My Thai: Breakfast Black Rice Porridge with Coconut Cream

Leela Punyaratabandhu

We're turning a popular dessert into something good enough for breaking your overnight fast. And why not? Whole grain rice porridge with coconut cream topping has breakfast written all over it. Add fresh fruits and toasted nuts to that and, well, move over oatmeal.

Also, though this is entirely unintentional, it may please those of you with special dietary needs to know that this is vegan and gluten-free.


It's not difficult to make this rice porridge; it's just a matter of putting the raw rice in a pot with water and boiling it until the water is absorbed and the kernels disintegrate releasing the starch that is responsible for a gooey final product. That's about it.

But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.

First of all, you need the right type of rice: whole grain black/purple glutinous rice. Some types of black-colored rice are not glutinous and will not yield the intended result. To be on the safe side, look for, "ข้าวเหนียวดํา," on the package when you're at an Asian grocery store.


Now that we've got the right kind of rice, another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is whether it's an old crop or new crop. Sometimes, that information is available on the package; sometimes, it's not in which case the first batch you cook will be an experiment.

Containing much less moisture, old-crop rice takes much more time and water to cook than new-crop rice does. New-crop rice that has been stored for long periods of time will eventually behave like old-crop rice.

For example, the black rice which I used to cook the batch you're looking at here was a new crop when I first bought it. At that time, it took 15 minutes and 2 cups of water to cook 1/2 cup of raw rice. After the rice has sat in my pantry for almost a year later, it now takes 40-45 minutes and 4 cups of water to cook. You just have to be aware of what you're working with and prepared to play by ear.

Other than that, the only thing to watch out for is that you should not season your rice while it's still cooking. We need the rice to gelatinize by allowing its starch granules to absorb the water and swell up through heat. Adding sugar before this process is complete will prevent the rice from becoming thick and gooey. In other words, wait until the rice has thickened and cooled down close to room temperature before sweetening it.