The anatomy of a binignit: Exploring the history, ingredients of a Filipino tradition

File photo
File photo

Amid the Holy Week, Filipinos across the country are gearing up to cook and enjoy a traditional dish that holds a special place in their hearts: binignit. This sweet, creamy and comforting stew is a staple during the Lenten season and is often served as a snack or dessert.

Brief history

Binignit traces its roots to the Visayan region of the Philippines, where it is a popular dish, especially during Holy Week. The dish is believed to have originated from the practices of early Filipino settlers who relied on simple and readily available ingredients to prepare meals during the Lenten season.


While the beloved Filipino treat may have various recipes depending on the region, it is generally made with these key ingredients:

1. Sweet Potato (Kamote) - A hearty and nutritious root crop that adds a natural sweetness and texture to the dish.

2. Banana (Saba) - Saba bananas are a staple in Filipino cuisine, known for their creamy texture and sweet flavor. They add a distinct taste to binignit.

3. Jackfruit (Langka) - This tropical fruit is known for its strong aroma and sweet taste. In binignit, jackfruit adds a burst of flavor and a chewy texture.

4. Taro (Gabi) - Gabi is a starchy root crop that becomes soft and creamy when cooked, adding a unique texture to the dish.

5. Sweet Rice Balls (Bilo-bilo) - These chewy rice balls are made from glutinous rice flour and water, adding a fun and delightful element to binignit.

6. Coconut Milk (Gata) - A key ingredient in Filipino cooking, coconut milk adds a rich and creamy texture to the broth of binignit.

7. Palm Sugar (Panutsa) - This sweetener is made from boiled down coconut sap, adding a rich caramel flavor to the dish.

8. Pandan Leaves - These fragrant leaves are often used in Filipino cooking to add a subtle aroma and flavor to dishes. In binignit, pandan leaves infuse the dish with a refreshing and aromatic essence.

9. Water - The base of the broth, water is used to cook the ingredients until they are tender and flavorful.

Optional ingredients include Corn Kernels, Sweet Potato Balls (Camote Balls) and Glutinous Rice (Malagkit). Some variations of binignit include these additional ingredients, adding more texture and flavor to the dish.

Celebrating tradition

Binignit is more than just a dish; it celebrates Filipino culture and tradition. As families gather to prepare and enjoy this beloved stew during the Holy Week, they are reminded of the importance of faith, family and community.

As the Holy Week draws near, let’s embrace the tradition of binignit with open arms and hungry hearts. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, preparing a pot of binignit is a delightful way to honor Filipino culture and celebrate the spirit of the season.


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