This savoury breakfast staple from Indonesia is considered a close cousin of the Chinese congee
Morning meals vary in different parts of the world. For some, it is sweet, while for some others, it is savoury. The ‘dessert for breakfast’ concept has definitely gained a lot of prominence in the past few years, with many cultures relishing sweet buns and puddings in the morning. However, savoury breakfasts - Indonesia’s Bubur Ayam, for instance - continue to hold a special place in the hearts of people.
A cereal or porridge is commonly eaten in many parts of the world as a form of nutritious and wholesome breakfast. That’s how Bubur Ayam also finds a place on the Indonesian breakfast table. It is a thick porridge-like dish filled with shredded chicken and rice, along with a few condiments on top. This savoury dish is quite popular in the region, not just for breakfast, but as a delicious street food too.
Interestingly, this dish has been linked to the Chinese congee on more occasions than one. A congee is a type of porridge that is cooked in several Asian countries, in a variety of ways. The basic texture is that of a thick pudding, which is attained by boiling rice in water till it acquires the desired texture. Given the popularity of congee in the Asian region, Chinese congee is a delightful breakfast dish that is essentially made with just rice and water.
What’s more interesting to note here is that while the Chinese congee is a simple and runny version of steamed rice, the Indonesians take it a notch higher, as it includes protein and condiments in the dish. The connection between the two is drawn when ingredients like tongcai, soy sauce, and cake are used in the making Bubur Ayam. The addition of these ingredients reflects the Chinese influence on the dish.
Moreover, the Indonesian congee has a rich and wholesome approach, since it is filled with protein like chicken and the rice is also believed to be cooked in chicken broth. The thick and creamy porridge is served alongside boiled eggs and a chicken satay on top, adding to the nutritional value of the dish. It makes Bubur Ayam so filling that it helps you keep up your energy levels throughout the day.
Little did we know that the congee can be traced back to Indian roots. The word congee itself is derived from the Tamil kanji. This refers to the act of boiling something. From the Portuguese settlers in Goa to the Anglicization of the term, it came to be known as congee. Today, not just China, but countries like Japan, Myanmar and several other Asian regions commonly consume congee as part of their meals.
The Indonesian version, however, is considered to have Chinese influences due to the use of certain ingredients. Filled with condiments like peanuts, coriander, scallions, shallots and more, the dish is a delicious treat in the morning that can also be savoured on the streets of Indonesia or at the fast food joints.