7+ Easy Rice Terms In Tagalog That Will Surprise You

Rice terms in Tagalog Ling App

Wondering about all those rice terms in Tagalog? We can’t blame you! For Filipinos, rice isn’t just a food – it’s a way of life. It’s been a part of their culture since pre-colonial times, and its importance has only grown over the years. From the ubiquitous “kanin” to the more exotic terminologies like “bahaw” and “tutong,” there are so many different words related to this topic that you must know. Let’s get to know each in this epic guide!

Like most Asians, Filipinos love their rice so much that it is served at almost any time of the day. Whether eaten as a combo with a Filipino dish or as dessert, the locals have mastered cooking the perfect cup for various occasions. And if that isn’t convincing enough, you’ll be glad to know that the country even has dedicated landmarks and institutions for this particular crop! Go up North, and you’ll witness the majestic, cascading fields of the Banaue Rice Terraces. A bit further south of Manila, you’ll see the acclaimed International Rice Research Institute, known for developing new, sustainable varieties that help prevent famine across the region.

With Filipinos’ love of rice and its abundance across the country, it’s only natural that they have a wide variety of terms to describe it. Think of it like how Inuit culture in the extreme North of the US and Canada has many times for snow and ice. That’s how Filipinos have plenty of words to describe rice and its many states, from crop to cooked dish. Below, discover a list of different rice terms in Tagalog!

working in the rice fields

Rice Terms In Tagalog For Uncooked Rice

Rice, of course, starts off as plants carefully tended to and harvested on the fields. In Tagalog, there are two main terms for rice before they’re cooked: Palay and Bigas.

Palay (Pah-Lai)

Palay is the starting point of the rice-making process, referring to a rice plant in its purest form before the husk is removed.

Bigas (Bee-Gahs)

Bigas refers to milled rice. It’s the product of processed palay, after removing its brown husk to reveal its white grain. Compared to palay, bigas is the version ready to be cooked!

rice filipino

Rice Terms In Tagalog For Cooked Rice

Kanin (Kah-Nin)

Kanin is the term used to describe cooked rice in its plainest form, often white. Nowadays, more health-conscious Filipinos are turning to brown kanin, thanks to its supposedly higher nutritional value. However, white rice still reigns supreme in most households as it is the version that is easier to cook, readily available, and affordable.

Buhaghag (Boo-Hug-Hug)

Buhaghag literally means “not sticky” or “loose,” which is the most common way rice is prepared in the Philippines, compared to other varieties like Japanese rice.

Bahaw (Ba-Haw)

Bahaw is a term for cooked, leftover rice. Make no mistake, though, because bahaw is far from spoiled and often placed inside the fridge. The next day, one can use it to whip up other dishes, like the favorite breakfast food known as sinangag or fried rice.

Malata (Muh-Lah-Ta)

Malata describes undercooked rice, one with too much water placed in the rice cooker and making it mushy. Rice that’s malata is not desirable and is often discarded.

Am (Ahm)

Am is rice water. It refers to the water one has used to rinse the bigas to clean it of impurities. While it’s often discarded today, am was once a widespread (and now antiquated) substitute for breast milk, particularly for babies living in rural areas.

Tutong (Too-Tohng)

Tutong refers to scorched rice stuck to the bottom of a pot. It’s a common problem for inexperienced cooks and can be frustrating to remove.

Malagkit (Mah-Lahg-Keet)

While Filipinos mostly prefer their rice to be prepared the buhaghag way, especially for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, using malagkit, on the other hand, is preferred when they want to get their sweet tooth on. Malagkit is a sticky variety of rice perfect for cooking the traditional champorado and the Filipino version of paella.

rice terms in tagalog filipino food

7 Popular Filipino Dishes That Use Rice

Are you ready to indulge in some mouth-watering Filipino cuisine? Well, get your taste buds ready because we’ve got some amazing dishes to share with you that will make you fall in love with rice again! Whether you’re a long-time rice enthusiast or just starting to appreciate its delicious versatility, the Filipino dishes we rounded up below are sure to impress.

Sinangag (See-Nuh-Nguhg)

Sinangag is fried rice and is a staple part of Filipino breakfast. Filipinos often use bahaw, or leftover rice, to make sinangag and sprinkle it with salt or bits of garlic to add flavor.

Silog (See-Lohg)

Silog is a portmanteau of the words sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg). It refers to several kinds of breakfast dishes and is often served with a sunny-side-up egg and a side of meat, such as beef, pork, or chicken. Tapsilog, for example, is a silog made with beef tapa, a dried, garlicky beef similar to jerky, fried rice, and egg. Tocilog, on the other hand, is often made with tocino (a sweet, cured pork), together with fried rice and egg.

Lugaw (Loo-Gahw)

Lugaw is a rice porridge, and a popular Filipino comfort food often served when you’re sick or feeling cold. It is often garnished with green onions and garlic bits. 

Kakanin (Kah-Kah-Neen)

Kakanin is a broad term for desserts made with malagkit, or the sticky variety of rice. These are usually made from glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar. Popular types of kakanin include bibingka, biko, and puto.

Bibingka (Bee-Bing-Kah)

Bibingka is a traditional rice cake made with a mixture of rice flour, coconut milk, and brown sugar. The mixture is baked in a clay pot, often topped with grated coconut and salted egg, and lined with pandan leaves at the bottom. Bibingka is usually served during the Christmas season.

Biko (Bee-Koh)

Biko is another popular kakanin, or sticky rice dessert, served as a dessert or snack. It is often topped off with a caramel-like mixture of coconut and sugar called latik.

filipino rice desserts

Puto (Pooh-Toh)

Please don’t get it twisted! Unlike the less-than-flattering term in Spanish, puto is a type of kakanin made with rice flour and steamed in Tagalog. While often served plain, it can also be flavored with ingredients like cheese or ube, a type of purple yam.

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Learn Tagalog With Ling Now!

If you love food or Philippine culture, knowing the many terms for rice in Tagalog can help you go a long way. It can even help you make a greater connection with Filipinos, many of whom are foodies themselves and love to treat their guests to a good feast filled with hearty dishes.

The beauty of it is, learning all these terms and how they’re used is easy and fun with the help of the Ling app! Ling offers a comprehensive and interactive learning experience that can help you practice and master the different terms for rice and other food-related words and phrases in Tagalog. With its various games, quizzes, and puzzles, you can quickly develop your speaking, listening, reading, and grammar skills. It even has a chatbot to interact with and help you progress faster.

So if you’re ready to expand your knowledge of Filipino culture and its cuisine, download the Ling app on the App Store or Google Play now and start your journey towards mastering the many rice terms in Tagalog!

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