Suman balete

How suman de balete is prepared

Cooked suman sa balete. Each grouping is about P60

Cooked suman sa balete. Each grouping is about P60

The sound of women chatting from the small structure selling food and trinkets got my attention as we were exploring the century old balete tree (banyan tree, Ficus sp.) which is a popular tourist spot in Maria Aurora in the province of Aurora. But to my surprise and delight, these women were preparing a native delicacy, suman, rice cakes wrapped longitudinally with steamed young coconut leaves.

Suman is an ubiquitous native delicacy that is found in almost all provinces in the Philippines, and perhaps, in other Asian countries as well. Most of these are sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, sometimes sweetened, sometimes not. These are then wrapped in blanched banana leaves, rolled longitudinally and folded or tied at both ends. But in other localities, like this one and another one in Taluksangay, Zamboanga City, it uses young coconut leaves for the wrapping.

In between chatting, the women are busy preparing the suman from scratch to finished product which they then sell at P60 per bunch. For the first timer, unwrapping the suman is an experience in itself, loosening the tie that wraps around the body, removing the leaf handle then unwrapping the rice cake. A bite into the slightly sweetened sticky rice is something to enjoy. For us locals, it usually reminds us of home, of family and traditions.

Sticky purple rice is being prepared.

Sticky purple rice is being prepared.

It's a communal activity with women helping out in making the suman and stories flow

It’s a communal activity with women helping out in making the suman and stories flow

Young coconut leaves prepared to be receptacles

Young coconut leaves prepared to be receptacles

Prepared young coconut leaves bunched up together

Prepared young coconut leaves bunched up together

Sticky purple rice that has already been slightly sweetened and cooked in coconut milk already in the leaf receptacles

Sticky purple rice that has already been slightly sweetened and cooked in coconut milk already in the leaf receptacles

preparing the suman for double wrapping

preparing the suman for double wrapping

A woman rolls the filled leaves, cover it with another leaf and ties it together

A woman rolls the filled leaves, cover it with another leaf and ties it together

Filled up leaves ready for the steaming

Filled up leaves ready for the steaming

This trip to Aurora province made possible by Costa Pacifica. Check them out at their website, in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

2 Comments

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    September 14, 2015 @ 21:05

    How suman de balete is prepared: Cooked suman sa balete. Each grouping is about P60
    The sound of women chattin… http://t.co/qomeETnqQO

  2. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    September 15, 2015 @ 15:25

    Have u tasted this yummy suman near the century old balete tree in #aurora province?
    http://t.co/IHkTI0E0g7 http://t.co/8poAlUml40

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