The Duck family goes to Bali! : Bubur Ayam or Indonesian porridge

“Quack?” inquires the Papa Duck, inquiring solicitously if all is well with the family of three ducks he is in charge of!

“Quack, quack”, go the two bigger ones – the Mama Duck and Big Sister Duck, nodding acqiescence – all is well, bags are counted, tags on hand baggage in place, we are in the queue!

But…the third quack is missing!

“K?” sighs the long-suffering Papa Duck – the third – little sister  duck is present, but only just, staring at an interesting scene at the other end of the long, very long queue…if the Papa Duck doesn’t keep an eye, she will trail slowly across, almost without volition – to the other side and go missing in a matter of seconds! He knows – it has happened earlier!

K”, is repeated a little louder this time, the exasperation in the voice very evident!

Huh? What? What? I am right here! I was only….looking at my bag…i mean my shoe…i mean looking for a hairbrush…i forgot to brush my hair”!!! sqawks the squeaky littlest duck – who’s already fallen three places behind in the queue as people shuffle past her – without her even noticing! She then proceeds to make her way back to the rest of the family, smiling her way disarmingly past the other people who’ve overtaken the absentminded creature – no one can resist that sheepish grin!

Oh yes, this is a family of human ducks! Our Papa Duck loves being in charge – of passports, visas, boarding passes – any kind of official documentation that passes him excites the glint of curiosity and an “i gotta be in charge of that” look in his eyes! The Mama Duck has long since decided that the situation has its points – I don’t have to be in charge of papers and scramble madly when I’m asked to produce something! Scramble through dozens of papers, realize I cannot do this without my reading glasses, scramble madly for reading glasses and then figure out that the papers have all along been in the other bag! Nah, who wants all that bother?!

The Big Sister Duck, on the other hand, is used to traveling on her own and taking care of her own stuff in airports everywhere…. and unwilling to relinquish control to Papa Duck! At the boarding gate, when Papa D has to hand out passports and boarding passes reluctantly to his family, promptly swooping down on us hapless creatures and collecting them as soon as we are through the gate, the Big Sister has it all planned out. She is first through the gate and as Papa D gets his boarding pass checked, she scoots away with the precious documents in her hand! Papa Duck is horrified and gathering our passes, chases after her, squawking loudly in protest at this blatant disobedience!

The Big sis duck, however, is younger and faster and not weighed down with three sets of boarding passes and with a merry quack thrown cheekily at the father, scoots through the gate!

The other two hapless ones, meanwhile, bereft of all official documentation, scramble behind the Appa Duck….bumping into things and people on the way, dropping stuff, picking up stuff and dropping other stuff as you bend over to pick up the stuff you droppped first, tripping over shoelaces which chose that moment to come undone….we are NOT used to being abandoned! We finally catch up – inside the aircraft – and a veritable storm of indignant quacks bursts out – much to the amusement of fellow passengers! Quack, quack, quack, quack, QUACK!

The Papa Duck smiles loftily, secure in the knowledge that he has taken care of his family! Comforting thought…just like this…

Balinese comfort food – an amazing porridge we ordered for every breakfast – Bubuh….even the name is comforting!


BALINESE BUBUR OR BUBUH AYAM a vegetarian version of conjee or porridge


Very soft cooked rice – I find left over rice with some water (1 cup cooked rice added to 2 cups boiling water or stock) and recooked in the morning works great.

Vegetable topping

Long beans / karamani/ snake or cluster beans
200 gm – chopped finely and boiled
Raw papaa – shredded and boiled – 400 gm
Chopped, fried shallot – 40 gm
Chopped, fried garlic – 10 gm
Shredded, fried red Thai chili – this is super spicy! – 1
Grated coconut – about a tbsp per plate
Salt and pepper – to taste
Spicy, crisp topping
Crisp fried ginger juliennes – 10 gm
Crisp fried fresh turmeric juliennes – 5 gm
Galangal crisped – 20 gm
Fresh, chopped shallots – 80 gm
Crisp fried garlic slivers – 15 gm
Slivered red chili- 1
Very crisply roasted peanuts – pulsed to smaller pieces – 50 gm
Salt and pepper – to taste

The serving is simple. Ladle out about two large soup ladles-full of conjee in a bowl. Top with the vegetable topping – about 2-3 tbsp per bowl. Top that with the crisp elements – 1 to 2 tbsp per bowl. Dig in… and QUACK!