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Adlai Is The Trendy Local Grain You’ll Want To Include In Your Diet Today

Ever heard of exotic grains like quinoa, bulgur, amaranth? They’ve become popular and trendy among health enthusiasts and food lovers alike. But the downside is they’re expensive and difficult to source. But did you know that we have our own local grain that could very well be the next great fad? 

Adlai (coix lacryma-jobi L.) is an indigenous crop found in tropical parts of southern and eastern Asia. From the same family as wheat, rice and corn, it grows abundantly in the Philippines. It was never given much attention until the Department of Agriculture initiated its research and development. As a result, adlai is now being fashioned as a major food staple alongside rice and corn. After all, adlai is accepted as an alternative staple by indigenous peoples such as the Subanen tribe in Zamboanga del Sur and in farming communities where rice and white corn are not traditionally produced.

Adlai has a neutral taste, making it a perfect carrier for other flavors. You can cook it just like rice for an instant and healthy meal. Consumption of adlai can provide the body with essential nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium and zinc. 

Thanks to greater awareness and marketing efforts, adlai is slowly making its way into restaurant menus as chefs continue to look for sustainable and flavorful alternatives to liven up their dishes. So what was once pushed as an alternative to rice to help food sufficiency has now stepped up the ladder to become the latest darling of the food world. 


Endulsao Chuvacano 

By Tippi Tambunting

During Madrid Fusión Manila 2015, adlai made its grand appearance during a series of regional lunches sponsored by the Department of Agriculture. Several of the country’s top chefs used it in their dishes. This featured recipe by Chef Tippi Tambunting of M Dining and Donosti Pintxos Y Tapas was a big hit as it showcased adlai as a perfect complement to hearty meat dishes.

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 kilo liempo (pork belly), cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • peppercorns


  • 2 cups adlai
  • 2 cups water

1. Combine all the ingredients in a pot and simmer until pork is tender. Season to taste if needed.

2. Combine adlai and water and cook in the rice cooker. Serve with Endulsao Chuvacano. 


You can find adlai at ECHOStore (IG: @echostore), Real Food (IG: @realfoodph), Ritual (IG: @ritualph), Hinelaban Café (IG: @hinelebancafe), and other specialty gourmet and health food stores.


A longer version of this article first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 3, 2015

Photography by Paul del Rosario

Styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz