Bubur Cha Cha

Bubur Cha Cha is a popular dessert in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia.  It is beautiful to look at and fun to make. This colorful dessert is made of miniature cubes of sweet potato and taro, delicate pearls of sago and chewy glutinous balls swimming in a fragrant coconut cream.



1 sweet potato
1 small taro (optional)
1 package (200 g) coconut cream or coconut milk
1 cup water
2-3 Tbsp sugar (or approx 40 g rock sugar, crushed into small pieces)
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup sago
1 pandan leaf, washed and tied into a knot
red food coloring
green food coloring


  1.  Wash and scrub the sweet potato and steam it for 15 minutes or until it is cooked.  Test for done-ness by pricking it with a fork. It should feel soft but not so soft that it falls apart when you cut it. Leave it to cool, then peel and discard the skin. Cut it into small cubes and put aside.
  2. Prepare the taro cubes in the same manner as outlined in step 1.
  3. While waiting for the sweet potato and taro to be cooked and cubed, prepare the glutinous balls. Mix 1/2 cup of glutinous rice flour with 6 Tbsp water.  The mixture should not be so IMG_8092wet that it sticks to your fingers when you pinch a small amount between your fingers.  If it is too wet, add a bit more glutinous rice flour to the mixture.
  4. Divide the glutinous rice flour dough into 2 equal sized portions.  Put each portion of dough into a small bowl.  Add a drop of green food coloring to the first bowl and add 1-2 drops of red food coloring to the second bowl.  Mix well. Pinch a small amount of the dough and roll it into a small ball and put aside on a plate. IMG_8093(Note: You may wish to make other kinds of colored dough eg for purple or yellow balls. In some Asian supermarkets, you may be able to purchase frozen and ready-made miniature colored glutinous rice balls but I think it is a fun family activity to make them yourself! 🙂
  5. Bring a saucepan of water to boil.  Add in all the glutinous balls and cook until they float to the top, about 3 mins.  Remove from the stove and put aside.
  6. Cook the sago in a small saucepan of boiling water for about 10 mins, stirring it constantly so that it does not stick together. The sago is cooked when most of the sago pearls are transparent.  A small amount of sago pearls may have some white bits in the center but it is ok as they will be cooked again in step 8.  Strain the sago into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from sticking together into a lump.   Put aside the bowl of sago sitting in cold water.
  7.  Add 2-3 Tbsp sugar or crushed rock sugar to 1 cup of water and a pandan leaf tied into a knot into a saucepan. Stir and boil the mixture until all the sugar is melted, for about 2 -3 mins.   Add in the coconut milk, stir and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and remove the pandan leaf  from the pot.  IMG_8097
  8. Stir in the sweet potato cubes, taro cubes and glutinous rice balls. Drain the sago pearls and discard the cold water. Stir the sago pearls into the mixture. Turn off the stove to prevent overcooking.
  9. Serve hot or cold. This recipe is good for 4 persons.


  • Some people like to add in small cubes of cantaloupe or agar agar jelly for extra variety, color and texture.
  • Pandan leaf is used to infuse a fragrant smell. It is commonly grown in Southeast Asian countries and it is available in the local markets. You may find it in the frozen foods section in some Asian supermarkets in western countries.






Apple and Pear Crumble

I moved countries and have not updated my blog in months.  You know how it is, you move to a different place and it takes forever to get back into a routine.  I actually have been cooking and taking lots of photos so I have a huge backlog of stuff.  I can’t promise but I am going to be more diligent in posting in the next few weeks.

Now I am back to living in Singapore – in an apartment where I have an oven again.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I had missed baking.  It is not just about making cookies or banana bread, but the sheer joy of sitting down to a quick meal of baked chicken when I don’t have time to chop up bits of vegetables or slice meat for a Chinese stir fry.   Not to mention the ability to prepare a home-cooked turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The first thing I did was to make a crumble with apples and pears.  This is a wonderful dessert and fun to make.    Watching and waiting for the crisp buttery shortbread crust to turn a golden brown, I can’t wait to polish off  the whole lot.   It is that good!


For the crumble:

220 g plain flour

140 g sugar

120 g butter, chopped into small cubes

For the filling:

2 pears – peeled, cored and sliced

2 apples – peeled, cored and sliced

2 Tbsp sugar

80 ml water


1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2. To make the crumble, put the flour and sugar into a large bowl and mix well.  Rub the flour and butter using your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3.  Arrange the pear and apple slices in a baking dish.  Sprinkle the sugar over it.  Pour water into the dish.

4.  Spoon the crumble on top, spreading it right up to the edges of the dish.  Using the back of the spoon to press it firmly down – the more tightly packed it is, the crisper it will be.

5.  Run a fork lightly over the surface to “crumble” the top.

6.  Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the crumble is browned and the fruit mixture is bubbling.

7.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!