Ginataan (Mixed fruits in Sweet Coconut Milk)


One of my all time favorite dessert snacks. This dish never fails to bring forth memories of my not-so-long-ago (don’t argue) childhood. I remember the anticipation of such a delightful dessert, looking through the pot’s glass lid as the creamy white coconut milk simmers and the sweet smell of  langka or jackfruit wafts in the kitchen. And as you put a spoonful in your mouth you’d be thrilled with all that mushy texture of varying sweetness coming from the assortment of fruits and root crop. Needless to say, a major part of its appeal would be the generous amount of those supple sago and rice balls or bilo-bilo. It’s like putting a dream in your mouth, if there is such a thing.

I have always thought that this was a complicated dish to make, considering that it has too many ingredients. As it turns out, it’s insanely easy. It’s basically putting everything in a big pot in a particular order and letting it simmer until they’re all cooked and tender. The only challenge would be the time it takes to prepare the ingredients. I’m lucky to have found pre-packed ingredients such as the coconut cream and the rice balls, but then again it’s not like they’re difficult to come by or even prepare.

Here’s my ginataan, or guinataan. “Ginataan” means “prepared with coconut milk cream.”

You’ll need:

  • 3 tetra packs of coconut milk at 200ml/pack. Make sure you shake it well as some settling might have occurred.
  • 3 cups of water. Pour some of the water into the empty tetra packs to make use of every drop.
  • 1-2 cups of sugar, depending on your sweet tooth
  • about 3/4 cup of uncooked small sago or tapioca pearls. I use a lot of these. Use the small ones so they’ll cook faster.
  • 300 grams of kamote or sweet potato. Indonesian sweet potatoes cook faster than those in the Philippines by the way so keep that in mind.
  • 200 grams of gabi or taro root. I opted this one out and added more kamote instead
  • 2 pieces of small saba, a Philippine variety of banana. I wasn’t able to use this here though. They’re hard to come by in this country.
  • 200 grams of langka or jackfruit. Hopefully they’re in season. Cut into strips.

For the rice balls, if you can’t find them as I did, you may easily prepare these by mixing a cup of glutinous rice flour and half a cup of water. Add the water a little at a time and mix to create something that resembles a dough. Take a small piece one at a time and roll into 1/4 inch balls.

In a large pot, pour in all of the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Be sure to watch out as it may boil over and make a mess. Add sago pearls and simmer until transparent. This might take about 15 minutes or more. Add the rice balls and simmer until they all float to the surface. Mix in some sugar until you get the desired sweetness. Add the kamote, gabi and bananas until they’re all cooked. Finally, add the langka and simmer further for another 5 minutes.

Best if served hot on a rainy day. Or if craving for something sweet, which is all the time. Enjoy!


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