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Ginatan Dessert: Sweet Potato and Banana in Coconut Milk

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I have started watching what goes into my food, so I've begun making my food from scratch.



For the longest time, I thought ginatan could be found only in the Philippines. However, to my delight, I recently also found it in Penang, Malaysia.

Now I regularly make this delicious dessert at home, varying the ingredients depending on the season or what I have in my pantry.

In Tagalog, ginataan means "cooked in coconut milk." The traditional Filipino version of this dish contains rice balls, as well as tapioca pearls and fruits—and this version is called ginataang bilo-bilo. In Malaysia, however, I enjoyed this dessert with just sweet potato and tapioca pearls. A nice feature of this dessert is that it is flexible; you are free to add or omit ingredients depending on what's available in the market or your pantry.

Ingredient Notes

  • Banana: It's important to use the saba variety. Other banana varieties won't work as well (they will become mushy).
  • Sweet potato: Use different colored sweet potatoes for aesthetic purposes. For this recipe I used orange and yellow sweet potatoes. Your ginatan will look more appetizing with these vibrant colors.
  • Sugar: I used muscovado sugar as a healthier alternative to refined sugar. It will make the color of the ginatan a bit browner than the traditional version that uses white sugar.
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  • 1/2 kilo sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 3 large saba bananas (sweet plantain), sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca pearls, cooked
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar, or as desired


  1. Cube the sweet potatoes and slice the bananas. Put them all in a casserole pan.
  2. Add the coconut milk and water. Stir gently.
  3. Mix in the muscovado sugar.
  4. Turn on the heat and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower down the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft.
  5. Add the cooked tapioca pearls
  6. Cool a bit and enjoy!
Turn on the heat and bring it to a boil.

Turn on the heat and bring it to a boil.

Other Fruits to Add

  • Jackfruit (sliced into strips)
  • Ube (this will make your ginatan a delicious violet color)
  • Glutinous rice flour (formed into balls, you can also add the ube to the rice balls)

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