Bubur Kacang Hijau (Green Pea Porridge) Traditional Balinese Food
The Balinese make bubur kacang hijau as a common family food, but it is considered an expensive food. The cost of the 500 gram bag of tiny green peas (Kacang Hijau Finna) was RP.19,723, prohibitive for most Balinese. Kacang hijau grow in Bali, and are actually a small type of local peanut. Half a coconut costs RP.2,300, the tube of Balinese palm sugar costs RP.5,440, and the five bananas were negotiated for at a roadside warung stall (RP.5,000). They will make it for family members when they come home for Galungan (as an example, for relatives who work and live in distant Denpasar). It is a food that is prepared when the family is all together. Bubur kacang hijau is not really a ceremonial food, but it is cooked for birthdays, anniversaries, to celebrate something, or on special occasions for the family. We enjoyed a “special edition” today: people also cook and eat it as a snack. Recipe courtesy of the beautiful, young Miss Era. Miss Era created absolute food magic out of one battered, burnt, aluminum pot and a petrol-fueled small kompor stove. The joy of cooking began at 3:20 PM one hot rainy afternoon at Era’s local house in northern Bali. Era’s sister had to go out on motorbike and purchase more lengis (petrol) to fire up the small kompor gas (stove) for our porridge boiling party. Era first learned to cook by watching her mother prepare food at home as she was growing up in her small, traditional, rural village. She is a natural-born cook, and does everything by instinct, personal taste, and family experience. Era cooks with love, laughter, and kindness—which makes the food doubly sweet, doubly nourishing, and doubly appreciated by everyone round her. Quantity: Serves four hungry and intrigued adults and three happy children (I had two comforting, heart-warming bowls-full of one of the best vegetarian porridge concoctions I have ever tasted!) In real, everyday, village practice, the Balinese will add one kilogram of rice to the kacang hijau to make it last longer and serve more people. Kacang hijau is even more wondrous and authentic when accompanied by much-loved and much-eaten nasi putih—the staple food on the island of the gods. Many thanks to Miss Era, family chef extraordinaire!
- Method 1. Cut the coconut into sections, and scrape the brown skin off the coconut pieces. 3:20 PM 2. Boil water (4 glasses). Size of glasses: 3 ½ inches tall (as measured from the crook of my thumb to the top knuckle of my index finger. When in Bali, do as the Balinese do). 3. Pour three glasses of water into a bowl to clean the green peas. Use 250 grams of green peas (approximately half of the 500-gram package). Once the peas are clean, pour the water out. 4. Put the peas in the pot once the water boils, and stir. 5. The peas begin to boil at 3:28 PM. Boil them for 38 minutes 6. Grate the peeled white coconut pieces using a traditional Balinese parutan to produce fresh, grated coconut shreds. 7. Add two glasses of water to the bowl of grated, shredded coconut. 8. Squeeze the shredded coconut by hand over a green plastic sieve (any color will do!) to press out the liquid coconut water into a bowl below. The coconut shreds thereby produce santen—coconut water. Throw out the grated coconut shreds. (The shredded coconut flakes and the brown coconut skin are discarded and fed to the family’s four backyard pigs!) 9. Add 1 ½ glasses more water to the boiling peas and bring back to a boil. 3:40 PM. 10. Use the thumb and index finger to test if the peas are done, or are still too hard. Add more water if still hard. 3:46 PM. 11. At 3:55 PM (and counting) the water is still boiling. Add one of the brown palm sugar chunks and more water. 12. Add most of the remaining chunk of palm sugar. 4:01 PM. 13. Add the pandan leaves, salt, and cut-up pieces of fresh, raw ginger. 4:04 PM. 14. The green-colored bubur kacang hijau is done at 4:06 PM, and is served hot straight from the pot into our waiting bowls. Nourishing, soft, and delicious, it is a healthy, life-giving gift from the gods. Total cooking time is 38 well-spent minutes, plus 8 minutes preparation time (known as jam karet, or rubber time, in Bali). Good things come to those who watch and wait! Quantity: Serves four hungry and intrigued adults and three happy children (I had two comforting, heart-warming bowls-full of one of the best vegetarian porridge concoctions I have ever tasted!) In real, everyday, village practice, the Balinese will add one kilogram of rice to the kacang hijau to make it last longer and serve more people. Kacang hijau is even more wondrous and authentic when accompanied by much-loved and much-eaten nasi putih—the staple food on the island of the gods. Many thanks to Miss Era, family chef extraordinaire!
- Ingredients half of one whole coconut (kelapa belah). Belah means divided, split, or broken in two or more parts or in half, separated, cut open. 1 500 gram package of kacang hijau (small green peas), Hardy’s supermarket, Seririt. 2 long, fragrant-smelling pandanas leaves (daun pandan harum) 2 caramel-brown, cylindrical chunks of hard, brown palm sugar (gula merah bulat)--formed and made inside a bamboo tube. (Bulat means round or spherical.) Total weight: 640 grams (1.42 pounds), wrapped in plastic. (This quantity was sufficient for the two separate recipes cooked today.) Genuine Balinese palm sugar, however, is made and formed inside a half coconut shell, and bears a rounded, half-moon mold shape. The taste is more sweet and stronger—but it was not available in Hardy’s supermarket today. When the Balinese buy cylinders of gula merah, they usually weigh about 500 grams, or half a kilo. two pieces of fresh ginger, 1 ¼ inches in size each 1 tbsp. sea salt lengis gas (petrol for cooking) kompor gas—the stove for boiling (the most essential ingredient!)