If you love South East Asian desserts with coconut, then you absolutely must try Bubur Cha Cha. A lot of Asian countries have their own rendition of this dessert but today we’re making it Malaysian style and the way I grew up eating it. My mum’s from Malaysia and this probably the dessert she makes most often. It’s incredibly easy to make – you just need a little time. There is always a big pot of Bubur Cha Cha at my family gatherings – it’s the perfect dessert for a crowd. It’s naturally vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free.
WHAT IS BUBUR CHA CHA?
It’s a Malaysian coconut milk dessert that can be served warm or cold with a medley of taro and sweet potatoes in a lightly pandan-flavoured coconut milk base. It’s incredibly fragrant and delicious and popular additions include tapioca sago, colourful tapioca jellies, black eyed peas, banana, canned sweet jackfruit and lychees.
Special Ingredients in Bubur Cha Cha
- Coconut Milk: try to use a full-fat canned/tinned Asian brand of Coconut Milk with no additives for the richest coconut flavour (I recommend Chef’s Choice)
- Pandan Leaves: I call this the Asian Vanilla – it’s a leaf which has the most amazing aroma and fragrance.
- Palm Sugar: is coconut palm sugar, not the palm where palm oil comes from, and can vary from Light to Dark. It has a stunning flavour to it that processed sugar doesn’t. I recommend a light Palm Sugar for this recipe – grate it before using as this natural sugar usually come in disks or cylinders.
- Taro and Sweet Potato: these root vegetables make the bulk of the dessert and are just so delicious paired with coconut milk. Taro can be found at asian grocery stores.
- Pearl Sago: Tiny little tapioca balls that have a bouncy texture and stud this dessert.
- Tapioca Jellies: Chewy, colourful jewel jellies which add texture and also just make your Bubur Cha Cha beautiful! We make them from tapioca flour and hot water in this recipe..
HOW TO MAKE BUBUR CHA CHA
Cut and steam your starchy vegetables
A mix of taro and sweet potato is non-negotiable – the taro just adds another layer of flavour so don’t skip it if you can help it! I like to use a mix of orange and purple sweet potatoes for colour, but that’s optional. Chop your sweet potatoes and steam them for about 20 mins.
Boil the Pearl Sago
Prepare the Tapioca Jellies
Cook the Tapioca Jellies
Make the Coconut Soup
It’s super important to use high quality tinned coconut milk as the flavour will be the richest. Chef’s Choice comes from Thailand (the land of the best coconuts) and I can highly recommend their coconut milk – ingredients are just coconut and water with no additives. They were actually the first company to start exporting coconut milk to Australia 44 years ago and have not changed their recipe since!
You do not want to boil the coconut soup, keep it on a low simmer.
Bubur Cha Cha (Malaysian Sweet Potato and Coconut Milk Dessert)
Bubur Cha Cha (Malaysian Coconut Milk Dessert)
- 220 g Orange Sweet Potato
- 220 g Purple Sweet Potato sub for any sweet potato
- 330 g Taro
Tapioca Jewel Jellies
- 100 g Tapioca starch
- 80 ml Very Hot Boiling Water
- 40 g Tapioca Pearl Sago
- 2 cups water
Coconut Milk 'Soup'
- 3 cups water
- 120 g Light palm sugar grated
- 4-6 Pandan Leaves
- 400 ml Full-Fat Premium Coconut Milk
Steam Sweet Potatoes
- Peel sweet potato and taro and chop into bite sized chunks. Steam for 20 minutes and set aside.
Boil the Tapioca Pearls
- Tapioca Pearls must be added to already boiling water otherwise they will just dissolve. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add the tapioca pearls, cooking for about 10 mins, stirring occasionally until they turn translucent. Transfer to a bowl of water so they don't stick together and set aside
Make the Tapioca Jellies
- In a bowl, add the boiling water to the tapioca starch and mix to create a dough. Once it comes together you can just work it knead it your kitchen bench – be careful as it may still be hot. Use an extra dusting of tapioca flour if it gets too sticky.
- Divide dough into two and add 1-2 drops of pink food colouring to one, and 1-2 drops of green to the other. Knead until the doughs are evenly coloured. Use an extra dusting of tapioca flour if it gets too sticky. Roll into thin snakes and cut into little coins.
- To cook, bring a pot of water to the boil and add your coloured jellies. They will begin to float as they cook and will be translucent when they're ready -about 7 mins. I like to scatter the jellies in separately so they don't stick together. Strain and leave jellies in a bowl of water so they don't stick and set aside.
Make the Pandan flavoured Coconut Millk
- Lightly score your pandan leaves lengthways as this releases more flavour, and tie into tight knots. You can also scrunch them a little with your hands to release more flavour.
- Place water, palm sugar, and pandan leaves into a large pot. Bring to the boil and cook until sugar has dissolved. Remove the pandan leaves and turn down the heat. Add your coconut milk and stir. Add the Taro, Sweet Potato, Jellies and Sago to the pot and allow to simmer (DO NOT BOIL) for 5-10 minutes. Serve! You can also chill it down and serve it cold.