Suman sa Lihiya Recipe (Sticky Rice with Lye Water Wrapped in Banana Leaves)

Suman,also known as rice cake,is another variety of kakanin in the Philippines where it is also called in Visayas as budbod in their language. This type of kakanin is made from malagkit rice or from a glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk. It is usually wrapped in buli or buri palm leaves. It is eaten usually with sprinkled sugar.

Suman has actually many varieties,since Filipinos are fond of different kakanin that’s why they can make another variety on their own. Perhaps every town has its specialty of Suman.

One of the famous version of Suman is Suman sa Ibus. It is also wrapped in palm leaves (young palm leaves). What makes it different to some varieties of Suman is that it is a little bit salty. It is steamed using water mixed with “luyang dilaw” which gives distinctly yellow in color. So if you’re not that sweets lover love you can try this one.


  • Glutinous Rice
  • Lye Water
  • Banana Leaves
  • Cotton or any food-safe twine, for tying
  • Grated coconut, for dipping


  • Sugar, for dipping


  • 3 cups Glutinous Rice
  • 1 tablespoon Lye water
  • Sugar, for dipping
  • Grated Coconut, for dipping
  • Banana leaves, prepped for wrapping
  • Cotton or any food-safe Twine, for tying

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Wash the glutinous rice flour once, then soak in water. Make sure the rice is fully submerged. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Prep the banana leaves for wrapping
  3. Strain the water thoroughly, then add the lye water. The rice should turn yellowish.
  4. Measure 1/2 cup of rice and put on banana leaves. Fold all ends in tightly to make an approximately 3 x 1 1/2 inch pillow, set aside.
  5. With the folded sides inwards, tie together 2 pieces, like pictured.
  6. Set on a big pot and cover with water, bring to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer for at least 3 hours and check for doneness.
  7. Open one pair and see if the suman is soft and fully cooked. If not, tie it back and return to boil.
  8. Check every 1/2 hour or so for doneness.
  9. When done, serve with sugar mixed with grated coconut.

Cooking Tips:

  • Make sure the banana leaves have no rip or hole, otherwise the lye flavor will be washed out in the boiling water, and you’re left with just sticky rice.
  • I made this suman recipe using a pressure cooker (for experimentation purposes and my mom wanted them). The result? It took an hour and a half to cook, but the banana leaves dried out and it looked unappetizing. The taste was pretty good but nothing beats the low and slow cooking method. Also, if you plan to use a pressure cooker, check your cooker’s manual for safety precautions — as it’s not for everyone.

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