Bubur padas: A dish best served warm
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
Despite its name, ‘bubur padas’ or ‘spicy porridge’ is not spicy at all.
A signature dish in Sambas, West Kalimantan, bubur padas is actually a vegetable porridge and the locals highly recommend that visitors try this iconic dish at least once.
According to bubur padas maker, Wardina Anwar, 37, she learnt to make this iconic dish when she was young and started selling it at her own shop in her hometown five years ago.
In a day, she would make one big pot of bubur padas and it would all be sold out.
The word ‘padas’ refers to the combination or mixture of several herbs and vegetables used to make this deliciously savoury and herby dish.
The making of bubur padas started during the Dutch colonial era in Kalimantan when food source was scarce.
By grinding the rice grain and mixing it with various vegetables available from the jungle, the dish could be prepared in larger portions and shared with a lot of people.
“Most of the vegetables used to make ‘bubur padas’ are not those you usually see sold in the market, but freshly gathered from the jungle,” she said.
Using freshly gathered ingredients to make the porridge, the authentic recipe calls for a total of more than 40 types of vegetables and herbs to make this well-seasoned dish.
However, according to Wardina, she used only seven different types of vegetables to make hers.
Looking at the generous amount of bubur padas served to me, I can see various shreds of finely chopped vegetables in my porridge such as fern, long beans, galanga, lemongrass and sprouts, garnished with fried anchovies and peanuts.
Herby, savoury together with a slightly earthy and zesty aftertaste, it is a filling dish best served when it is still steaming warm.
The combination of the crunchiness of the anchovies and peanuts with the mushy and moist porridge is what makes this dish heavenly and make you want a second helping.
Unlike the usual porridge we consume, the grain used to make bubur padas is finer as it has been roasted with grated coconut and then ground before being seasoned with various spices such as pepper, onions, cumin, chilies and coriander or daun kesum, contributing to the strong and sharp taste of the bubur padas.
Here in Sarawak, bubur padas (or bubur pedas as we usually call it) is a popular dish among the Malay community and usually consumed during Ramadan, although it is also not uncommon to see it eaten on normal days.
Typically cooked almost in the same manner as the Sambas style of bubur padas, in Sarawak, it is common to see bubur pedas with shredded meat added.
For bubur maker, Nor Emiliana Roslan who sold bubur pedas during the Bazaar Ramadhan Sukma Ria DBKU, she would sell both the meat version as well as the vegetable version on alternate days.
“For my bubur pedas, I would sometimes add in shreds of chicken of beef meat or beef floss,” said Nor Emiliana.
Combining different types of vegetables for her recipe, her bubur pedas is not only an explosive experience for the palate but it is also a feast for the eyes as she generously uses different kinds of vegetable of various colours such as yellow from corn, green from cangkuk manis, the orange from carrot, purple from brinjals and cream from the tauhu.
Resembling a vegetable curry, Nor Emiliana said that she also added curry powder to her bubur pedas for a more savoury flavour.
An ample dish containing all the essential food groups such as carbohydrates, protein, fiber and various minerals, bubur padas is a simple yet satisfying meal best served while it is warm and tastes even better when shared with others.