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Jakarta-Style Savory Rice Porridge (Bubur Ayam Betawi)

  • 1 h
  • 1 h 30 m
JJ Goode
“We cut down the cooking time for this healthy chicken stew by fortifying store-bought broth with chicken and aromatics and then using the flavorful liquid to both simmer the rice and make the gravy. Try subbing 5 fresh curry leaves if you can't find the Indonesian bay leaves.”


    • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    • 4 cups water
    • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
    • 8 ounces chicken giblets (hearts, gizzards and/or livers)
    • 3 dried Indonesian bay leaves (see Tips)
    • 3 fresh kaffir lime leaves (see Tips) or 2 teaspoons chopped jarred
    • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and bruised (see Tips)
    • 1 cup short-grain brown rice, rinsed
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • 5 large shallots, chopped
    • ¼ cup canola oil
    • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
    • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1 cup unsweetened coconut cream (see Tips), well stirred
    • 6 tablespoons lightly toasted unsalted peanuts
    • 6 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
    • 6 teaspoons kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce; see Tips)
    • 6 teaspoons sambal oelek (see Tips)


  • 1 Combine broth, water, chicken, chicken hearts and/or gizzards, bay leaves, lime leaves and lemongrass in a large pot. Bring to a simmer over high heat, skimming the surface occasionally. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. (If using chicken livers, add them during the last 5 minutes of cooking.)
  • 2 Remove from heat and let stand until the chicken breasts (or thighs) are just cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165°F, 5 to 10 minutes more. Transfer all the chicken parts to a clean cutting board and let cool. Shred the meat and slice the hearts, gizzards and/or livers. Set aside. Strain and reserve the cooking liquid, discarding the solids.
  • 3 Combine rice and 4 cups of the reserved cooking liquid in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice breaks down into porridge with a texture resembling slightly soupy oatmeal, 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt, remove from heat, cover and keep warm.
  • 4 Meanwhile, combine shallots, oil, coriander, cumin, turmeric and white pepper in a food processor. Process to form a coarse paste, scraping down the sides once or twice. Transfer the mixture to a large skillet. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until very lightly brown and barely sticking to the pan, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes more.
  • 5 Pour in the remaining chicken-cooking liquid and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add coconut cream, the reserved chicken and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • 6 Divide the rice among 6 bowls. Top with about 1 cup of the chicken mixture, 1 tablespoon each peanuts and scallions and 1 teaspoon each kecap manis and sambal oelek.
  • Tips: Also known as daun salam, dried Indonesian bay leaves have an earthy, slightly sour flavor. Curry leaves can be used instead. Get them at Asian markets or online.
  • Kaffir lime leaves (or makrut or Thai lime leaves) lend lemony and floral notes to Southeast Asian dishes. There's no real substitute, but lime zest will work in a pinch. Find the leaves fresh, frozen or jarred in Asian markets and well-stocked supermarkets.
  • Find lemongrass, a woody, scallion-shaped herb with an aromatic lemon flavor, in the produce section of well-stocked supermarkets. Trim the root end and grassy top. Peel off the outer layer and prepare as directed in the recipe.
  • Coconut cream is the same as the solid that rises to the top in a can of coconut milk. Don't confuse it with cream of coconut, which is sweetened. Find it with canned coconut milk at most supermarkets.
  • Kecap manis is a thick, palm sugar-sweetened soy sauce used in Indonesian cooking. Find it at Asian markets or online. You can make a substitute by whisking equal parts molasses and reduced-sodium soy sauce.
  • Sambal oelek, a mix of chiles, brown sugar and salt, is a condiment found in the Asian section of most supermarkets.
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