The Lenten Season is very important to many Filipinos. With the majority of them being Catholics, there are a number of traditions that they have come to observe and follow, some of which include fasting and abstinence.
One of the Filipino traditions during Lent is trying to find good dishes that are devoid of any meat. One of the most famous is a vegetable stew which makes a perfect snack for an observant follower.
The said dish is called binignit.
It is basically porridge that you will find in many Cebuano households during Holy Week. Its popularity has spanned many years and would be a great dessert for vegans and non-vegans alike.
Regardless of the tradition where Filipinos don’t eat meat during Holy Week, binignit is a great dish to have. Aside from no single animal involved in the process of preparing this dish, the ingredients make it a healthy and sumptuous option.
It’s also pretty easy to make, and the ingredients aren’t so hard to find.
This famous Filipino comfort food is sometimes called Ginataang Halo-Halo in other regions due to its hodgepodge of healthy food items. Its usage of tubers and coconut milk stays the same despite the many iterations all over the country.
Popular Binignit Ingredients
Most of these ingredients will come down to personal preference or what is available at the market. There are different recipes online you can search for to determine how much you will need.
The base of this vegetable stew is coconut milk.
You can buy cans in supermarkets or make your own at home. Place the coconut shavings into a bowl and pour in some water. Squeeze the milk out of the coconut with your bare hands (make sure to wash them first).
You will have to press multiple times to maximize the amount of milk extracted.
Tubers are also a big factor in the anatomy of a good stew.
Banana plantains, sweet potatoes, taro, and purple yams are present in many versions of this dish. They’re commonly sold in public markets and street corners. They also make for other delicious street food you can find throughout the country, like banana cue.
These need to be cut into small cubes to make them more tasteful and to make the cooking time faster.
The famous dessert also gets its sweetness from a whole lot of brown sugar.
There are recipes online that suggest using muscovado if you want something sweeter than usual.
It is also very colorful. One of the factors that makes it so is the addition of sago pearls. These go hand in hand with many of the stew’s other ingredients and are even sold together. This is optional, though, so you can leave it out if you’re not a fan.
Instead of using sago, there are some dishes that use a local tapioca called landang.
This is taken from the Buri tree, which flowers once and then dies. The palm of the tree is extracted and turned into flour, which will then harden to form a more solid shape.
These look like flattened sago or small pink tree branches and are also sold together with other classic binignit ingredients.
The cooking process takes some time, but it’s fairly easy to get done.
After boiling the coconut milk with some water, just slowly add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and leave the pot to cook until the soup thickens.
Now you know what to eat during Holy Week whenever you plan on visiting the Queen City of the South.
The Carbon Public Market is one of the best places to get the ingredients for your vegetable stew. Considered the biggest public market in the city, it is also one of the busiest places during Holy Week because of the volume of people buying the best ingredients for their soup.
Many stalls have the complete package of tubers, landang, and sago. Some stalls also sell coconut shavings if you want to make your own coconut milk at home.
You won’t find this dish in many fancy restaurants, especially since it is more popular as an alternative for a meal during Holy Week. Luckily, there is a small eatery near the Basilica del Sto. Niño and Magellan’s Cross that cooks a big bowl of this sweet snack for churchgoers and passersby to enjoy.
Jorie’s Carinderia is located across Philippine National Bank behind Cebu City Hall. You can try out their version of one of the best native delicacies in the Visayas for 40Php.
To make their binignit stand out, they add sticky rice balls. These are very chewy and fun to eat, and the servings are quite hefty. Plus, considering their location, they wouldn’t be that hard to find.
Not eating meat is one of those Holy Week traditions that many Catholics have come to follow. Two days of eating fruits and vegetables isn’t that hard to endure, especially if this sweet dessert is on the table. You can serve it to the whole family or save it up for the next few days as a snack.
Binignit will always have a place among Cebuanos when Holy Week comes around. The ease of cooking and finding its ingredients make it a suitable recommendation for the season of Lent. This dessert may be more popular during a particular time of the year, but it’s a delicacy that can be enjoyed whenever one desires.