December 23, 2012


You don't have to go to Marawi City in Mindanao to have a taste of palapa. We find these bottled palapa in one of a Muslim stalls we found in a Muslim Community of Quiapo, Manila.
palapa - (pa-lá-pa; Maranao condiment) [n.] a mixture of thinly chopped sakurab (Muslim Mindanao scallion), lots of finely sliced luya tiduk (Philippine bird’s eye chili), pounded luya pagirison (ginger), and some toasted grated niog (coconut). They are combined, pounded, cooked on a big pan, stirred continuously until aromatic, removed from cooking, let cool, and then stored in a garapon (small jar with cap). Palapa can be dry (if cooked over long time until moisture is reduced, but not totally dry) or moist (when cooked briefly).
When needed in cooking, palapa is sautéed first and added with the optional spoonful of condensed milk before palapa is used as seasoning to a particular dish.

A small bowl with a serving of sauteed palapa is a centerpiece on our lunch in a Muslim restaurant nearby the Golden Mosque in Quiapo, Manila.
Palapa is an ever-present essential ingredient in the Maranao cuisine, it would transform the Muslim dishes to become enticingly reddish in color with much piquancy in taste. If Bicolanos are known for their spicy hot dishes, the Maranaos are far more than that.

Bottled palapa prepared and sold by Maranaos in ubiquitos Muslim stalls nearby the Golden mosque in Quiapo, Manila.

If Bicolanos are known for their penchant on chili, wait till you experience how hot also is the Maranao cuisine. 

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  1. Sir Ed, i am doing this free online magazine which i found your article very useful to me. Would like to ask permission to post it on my emagazine. Will give you full credit on your work and photos.

    1. Sorry for my late reply. If this could still catch up your target date, go ahead. You got my permission. and thank you for asking

  2. i hope this is the good place to ask. What's the substitute, If there's no sakurab(bird's eye chili)? Pampanga

  3. +Al, sakurab is a variety of spring onion often referred to as a "Muslim Mindanao scallion" that is closely similar to the Ilocano "murang sibuyas" and the young "garlic plant" ("murang bawang" in Tagalog, not the garlic bulb). You may try murang sibuyas or the murang bawang as substitute. For the bird's eye chili, it is the "siling labuyo" which I'm sure is readily available anywhere in northern and central Luzon. Hope this helps you.

  4. So palapa is really a seasoning, not a food unto itself? Something that you add to real foods to make them taste more spicy?

    So one wouldn't ordinarily eat papapa by itself, correct? Not alone?

  5. Yes, it's a Maranao condiment or seasoning. It's wrong to say "not a food unto itself" It's a food. I assumed you mean to say was "you cannot eat it alone or as it is" yes because it will burn your mouth, tongue, and throat.


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