Manang Lima’s Budbud Kabog Recipe


Here is Marketmanila’s final piece on Budbud Kabog. Seems most of the guests at the EB who have left a comment enjoyed the budbud kabog that I gave out as a parting present. I wasn’t going to post this recipe until early December as part of my Christmas entries, but I figured I should put it earlier in case you wanted to practice. I made that batch of around 300 pieces from a recipe taught to me my Manang Lima, a budbud vendor in Mandaue, Cebu who has been selling this delicacy for 30+ years. A few weeks ago she graciously agreed to come to my office in Cebu and in our makeshift kitchen out back, she spent 4 hours teaching me how to make her special budbud from start to finish with lots of helpful tips in between. She also graciously agreed that I could publish her recipe and felt strongly, as I do, that delicacies such as these should be preserved for future generations. This type of suman is her most expensive retail item, and as such, fewer and fewer people are purchasing it… but she still makes it 2-3 times a week and for special orders of 100 pieces or more. At PHP7 each retail, and less if you buy by the hundred (PHP500-600), her budbuds are among the best I have tasted, clearly a hand-made labor of love. Readers in Cebu or those passing through that city are strongly encouraged to give her a call (details below) to order this specialty for the upcoming holidays. A more genuine, humble, passionate and dedicated food artisan, I have rarely come across…

If readers recall, I struggled to figure out a recipe for budbud kabog from scratch. I found this recipe on the net (Recipezaar) and tried it but it didn’t quite work for me and I continued to experiment. After a half dozen attempts and a lot of wasted millet, I finally settled on “Marketman’s version,” the recipe here. But I still wanted to have the half-day tutorial from Manang Lima to see if I could improve on the recipe. I am proud to say my recipe (figured out through reverse engineering or trial and error) wasn’t too far from Manang’s but I still got definitive information on the process and steps… For your information, I compared the ingredients used in the three recipes below and you can choose which one suits you best (though I do not recommend the one found on Recipezaar). But first, let me describe the method of Manang before I give you the ingredients. First, rinse your dry millet in clean water, doing this two to three times and removing any obvious foreign matter.

Next, take two kilos of grated coconut (not weighing the shells) and to this add the water specified below (9-10 cups for Manang’s recipe) and smush it with your hands and extract the coconut milk…


Strain the coconut milk into a medium or large kawali (though I found a nice enameled Le Crueset pot worked better as heat was more evenly distributed) and turn the heat on to medium high and wait until the milk starts to bubble and boil, roughly 10 minutes, depending on how hot your stove is…



Add the rinsed millet after the coconut milk reaches a boil and stir frequently to avoid it sticking to the bottom of the pan. The millet will slowly absorb the coconut milk and start to grow in volume… Lower the heat at this point.


Keep stirring until light beads of sweat form in your armpits :), and after about 15 minutes since adding the dry millet, add your sugar and keep stirring another 20 minutes or so until you notice the “lana” or clear coconut oil has formed. It will be a rather thick sludge and you will be sweating by now after working out your arms and shoulders (estimated cooking time after the milk reaches its initial boil is about 30 minutes; adjust heat to medium or lower to prevent burning). Make sure the millet does not stick to the bottom of the pan by constantly stirring. It’s more physically demanding than making a risotto…


Take it off the fire and after catching your breath for 3-5 minutes, place about a tablespoon worth of the mixture on pre-heated and cut banana leaves and roll them up nice and tight.


Place this all in a steamer and steam for about 75-80 minutes. Let this cool, wipe the budbud down (banana leaves sometimes have a bit of muck after cooking) and serve this cool. It will keep a day or two outside of the fridge, a few more days bud7if refrigerated and several weeks if frozen soon after you cook and cool it. While I love Manang’s recipe, I do tend to gravitate a bit more to my own as it has a little less sugar and a little more richness from additional coconut milk…but if I were you, do something right in the middle of Manang’s and Marketman’s recipe and you should be very happy! I have converted all the recipes to a one kilo amount (5 cups) of millet so you can compare across the three. With just 3-4 ingredients, its amazing how challenging this recipe was to get right!

Manang Lima’s Recipe

Millet – 5 cups
Water added to grated coconut – 9 to 10 cups
Sugar – 3.5 cups
Salt – None

Marketman’s Recipe

Millet – 5 cups
Water added to grated coconut – 12 to 13 cups
Sugar – 2.5 cups
Salt – None

Recipezaar Recipe

Millet – 5 cups
Water added to grated coconut – 15 cups
Sugar – 1.9 cups
Salt – 5 teaspoons

I have mentioned before that I thought the Recipezaar recipe was possibly borrowed without attribution from an earlier article by Pia Lim-Castillo on budbud kabog published in Food Magazine, and one of the clues is that the internet version seems to have been made with smaller amounts of ingredients, proportionately reduced, but the resulting servings are those of a much bigger recipe (unless the budbuds are the size of my pinky)…

At any rate, I strongly encourage readers to patronize vendors such as Manang Lima and here are her details, call her for orders if you like. However, she won’t deliver and you will have to pick it up from Mandaue. The stuff travels well to Manila as well.

Mrs. Lima Abucay
Cellphone 0906-898-66-16
Telephone 032-348-72-98 or 032-345-25-90


47 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this MM. Sure brings back memories of my childhood, when merienda such as this was the norm. Seeing the pics, I can almost smell the budbud! Hopefully soon I’ll have time to try your recipe out using the frozen banana leaves I have seen at the asian grocery. Hmmm, I wonder if substituting half of the sugar with Splenda would work?

  2. I see how the real budbud kabog is made. Lots of laboring oar involved from extracting the coconut milk to cooking through wrapping them individually in banana leaves. It is a labor of love and the result satisfies everyone’s palate. You are now making them with a concrete road map unlike before you went through a lot of pain like climbing up a slippery slope. You are a champion in carrying out your passion. I will make this budbud kabog in a smaller scale like half of your recipe for the upcoming Holidays. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  3. You and Manang Lima are so generous. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts.

    I wonder what the proportion should be if I were to use canned coconut milk. Will try to experiment with this and let you know.

  4. cwid, canned coconut milk is quite thick. I would think you would have to dilute it at least with an equal amount of water, though another reader said he diluted with two cups of water for every cup of canned milk (sounds watery to me) and he said the result was pretty edible… good luck, post a “Western” version with ingredients you can find… ykmd, yest, I suspect splenda would work, except that the sugar adds to the texture so you may need to use a little bit more coconut cream in lieu of the efects of melting sugar…

  5. More pouwer to Mrs. Lima Abucay for her generosity in sharing her budbud kabog secret recipe. May her budbud kabog thrives well and her cash register generates a lot of noise.

  6. Dear Market Man,

    “…beads of sweat form in your armpits” that’s great recipe writing.


  7. Mel “…beads of sweat form in your armpits :)” Yes…thats really true if you will do all the labor by yourself, even if your kitchen is airconditioned. Passionate hard work equals excellent result. I like MM how he describes it..humor..ous.

  8. hay naku, MM! Korek ka dyan, we should really patronize vendors like Manang Lima. Kaya when I do have the chance to go to Mandaue or kung meron ako kakilala na pupunta dun, magpapaorder na lang ako. (besides with all that process in making budbud kabog esp the pawis in the kili2 :P parang mas masarap yung kakain ka na lang hehehehe) Good luck to those who will try the recipes….

  9. Sounds yummy. I’ve never had budbud kabog but this post sure makes me want to try it! I’ve got a big LC pot on order so maybe this will be my inaugural recipe using it. Haha.

    Re: Splenda instead of sugar… I’ve tried to use Splenda in a couple of dessert recipes, and it just isn’t the same. My personal opinion is this: for desserts, use real sugar, and just cut down on your sugar intake somewhere else if that’s something you need to do.

  10. hmmm, the other day i bought 300 g of millet at a natural foodstore here in Kobe for $5. i don’t know what i was thinking since there are no banana leaves here.
    do you think steaming it individualy in foil would work? I guess I have to try but don’t know if i have the patience to stir for 30 minutes. my arm might fall off! lol!
    i have an LC pot too but food would burn if you’re not watchful. how about a teflon wok?

    that was sweet of auntie to share her recipe. say thank you to her and to you too for sharing.

  11. bijin, non-stick works too but I find the LC works better. No, you cannot steam this in foil as it is not porous like banana leaves and banana leaves impart a distinct flavor as well. However, the cooked millet tastes good by itself, even without steaming. Maybe you can try steaming it in parchment paper, it isn’t as porous not have flavor but it will get you closer to the shape and consistency of the real thing… fried neurons, I am with you on using sugar…I have never used Splenda…but I suspect there will be a point in my life that I will HAVE to use splenda instead!

  12. Wow! I don’t know if I will ever get around to making this from scratch, but I just have to say, the amount of time, effort, money, and SWEAT you put into getting recipes and knowledge like this out there, to readers like us, is astounding. Thank you :)

  13. We can get all those food items in India and it is definitely fun to try something different. Good that you can freeze so in making a big batch it can last for some time. MM what is ‘LC’? Really appreciate seeing the whole process makes a lot of sense and helps one understand what we are aiming for.

  14. Carolyn, sorry, LC is short for Le Creuset or an enamel coated pot. It is heavier than say and aluminum pot and it distributes heat properly. I actually have a post on pots and pans in my archives, the pot is in one of the photographs there…

  15. I’ve heard there’s an Italian saying that risotto tastes best when the cook has perspired into it; but because you say that making budbud kabog is even more laborious than risotto, then that must mean your budbud tasted so delicious because of your own sweat…?

  16. Katrina, I have specially designed silicone armband/cuffs that catch the dripping perspiration which is then stored in a holding tank for future drying to result in artisanal human body salt… Heeheehee :) Then again… I could stick plums in my pits and end up with kiamoy…did your mom ever tell you that…it’s such an AWFUL ethnic commentary from the 1960’s…

  17. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Is the millet sold here in the USA same as the millet sold there?

  18. Marilou, I am not certain but another reader wrote in and said he used the organic millet in the U.S. and had reasonably good results so it probably is the same grain… just don’t use the birdseed millet which is different!

  19. Sorry if my question sounds stupid but do you use millet seeds for the budbud or millet flour from the seeds?I always make suman especially on holidays.Here in Florida we have saba bananas sa backyard namin.

  20. Keep stirring until light beads of sweat form in your armpits…. There are moments when you wish you “owned” something written by someone else. I want to own this line. perfection

  21. wow, you’ve done so much to get the perfect recipe huh? My dad has been looking for budbud kabog Cebu for so long already, in fact he even thought of selling it also here in Manila a few years ago, because he gets homesick without eating them; i cant blame him, i get homesick too. :) but it never pushed through. Thanks for the recipe/s Market Man, I’ve been enjoying reading your blog for a time now. Are you Cebuano? or you just have business there every so often? :)

  22. MM, I find it odd that no salt, like say, a pinch or 1/4 t was used in yours and Manang’s recipe. Recipezar’s recipe, however, has an overload, 5 t salt! Our kakanin recipes, cook with so much sugar, usually requires a minute amount of salt to act as foil for the sweetness, and to improve the flavor.

    I assume you use white sugar. In Dumaguete, Negros,the budbud kabug suman that I ate for several days while there on vacation,
    uses muscovado or brown sugar.

  23. Det, it is the millet seed, not flour. VMA, I was inclined to agree with you… a slight pinch of salt should have enhanced the flavor and I did use it in some of my experiments. However, Manang Lima explains that if you put the salt in too early, it affects the way the millet is cooked and thus you can get undercooked or chalky/sandy feel. Perhaps if it is added near the end of the stirring process, it would work. Salt in the rice sumans is effective at providing that flavor punch along with the sweet. And yes, brown sugar is an option that is very doable though I haven’t gotten there yet… Sometimes folks put half white sugar and half brown sugar. I think this would provide another nice variation to the budbud and I will have to try this in future. I am not sure what it would taste like if it were all brown or muscovado sugar, perhaps too cloyingly sweet? At any rate…this recipe above works for a nice textured, fragrant, light and not too sweet budbud… Fler, I was born in Cebu and moved to Manila when I was 2.

  24. I hope Manang Lima gets to read up on the comments section here, or be informed how much we all appreciate her generosity. I wish her a good and fruitful business with her beloved budbud kabogs……

    MM truly has found his gift/niche in describing food and recipes, I recall someone comparing his writing skills with Peter Mayle and with MM’s quote of “Keep stirring until light beads of sweat form in your armpits :)”, I think that I could not describe it any better.

  25. Manang Lima will be advised that her recipe is up. My office in Cebu will make sure of it. It seems she may get a bit more famous still as a cookbook in progress has sent feelers if I/Manang would contribute the kabog recipe…

  26. ubod ng sarap ang binaon naming budbud kabog sa EB2! maraming maraming maraming salamat MM… there goes my zero-carb diet… sigh

    MM, where do we buy millet seeds, palengke? wot do they call it in local lingo, just in case…?

    “light beads of sweat form in your armpits…”—this reminds me of a movie trailer years ago with rene requeistas (mr.cheetah-eh) playing a panaderia… making pandesals and using his armpits to form the pandesal, giving the finished product the perfect shape (plus some added salt and unwanted hair of course…) :-P

  27. Have I just been away too long, or have people just become, shall we say, more uninhibited on this blog…first, a recipe that includes sweaty armpits, then an obituary, then the whole “na-kapon” post…This is why I love visiting this site!!!

  28. trish, sorry, it has gotten a bit too familiar, it must have been the effects of the eyeball… will return to more polished programming soon… I never dreamed the light beads of sweat in your armpits comment would get so much attention… Lawrence, bihira lang ang millet or kabog in Manila, I buy mine in Cebu. As for the pan de sal in the armpit…gross!!!

  29. Funny beads of sweat in the armpits and so as pan de sal molded in the armpits! Totally hilarious..but do you guys ever love mooncakes you probably purchase during Mooncake Festival in Hong Kong?? And have you ever thought how Chinese crack open the watermelon seeds incorporated in it? Wait till you see how from mainland China.. Kaya pala masarap! hehehe

  30. Thank you to Manang Lima for sharing an heirloom recipe, now it is preserved for posterity.

  31. haay naku, tulip aka pinaygourmand-plss. plss.. in all seriousness– how do they do it? I have always wondered about that. I love mooncakes. Is there really an extra flavoring from human “S” glands?? And I don’t mean sweat glands.. Or am better off with not knowing and just giving up mooncakes?

    Lana- been awhile since I came across that word.

    I really am not sure if I’ve eaten budbud but will have to find out soon.

    And am sure Manang Lima’s generosity will be returned a hundredfold. Thanks MM for her story.

  32. Jocelyn, I do eat mooncakes but the kind that doesn’t have watermelon seed’s meat. And yes you absolutely got it right, in fact the “extra flavor” comes from two human “S” glands (both!). Sarap noh?

  33. This is one instance, “..pedeng bot..” is not good. haaay.. Thanks, tulip! Mooncake na lang with egg!

  34. you should try making ube haleya from scratch. it won’t just make your armpits cry but force your muscles to cringe and call to the gods, “when will this mixing end?!?!” but the effort is all worth it.

  35. MM. i found a recipe from one Phil cook book “The harvest Cook Book by Gertrudes Ybanez-Noval. i never try because i did’nt know about this deli untill you have talk about it here in you blog.
    6 cups kabog
    3 cups sugar
    1/2 tsp. salt
    7 cups medium6thick coconut milk
    Banana leaves
    Thin coconut milk or water

    If i find the millet maybe i’ll try to do this for my friends

  36. relly, that sounds like its in the ballpark…just add the salt later in the cooking process as it may apparently inhibit softening of the millet. maria, I have a recipe for ube jaleya here. And if you search the archives, articles on ube itself and pastillas de ube that I made from scratch as well!

  37. MM… no millet in manila?!?!?! can i substitute it with giniling na malagkit from the palengke?

    as for mooncakes, i like the ones with egg yolk, single OR double yolk, and with the oil from the yolk still running as you slice it… yummm!!! ever tried the WHITE kind of mooncake? i’ve only bought it from hongkong… it’s a diabetic’s nightmare on overdrive!

  38. Hi MM,

    I’m in Jakarta so im not sure what you mean by millet. care to explain further? this looks like a wonderful snack. I think I can search for the other items here.


  39. Millet is a kind of grain/seed of a grassy plant. It looks like the birdseed that pet birds eat but is totally different. Try an organic foods store in one of the fancy malls in Jakarta, they may have organic millet. I also have posts on the ingredient itself.

  40. Marketman! My god! I finally went to Cebu after months of waiting for the ‘perfect’ time…naturally, I gave Mrs. Abucay a call (Grabe ah! She’s always out of the house and doesn’t answer her mobile phone) and ordered a hundred pieces for pasalubong. Her budbud kabogs are so good and very reasonably priced…she’s so nice pa so I like her na…will definitely reccomend her to my friends and families. Thanks MM!

  41. Ken, I am glad you liked the budbud kabog… And yes, they are terrific value. I understand her son or daughter tend to answer the mobile phone numbers and she is out SELLING her budbud… Anyway, its nice to know I wasn’t the only one thrilled with her budbud…

  42. MM, does Manang lima have a store in Mandaue? Ill be in cebu next week and would love to taste her budbud kabog.

  43. I am not sure if she has a shop but she does sell by the roadside somewhere. Contact her at the numbers I listed in the post and she will let you know where to reach her…

  44. thanks 4 all ur comments, pasensya na kayo kung hindi ko kaagad masagot ang mga tawag niyo kasi sira ang mobile phone ko, mas mabuti kung sa landline na lang kayo tumawag para sa mga orders nyo sa aking ermat…..

  45. Still couldn’t find any Millet here in Darwin. I miss budbud kapog….mmmm. My cousins would always stash a lot of budbud kapogs from Cebu to Manila and would just microwave it when the longing sets in.

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