Selamatan or slametan is a Javanese tradition of celebrating almost any event, such as birth, death, marriage, the new year, moving, etc. The word selamatan comes from Arabic ‘salam’ which refers to peace and equanimity.
During a selamatan, the community gathers for prayers and a feast. It begins with a speech, followed by some chanting or prayers in Arabic. Towards the end, food is served, with each dish bearing a symbolic meaning.
Bubur merah putih (literally, ‘red and white porridge’) is commonly served for selamatan. The dish appears for celebrations such as welcoming a newborn, when someone changes their name, and during the Islamic new year. As its color is similar to the Indonesian flag, the porridge is also often part of the Independence Day celebrations.
According to Javanese mythology, the two colors of the porridge symbolize the origin of human beings. Red represents the woman (ovaries) and white represents the man (sperm). When the two colors meet in one bowl, a new life is created. Thus, the porridge is a prayer from parents to their newborn child. Bubur merah putih also symbolizes a new hope and a fresh start, such as during the new year or when someone changes their name.
Bubur merah putih is a delicious concoction made of rice, sticky rice, palm sugar and coconut milk. The name is somehow deceptive, as the porridge is not actually red. Its real color is a light to deep brown, depending on the sugar.
The porridge has the consistency of rice pudding. The white part is rich, creamy and savory, while the brown part is rich and sweet. The best way of eating it is to scoop almost a spoonful of the sweet part, and a little bit of the savory part to balance it. The dish can be served as an excellent breakfast, a dessert after meals, or a comforting snack during the day.Print
Bubur merah putih is a sweet dessert porridge made of white rice, sticky rice, palm sugar and coconut milk, served during the Javanese festival of slametan.
- 200 gr jasmine rice
- 150 gr white sticky rice
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 2200 ml water
- 3 Pandan leaves, knotted
- Salt to taste
- 200 gr palm sugar
- Wash the jasmine rice and sticky rice and soak in water for 2 hrs.
- In a small pot, add 200 ml water and the palm sugar. Boil until the palm sugar has melted. Turn off the stove. Strain the syrup and set aside.
- Strain the jasmine rice and the sticky rice, then put it in a big cooking pot with the pandan leaves, salt and 2000 ml water. Bring it to boil over medium heat.
- Lower the heat to low flame and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the porridge is half done.
- Add the coconut milk and continue cooking for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the porridge is thickened and well cooked. Gently stir during the whole cooking process to avoid burning.
- Turn off the heat and transfer ¼ part of the porridge to a bowl. This will be the white porridge part.
- Put the remaining porridge back on the stove and turn on the heat to low.
- Add the palm sugar syrup and gently stir the porridge for another 10-15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat.
- For the plating, scoop the red porridge as a base on a serving plate/bowl, and then top it with the white porridge.
- Use long grain white rice such as jasmine rice for the porridge.
- Soak the rice and the sticky rice at least an hour before cooking to shorten the cooking time.
- Use a wooden spatula to stir the porridge to avoid scratching.
- Low fire and constant stirring is key to a good porridge.
Keywords: vegan, rice porridge, sweet porridge, dessert porridge, vegan desserts