There is something very comforting about food in a bowl: a hot bowl of soup, a fresh bowl of ramen, a crunchy bowl of cornflakes (for dinner), a wholesome bowl of beans. Beans. Mung beans and coconut milk. Tropical comfort in a bowl to bring me back to palm skies and mango tress.
My first encounter with Bubur Kacang Hijau was this summer, during my short stay in Indonesia. It was one of the very few breakfast items I didn’t recognize at the breakfast buffet. And if you know me, I am always up for trying new things, especially related to food. A warm bowl of sweet aromatic coconut milk with mung beans. I lost count how many ladles of goodness I poured myself that morning. I hadn’t tried mung beans before, and I wouldn’t have guessed that they would make such a perfect match with coconut milk.
This is such a simple recipe, yet so fulfilling. Actually, this is not even a recipe; these are just simple steps on how I recreated the dish to take me back to hot Southeast Asian summer mornings. All it needs are soaked mung beans, which are then cooked in water with salt and sweetener. Typically gula melaka ( palm sugar) would be used for this recipe, but I have tried it with brown sugar or honey and it worked pretty well. Depending on how you like the beans cooked, firm or a bit split, boil them 20 – 30 minutes. Then just add the coconut milk. It doesn’t need to cook in coconut milk; it is just for aroma and blending. As I have seen a knotted Pandan leaf used in these kinds of dishes, I would have added it to the boiling mung beans. In lack of a fresh leaf, I used a little bit of pandan flavouring I sneaked back from Singapore. Again, I have tried it without any pandan flavouring and it is still perfect enough.
I think there is a version with Durian chunks in it (and I LOVE Durian), but then again we are short of Durians here in the Mediterranean. So instead, I use other toppings like almonds, sesame seeds, goji berries, chia seeds, fruit (mango would be a good option) and any other combo that comes into my mind.
2 cups Mung beans
1 can full fat Coconut Milk
1 Pandan leaf (for the lucky ones living in places where this is available fresh) or extract for the rest of us (although optional)
3-4 tbsp brown sugar (or Gula Melaka aka Palm sugar if you happen to have some)
a pinch of salt
Toppings (almonds, hazelnuts, goji berries, sesame, anything else) (optional)
Rinse the mung beans, put them in a bowl, add water enough to cover and leave overnight in the fridge. Rinse again, put them in a small pan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt, the sugar, the pandan leaf and bring to boil for about 20-30 minutes. Lower heat and add coconut milk. Turn off the heat but you can leave the pan on the hot stove to keep it warm. I like to serve it in a bowl and top it with goodies like almonds, goji berries, sesame seeds and the likes. Can be enjoyed either warm or cold.