Suman Sa Lihiya

Suman sa Lihiya or Bulagta with a choice of latik or grated coconut with sugar as toppings! Whatever you choose, it will surely be pure pleasure!

sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves

A rice cake originating from the Philippines. Made from glutinous rice then wrapped in banana leaves for boiling. Suman goes well with a sprinkling of sugar or laden with latik (coconut curd). This suman bulagta recipe is a basic variation. For really good results, soak the glutinous rice in water overnight with some lye water. It is then wrapped in soft banana leaves then boiled until the glutinous rice is cooked.

ingredients for suman on top of table

Other variations

Another variations of suman is by using root crops such as cassava or cornmeal like my suman mais recipe.

In the Aurora province, surfers snack on black rice suman. The dark colored rice is naturally sticky. It is made by steaming the rice then adding in coconut milk.

Tupig of northern Philippines is made of grounded glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar. What sets it apart is that it’s grilled in charcoal rather than steamed or boiled.

Ibos Suman is delicately wrapped in palm leaves that looks amazing. You pull open on one side and the palm leaf will unravel up to the point where you want thus leaving you with something to hold on to. It is typically dipped in sugar or coconut jam. These are just some of the variations and there’s a lot more.

sticky rice with grated coconut and sugar on top

Where do I get banana leaves?

If you are living abroad, getting a hold of banana leaves might be tricky. Like me, I usually buy them at Asian stores but they’re frozen. One technique I can share with you is NOT to run the leaves over the fire to make it softer – it will most likely be brittle and easily breaks. What I do instead is I gently wash it with warm water. If you do get hold of fresh ones then by all means heat them over fire, just be careful not to burn your fingers. This suman recipe is simple to make and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike! Try it and let us know!

suman bulagta on banana leaves covered plate

Tips for Suman Sa Lihiya

Soak glutinous rice overnight for better results.

Tie the suman securely whether you’re using a kitchen twine or plastic straw rope to avoid the banana leaves opening up when boiling.

Rinse the glutinous rice after soaking. This helps remove the slight odor from the lye since it was soaked overnight in the mixture.

Use kitchen twine rather than plastic straw rope. I’m not really comfy with plastic in high heat.

sticky rice with coconut curd toppings

The secret ingredient is always LOVE

You might also like:

Biko Kalamay – Sweet, sticky rice cake made with glutinous rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar.

Tibok Tibok is a creamy and flavorful Kapampangan delicacy. Enjoy this velvet-rich dessert with generous toppings of coconut curd!

Suman Sa Lihiya

This suman sa lihiya recipe is a basic variation. Glutinous rice is soaked in water for several hours before putting-in a portion of lye water and wrapping each serving in soft banana leaves. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Filipino
Keyword: rice cake, suman, suman bulagta, suman sa lihiya
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Mia


For Suman

  • 3 cups glutinous rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 ½ tsp lye water lihiya
  • 1 tsp salt

For Latik (coconut curd)

  • 2 cups coconut cream/milk


For making suman

  • Place the glutinous rice in a mixing bowl then pour-in water, lye-water, and salt. Stir and soak overnight. Note: Do not exceed the measurement for lye water.
  • Drain excess water from the mixing bowl then rinse the rice thoroughly. It's quite normal that the rice will turn into a yellowish color. Set aside
  • Prepare the banana leaves. If you're using fresh banana leaves, directly heat over fire for a short time. This releases the natural aroma of the leaf and makes it more flexible. If you are using fresh frozen banana leaves, wash it in warm water. You’ll need a pair of leaves per serving. The bigger leaf should measure about 12 by 10 inches while the smaller is 4 by 5 inches.
  • Arrange the banana leaves by laying down the larger leaf first in a flat surface then place the smaller leaf in the center of the larger leaf.
  • Scoop about 3 tbsp of the rice mixture and place it over the smaller leaf. Fold the smaller leaf first to secure the rice then fold the larger leaf. Repeat the process until you finish all the rice.
  • Stack up two of the suman and tie with with a kitchen twine. NOTE: Tie them firmly so the will not come loose when boiling.
  • Arrange the un-cooked suman in a cooking pot then pour-in enough water to cover them.
  • Turn-on heat then let boil. Simmer cook for 1 ½ hours.
  • Remove from the pot and transfer them in a serving dish. Serve with Latik (coconut milk curd), sugar and dried coconut flakes. Bon Appetit!

Preparing the latik (coconut milk curd)

  • You can do this while cooking the suman. Pour coconut milk in a pan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil until it curdles and turn into curds.
  • Transfer in a bowl and set aside.



  1. Never before heard about suman sa lihiya, but it seems pretty similar to Mexican tamales. Bet they are delicious!

    1. Author

      Hi Azu,
      Yes, they are delicious, there are some similarities with Mexican tamales but instead of the corn dough mixture, we use glutinous rice. Suman sa lihiya is eaten as a sweet snack but we have our version of Filipino tamales which is savory. Thank you for the comment and happy cooking!

  2. I searched all the recipe of suman sa lihiya and you’re the only one who rinse the mixture after soaking I just like to know what is the purpose of rinsing the rice mixture just asking

    1. Author

      Hi Mirasol,
      Rinsing the rice helps remove the slight odor from the lye since it was soaked overnight in the mixture.

  3. Ive been looking for suman Sa Lihiya since 1974. Do you take orders to go? Anyway, I cxan tr hard to follow this recipe but I prefer to Oder suman to go.. already cooked.

    1. Author

      Hi Leticia,
      We’re sorry but we do not take orders. We wish you success though if you ever try the recipe. Cheers!

  4. I could not find lye water near my location, is there a substitute for that and what how much do I need for a 3 cups glutinous rice.
    Thank you

    1. Author

      Hi Victoria,
      You can try ¼ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 1 cup of water then boiling the mixture for 5 minutes.
      But this substitute is used for making pichi-pichi or kutsinta and I haven’t personally tried it with suman sa lihiya.
      Hope this help and let us know hot it went.

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