Bubur ayam, Indonesian chicken and rice porridge

Bubur ayam (Indonesian for 'chicken congee') is a thick rice porridge topped with shredded chicken, fried shallots, chopped spring onions, cilantro, fried tofu puffs, Chinese crullers or cakwe, and even peanuts. It is seasoned with a mix of both salty and sweet soy sauce and chicken broth which can be served with sambal on the side if you are up for an added kick. It is commonly served as a breakfast fare sold by hawkers as well as in restaurant buffet. It is served in a Makassar hotel where this photo was taken.  

Its origins can be traced to the Chinese rice porridge, but has evolved into an authentic Indonesian dish employing locally sourced ingredients specific to a geography of the vast archipelago. Other variations of this rice porridge can be found across Southeast Asia. In the Philippines, for instance, you can find a similar rice porridge called the arrozcaldo which is usually seasoned with a mix of soy sauce or fish sauce and calamansi.

To cook bubur ayam, start by preparing the chicken broth by heating about two tablespoons of a neutral oil such as canola oil or corn oil in a soup pot. Sauté spice paste made by grinding together shallots, garlic, tumeric, candlenuts and ground coriander, followed by lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves until fragrant. Add half a kilo of chicken breast and two liters of water. Bring to boil and then lower the heat. Simmer for thirty minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Season with salt and pepper.

To cook the porridge, wash and drain two cups of rice, then place in a pot along with bay leaf, chicken stock or water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer and stir occasionally until the right consistency is achieved. It should be thick and not runny. Cooking the rice porridge together with the chicken has the benefit the chicken's infusing with the rice.

To serve, scoop rice porridge into a bowl and top with the accompaniment of your choice - shredded chicken breast, fried shallots, chopped spring onions, cilantro, fried tofu puffs, Chinese crullers or cakwe, prawn crackers or peanuts. Season with sweet soy sauce or kicap manis and the regular light soy sauce. Ladle chicken broth over the rice porridge to temper its consistency.

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