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Kalamay, a Unique Dessert
Kalamay is made of glutinous rice or 'malagkit' cooked with coconut milk and dark sugar. This native dessert requires hours of cooking time and stirring over low fire to prevent it from getting burned. Kalamay-makers use a big pot called that looks like a giant wok to cook it.
Kalamay can be found in many parts of the country but one that is unique comes from Bohol, from Jagna town in particular. This kalamay has a unique taste and distinctive coconut shell container with a red band around it. The coconut shell is cleaned and polished, then decorated with a red paper strip in the middle.
As these shells are prone to breakage on long flights, kalamay is now sold also in plastic transparent containers. You may still obtain them in their original cocoshell but be careful not to drop them.
Tips in buying kalamay
If you visit Bohol, don't leave without going to a kalamay trip to Jagna town which is about 30 minutes to an hour away from Chocolate hills. It can be reached by car or public transport from Tagbilaran City.
Once in Jagna, kalamay vendors are hard to miss in the municipal market area. Each piece is priced P30-35 or three for P100.00. There is also a kalamay store (Ching's Calamay) in Can-Upao, Jagna found on the left side of the road (if you are coming from Tagbilaran City).
This sweet dessert now come in different variants, with or without peanuts, ube, etc. The flavored variety cost more at P50 a piece. Try to ask when the kalamay was made since it's shelf-life can range only from 4-6 days. Spoiled kalamay is often shown with mold growth inside.
For the aid of those who want to try the challenge of preparing this native dessert, the basic recipe for kalamay is provided.
- 2 kilos ground, Milled glutinous rice
- Coconut milk (from 20 coconuts)
- 10 kilos Molasses Sugar (darkest colored-sugar you can find)
- 10 liters of water
- Soak the glutinous (malagkit) rice overnight.
- If possible, you can buy already grated coconuts from you favorite palengke (wet market). Extract the milk, first using 5 liters of water. Then, the second extraction using 3 liters of water.
- Pour the soaked glutinous (malagkit) rice in the first coconut milk extracted then proceed to ground the malagkit & coconut mixture. You may have this done through a machine available in many wet markets or do it yourself if you have a grounding machine.
- Mix the sugar to the second coconut milk extract and boil until a heavy syrup or 'latik' is attained.
- Afterwards, pour the ground malagkit mixture into the simmering 'latik' mixture taking extra caution not too scald yourself. Also, prepare to flex your muscles and tone you arms because you will be stirring this mixture over slow fire for four (4) long hours, non-stop.
- After cooking, you may now place them in cleaned and polished half-a-coconut shells (see photo), cover with the other half, and seal with a red band of Japanese paper (papel de hapon). You may also place calamay in plastic air-proof containers (but make sure to cool them down first). Or just serve and enjoy!
1. Consuming one is tricky and sticky so make sure to use a spoon or fork.
2. 'Crack' the coconshell lining by peeling off the red paper around it.
3. Easily open the shell by inserting the edge of the knife.
Divide the contents in the two halves of the shell so that it won't spill anywhere. Do this by twisting until the gooey stuff thins out, or simply cut with a spoon or fork.
Finally, enjoy the sweet and homemade goodness of kalamay as it melts inside your mouth. Once you get that first taste, you will want more. So the next time you get a chance to go to Bohol, make sure you don't leave that place without a kalamay or two in tow.