My love affair with Putri Mandi

CALL it by any other name and it will taste just as sweet. Or not that sweet, which is the way I like my desserts.

Tinagtag in Cotabato, Lokot-lokot in Zamboanga, whatever our call it, it’s delicious! This si the first Muslim delicacy I fell in love with….then I met another.

It’s “lokot lokot” to some and “tinagtag” to others, the noodle-like roll, a traditional Muslim delicacy, made from ground rice was love at first bite. This was the reason I nodded to an invitation by Department of Toursim Soccksargen Regional Director Nelly Dilleza to get first dibs on Maguindanao’s planned Halal Goodness, a Maguindeli (Maguindanao delicacy) food tour in the coming year.

An Iranun woman preparing for the feast on the end of the Ramadan
Topping the feast is this plate with the pancalke-like Sulabay, a delicacy “prepared for the entitled” is made from fermented rice with turmeric, onions, etc., with no binder & additives. It is said that chanting will cook the pancake whole; the spiral Kumukunsi; & the Biko.


There was no better moment to sample the region’s cuisine than on one the most important festivals of Islam, the recent Eid’l Ftr, a celebration to end Ramadan. The breaking of fast is the time to feast with the family.
In the (mock) Maguindanao Village at the ORG-ARMM Compound, we sampled the Maguindeli (Maguindanao delicacies)
Charming women of the Magville (Maguindanao Village)
The (mock) Iranun Village.
I took part on this important feast. In replicas of tribal villages, hosts prepared a feast set for traditional dining—portioned servings filling round tables for four set low to the ground.
Iftar with this “family”- the media from across the nation with the DOT-XII Regional Director Nelly Dillera, DOT-ARMM Sec. Maritess Maguindra, & Cotabato City Tourism Officer Gurly Frondoza.

With three other friends, we partook of the traditional richly spiced fare—the specialty crabs, native chicken in chili coconut milk, beef and mutton stews, a condiment of fermented small shrimps, fried noodles and turmeric and glutinous rice to complement. “Turmeric and coconut milk is almost always present in Maguindanao dishes,” said Bai Shalimar Amerkhan Candao, DOT-ARMM assistant secretary.
Bai Shalimar Amerkhan Candao, DOT-ARMM ASec.

Part of the feast is the dessert. Along with the “Dinakdak” are several other easy to fall in love with delicacies—the “B’rua” or “Bulwa” (muffins with pound cake consistency); “Dudul” (kalamay-like spread); “Tipas” (sweetened bread much like the pilipit) and it’s spiral version, the “Kumukunsi” (the spiral shape signifying unity), “pelil” (deep-fried balls of mashed bananas mixed with ‘natak’); and the dessert I call “love at first bite”, the “Putri Mandi”, a delicious cake made from red bean flour.

Love at first bite. The Putri Mandi (foreground) is the cake-y version of the Pinoy espasol, less sweeter.

The Puntri Mandi’s disguise is that of a short, misshapen finger (or sometimes two fingertips pressing), but wait until you take your first bite. The mildly sweetened confection coated in rice flour, which resembles the taste of the Filipino kakanin of “Espasol”, is a “don’t judge a book by its cover” case. The goodness is in its taste. My love for it will be forever.
The other shape of my love- the Putri Mandi.

The near future will be an exciting time for Maguindanao when the cuisine takes center stage and DOT XII thrusts the Cotabato’s food tourism to the forefront. Halal Goodness will be about making halal food available in the restaurants around the city all year long.
Samra is famous for the her Magauindanao “kakanin” pasalubong. And these are my take away goodies– the Pelil, deep fried mashed bananas & ‘natak’ mix.

Pride of food and pride of place, this is what to expect of Maguindanao. Hand in hand, the cuisine and the city will wow everyone who steps on its soil, or even its waters. This is where you will find the largest mosque in the country, the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid, and one of the coolest oasis, the Blue Lagoon in Barangay Margues in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat, and the People’s Palace, the city hall of Cotabato City built from the citizen’s taxes, are among many other spots worthy of a visit.

The largest mosque in the country, the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid
THe mosque at night.

What was the former Provincial Capitol building is now the Army headquarters  located at the Pedro Colina Hill, the highest point of Cotabato City.
The interior of the once Provincial Capitol with the original appointments, including the map of Mindanao.

Kutawatu Cave at the Pedro Colina Hill
The People’s Palace aka City Hall
The Blue Lagoon in Barangay Margues in the town of Datu Odin Sinsuat

Maguindanao is truly ARMMazing! Let your own love affair unfold.

For more photos about this story and other travel stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ . For lifestyle stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2015.

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