Maranao Cuisine features a unique blend of flavors and spices setting it apart from other Philippine cuisines. It traces its origin from the indigenous people inhabiting the lands around Lake Lanao in the island of Mindanao. Their history of trade and migration adds to the rich flavor of their cooking. Majority of Maranao people are Muslims thus their cuisine is governed by the Halal diet law.
Rice is the staple food of Filipinos, and the same is true for the Maranaos. For important occasions and gatherings, or even on a regular day, Maranaos have a special way of preparing rice. Rice is colored with turmeric and flavored with salt, laurel leaves and olive oil, and cooked the usual way, creating the kuning. The word has a Malay origin which literally means "yellow" thus kuning is usually translated as "yellow rice" but is sometimes referred to as "turmeric rice."
Palapa is an important ingredient in Maranao cooking. It is made of caramelized shallots (sakurab in Maranao), ginger and chili peppers. It is mainly used as an ingredient in many Maranao dishes such as the bakas piaparan, yellow fin tuna cooked in coconut milk, turmeric and palapa (see image above). Palapa is also used as a garnish adding more flavor to cooked food (see image below).
Another common ingredient in Maranao cooking is grated coconut. It is usually roasted and mixed with meat such as piarun a odang (spiced shrimp), piarun a manuk (spiced chicken) and piarun a atay (spiced chicken liver).
Rendang is a dish that originates from Indonesia and through trade and migration, this dish has also found its way in Southern Philippines and has become one of the specialties of the Maranao people. Rendang is usually cooked with beef and is described as caramelized beef curry. The coconut milk used in its preparation is reduced to a dark and sweet consistency. For other Filipinos, rendang may be compared with beef caldereta with a hint of latik and curry. It is traditionally served with plain rice.
Maranao Restaurant in Manila
There are now a number of Maranao restaurants in Manila serving authentic Maranao dishes. One of which is the Halal Southern Deli restaurant in Greenhills Shopping Center located beside the Muslim Prayer Center. The restaurant is owned by a Maranao family and primarily serves the Muslim community in the area. The owner will gladly guide you through the basics of Maranao cuisine and is very helpful in providing background information about every dish. Among their dishes, we recommend their piarun a odang (P50) and the beef rendang (P60). Don't forget to order kuning. Happy eating.
Halal Southern Deli
Unit 14b Ground Floor
Annapolis Carpark Arcade (facing V-Mall)
Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City
Guide: from Mang Inasal, look for the signage "Prayer Center" and follow the alley leading to the restaurant
See map here