Recipe #35: PALITAW

Our old folks undeniably love our local kakanin. My mother and father, even my lola and tita when they were still alive, are huge fans of these sweet rice cakes. They come in varieties of flavor, color, shape, and texture.

In Malabon, the town where I grew up in, kakanin can be found everywhere. Go to one of our public markets and you will see a special section that sells different kinds of kakanin with names you probably have never heard of. In fact, the city is known for its delectable sapin-sapin, kutsinta, and biko elaborately served in a colorful array on a round bilao.

On this blog post, I will share to you my mother’s recipe for Palitaw. We call it dila-dila in Malabon because of its distinct shape (dila means tongue). The name palitaw was derived from how it is being prepared. Palitaw or litaw means “to appear,” or in this case, “to float,” because it starts to float in water once it’s cooked.

If you want to learn how to prepare palitaw, refer to the recipe below:

Palitaw Recipe

You will need:

  • 1/2 kilo glutinous rice (malagkit)
  • water (for soaking and boiling)
  • 4 cups freshly grated coconut
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup white sugar

How to prepare:

  1. Soak glutinous rice in water overnight. This will allow the rice grains to absorb some of the water. The next day, drain the water. Grind the rice using a miller or a grinder. If you don’t have any of these, you can bring them to your local market where you can have it ground. The end result is a dough of rice flour in a pasty consistency. If you don’t want to follow this tedious task, you can buy ready-made glutinous rice dough from your nearest public market. Just ask your friendly neighborhood rice vendor.
  2. In a deep, large sauce pan, bring water to a boil. The water level should be about 5 inches deep.
  3. Take about a spoonful of the rice dough and form it into a ball between the palms of your hands. Flatten it in the middle using your thumb until it takes the shape of a tongue.
  4. Poach the flattened dough into the pot of briskly boiling water. Wait for a few seconds. You will know it’s done when it starts to float.
  5. Once done, remove it from water using a spatula with holes. Place the cooked palitaw on a bed of grated coconut. Turn it over to cover both sides. Set aside.
  6. Repeat the steps with the remaining rice dough. You can poach more than one piece at a time as long as it’s not overcrowded. Overcrowding the pan will greatly reduce the heat of the boiling water.
  7. In a separate small bowl, mix sugar and toasted sesame seeds (Sesame seeds can be toasted for about 2 to 3 minutes on a hot skillet over medium heat). Sprinkle this mixture over the cooked palitaw as you serve them.
  8. Enjoy with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

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  1. i just made palitaw today but i didnt know that i still have to soak the rice overnight. good thing it was just for trial so i made just i know how to do it. thank you for your recipe

  2. I really love Palitaw my Grandmother used to cook it every New Year’s because she said it’s round in shape. 🙂 but even in regular days I always went to the market whenever I crave for it.. Love it, I will cook them my self tomorrow!

  3. I should admit that just now after I read your post I head about palitaw which as a matter of fact looks so interesting and delicious.

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