Try Samra Delicacies for Authentic Cotabato Cuisine!
Gari Sy Rivera | July 22, 2020
Photos by Mels Timan
If you've been to Cotabato City, you’ve most likely heard of Samra Delicacies. The woman behind these favorite Maguinadanaoan kakanin, Samra Maguindeli, shares of how her business and products were brought to life around the early 2000s.
With her husband by her side at the early age of sixteen, she got the idea to cook her grandmother’s recipes of the local favorites. It wasn’t easy to recreate her grandmother’s cooking, but with constant practice and persistence, she found the right mix of measure and flavor in recreating the treats. “‘Nung first time, palpak. Hanggat sa nakuha ko na siya,” she says. (At first, it was a failed attempt. I eventually got the hang of it.)
Achieving her grandmother’s recipes was only the beginning for Sam. Considering that the business was only starting out, she had to find a way to make a profit. Determined, Samra then decided to go around the city to sell her handmade goods by foot. “Naglako ako, nagikot-ikot ako, kaya ako nakilala sa ARMM.” (“I sold my goods around the city, that’s why I was recognized within ARMM,” also known as the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.) Along with the recipes inherited, and the hard work and efforts that she herself gave, Samra and her products gained regional recognition for the delicious homemade kakanin.
Today, Samra Delicacies cater to both locals and regional fairs both in and out of Cotabato, such as those organized by the Department of Trade and Industry. As far as the business has already reached, Samra and her husband still honor the traditional way of creating their products, which is to make them fresh, with natural ingredients, and by hand. They find help from their family and friends for certain events, which sometimes reach around fifteen thousand pieces of homemade goods in just one order.
The variety of Samra’s products are mostly made out of flour, such as Tipas, which are sugar-coated chips made out of rice flour and egg, Putri Mandi, lady finger-like treats made out of rice flour and coconut milk, and Bulwa, bread muffins that also serve that flour-made goodness that customers love.
Samra Delicacies' Tipas
Samra Delicacies' Putri Mandi
Samra Delicacies' Bulwa
Their best seller, Tinagtag, is made with a few similar ingredients, but uses a long, handheld pot strainer called pamulayan, a 65 year old antique and cooking tool passed on in their family line to pour and fry its batter. Tinagtag is a favorite Maguindanaoan treat, and is jokingly referred to as fried bihon rolls by locals (fried rice vermicelli noodles rolls).
Samra Delicacies' Tinagtag
Another dish by Samra that locals love is her pastil, a Cotabato delicacy of steamed rice, topped with shredded meat and is packed in banana leaves. She specifically points out that the go-to choice of meat is kagikit (spicy chicken), in which she uses only fresh ingredients such as chicken, onion, garlic, and other natural spices. The process of making it begins with cooking all the needed ingredients for the kagikit, which leads to the spreading of kagikit oil on the banana leaf, placing the rice and kagikit on top, and ends with wrapping the prepared dish all into one, ready to eat on-hand as a quick-bite meal.
Samra Delicacies' Pastil
As she continues to serve dishes of Cotabato culture, Samra proves that perseverance and quality goes a long way in life. She expresses, “Kung madiskarte ka, mabubuhay ka na sa totoo lang. Kung tamad ka na tao, di ka talaga mamumuhay dito.” (If you’re truly strategic, you’ll be able to get by. If you’re lazy, you won’t be able to make it here.)