Bubur Cha Cha: A Traditional Malaysian Dessert with a Quirky Name and Colourful Ingredients
Bubur Cha Cha is a traditional Malaysian dessert which is sometimes called Bo Bo Cha Cha or Mo Mo Cha Cha. Apart from its quirky name, it is characterised by its colourful ingredients floating in a sea of sweet and fragrant coconut soup, infused with pandan leaves. The colourful ingredients usually consist of sweet potatoes, yam, taro, sago pearls. Some variations might even contain banana, red beans, black eyed peas, sweet corn, tapioca jelly cubes and attap chee.
The exact origin of Bubur Cha Cha remains a mystery, but its roots can be traced to Nyonya cuisine in Penang and the Hokkien community. Some believe it is connected to a Nyonya dish called Pengat/Pungat, traditionally enjoyed during Chap Goh Meh, the 15th day of Chinese New Year. The similarities in pronunciation between “Cha Cha” and the Hokkien phrase “Che Che,” meaning abundance, further reinforce this association.
Others draw parallels between Bubur Cha Cha and Macau’s Cha Za 喳咋, a dessert dish created by the Portuguese soldiers during their settlement there. made with various beans. Malaysian Bubur Cha Cha has gained popularity beyond its borders and can even be found in Hong Kong eateries, often labeled as Malaysia Mo Mo Cha Cha or simply Mo Mo Cha Cha to differentiate it from the Macau Cha Za.
Although the meaning of “Cha Cha” might be vague, “Bubur” is very clear. It came from the Malay word for porridge, pointing to the fact that Bubur Cha Cha has a thick, creamy consistency. The thickness comes from the coconut milk and the starch of the sweet potatoes, taro and yam – commonly found tubers in Southeast Asia. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to find Bubur Cha Cha with chewy tapioca jelly cubes stained red, green, blue or yellow that makes the dessert visually more appealing.
Bubur Cha Cha can be enjoyed in various ways, making it a versatile dessert option in Malaysia. It can be served warm or chilled, and is relished as a breakfast, dessert, snack, or even a late-night treat. Its popularity extends beyond Malaysia, with many other Southeast Asian countries boasting their own unique versions of this delightful dessert. So, the next time you find yourself craving a taste of something sweet and visually stunning, don’t hesitate to give Bubur Cha Cha a try!