When you watch travel shows and read about Capampangan cuisine, you’re sure to be directed to a railway spot in Angeles that serves sisig. This is because a sizzling platter of crispy pork accompanied by a cold beer is, of course, very accessible to anyone from anywhere in the world.
Yet this savory plate of pork and chili has overshadowed other dishes and delicacies in the region. One of the most overlooked of these is the very humble but very tasty duman.
Duman is made of malagkit rice (lakatan malutu) that is beaten from its husks and toasted in a clay oven. To the rest of the country, it may just be plain green rice or even un-popped pinipig. But it is a prized seasonal food that can be found during the Christmas season, after the rice harvest in November.
The younger kernels of rice that don’t fall off the husks are colored green. These husks are beaten against a hard surface until they fall off. They are then soaked in water, cooked for 30 minutes and then pounded. This rigorous process helps release the sweet oils and nuttiness of the rice.
Families who produce duman rice are called Magduruman. They pass their methods from generation to generation and have kept to the manual production process.
If you’re travelling through Pampanga, you may spot street vendors selling green rice in bilaos or flat baskets.
These vendors often sell duman near churches or marketplaces. It can be eaten plain and munched on like popcorn. It can also be snacked on in spoonfuls with sugar, or made into rice cakes. Kapampangans also like adding duman to other dishes like fresh carabao’s milk or hot chocolate as a breakfast cereal, or even ice cream.
Sta. Rita, Pampanga is known as the best producer of duman. In fact, the region holds a yearly festival dedicated to this simple-looking treat. The festival started when the community found themselves gathered in the streets, pounding away the duman with their large wood mortars at two o’clock in the morning.
To the local folk, duman can be bought at PhP 40 by the glass. However, it is amazing to learn that duman is actually exported to other parts of the country and the world at around $35 a kilo.
To get a taste of this green gold, visit the Sta. Rita Duman festival on the first Saturday of December. There are also establishments in Angeles City and in San Juan, Pampanga that serve duman rice. (These two cities are about an hour to 45 minutes from Sta Rita.) Susie’s Cuisine in Angeles and Butchie’s Recipes in La Moderna in San Juan serve small amounts of plain duman and duman suman (green rice cakes).
If you do find yourself out of luck and without duman, fret not. You can always take a drive to any town in Pampanga and ask the locals to direct you to the nearest church or marketplace where you can surely find a vendor with a pile of sweet green rice on a bilao.
- Xenia-Chloe Villanueva