Pulut Hitam

(Black Glutinous Rice Dessert)

September: National Rice Month

Islander’s college study buddy, AAW, from Singapore, introduced her to an exotic dish from Southeast Asia: pulut hitam. This black glutinous rice dessert is simple, easy and affordable to make, especially for hungry out-of-state and international students like them who pay more than in-state tuition. Its dark hue (which is actually a deep purple) looks so dramatic when served with sliced colorful tropical fruits. Pulut hitam also makes for a curious conversation starter with those who are unfamiliar with this dessert. Offer them to taste it, just like AAW did to Islander during a study break, and they will feel like they have experienced something sweetly unique. Pulut hitam is an especially good recipe to make during National Rice Month.

(Adapted from AAW)


  • 1 cup black glutinous rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/3 – ½ cup sugar or to taste (white, turbinado, rock or palm sugar)
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes


Rinse the rice several times until the water becomes lighter. In a covered metal or glass container, soak the rice in water overnight. Drain the water and rinse several times again. Boil 5 cups of water in a large pot. Carefully add the rice. Cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. 

Half an hour later, stir in sugar. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes. Stir and check that the rice has not stuck to the bottom of the pot or becomes burned. Cover and cook 15 more minutes. Most of the water will be evaporated but the rice will still be soupy. May be served warm or cold. To serve, ladle rice in dessert bowls. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of coconut over the rice and stir lightly. Garnish with unsweetened coconut flakes.


  • Pulut hitam is of Malaysian origin but the dessert is popular in the region. It is known as bubur ketan in Indonesian and bee ko moy in Hokkien.
  • Search our blog for more rice recipes.