Tausug food for Ramadan

Aliyya Sawadjaan
Tausug food takes centerstage as we celebrate the season of Ramadan with our Muslim brothers and sisters

TAUSUG BEEF KURMA. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan

MANILA, Philippines – We are in the middle of the holy month Ramadan.

This is a special time for Muslims like me, so I thought of sharing some dishes from my province of Sulu with Rappler readers. 

Not a lot of people know about our culture or our cuisine; this is a shame since we offer something different from your typical fares like adobo, sinigang, tinola or nilaga.

Whenever we have special occasions in our house here in Manila, my family would serve Tausug food.

And when our guests get to taste it, they cannot help but ask about it. 

So for all our guests who’ve asked before and for the curious fellow foodie, here are some dishes from my tribe that I hope you will prepare and try in your own homes.

Tiyula Sug

Tiyula Sug is a beef-based soup that is dark green in color. The burnt coconut and turmeric give this dish its color, which may seem visually odd to some. I can assure you that it is gastronomically satisfying, especially on a rainy day.


  • 1 whole coconut meat (the kind used to make gata)
  • 2 whole stalks of lemon grass; slice one of the stalks and save the other for later
  • 5 pieces of fresh turmeric; if not available, use powder instead (around 4 tablespoons)
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • ¼ cup of ginger, sliced
  • 1½ kilos of beef cubes
  • 1 kilo of beef short ribs
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of pounded chilies

TIYULA SUG. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan

1) Prepare the coconut meat. When buying from a vendor in the market, have it taken off the shell in bigger pieces instead of having it shredded.

2) Burn the coconut meat directly on the stove until black. Once burnt, pound it with the ginger, turmeric, the sliced lemon grass stalk and 2 tablespoons of salt until it forms a chunky paste.

3) In a big pot, sauté the beef with the onions and 2 teaspoons of the black paste for 5 minutes. Allow the beef to absorb the flavors of the paste before adding a liter of water.

4) Add the remaining lemon grass stalk and salt (depending on your taste). Cook until the meat is tender.

5) For more kick, add the chilies.

You can add more chillies if you want to; the spicier, the better. Serve with rice.

Piyanggang Chicken

Piyanggang is a light green chicken dish made of the same pulp used in the Tiyula Sug but with added coconut milk to make it creamier. 


  • 2 whole chickens, quartered
  • 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 1 big clove of garlic, diced
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 whole coconut meat, grated
  • 1 stalk of lemon grass
  • 2 tablespoons of the black paste prepared for Tiyula Sug 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

PIYANGGANG CHICKEN. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan

1) Sautee the chicken in a big pot with the onions, garlic and black pulp.

2) Prepare the coconut milk. Put the grated coconut meat in a bowl and add one cup of water. Mix them together until the water is absorbed. Using your right hand, get a handful and squeeze the coconut meat until you get the liquid that is the coconut cream. This is the first batch of coconut cream. 

3) Place the used handful of coconut meat in another bowl and add 2 cups of water, strain and get more coconut cream. This is the second batch of coconut cream.

4) Add the second batch of coconut cream to the pan, allow it to simmer, then add the lemon grass and salt. Add the first batch of coconut cream only when the chicken is almost cooked to prevent it from curdling.

5) If you want it spicier, you can add chilies to this dish.

Another thing you can do with this dish is to grill the chicken, adding depth of flavor to the dish by serving the sauce on the side. Serve with rice.

Beef Kurma

Beef kurma is our version of the beef curry. 


  • 1 kilo of beef cubes
  • ½ onion sliced
  • 2 diced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of curry powder
  • 1 whole carrot, cut into big cubes
  • 2 whole potatoes, cut into big cubes
  • 1 whole bell pepper, sliced into ½ inch
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter


1) In a big pot, sauté the beef with the onion, garlic, salt and curry powder until the beef is brown.

2) Add the vegetables into the pot.

3) While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the coconut milk. Similar to the preparation for Piyanggang Chicken, squeeze the grated coconut meat twice and save the first batch of cream until the last minute.

4) Prepare a second batch of coconut cream and add it to the pot.

5) When the vegetables and beef are halfway cooked, add the peanut butter. It makes the kurma sauce thicker.

6) Cook until the beef is tender and the vegetables are soft; then add the first batch of coconut milk.

Serve with rice.

These are 3 of the most popular dishes in our home in Sulu and our tribe, the Tausugs.

I hope that, by sharing these recipes with you, I have also shared a bit of my culture.

May they bring you the same happiness and satisfaction that they bring to us, when we gather and savor them together as a family. Happy Ramadan! – Rappler.com

Aliyya Sawadjaan is taking her MA in Creative Writing at De La Salle University. She is also a professional freelance photographer and the great grandddaughter of Senator Hadji Butuh. Senator Butuh served as prime minister to various sultans of Sulu in the 1800s; his first Senate bill in the 1900s sponsored the establishment of the Philippine Military Academy, Philippine Naval Academy and the compulsory military instruction in all Philippine schools.

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