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Sombi – Brown Butter Coconut Rice Pudding Brulee + Black History Month Virtual Potluck

Sombi is a Senegalize coconut rice pudding. In this version, it is reimaged by using nutty brown butter coconut cream and adding a brûléed sugar shell for hosting juicy gold-flaked berries.

Sombi – Brown Butter Coconut Rice Pudding Brulee + Black History Month Virtual Potluck
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2022 Black History Month Virtual Potluck

I’m proud to collaborate with more than 30 Black recipe developers as we celebrate Black History Month 2022. This Virtual Potluck explores Black food through the lens of Afrofuturism. Our collaboration of recipes explores the intersection of the Black diaspora via culture, future, geopolitics, imagination, liberation, culture, and technology.

Cook and share the inspiring recipes by checking out the list of participants below. Follow each participant and continue the discussion with us on social media using the hashtag #BHMVP2022!


Jump To Black History Month Recipe List

Reimagining Food Through Afrofuturism

This is my sixth year organizing the Black History Month Virtual Potluck and this is by far our most creative theme. You might be wondering what is Afrofuturism? Well, for the purpose of this round-up, I simply define it as exploring the intersection of imagination, culture, future, technology, and liberation through the lenses of the black diaspora and food. 

We tasked participants to develop a recipe that honors the culinary ingenuity of our past and stretches towards an innovative culinary future.  We sought out to take familiar cultural foods and reimagine them in ingredients, flavor, texture, and the way they are traditionally presented. We have some incredible recipes and I hope you check out the full list down below.

My contribution was this Brown Butter Sombi Brulee (aka coconut rice pudding). The recipe structure mirrors the concept of gentrification, the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in and typically displacing current inhabitants in the process. The hard brûléed upper shell represents the covering of cultural roots to create space and opportunity for the more affluent.

What is Sombi?

Sombi is a traditional coconut rice pudding dish with roots in Senegal. It’s typically served warm and made with rice, water, coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Even though it’s often served as a warm dish, Sombi can also be served chilled during the warm summer months. 

While it originated in Senegal, Sombi has since gained popularity around the world as an easy and delicious dessert recipe. Many people put their own personal touches on this dish. 

For example, I love enhancing the flavor with ingredients like cinnamon, brown butter, and vanilla. Because it’s so easy to make, this creamy and indulgent dish is perfect for weeknight treats and dinner parties alike.

sombi brown butter rice pudding brulee garnished with blueberries raspberries cherries blackberries and mint on a decorative cutting board

Key Ingredients

To bring this creamy coconut rice pudding to life, you’re going to need a few key ingredients.

  • Medium-Grain Rice: The best rice for rice pudding! Medium-grain rice becomes perfectly soft and creamy, without turning into complete mush. For an extra creamy rice pudding, don’t rinse the rice prior to using it.
  • Unsalted Butter: I always prefer unsalted butter so that I can control the amount of salt that goes into my dishes. Butter is great for helping us achieve a creamy rice pudding and really enhances all of the flavors. 
  • Coconut Milk: This works with the rice to create a perfectly creamy texture for the pudding. You can swap out the coconut milk for dairy milk if you want, but I would recommend opting for milk on the thicker side (like full-fat). 
  • Sugar: You will need dark brown sugar for the rice pudding base, as well as granulated sugar to form the caramelized brûlée topping. 
  • Vanilla: A single vanilla bean pod is all you need to infuse tons of decadent flavor into this dish. If you can’t find vanilla in pod-form, you can swap it out for vanilla extract instead. 
  • Cinnamon: The warmth and spicy notes from the cinnamon take this coconut rice pudding from good to melt-in-your-mouth delicious. 

How to Make Coconut Rice Pudding (Sombi)

Coconut Rice Pudding is one of my all-time favorite desserts and one of the greatest things about it is that it’s super easy to make! Just follow these simple steps:

  1. To a medium saucepan, add 1 cup of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of rice to the saucepan, then reduce heat to medium and cover for 7 minutes or until water is absorbed (rice should swell but still have a bite).
  2. In a separate medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until it goes past the foaming stage and starts to turn brown. Then, add brown sugar and stir consistently with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves and starts to turn into a caramel texture. 
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in a splash of coconut milk to get rid of the initial sizzle. Next, stir in the remaining coconut milk, cinnamon, salt, and the remaining 2 cups of water. Return to the heat and bring to a boil. 
  4. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and add the whole vanilla pod. Stir in the parboiled rice and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking. 
  5. Once the rice is tender, remove the rice pudding from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard. Garnish with berries and fresh mint, then serve.
3 sombi brown butter rice pudding brulee garnished with blueberries raspberries cherries blackberries and mint on a decorative cutting board

Ways to Enhance Rice Pudding

If you want to enhance your rice pudding and elevate it to the next level, there’s no better way than to brûlée it. This might sound fancy and difficult, but I promise it’s easier than you think. All you have to do is divide the rice pudding between 4 ramekins, let them cool to room temperature, then chill them in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

When you’re ready to serve the dish, spoon a tablespoon of granulated sugar evenly over each of the ramekins. Using a blowtorch, gently heat the sugar until it turns dark amber in color. Make sure to do this carefully, as sugar can burn quickly. Let the ramekins cool until the sugar has hardened, then garnish with berries and mint. Yum!

Another great way to enhance your coconut rice pudding is by topping it off with colorful garnishes just before serving the dish. Fresh berries and mint leaves are my garnishes of choice because they add to the flavor profile and look stunning. 

For another fun twist, try garnishing your rice pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Kids and adults alike go crazy for this crave-worthy combination!

close up of sombi brown butter rice pudding brulee garnished with blueberries raspberries cherries blackberries and mint

Can this be made in advance?

Yes, corn salsa can be made in advance. In fact, I recommend it! Just store in an airtight container, refrigerate, and enjoy! Simply prepare as directed, and it keeps in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

If prepping longer than 24 hours in advance, I recommend storing the ingredients in a separate airtight container in the fridge. Then all you have to do is toss them together when it’s time to serve.

side view 3 sombi brown butter rice pudding brulee garnished with blueberries raspberries cherries blackberries and mint on a decorative cutting board

Coconut Rice Pudding Storage Tips

I must admit, this dish doesn’t stick around for very long in my house. It’s that good. However, if you do wind up with leftovers, you can easily store them for later. 

All you have to do is allow your coconut rice pudding (Sombi) to cool to room temperature, then either transfer it to an airtight container or tightly wrap it with saran wrap. Once you’ve done this, you can store it in the fridge for up to 3-4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this coconut rice pudding recipe:

Regular milk vs. coconut milk?

Personally, I love using coconut milk for rice pudding because of the subtle coconut flavors and ultra-creamy texture it lends to the pudding. That being said, you can absolutely swap it out for regular milk if needed. If you go the regular milk route, I recommend using full-fat milk so you can still get a creamy consistency.

spoon in a sombi brown butter rice pudding brulee garnished with blueberries raspberries cherries blackberries and mint

What is the best rice for rice pudding?

Everyone has their own opinions on the best rice for rice pudding. Long-grain white rice is the most common type to use, but many people (myself included) prefer to use medium-grain white rice instead. 

I’ve found the best results –soft without being mushy– with this type of rice, but feel free to use whichever one you prefer. Just keep in mind that short-grain rice usually ends up a bit on the mushy side, while long-grain rice doesn’t fully melt into a pudding.

Can you use leftover rice to make rice pudding?

Yes! Using pre-cooked or leftover rice ensures full gelatinization of the rice granules and slightly decreases cooking time. In addition, it also results in a smoother, creamier texture.

More Black History Month Collaborations

Hey, check out some of my previous BHM Collabs! 

overhead view 3 sombi brown butter rice pudding brulee garnished with blueberries raspberries cherries blackberries and mint on a decorative cutting board

Brown Butter Sombi – Coconut Rice Pudding

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 751kcal
Author: Meiko Temple

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water divided
  • 1 cup medium-grain rice
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla pod split open lengthways
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar divided
  • Fresh berries & mint optional

Instructions

To Make Rice Pudding:

  • To a medium saucepan add the 1 cup of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add 1 cup of rice to the saucepan, reduce heat to medium, and cover for 7 minutes or until water is absorbed (rice should swell but still have a bite).
  • In a separate medium saucepan over medium-high heat melt butter until it goes past the foaming stage and starts to turn brown. Add brown sugar and stir consistently with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves and starts to turn into a caramel texture.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in a splash of coconut milk to get rid of the initial sizzle. Stir in remaining coconut milk, cinnamon, salt, and the remaining 2 cups of water. Return to the heat and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to medium, scrape in vanilla seeds and add the whole vanilla pod. Stir in the parboiled rice and cook uncovered for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.
  • Once the rice is tender remove the rice pudding from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.

To Brulee Rice Pudding:

  • Divide the rice pudding between 4, 4-inch ramekins and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight.
  • Just before serving, spoon 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over the surface of each rice pudding. Using a blowtorch, gently heat the sugar until it turns a dark amber color. carefully as the sugar can burn quickly.) Cool briefly, until the sugar hardens. Then garnish each with berries of your choice plus mint and serve immediately.
Tried this recipe?Mention @MeikoAndTheDish or tag #MeikoAndTheDish

Nutrition

Calories: 751kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 325mg | Potassium: 355mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 44g | Vitamin A: 539IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 4mg

Equipment

Measuring Tools
Medium Saucepan
Wooden Spoon
Medium Saucepan

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate.

**The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

logo banner for 2022 black history month virtual potluck

2022 Black History Month Virtual Potluck

This year, I  along with Eat The Culture, organized a little menu of recipes with over 30 other amazing black content creators. We are sharing Afrofuturism-inspired recipes in honor of the holiday. Please check and try their recipes for your own Black History Month celebration. You can also follow our hashtag #BHMVP2022 on Instagram. 

Meet Meiko

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Welcome! I’m Meiko, a Dallas-based food blogger who loves to share life and culture through food. There are no strangers around these parts only good eats. Let’s get to know each other better!

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