How to Make Suman sa Lihiya

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Suman sa Lihiya is a Filipino sweet sticky rice cake steamed in a banana leaf. The word ‘lihiya’ was added to its name because, in its ingredients, a small portion of lye water or ‘lihiya’ is added to the glutinous rice so that the rice cake will have a chewy and gooey texture.

Here is my version of the Suman sa Lihiya adapted from my grandmother’s recipe. 😊

Please refer to my page – Common Baking and Cooking Conversions, if you’re using other baking measurements.

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For 12 pcs Suman sa Lihiya, you will need:

  • 3 cups glutinous rice (malagkit na bigas)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tsp lihiya or lye water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • banana leaves (I used 1/2 pack of frozen banana leaves)

For the Sweet Coconut Sauce (dipping)

  • 1/2 can coconut cream
  • 100 grams brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Rinse the glutinous rice three times. Then in a large sized bowl. soak the glutinous rice with water and lye water or lihiya. Mix very well to distribute evenly the lihiya to avoid bitter spots in your suman. Cover with plastic wrap and let it soak for 6 hours or overnight. The rice will turn yellow.
  2. The next day, wash the banana leaves, drain and wipe each leaf with a clean cloth. Cut the leaves in 2 sizes, one bigger than the other – enough to hold about 4 tbsp of the mixture. The banana leaves must be heated up on fire first, so that it would become soft enough to be folded.
  3. Drain as much water as you can from the glutinous rice (use a fine sieve) and wash it three times under running to get rid of bitter taste from lihiya.
  4. Place 2 leaves on top of each other (the smaller one on top) and put 4 tbsp or 1/4 cups of the rice mixture in the middle of the leaves. Fold in thirds and fold one end then tap the rice then fold the other side. Repeat until everything is wrapped.
  5. Tie two Suman sa Lihiya with twine (open side facing each other) and place in a big pot. Don’t wrap the suman very tight as the glutinous rice would expand later on during cooking.
  6. Pour enough boiling water (just the height of the sumans). Cook the suman for 2 hours. Make sure to check every now and then and refill the water so that we don’t have uncooked suman in the end.
  7. While the suman is cooking, you can now prepare the sauce. In a saucepan, place all the sauce ingredients. Bring to a boil and stir it occassionaly to avoid sticking on the pan. Cook until thick.
  8. After cooking the suman, remove from the water and place on a colander to drain excess liquid.
  9. Serve with the sweet coconut sauce.

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