For many of us, porridge is the ultimate comfort food. Thick and creamy and possible to eat either savoury (with pork and egg, perhaps) or sweet, it’s perfect at any mealtime and on any day.
A dish with a long history
These days when we talk about porridge, we usually mean the rice-based dish eaten across Asia, otherwise known as congee. But this type is actually just one of hundreds of different variations of the dish from across the world. In fact, porridge in its original form (any old grain cooked with milk or water) is likely one of the earliest cooked foods that humans figured out how to make, with evidence of the dish found in human remains from 9000 BC!
When we’re thinking of rice-based congee porridge, though, that is a comparatively recent variation, with roots only stretching back about 3000 years to China, when, in around 1000 BC, grain-based gruel flavoured with other ingredients was often served at banquets. Back then, the dish was likely to be made not just with rice, but from a mix of several different grains, from millet to tapioca and corn.
Cooking up a pot
Making porridge is pretty straightforward, which is probably why it’s been around for such a long time. Traditionally, it’s simply made by simmering rice in a saucepan with water. It’s then cooked for around one to one and a quarter hours until the rice is falling apart and the whole dish is gooey and delicious. Some people, especially when cooking porridge as part of a savoury meal, make it with stock instead of water.
There are essentially two schools of thought on how porridge should be served or garnished. Some people like it sweet with coconut or syrup, while others prefer a savoury option – although really anything goes! Crushed peanuts, egg and pork are all delicious additions.
Eaten across the world
If you find after a bowl of congee that you’ve got a taste for something a little different, you can also try some other sorts of porridge. The Scots eat it with oats and milk as a sweet breakfast dish, it’s made with cracked wheat in parts of India, while in Central America it’s made with maize and mixed with chocolate!
On foodpanda, you can try plenty of different variations of the dish from across the world. Try it with peanuts & tofu and millet grains at Mr Bean, the traditional congee at Li Fang Congee or one with sliced fish or chicken at Supper Club.