The Philippines – Ube Halaya

by Zayna Khan

Ube Halaya is a very tasty and extremely delicious dessert of Filipino cuisine. It has so delicious and delectable appearance. Its color is so pretty you cannot even want to eat it. It is like a princess and barbie dessert. It is like a jam or a spread made by UBE also known as PURPLE YAM. It is very rare that a dessert can be made of YAM. Purple yam is like a potato but with mild sweetness. It has dark lavender color and when mixed with some white cream and some milk, it gives a very creamy violet color. It has a very strong color and thick texture. It is used in many dishes but is mostly as a coloring agent. It has a color similar to the ANTHOCYANIN PIGMENT.

It is used as the toppings and filling in many other desserts. It is used as the colored cream and our cream when to mix this ube with cream. It is infused in desserts like HALO-HALO. The famous Ube jam is also very delicious and added in fillings of the cakes and pastries. It is eaten as it is like a dessert by adding other fruits and some honey, nuts, etc. Like ice cream, it is eaten in a cone or biscuits. It is set like some Indian desserts Barfi in a platter to flattened up and then cut into small pieces. It is garnished with walnuts, rose petals, some aromatic essence, and flavors for a more tropical appearance.

The Philippines is a Tropical country it has uses coconut and rice in many rice. Like Ube Halaya rice cake is very popular in different regions of the Philippines. Coconut milk with ube halaya is amazing to drink and loved by the Philippines. It is added as the complementary element of the main dish to make that more attractive by its colorful appearance and good flavors.

Most people love the color of this dessert. Its color is so unique and so powerful. It is like the color of a rainbow. It is mild by adding some cream for nice lavender color and you can strengthen it by adding Ube in more amounts. There are few more dishes of Filipino cuisine in which purple yam is used either as a coloring agent or as the main ingredient.

Dishes of UBE

  • Ube Halaya
  • Binignit (Visayan Dessert soup)
  • White Halaya
  • Ube cake
  • Ube rice cake
  • Halo-halo with ube halaya
  • Ube donuts


Dioscorea alata is the scientific name for Purple Yam and is also known as Greater yam. It is dark purple or lavender color yam. It is widely grown in OKINAWA, Japan. From ancient times it is discovered and then added into the food items. t is originated in Southeast Asia, specifically in the Philippines where it is widely used in many dishes.

Different names of Dioscorea alata :

  • Dioscorea alata
  • Ube
  • Purple Yam
  • Guyana arrowroot
  • Greater yam
  •  beniimo (In japanese)
  • winged yam
  • Violet yam

Taro is another tropical plant that is similar to Ube. It is known by their Corms, which are usually short and more swollen. It is used as the staple food of Africa, and also in Southeastern Asian countries. It is full of starch content and has a nutty earthy flavor different from ube. Its leaves are also used in many soups and stews for acrid flavors.


Ube is cultivated in NEW GUINEA. It is the second-largest island in the Southern Hemisphere. But the center of origin of purple yam is unknown. It is assumed to be the area of South East Asia. Because of the cultivation of a huge amount of Ube in that area. The Remains of ancient ube have been discovered from the Ille Cave at the site of Palawan in 11,000 BP.

There are many other species of Ube found in New guinea :

  • D. nummularia 
  • D. bulbifera
  • D. esculenta
  • D. transversa
  • D. Hispida
  • D. nummularia

Purple yam is used in many other countries like :


Ube or purple yam is cooked in a creamy soup or stew known as canh khoai mỡ.


  • Ube is dried and then stir-fried in the chips forms are eaten during religious fasting for their husbands.
  • It is added in the mixed vegetables stew or curry, Gujrati vegetables, UNDHU.
  • It is also used in dessert named as Jaffina.



Macapuno is the coconut sport. Ube halaya is cooked and served with macapuno. Macaponu is a coconut that has abnormal development of its endosperm. The macapuno coconuts have a jelly-like texture and fill the whole central cavity with coconut seeds and no coconut water. It is widely cultivated in the Philippines and used in making many desserts and other dishes. The Philippines is a tropical region and has huge varieties of coconut cultivated.

Macapuno is also known as :

  • Macapuno
  • Kelapa Puan
  • Kelapa Kopyor
  • Kelapa Lilin

It is a dish in which macapuno and ube are added and formed a dish most likely cakes and pastries.


Binagol is the famous Philippines dessert in which mashed purple yam is used. It is mixed with coconut, milk, nuts, and other ingredients and serves in a coconut shell. It is cooked by steaming and is known as a famous Filipino delicacy. This is the most palatable-looking dessert of Filipino cuisine.

It is steaming by wrapping in the banana leaves and then serve in the coconut shell. As the name of this dish, BINAGOL. Binagol means PLACE IN THE COCONUT SHELL.

Binagol is also cooked by Taro corms that have a more nutty and earthy flavor. Both yam varieties are used in many desserts and other dishes of Filipino cuisine.

Other dishes of Purple yam in Filipino delicacy :

  • Nilupak
  • Kalamay
  • Ube halaya


Halayang kalabasa is a dish of the same origin but it has a main ingredient, CALABAZA. It is boiled then mashed into a solid paste, flavoring is added like sugar, honey, some fruits, etc.

Calabaza is the Spanish name for Pumpkin that is also known as :

  • West Indian pumpkin
  • Calabaza
  • Squash
  • Pumpkin
  • Kalabas
  • Calebasse


It is a Tagalog variety of Ube halaya. Tagalog is the second-largest ETHNOLINGUISTIC GROUP of the people of the Philippines.

It is cooked by combining two main similar ingredients :

  • Ube
  • Taro


This dish is also known as camote delight and sweet potato jam. It is used as the spread on much different bread and also be fillings, toppings, etc. It is a sweet and lavender color jam. Purple yam/ube or camote both are used in this dish. Camote is the sweet potato. This is used with ube and mashed when boiled. Then different sweetening agents are added.

It is known as nilupak na kamote at the old time and was traditionally served on banana leaves.


It is served on desserts as the topping.

  • Ube halaya cakes
  • Ube halaya pastries
  • Ube halaya dessert soup
  • Ube purple jam
  • Ube halaya sour cream
  • Ube halaya cream cheese
  • Ube halaya fresh jam

When it is eaten raw or as it is like a delicacy, it is topped with complimentary servings as :

  • Peanuts
  • Walnuts
  • Raisins
  • Honey
  • Condensed milk
  • Sesame seeds
  • Rose petals
  • Coconut shreds
  • Crumbles


  • Ube/purple yam : 4 to 5 tubers
  • Evaporated milk : 2 cups
  • Condensed milk : 1 can
  • Coconut milk : 2 cups
  • Shredded coconut : 1/2 cup
  • Corn syrup : 2 tbsp
  • Butter : 4 tbsp
  • Cream : 4 tbsp
  • Salt : 1/2 tsp
  • Vanila essence : 2 tbsp
  • Peanuts : 2 tbsp crushed


  • Take yam tubers in a bowl and wash them properly. Peel of the skin and let it cut into small pieces so it will be easy to cook and soft.
  • Now take a cooking pot half of water and add tuber pieces into it and bring it to boil.
  • Boil the water and then low down the flame to simmer yam in water for 30 minutes.
  • This will make the yam to soften and ready to the nest step and preparing Halaya jam.
  • In a seperate cooking bowl add evaporated milk, condensed milk and coconut milk and bring it to boil on low flame.
  • Stain the water from the yam and mash them into thick paste.
  • When milk is started to boil, add this mashed yam into the milk and let it cook for further 30 minutes on simmering temperature.
  • This will make the yam to cook and mixed into milk as a thin paste and as the milk evaporates, the consistency to ube halaya is maintained.
  • When almost 80% of the mositure evaporates, add butter and cream with vanilla essence but on very low temperature.
  • Mix them for 10 minutes so homogenous mixture is ready.
  • Let it cool down and then serve in the serving plate by adding chopped nuts like peanutson the top.
  • You can preserve this in the sir tight container for 20 to 30 days.
  • Enjoy 🙂
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