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  • The rice is usually wrapped in banana leaves and then served warm with butter, coconut flakes, and brown sugar. Photo:GIRLIELINAO/dpa (picture alliance)
No Filipino Christmas and Simbang Gabi is complete without Puto Bumbong.
Claudette Centeno-Calixto

8 Dec 2018 - 11:32 AM  UPDATED 11 Dec 2018 - 9:30 AM

Puto Bumbong is a Filipino delicacy traditionally served during Christmas season in the Philippines. It literally translates to steamed glutinous rice (puto) cooked in bamboo (bumbong). It is served on banana leaves topped with butter or margarine, shredded coconut and brown sugar. 

No Filipino Christmas and Simbang Gabi is ever complete without Puto Bumbong recalls cook enthusiast and self-confessed foodie, Geraldine Cleeman.

"Tradisyon talaga yan eh part ng simbang gabi magsisimba ka tapos parang yun din ang reason kung bakit ka nagsisimba. Masarap kasi talaga at unique yung taste niya kaya talagang pipila ka. Mas mahaba pa nga ang pila doon sa Puto Bumbong kaysa sa doon sa church."

At the age of 8, Geraldine started to master the art of cooking. Thanks to her mum's extraordinary kitchen skills. 

Clara Ignacio (Geraldine's late mother) is from the island of Leyte, the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines and speaks the Waray dialect. According to Geraldine, the Warays are known to be lovers of kakanin (Filipino cakes).

"Nanay ko kasi Waray, mahilig sila sa mga kakanin yung mga malagkit, mga luto sa coconut milk, kaya halimbawa pasko o birthday karamihan ganyan mga niluluto niya."

While Puto bumbong is traditionally cooked by using a bamboo tube steamer, Geraldine said in the absence of the instrument, it is still possible to make them at home by using a regular steamer. Alternative ingredients are also readily available at any Asian grocery store.

In a traditional way of cooking, the steamer is conical in shape with holes and consists of a long bamboo tube where the uncooked purple “puto” is being filled up then inserted into the hole of the steamer. The bamboo is wrapped with thick cloth for heat protection. When the bamboo creates a whistling sound, it means the “puto” is already cooked.

But for those who do not have the instrument yet keen to prepare them this Yuletide season, try Geraldine's version.

Puto Bumbong ( without the bamboo steamer)

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 50 mins

Serves: 15-20 pcs


2 cups white glutinous rice

1 cup black glutinous rice (pirurutong)

1 cup muscovado or palm sugar

1 cup grated fresh coconut

margarine ( to spread when puto is cooked and ready to serve)

water ( enough to soak the rice)


1. In a large bowl combine both types of glutinous rice, add enough water to fully soak them and leave in a cool place for 24 hours.

2. Fully drain your rice then place them in a food processor or a blender, pulse to have a grainy wet consistency and add a bit of water while grinding them. You need to achieve a gritty but fine consistency similar to a moist sand.

3. Place the mixture in a lightly greased shallow tray, place in a steamer then steam for 20 minutes in really high heat or until cooked and tender.

4. Remove the cooked Puto Bumbong from the tray. Slice and shape into small cylinders. Place on a banana leaf lined plate then spread some margarine on top, generously sprinkle it with freshly grated coconut and some palm sugar granules then serve.

Grated cheese is an option if you do not like coconut as topping.

Happy cooking and have a Merry Christmas!


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