FFE Magazine

Filipino Icon: Halo-Halo

Photo from San Pablo City

Halo-Halo is a favourite dessert among Filipinos. From the word “Halo” or mix, this dessert is a mixture of different local ingredients such as boiled kidney beans, red beans, garbanzos, sugar palm fruit (kaong), coconut meat (macapuno), shreds of sweetened plantains (saba), jackfruit (langkâ), jelly (gulaman), tapioca, nata de coco, sweet potato (kamote), cheese, and pounded rice crisps (pinipig). The ingredients are carefully layered in a tall glass, then filled with shaved ice and evaporated or coconut milk, then finally topped with leche flan, purple yam (ube), or ice cream!

Packed with many ingredients and flavours, Filipinos consider this dessert as an afternoon snack as well. Especially during summer (March to June), people are bound to see more street vendors and fast-food joints selling Halo-Halo to combat the scorching weather.

 The origin of the Halo-Halo is unclear but many theories suggest it can be traced to pre-war Japan. The Japanese immigrants (in the Philippines) would preserve garbanzos and kidney beans in thick sugary syrup and then serve it on top of shaved ice with milk. This dessert was sold to the Filipinos for as much as ten centavos. Filipinos adopted this recipe and started to put their own variations to the dessert by adding local fruits.

The ice cream on top of the Halo-Halo is actually a recent addition to the traditional dessert. Adding ice cream is of western influence. Taking inspiration from the Japanese and the West, Halo-Halo definitely shows the Filipino’s ingenuity and creativity when it comes to pleasing their tummy and sweet tooth.




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