the ajb kitchen as our gorgeous friend Nita Strudwick shares her recipe for Black Sticky Rice (Bubur Ketan Hitam). Some time ago Nita served us up this delicacy – which was met with lots of sighs of wonder and delight. Of course, in her true modest style, Nita insisted that it was very easy to make, however, we knew it was a recipe that Nita had to actually show us.

Over a simmering pot, Nita explained that the recipe came from her mother, Ibu Yeti Nuryati. “You can taste the love in every rice grain”, she mused.

Nita’s Mum used to cook this every weekend for her family. Rarely did Nita and her siblings receive money from their parents to buy street food. Instead Ibu Yeti would cook something for her children, home-made favourites such as kacang hijau (green bean porridge), nasi uduk, opor ayam, donuts and of course Bubur Ketan Hitam (Black Sticky Rice).

Black Sticky Rice is a comfort food for Nita, and this was especially so when living overseas. Nita recalls cooking Black Sticky Rice in Winter – or just whenever she missed her Mother and her home country of Indonesia. Often Nita would invite her Indonesian friends too, to share a bowl.

Now, Nita prepares her Mother’s recipe for her own daughter – and Nita’s husband loves Black Sticky Rice too. As Nita explains, ‘It is our favourite home-cooked dessert’.

We are sure it will become one of your favourite home-cooked desserts too.

Selamat Makan!

Nita’s Super-Tasty Black Sticky Rice (Bubur Ketan Hitam)

(Serves 6 – 8 persons)

500g black sticky rice
1.5L water (extra if required)
1 cup dark palm sugar, crushed
2 tsp salt
5 pandan leaves, knotted
3 slices of fresh ginger (peeled)

250ml coconut cream
250ml water or coconut water
1 – 2 pandan leaves, knotted
1 tsp salt

Ingredients for Black Sticky Rice
Our ingredients


Note: Begin preparation up to a day before cooking

  1. To get a head start on cooking time, it’s best to wash and soak the rice at least 2 hours before cooking (some recipes suggest soaking overnight)
  2. Wash the soaked rice thoroughly with clean cold water and drain
  3. Transfer rice into a large cooking pot and add the water

    Washed black rice
    Washed rice ready to be added to pot
  4. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Ensure rice does not dry out (add extra water if required so that rice remains wet)

    Stirring black sticky rice
    Patience is required when making Black Sticky Rice – constant stirring makes this dish a most tasty labour of love
  5. Continue cooking for up to 45 minutes or until rice is almost tender then add palm sugar, salt, pandan leaves and ginger slices
    chopping palm sugar
    Chopping the palm sugar so that it dissolves more quickly

    Adding the sugar
    Adding the palm sugar to the pot
  6. Gently simmer for a further 10 minutes, stirring constantlyA simmering pot
  7. Add extra liquid if a looser texture is desired (increase cooking time if a firmer consistency is preferred)

    If the rice is too hard, keep adding a few dashes of water until it is the right consistency
  8. Taste-test to check on flavour and texture. Does it need more sweet or does it need more cooking time?

    Taste test
    Taste as you go.. think about taste (sweet, salty) and texture (do you want the grains to be soft or a little bit of a bite)
  9. To serve, remove from the heat and discard the ginger slices and pandan leaves
    Black sticky rice ready to serve
    A pot of Bubur Ketan Hitam ready for serving

    Removing the pandan leaf
    Removing the pandan and ginger
  10. Scoop into individual bowls and gently pour coconut sauce over the top

    coconut sauce
    Coconut sauce to add creaminess
  11. Eat with the sauce only (this is more traditional) or alternatively, garnish with mango or other fruits or toppings (- see ‘Cooks Notes’ for our tasty recommendations)

    Black Sticky Rice - Indonesian-style
    A traditional bowl of Indonesian Black Sticky Rice
Knotted pandan leaf
Knotting the pandan leaf

To Make the Sauce
Place all ingredients into a pot over a low heat and simmer for 5 minutes to allow pandan to infuse. To serve, drizzle over Sticky Rice.

Making coconut sauce
Combining all the ingredients in the saucepan before applying heat
black sticky rice with banana
Our breakfast serving suggestion

Cooks Notes
Black Sticky Rice is a tasty and nutritious meal for any time of the day. To make it even more suitable for breakfast, reduce the sugar content when cooking. Add slices of banana for more sustained energy.

Make a big pot of Black Sticky Rice and keep it in the fridge for up to 2 days. When serving, scoop desired amount into a microwave-proof bowl, add some hot water and heat for 30-45 seconds then stir.

Love Indonesian spices such as vanilla or cinnamon? Why not add a vanilla pod to the pot when simmering the rice or a few teaspoons of cinnamon. Just be sure to remove the pod before serving.

Traditionally Black Sticky Rice, ‘Bubur Ketan Hitam’ is served drizzled with the coconut sauce, however, we really enjoy it with any of the following:
Fresh mango slices
Sliced banana
Sliced fresh figs
Shredded coconut or toasted coconut
Toasted sesame seeds
A dollop of Greek or natural yoghurt
and a sprig of mint for freshness!

Sliced mango and banana
Up the vitamins with the addition of fresh fruit

For that dessert sensation, we suggest sliced mango with a scoop of quality vanilla ice cream (and a drizzle of the coconut sauce of course!)

To make a more indulgent sauce, use only coconut cream, instead of water/cream combination

Black sticky rice with coconut sauce and fresh fruit
Selamat Makan Semua! (Happy Eating All!)

About Black Rice – Some Interesting Facts You Should Know

As the name suggests, prior to cooking, this variety of rice is blackish in colour, however upon cooking, turns purple. The black pigment is due to a high level of anthocyanin  – which is also found in many other darkly coloured plants such as eggplant, blueberries and acai berries.

Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent which has been associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Black rice is also high in iron, Vitamin E and is a good source of fibre. Compared to other types, black rice contains less starch and more protein.

Dating back as far as the 13th Century, black rice was grown exclusively for the highest elite class, in particular those associated with the Majapahit Empire. Black rice was grown in very limited quantities and was closely monitored. As a result, this type of rice is sometimes referred to as ‘forbidden rice’ or ‘Emperor’s rice’.

There exists many heirloom varieties of black rice from regular black rice to sticky black rice. Black rice grows throughout the Indonesian archipelago from the coastal sandy soils of Aceh in North Sumatra to the swamp areas of Kalimantan; to the wetlands of Java and Bali. It is also grown throughout the Eastern Islands of Indonesia and as a wild grass rice in Papua (Helianti Hillman, Founder Javara Indonesia).

Indonesian black rice

Interested in more Indonesian food & recipes? We have hand-picked these just for You:

ajb’s Guide to Indonesian Cakes & Sweets
ajb’s Guide to Indonesian Snacks
All About Rujak
How to Make Indonesia’s favourite street snack, Martabak

And want to know more about today’s Cook in the ajb Kitchen? Read Nita’s story here 


Words: Jo & Nita   Photography: a journey bespoke


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