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Sombi – a traditional Senegalese rice pudding made with rice, water, coconut milk, sugar, and salt.
It is often served warm, although it can also be served chilled when the weather is exceptionally hot. It is recommended to garnish the rice pudding with coconut chips on top.
This comforting dessert is quite easy to prepare, which may be the reason for its popularity.
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.
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, some people 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.
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.
- Butter: 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.
- 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 a lovely dessert and one of the greatest things about it is that it’s super easy to make! Just follow these simple steps:
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium. 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. Garnish with berries and fresh mint, then serve.
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 prefer to use medium-grain white rice instead.
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.
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.
Be Sure to Try These Other Senegal Dishes!
Be sure to recreate this incredible dessert. Enjoy your Sombi!
Senegalese Sombi: An Easy Coconut Rice Pudding
- 1 cup medium grain rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- A handful of coconut chips optional
- In a pot, boil the rice with two cups of water, until it is soft.
- In a separate saucepan, bring the coconut milk, coconut cream, and brown sugar to a gentle boil over low-medium heat. Stir continuously for 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved completely.
- Add the rice and salt and continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes.
- Chill in the refrigerator and serve with coconut chips on top of the pudding.