Bubur Cha Cha is one of the most popular nyonya (What’s nyonya – click this link to find out more!) dessert with a variety of sweet potatoes, yams, sago, tapioca balls (or pearls) and coconut milk. For me, it is a heartwarming dessert with a sweet nutty flavour. Each spoonful of the warm and thick liquid with the fragrance of the yam and sweetness of the sweet potatoes will melt away the chills on colder days. As autumn is approaching, there will be plenty of harvest for sweet potatoes and other tubers. It is the perfect season to make this delightful dessert. I personally like to use a variety of tubers and other ingredients to make it visually appealing.
The ingredients are as follows:- 1/2 lb (230g) orange fleshed sweet potato, 1/2 lb (230g) pale yellow fleshed sweet potato, 1 lb (450g) yam, 1 3/4 cups (205g) tapioca starch, 1/2 cup mango, 1/2 cup red cherries, 1/2 cup (113g) of white sugar, 5 1/2 cups water and 2 cups (470ml) of coconut milk. I noticed that yam is also used to refer to sweet potato in the US (but not everywhere else). But here, I will refer yam specifically to the 3rd items in the picture counting from the left. It is usually sold in Asian grocery stores or international food market if you are residing in the US. It has a brown, rough surface and usually larger than sweet potato. It is starchier than sweet potatoes and has white flesh with purplish streaks. It is tasteless on its own and easily absorb the flavor of other ingredients.
To start off, make the fruit-flavored tapioca jelly first. Alternatively, you can use sago (white starchy pearls derived from palm and easily thickens the liquid. I usually seen it being used in dessert) to replace tapioca jelly. But I prefer to use tapioca jelly as sago tends to absorb the liquid and causes it to expand which in turns make the dessert too thick. When this happens (if you use sago), add in water to make it more soupy. But if you prefer a gluten-free dessert, you might want to skip this step and use more of the tubers. For a twist, why not substitute with pumpkin or add in few slices of bananas before serving 😉
For the fruit-flavored tapioca balls, I have chosen to use mango and red cherries to get a natural color. But feel free to use other types of fruits or vegetables such as strawberries, beet roots or spinach as a substitute. The type of fruits or vegetables used will alter the texture of the tapioca balls. In my case, mango flavored tapioca balls are softer than those made with red cherries.
Use a knife to remove the skin of the mango. Then slice the flesh from the seed and cut into cubes.
Measure 1/2 cup and place in a food processor to turn into puree. As mango puree is thick, add in 1/4 cup of water to dilute it and mix well. This will ease the mixing of puree with tapioca starch. Place into a small saucepan to boil the puree on medium heat. Once it boils, turn off heat.
Measure 1 cup of tapioca starch and place in a clean bowl. Use one hand to pour the hot puree into the tapioca starch while using another hand to stir the mixture with a spatula. Continue to stir until it forms a smooth dough. Alternatively, use your hand to knead into a smooth dough.
Place the dough on a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough of roughly 1cm in thickness. Cut into desired size, preferably 1cm. Place onto your palm and make into round shape. Set aside for later use.
Next, remove the pit of cherries. Place into a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan to boil the puree on medium heat. Once it boils, turn off heat.
Measure 3/4 cup of tapioca starch and place into a clean bowl. Mix the hot puree with the tapioca starch while stirring it consistently until it resembles a smooth dough. Alternatively, use your hand to knead into a smooth dough. Let it rest for few minutes in the bowl. Then, place the dough on a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough of roughly 1cm in thickness. Cut into desired size, preferably 1cm. Place onto your palm and make into round shape.
That’s the size of my fruit-flavored tapioca balls. But if I make this again, I will make it much smaller. Prepare a pot of boiling water and transfer the tapioca balls into the boiling water. Cook for about 20 minutes or until completely cooked. The size of the tapioca balls will determine the cooking time. To test whether it is cooked, scoop out one and bite into the middle part to make sure there is no raw flour.
Once cooked, turn off heat and use a strainer to drain the water. Immediately transfer to a bowl of cold water to prevent further cooking/ sticking together and to get that firm and chewy texture.
Next, peel the skin of sweet potatoes. I use an orange fleshed and a pale yellow fleshed sweet potatoes to create a more appetizing look. Then cut into cubes of approximately 1.5 – 2 cm thickness. Transfer to a clean bowl filled with water to remove excess starch.
Next, use a knife to remove the skin of the yam. Notice how the yam differs from sweet potatoes. Like I mentioned earlier, it has a white flesh with purple streaks. The starchiness of the yam slightly thickens the soup. Due to its purplish streaks, it creates a subtle purplish look in the soup and heightens the taste of coconut milk. On a side note, that is one of the reasons that I prefer to cook the yam directly with water than to steam beforehand.
Transfer to yam into the bowl of sweet potatoes. After five minutes, rinse the tubers under cold running water and drain the water.
Prepare a large pot filled with 5 1/2 cups of water. Transfer the sweet potatoes and yam into the pot to cook on medium heat for 20 minutes or until the tubers become soft (but still firm and stay intact). Don’t overcook it or else it will turn mushy.
Then, add in 2 cups of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of sugar and fruit-flavored tapioca balls. Stir well to combine and cook for 5 more minutes or until it boils slightly.
Turn off heat and serve immediately. For leftovers, chill in the fridge and consume within 3 days. Just reheat and enjoy! But it can be served cold too. That’s a personal preference 🙂
Click on the link Bubur Cha Cha for a pdf version of this recipe. If you try this, please comment below. Thanks for visiting! Please check out other recipes too. Stay tune.