Wednesday, August 14, 2013


The worst typhoon this year is here.  It has been named "Labuyo" (literally cayenne chili pepper) and classes have been declared suspended.  I took the day off, for fear of being stranded should the typhoon bring torrential rains with it, so I am stuck at home!  I actually don't mind being at home since it means I can cook!!!

And for this rainy, windy, gloomy weather, comfort food is on the top of my list... one of which is champorado!

Champorado is a sweet chocolate sticky rice congee or porridge.  It is cooked with sticky rice (a.k.a. glutinous rice or malagkit in the vernacular), water, coconut cream and tablea (local unsweetened cacao tablets) or unsweetened cocoa, then sweetened.  When I was little girl, we used condensed milk.

A quick look in the pantry and I discovered a pack of tablea balls from Tuguegarao (which is claimed to be famous and original).

We had some super malagkit rice, as well as some Balinatao rice, so here's the champorado!

How is it cooked?  Well, these days there's packets of instant mix where one just adds water and cooks a few minutes and it's ready.  But the way I learned to make it a long time ago is no shortcut (we stir the pot continuously for a long, long time!) and has no recipe... and it was a really, really big pot!  I'd say a batch could be good 20 merienda-sized servings although with our appetites, it was just right for our household of 9 people!

Anyway, I was taught to make it by "feel" or "instinct".  But for the sake of uniformity (and perhaps for my future generations to be less confused), I tried to quantify (measure) my procedure for this batch...  so here it is (at a more manageable level, good for 6 to 8 merienda servings) and without coconut cream (simply because it is not easy to go to the wet market in this weather but I have put it in the recipe too just in case someone else wants it).

1 cup glutinous (sticky) rice
1/2 cup Balatinao rice
6 cups water
5 to 7 pieces of tablea (quality counts here)
1/2 cup sugar or equivalent, or more depending on preference
1 cup coconut cream (or substitute water)
pinch of salt (the secret ingredient according to my mom 20 years ago)
condensed milk or dulce de leche
sugar or sweetener

Rinse the rice and place in a pot with the water.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Add the tablea and stir to melt.  (Note:  I prefer a deeply, intensely chocolate-y champorado so I add at least 7 tablets, but this makes a slightly bitter dish, 5 is actually ok.)  Stir constantly, over low to low-medium heat, until the rice is cooked and mixture is thickened (may take up to 25 to 35 minutes).  Add sugar (or sweetener) to taste, but remember that it is served with condensed milk later so err on the side of caution to avoid excess sweetness.  Throw in the pinch of salt.  Stir in coconut cream (but this is optional and if not using, use a total of 7 cups water which is what I did this batch).  Simmer until thickened.  Serve hot, with condensed milk and sugar on the side.

Then I remembered that I still had some dulce de leche and so I decided to use some in my champorado... and it was better than I remembered!!!

Comfort food fit for gloomy weather!

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