Forbidden Rice Pudding

This creamy, not-too-sweet Balinese dessert features nutty black rice and can be eaten hot or cold.

By Celene and Tara Carrara
Aug 24, 2022
50 Minutes
6 Servings

Bubur ketan hitam, or forbidden rice pudding, is a staple in Balinese households. Celene and Tara Carrara, the sisters behind Los Angeles-based pop-up Bungkus Bagus serve it warm as a dessert, but it can also be eaten cold for a hearty breakfast. The sisters like to use our Non Stick Saucepan to ensure an easy clean up. Unlike American rice puddings, this dish isn’t overwhelmingly sweet and also has salty and savory notes from the pandan leaves.

Black, or forbidden rice was originally cultivated in China, where it was reserved only for the emperor, as it was thought to promote longevity. Today, black rice, which turns a deep purple when cooked, is available at many well-stocked grocery stores. The Carrara sisters recommend Aroy-D, a Thai brand of coconut milk, for the best flavor. Along with pandan leaves, which are used in many Southeast-Asian dishes, these can be purchased at an Asian grocery store or online.

Forbidden Rice Pudding

This creamy, not-too-sweet Balinese dessert features nutty black rice and can be eaten hot or cold.

Celene and Tara Carrara

50 Minutes
6 Servings
  • 1 cup black or purple rice
  • 3 ½ cups filtered water
  • 3 pandan leaves, fresh or frozen, tied into one large knot
  • 1 ½ cups coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cups coconut cream
  • 5 tablespoons coconut, palm, or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

    Check the package of your rice. Some may advise you to soak. If so, follow the package directions, if not, proceed with the recipe.


    Rinse black rice under cool running water, being careful not to break the grains. Combine the rinsed rice, water, and pandan leaves in a Saucepan over medium heat, and cover tightly with lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. The rice should be tender and appear dark purple.


    While rice is simmering, combine coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar, and salt in a separate Saucepan. Cook over low heat, uncovered, until sugar has dissolved and the milk is hot, but make sure it doesn’t come to a boil. Remove from heat and taste, adjusting salt or sugar levels to your liking.


    Once about ¾ of the water has been absorbed by the rice, turn off heat. Keep the rice covered, and let the remainder of the water absorb, 10–15 minutes. Remove the pandan knot.


    Spoon about ¾ cup of cooked rice in a bowl, ladle hot coconut milk on top, and serve. Forbidden rice pudding can also be eaten at room temperature or even cold. Store rice and coconut milk separately in the fridge for up to 3 days.