A list of Philippine native delicacies as I travel the country.
Kakanin is the tasty native dessert made by steaming, boiling, and or baking glutinous rice. The name is derived from the Tagalog word kanin or cooked rice. It’s the Filipinos’ go-to breakfast, merienda and, dessert. It’s also the fav offering to guests by the natives.
Experience a wide selection of kakanin by traveling around the Philippines or through this list.
Bibingka / Puto Kawali
The popularly known bibingka, a fluffy cake made of glutinous galapong rice, is believed to be the Filipino version of the Goans’ bebinca. It’s made with rice flour, coconut milk, and salted duck eggs as stuffings. Then it’s traditionally cooked in a native clay pot lined with banana leaves, with hot charcoal on top also at the bottom as the heat source. The banana leaves are more than just wrappers, but, it adds a subtle aroma to the bibingka. Bibingka is then glazed with butter or margarine, then sprinkled with sugar and freshly grated coconut.
However, I grew up calling this dish as puto kawali, as the name suggests, it’s cooked in a pan.
Bibingka is one of the favored foods across the country during Christmas season usually, after the Simbang Gabi, Catholic novena masses that are held sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. The custom is rooted in the people’s need for a heavy and easy to consume breakfast before heading out to the fields to work.
Puto bumbong is not made with ube or purple yam but with purple-hued pirurutong glutinous rice. The making of this kakanin is a bit laborious, it begins with, soaking the pirurutong rice in water overnight. There are some who adds white glutinous rice or malagkit in the mix, for added chewiness. The mix is then pushed in a bamboo tube called bumbong kawayan as the mold in steaming the puto. Thus the name, puto bumbong. Onced cooked, it’s laid on a banana leaf, usually, on strips of four, and spread with butter or margarine, rolled on muscovado sugar, then sprinkled with freshly grated coconut.
This purple dainty sticky rice is another favorite kakanin during Christmas festivities throughout the Philippines after Misa de Gallo or Simbang Gabi.
Suman sa Ibos/Ibus
Suman has a few varieties depending on which region you’re visiting. Suman sa Ibos / ibus is one of the common ones, mainly in Rizal and Iloilo. It is the ultimate rice cake made from glutinous rice, a pinch of salt and, coconut milk. The mixture is then poured in tightly coiled Buri / palm leaves and then steamed. This delicacy can be devoured on its own but, some delights, with sugar, with caramel, and, or coconut jam.
This popular sticky rice cake is believed to be the quintessential offering to the Gods of the natives. It’s also served to visitors. The chronicler for the first Spanish expedition to arrive on Philippine shores, Antonio Pigafetta, describes this as “rice cakes wrapped in leaves, with somewhat longish pieces.”
Inandila / Inanchila
A sticky rice cake made from pounded rice mixed with water then, steamed and topped with caramelized coconut cream. This sticky rice has various presentations across the Kalinga province. In Naneng, it’s coiled in a coconut shell cup. In Balbalasang, it’s wrapped in leaves of a plant they call, “la-u” which is found in the mountain forest. Alternatively, it’s wrapped in banana leaves that’s brushed lightly with cooking oil. Its name is believed to be from the word “dila” or tongue due to its elongated shape.
Glutinous rice cake with coconut curd spread on top, bibingka malagkit, the main product of Cainta. The natives embraced their sweet origins with their cottage industry, the “kakanin” or sticky rice cake making. Which remains rooted in their traditional practices. An industry believed to have been the town’s main source of income since the 15th century. The town was then dubbed as the “Bibingka Capital of the country,” then fully embraces this culture with a festival.
Also known as “sinukmani” in Quezon province, and “inkiwar” in Ilocano. This glutinous rice cake is made with sticky rice, coconut milk, and sugar. It’s usually brown in color from the washed or muscovado sugar and coconut milk mixture. For some, they throw-in purple yam in the mix for added flavor and color. But the deal-breaker is the right ratio of glutinous rice and coconut milk, which makes it rich and creamy. The caramelized coconut on top adds texture and garnish to this classic fiesta staple.