Ibos, paho kag tablea is Karay-a for sticky rice, mango and chocolate drink. These three overly sweet and carbohydrate-laden treats consisted the snack I used to have during Semana Santa (Holy Week), especially on Biyernes Santo (Good Friday) right after I successfully climbed up and down the hill that represented the calvary.
With leftover tablea from Iloilo and four golden mangoes ripened almost to perfection, all I needed was ibos. The way I understand it, ibos is sticky rice with coconut milk, wrapped in yellow-green coconut leaves and steamed until the center of the ibos turns from hard and grainy to soft and gooey. The ibos I bought was undercooked, so the middle portion is inedible. It looked good in photos though. 🙂
I have seen my father, aunts and cousin cook tablea more than enough to give me the theoretical knowledge to do it like a professional. Sometimes they do it just with tablea and water. Sometimes they add evaporated milk to the mixture. I have made both combinations on my own, but almost always, I fail get the right consistency. Even with the constant call and text messages to Iloilo before, during and after I cook it. It is frustrating. 🙁
This Good Friday, I cooked three handfuls of tablea with enough water and simmered them for a loooooooonnnng time. I applied the principle I learned from MasterChef Australia of cooking them “low and slow”. After what seemed like a day of cooking, the mixture turned from brown and watery to black and viscous. It smelled like a deep dark and sinful concoction, the way I like my tablea drink. And it tasted great, on its own, with ibos and with pan de sal.
I sliced some mangoes and arranged the ibos, paho kag tablea on the table. I looked at the simple dish and was immediately transported a la Anton Ego of Ratatouille to my childhood. Then, the wheels inside my head whirred and created an image of our version of Valenciana. Uh-oh.