What to Do with Leftover Black Rice: An Indonesian Guide

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Black rice in a bowl with spoon.

There’s more to Indonesia than just Bali.

If you think about it, Bali’s rise to fame as this ultimate tropical tourist destination is a relatively new phenomenon. 

Dive deeper, and you’ll find that Indonesia boasts a wider array of cultural wonders than just Bali’s paradise. 

Take the star of today’s article, for instance. 

Black rice dates back to ancient times and has a much longer history than Bali’s. 

It’s even considered as an heirloom crop. 

Black rice has been passed down through generations. The Balinese use local seeds and avoids many of what we consider as modern agricultural practice. 

As such black rice exhibits a particular aroma and flavor profile that commercial rice just couldn’t compare with. 

So look at your leftovers with pride. 

You may not know what to do with leftover black rice just yet, but I promise you, it wouldn’t be anything ordinary. 

A Bite of Forbidden History

Full image of black rice with wooden spoon.

If you haven’t gathered yet, black rice kinda has this impressive pedigree. 

It was a rare and precious commodity thousands of years ago. Unlike its white counterpart, the cultivation of black rice is at a far smaller harvest. 

With the level of scarcity and health benefits it possessed, there’s no wonder why it was reserved for Indonesian royalty and elite. 

Its striking color also adds to its rarity. Though, while it may look black at first glance, it’s actually a deep shade of purple. 

This is all thanks to the abundance of a powerful antioxidant known as anthocyanin. 

But those years are long gone (thankfully). You and I can enjoy black rice today without any qualms. 

And yes, even if it’s just some leftovers from yesterday. 

What to Do with Leftover Black Rice?

With our historical and scientific curiosity satiated, it’s time we dig into our Indonesian-inspired recipes on what to do with leftover black rice. 

Bubur Hitam 

Bubur Ketan Hitam in a white bowl.

As a revered classic in Indonesian cuisine, it’s only fitting that we start off our recipes with Bubur Hitam. The dish literally translates to “black porridge.” 

Indonesians are known to start their days with a steaming and comforting bowl of Bubur Hitam. This creamy porridge incorporates palm sugar, pandan leaf, and coconut milk. 


  • 2 cups of leftover black rice
  • 4 cups of water
  • 400ml of coconut milk
  • ½ cup of palm sugar (but brown sugar or maple syrup also works if you can’t find palm sugar)
  • 1 pandan leaf that’s tied in a knot
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • Toppings of your choosing (I personally opt for sliced mangoes, chopped peanuts, a drizzle of honey, and toasted coconut flakes.)


  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Spoon
  • Bowls


  1. Combine the leftover black rice, water, coconut milk, palm sugar, pandan leaf, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Remove the pandan leaf once the porridge is ready and whisk everything until smooth in consistency. 
  3. Pour into bowls and decorate with your toppings before serving.

Pro Tip: Mash a ripe banana in your porridge for an even creamier texture.

Rendang Salad

Next up is an Indonesian curry that is sure to leave you speechless. And no not because of all the spices in it!

Rendang is not just any curry, too. 

The meat is simmered for a long time in chilies, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass. 

The coconut milk adds a certain creaminess. 

The cooking process brings everything in one savory Indonesian staple dish. 


  • 2 cups of leftover black rice
  • 1 diced cucumber
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup of chopped and blanched green beans
  • ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup of red onion
  • Shredded rendang (leftover or store-bought)
  • Lime wedges


  • Large bowl
  • Spoon


  1. Combine the leftover black rice, cucumber, bell pepper, green beans, cilantro, and red onion in a large bowl.
  2. Shred your rendang and mix it into the bowl.
  3. When making the dressing, squeeze the lime wedges over the salad and toss everything together. Add more if you think it isn’t up to your satisfaction just yet.

Pro Tip: Not a fan of limes? How about other dressings for your salad? 

Peanut sauce or a simple soy sauce + vinegar can do wonders.

Nasi Goreng Hitam

A cup of Nasi Goreng Hitam in a white plate.

Or “Black Fried Rice,” is another iconic Indonesian dish that you wouldn’t want to miss. 

And that’s not all, we’re adding, yet, another staple when it comes to Indonesian cuisine. 


It’s a fermented soybean cake that’s firm in texture and has a nutty flavor. 


  • 2 cups of leftover black rice
  • 1 block of tempeh already sliced into trips
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup of chopped green beans
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 tbsp of kecap manis
  • ½ tsp of shrimp paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fried shallots as garnish
  • Sliced cucumbers and fried egg


  • Large skillet
  • Spoon
  • Spatula


  1. Combine the tempeh with soy sauce in a bowl and allow to marinate for 15 minutes (or longer if you prefer a deeper flavor).
  2. Heat oil in the skillet over medium fire. Put the leftover black rice and stir-fry for a few minutes, then set aside.
  3. Add vegetable oil in the skillet and once it’s hot, you can add the tempeh. Cook them until golden brown and crispy, then set aside as well. 
  4. Introduce another tablespoon of oil in your pan. Once it’s hot, toss in the onion and garlic, then cook until they’re fragrant. 
  5. Fold in the bell pepper and green beans next. Stir-fry again for 1-2 minutes until the veggies turn soft but still on the crispy side. 
  6. Push the veggies aside and scramble the eggs in the middle. Once cooked, mix everything together.
  7. Add the cooked leftover black rice and toss everything until well combined. 
  8. Pour the kecap minis and shrimp paste. Stir-fry for another minute. 
  9. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
  10. Garnish with shallots, cucumbers and fried egg before serving. 

Pro Tip: Add sambal oelek, Indonesia’s hot take on chili paste, into your stir-fry.

From Fridge to Indonesia

Trying out new recipes can be daunting, especially when taking inspiration from a specific culture.

There’s this fear of doing it wrong and butchering the entire recipe (and cultural respect of it all).

But that’s actually where the beauty of a culinary adventure lies! You get to direct your own fate on this one. 

A mistake isn’t really a mistake here. It’s just another way of cooking a dish. 

So now that you’re brimming with culinary ideas, now that you know what to do with leftover black rice, it’s about time to have a taste of Indonesia.

 Don that apron and get to cooking!

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