One of the most requested recipes by my readers is Kuchinta. These cakes are a combination of finely ground regular and a small amount of glutinous rice then steamed in small plastic cups. They are best eaten with freshly grated coconut. Food grade lye water is added to the mixture although I'm not sure if it adds to the flavor or texture. If you are concerned about using lye water, clear pandan extract would be a good substitute but the flavor won't be the same.
The lye water (lihia) Filipinos use is watered-down potassium hydroxide made from wood ash. It is not the same as sodium hydroxide which is caustic and thus called caustic soda. In case you're curious or want to make your own lye water, the process is here. Actually, I've seen how it's made. When I was about 10 or 12 years old, I used to watch a neighbor's grandma make lye water with the burnt wood she used for cooking. She gathered the ashes into a gallon jar and added water. Of course, at the time I didn't know it was lye water and what it was used for.
1¼ cups regular rice
2 tablespoons glutinous rice
2½ cups water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons cooked regular rice
1½ tablespoons lye water
2 tablespoons achuete/achiote water
- Soak both rice in water overnight. Blend with the soaking water together with the cooked rice in a blender until very smooth. Transfer into a measuring cup and add sugar, achuete, and lye water. Stir until well blended. Fill lightly greased puto/kuchinta cups ¾ full. Place in a steamer, cover, and cook over rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes. Let cool before removing from molds. Serve with grated coconut.