Rice-ing to the Occasion: Mama Sita Foundation’s Heirloom Grains Project

The Cordillera Rice Terraces are a sight to behold; cascading steps of rice paddies—seemingly carved into the mountain slopes—inspire wonder and amazement at the capabilities of human creativity. For generations, the upland farming communities have lived their lives punctuated by the rhythm of the rice: they mark the years in sowing and harvesting, as well as in celebrating feasts. It’s the celebration of a sustainable and simple rural livelihood.

A variety of grains grown in the Cordillera Mountains, but what are these, exactly?

The ever-curious are probably asking by now: what kind of rice do they grow? Why none other than heirloom rice.

Heirloom rice

Legend spoke of heirloom rice as a gift by the deities, and these require a certain vigilance to cultivate. They can only grow in the conditions developed from many years of reaping and sowing, which is perhaps why the agriculture behind it is steeped in the people’s folk practices, from rituals for preparing the soil to the harvest feasts.

At first glance, the heirloom rice varieties come in a range of colors, from deep purple to rust red, and have a pleasant bite. Barely milled to show off the color of the bran and keep the nuttiness of flavor, they are commonly used to make rice wine (tapuy) and kakanin desserts. But nutritionally and gustatorily speaking, a deeper examination proves the virtue of these grains.

Examples of the different colors and lengths of grain grown in the province.
Examples of the different colors and lengths of grain grown in the province.

Meet the grains

Balatinaw is grown in Bauko, Mountain Province, and has a deep purple grain with a delightful fruity flavor and chewy texture. It’s often used in making tapuy, but it can be cooked into kakanin as well. Balatinaw has many micronutrients, more than commercial rice (here meaning jasmine rice, IR 64, and Azucena). It contains three times more iron and four times more calcium than jasmine rice. It has twice the amount of zinc in IR 64 and thrice the amount of potassium in Azucena rice.

Minaangan is a rust-red rice that has an earthy, somewhat nutty flavor and a pleasant bite. The rice is often served in the farmers’ homes in the municipalities of Banaue, Hingnon, and Hungduan in Ifugao. Minaangan contains thrice as much manganese and twice as much phosphorus as IR 64 and Azucena rice. It has three times more iron than commercial rice.

Ominio comes from Ifugao and Mountain Province. It is related to balatinaw, but has come to be differentiated by the stickiness of the grain. It is more of a glutinous rice used for rice desserts. Its pleasant bite and fruity flavor go well with a delicious aroma, making it harder to grow these grains without constant vigilance to keep animals from eating them before they are ripe for the harvest.

Like the other varieties of heirloom rice, ominio is rich in micronutrients, possessing twice the amount of manganese in Azucena rice, three times the calcium of commercial rice, three times the potassium, phosphorus, and manganese of IR 64, and four times the iron in jasmine rice.

A bundle of grain, ready to be dehusked.
A bundle of grain, ready to be dehusked.

Minimal milling

Folks in the upland communities prefer to mill their rice minimally, meaning they only remove the husk but keep the bran and germ intact. Not only does this preserve the unique flavor of the grains, but it also retains beneficial micronutrients, mostly concentrated in the rice bran and germ.

With flavor and nutrition as top reasons for preserving and promoting the heirloom rice varieties in the north, the Mama Sita Foundation set up Mama Sita’s Heirloom Grains Project.

The project seeks to find ways to make heirloom grains more accessible to the regular consumer, helping them appreciate the flavors passed on for generations up in the mountainous Cordilleras. The project also seeks to support the upland farmers in keeping their livelihood sustainable.

Rice grains being pounded in preparation to be made into food.
Rice grains being pounded in preparation to be made into food.

Champorado

One way to promote heirloom rice is to create a need for these precious grains by combining them with a local favorite. Mama Sita’s Heirloom Rice Champorado in Balatinaw, Minaangan, and Ominio variants makes heirloom rice a key ingredient to a favorite dish, the chocolate porridge champorado.

Combining the rice with pure cacao tablea from Mindanao and sugar from Negros, the project can create a product that brings together the richness of harvests from the three major island groups in the Philippines. The heirloom rice champorado is a Filipino artisanal product to be truly proud of.

Heirloom grains from the northern mountains, tablea from Mindanao, and sugar from Negros come together to make a delicious bowl of champorado.
Heirloom grains from the northern mountains, tablea from Mindanao, and sugar from Negros come together to make a delicious bowl of champorado.

The Mama Sita Foundation is constantly looking for ways to bring Filipino culinary heritage to the fore. Through the Heirloom Grains Project, the foundation advocates preserving the upland rice varieties and keeping the culture that maintains them sustainably. At the same time, it’s a great way to raise awareness in words and in each satisfying spoonful.

References:

Grain Quality and Nutrient Analyses of Heirloom Rice – Department of Agriculture, Bureau of
Agricultural Research, International Rice Research Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, and the Heirloom Rice Project of the DA and IRRI. 27 October 2016

The Mama Sita’s Heirloom Rice Champorado is available in all retail outlets online for Metro Manila customers. For more information on Mama Sita’s Heirloom Rice Champorado and its variants, visit https://www.mamasitafoundation.com/news. For more information on the Heirloom Grains Project, visit https://fb.watch/21qqOErNJc/.

Want more updates about travel and tourism? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on FacebookTwitterInstagramBloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

Random Posts

  • Smart Ideas: Jail Revisited

    the Easy and Practical Ways of Choosing a Bail Bond Company The main aim of a bail bond company is to be used in provision of efficient and safe jail release before scheduled court date.No one will want stopping life and rotting in jail when there are options of securing a release through bail.When it comes to bailing someone after they are arrested may seem impossible thanks to the payments. These are the appropriate circumstances that will necessitate a bail bondsman service provider. A bail bondsman will be handy to assist you get out of jail after you are arrested. […]

  • Cruise Journey Businesses

    In case the prepare is delayed for more than 1 hour, the passengers will likely be supplied with a refund of Rs one hundred and Rs 250 as much as a delay of 2 hours. travel insurance axa mandiri Journey insurance is not one thing you concentrate on if you end up planning a vacation but it is none the less a vital together with the suntan lotion. Many travellers might discover geographical areas and the way insurers charge them and their associated risks very complicated. Take North Africa for instance: Libya, Tunisia and Algeria are neighbours, geographically speaking, and […]

  • Travel Guard

    We create holidays and skilled-led and wildlife group excursions to over one hundred destinations worldwide. Sonam and I met two days after my arrival, barely in a position to talk because of my non-existent Tibetan and the little bit of English he had realized up till then. We continued to meet each night time of the week, many times for 2 to four hours while drinking milk tea, Tibetan herbal tea, or just sizzling water, one among Sonam’s favorites along with sizzling milk. We would additionally meet someday on the weekend and go for a protracted stroll within the woods […]

  • Download Lagu Mondi Vogel

    As the world of the web has grown, both the potential and popularity behind blogging has skyrocketed. The corporate began out in the late ninety’s, and after some up’s and down’s, they were finally purchased out by Google — the remainder, as they are saying, is history. Since that buy out, Blogger rapidly rose as probably the most standard running a blog platforms on the web and it continues to be one which many people flip to when seeking to begin a blog. Blogger was constructed with one task in mind: blogging. And so they’ve made that process fairly simple. After […]