My sisters Babot and Cristy are forever in search of adlai, their newfound substitute for rice that, according to them, aids in their weight loss. I have not seen the difference but that’s another story, and the grain is not to blame!
Adlai is a healthy substitute for rice that has a pleasant texture, a unique chewiness to it. It tastes interesting, like a satisfying combination of grains.
It is a versatile, low-glycemic whole grain that is also said to be fat-free, gluten-free, high in dietary fiber, high in calcium, high in iron, rich in magnesium, containing only 1 percent fat, and sodium-free.
Also known as Job’s tears, it is an heirloom grain from Aglayan, Bukidnon, and farmed by Hineleban Foundation.
Hineleban Foundation is an organization that is motivated by reforestation and sustainable livelihood for farmers through “transformational business partnerships.” The foundation works with seven indigenous tribes in Bukidnon.
Their farmer-partners have generated income (equivalent to 300-600 percent ) or above industry-standard wages. Assistance is given by means of training, technology, marketing and guaranteed sales.
I learned that adlai is indigenous to the mountain regions of Mindanao. The crop disappeared as rice became our staple. It’s now making a comeback and with good reason. Aside from being a healthy grain, it does not require much water to grow, making it easier to farm.
Amanda Barnes is an American nutritionist and registered dietitian with a Masters in Sustainable and Resilient Food Systems. She used to work for Whole Foods, and finds joy in discovering ingredients that are healthy and sustainable.
When she moved to the Philippines, she came across adlai and experimented with it. It has been her favorite ingredient since.
Barnes’ interest in the grain grew after reading Hineleban’s page. The foundation’s mission inspired her to visit the farm and one of the tribal villages.
Barnes continues to support Hineleban’s efforts by promoting and creating unique recipes using adlai. She launched her e-cookbook that comes free with every 10-kg purchase of adlai on the Hineleban online store.
Combine adlai and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place lid on pot and cook for 18-20 minutes, until water is absorbed and adlai is cooked and softened.
Mix spices into the coconut milk. Pour the milk over the adlai and top with your favorite toppings.
Roasted Vegetable Salad
6 carrots, halved if small, quartered if really thick
2 beets, scrubbed and cubed
2 c spinach or amaranth leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
1 c adlai
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 c walnuts, toasted
For the dressing:
1 tbsp Grey Poupon
1½ tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ c extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, or add more if you like it spicier)
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Put the carrots and beets onto a roasting pan in a single layer. They will roast better and get more caramelized if they are not on top of each other. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and stir around to coat everything. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until tender and slightly browned.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook the adlai. Place 2 cups of water in a medium sauce pan, cover and cook for about 20 minutes, until tender. When done, the water should all be absorbed just like rice. Take off heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
To make the dressing, add all ingredients into a small mixing bowl and whisk together to incorporate herbs and spices, vinegar and olive oil.
When the vegetables and grains are done cooking, add everything to a large bowl, including walnuts and mix with dressing. Top with extra parsley and season more with salt and pepper as desired.