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Puto Bumbong: A Delectable Blue Christmas Snack For A King


Blue Christmas is often associated with spending Christmas alone without your loved ones. But it is different in the Philippines when you have a “blue Christmas” snack with this special and flavourful rice cake called “puto bumbong” cooked in cylindrical and hollow bamboo sticks. How is that for a touch of real native culinary?




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Actually, that’s what makes puto bumbong “bumbong.” The blue or purple flour mix concoction is poured into cylindrical bamboo tubes or “bumbong” about an inch in diameter and a handbreadth long and placed over live charcoals for baking or steaming. Thus, they look like small smoking chimneys emitting sweet, delightful aroma if one happens to pass by stalls that sell them at dawn near churches during the last 9 days before Christmas called “Simbang Gabi”.


But people get to enjoy them even after Christmas because puto bumbong (which always goes together with “bibingka”, another special rice cake popular during Christmas) is a hot item in the country until 6th of January which is celebrated in the Tagalog region as Three Kings. Some shopping malls that sells native delicacies make them available the whole year round because you’d never run out of customers craving for puto bumbong.


But Why Is It Blue or Purple?

Many folks ask, why is it blue or purple and why is it so delicious? Some describe its tastes similar to ice cream cake in hot, steaming form. Is it really naturally blue/purple or just food colouring?


The original puto bumbong uses “pirurutong” or black glutinous rice and ube jam (a violet native rootcrop). The combination makes it blue, and together with sweet rice, the native delicacy also comes out with a creamy, flavourful taste similar to the sweet delight that ice cream cakes give.


The Magic in Pirurutong

Pirurutong is high class rice that is really brownish-violet in colour. It is popular for releasing a sweet savoury aroma when cooked and a sticky and appealing consistency that is very pleasing to the palate. Some rural folks are fond of grinding it into fine flour which is used for puto bumbong, in order to follow the traditional recipe. However, most commercialised puto bumbong today use regular rice flour and food colouring to imitate the look. A lot of margarine is added to make up for the flavour. But nothing compares to the original–or how archaic folks used to cook them.


Why use pirurutong for this special Christmas native pastry? Why not just regular flour? Some folks put it this way: Since Christmas is the birth of Christ and Christ is honored as King of kings, it is just apt to remember him with the colour of royalty–which is blue or purple. Hence, whenever puto bumbong is enjoyed after Simbang Gabi, always remember that the color and speciality of the rice cake is in honor of Christ the King.



The Christmas chimney in the Philippines: Here is the traditional method of cooking puto-bumbong. Bamboo tubes are filled with the rice/flour mixture. It is inserted on top of this special type of steamer where steam goes inside the bamboo tubes. This creates a special type of steamed rice/flour that gives a flavourful aroma which reminds us of Christmas here in the Philippines.


How to Cook

It takes patience, hard work and a little bit of artistry to come up with the right puto bumbong. You may steam it on a tray to simplify the cooking process, but the traditional way uses bamboo tubes placed on burning charcoal. Here’s how to cook puto bumbong simpler without the “bumbong”.




  • Glutinous rice flour

  • Ordinary rice flour

  • Pirurutong rice flour

  • Butter or margarine

  • Water

  • Brown sugar

  • Grated fresh coconut


Cooking in the modern way (without bamboo tubes):


  1. Thoroughly mix glutinous, ordinary and pirurutong rice flour and ube jam in bowl.

  2. Add water gradually until a dough consistency is achieved.

  3. Knead until smooth.

  4. Roll into a long dough and cut into 4 to 5 inches long.

  5. Spread butter or margarine on cooking tray before placing the rolled dough.

  6. Steam for 3 to 4 minutes or until done.

  7. Add butter or margarine on top plus grated fresh coconut and some brown sugar.

Lastly, puto bumbong is best eaten with bibingka during the Christmas holiday.


♔ Wishing you all a happy Christmas and more blessings as we celebrate the birthday of the Child Jesus, the King and Saviour of mankind. ♔


♥♡Gloria in excelsis Deo!♥♡



Author: Jaden Mero


Photo source:

Top photo –

Steamer –



Puto Bumbong: Rice Cakes in Bamboo Tubes for Noche Buena at Purple Yam






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