Champorado is a traditional Filipino breakfast best described as chocolate rice porridge. It's easy to make, with a rich flavor and smooth texture. One comforting treat to start the day (or enjoy as a snack).
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As in many countries, Filipino cuisine is influenced by the different cultures that are part of it's history, and having been a Spanish colony, this includes Spanish and Latin American cuisine. Dishes, as well as techniques and ingredients, like tomatoes and corn arrived as a result of colonization and trade between the different regions.
Some dishes enjoyed in the Philippines today are very close if not much the same as dishes traders and colonists brought with them, like empanadas and flan. Others are more adaptations to work with local ingredients.
What are the origins of champorado?
Champorado is generally believed to be an adaptation of the Mexican dish, champurrado. Champurrado is a thick, chocolate-based atole drink made with masa harina, a kind of pre-processed corn-based dough flour. Since masa harina is not a local ingredient in the Philippines, the dish was adapted to use rice, which is widely grown and used.
Alongside, I wouldn't be surprised if another Spanish/Mexican favorite, arroz con leche (rice pudding) was a bit of an influence in there too. Though there are definitely differences from that, such as in the rice used and the fact this does not use dairy.
All about sticky rice
This dish uses sticky rice which especially when combined with the chocolate, gives it a distinct slightly gooey texture. Sticky rice is sometimes known as glutinous or sweet rice, though the name is a misnomer. This, just like other kinds of rice, doe not contain gluten. The name comes from the fact it has a slightly sticky, glue-like texture when cooked.
Sticky rice comes in both short and long grain versions, as well as both white and purple. These varieties are high in amylopectin starch and low in amylose starch and are more opaque than regular rice (as you can see in the picture above).
Typically, the long grain version is more common in China and the short grain is more common in Thailand. The short grain is also typical in sweeter dishes while longer grain in savory. You'll find purple used in Northern Thailand and Laos as a savory side, and the short grain white rice for sticky rice with mango, a popular dessert.
The short grain version is also used to make glutinous rice flour which is used to make things like Japanese mochi and Chinese sweet dumplings, tangyuan.
You can use either short or long grain sticky rice here, but short is probably more typical. I have also generally found it more easily - it is available in most Asian stores.
What type of chocolate to use
Traditionally, you make this dish with tablea which is a typical chocolate product in the Philippines. Tablea means "tablet" and these disks are essentially a sort of unrefined chocolate made with pure roasted and ground cocoa beans. It comes in a few forms but typically it's unsweetened.
They are best known as the basis for Filipino hot chocolate but also popular for this dish. If you can't find them, you can also use unsweetened cocoa powder, as I have here, instead. Just try to use a good quality one for best flavor.
In both cases, you dissolve the tablea or cocoa powder in some hot water, then add it in as you cook the rice, along with sugar to sweeten the dish. Despite the sugar, this isn't actually all that sweet due to the high level of unsweetened tablea/cocoa powder.
How to serve champorado
This is often enjoyed as a breakfast, but also makes a great snack. It's tasty just as it is, but you can also add a little sweetened condensed milk or evaporated milk on top for an extra little creaminess. The little bit of dairy also cuts through the rich chocolate, I think.
Traditionally, you might have this with tuyo, a kind of dried fish, on the side as well. It might sound unusual but the contrasting savory and salty flavor works well.
Champorado is a rich, filling and comforting chocolate rice porridge that's perfect to sustain you through until the next meal. It's easy to make and while chocolatey, it's not actually all that sweet. A Filipino favorite, that's definitely worth a try.
Try these other breakfast/snack ideas from around the world:
- Swedish blueberry soup (Blåbärssoppa - a lovely warm fruit-packed bowlful)
- Chickpea fatteh (a simple layered dish of pita chips, savory seasoned yogurt, chickpeas and herbs)
- Magdalenas (simple Spanish lemon and olive oil muffins)
- Plus get more Southeast Asian recipes and breakfast recipes in the archives.
Champorado - Filipino rice porridge
- 2 cups water divided
- ½ cup glutinous rice
- ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder or 2 tablea, if available
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon condensed milk approx, or evaporated milk
- Bring the water to a boil and remove ½ cup to a bowl. Add the rice to the remaining 1 ½ cups water, bring back to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, add the cocoa powder or chopped tablea to the hot water in the bowl. Mix to dissolve/melt and form a smooth paste. Add the mixture to the rice as it is cooking and mix through.
- Continue to cook the rice, uncovered, at a steady simmer, stirring now and then until the rice is just about cooked through - it should take around 12-18 minutes from when the rice came to a boil.
- Then, add in the sugar and mix to dissolve. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes to thicken slightly then remove from the heat and serve. Bear in mind that it will continue to thicken a little off the heat so you don't want it too thick when you remove from the heat.
- Divide between serving dishes and drizzle over a little condensed milk or evaporated milk to serve.
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Your Champorado looks fantastic! It is a favorite of mine and such a delicious start to the day. Love that drizzle of condensed milk over the top.
Thank you, it's a tasty treat for sure, and the condensed milk is definitely worth adding!
Wow, this is beautiful!! I am so excited to try this tomorrow, I just bought all of the ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂
Thank you, and perfect! Hope you enjoy.