dinengdeng, glorious dinengdeng!

Dinengdeng (also inabraw [although inabraw is more often referred to on veggie leaves, as in inabraw a saluyot or inabraw a marunggi, etc.]; vegetable, fruit and/or leaves boiled/stewed in/with bugguong) is a staple in every Ilokano home or community (be it in his house or in any dining place like in a summer picnic by the river, in a lunch in a pakarso (cogon shade) in the rice fields or farmland,or in a big, festive occasion). It might be the main dish or viand to go with the innapuy (steamed rice), or as a companion dish with meat dishes like  adobo, lechon, caldereta or the inevitable pinapaitan or sinanglaw or sangkutsar, the presence of dinengdeng is a must as it somehow "balances" the food between what's said as "healthy" and what's "unhealthy," serving more as an appetizer of sorts if more fatty or oily or meaty dishes are on the table. But oftentimes, the dinengdeng is more preferred, the "most attacked," especially by those who are conscious of their "heart" or "liver"or of their waistlines.

I'm a typical Ilokano who can't live without dinengdeng or any dish with bugguong. I see to it that I always have to eat veggies especially greens not primarily because of health concerns but because I'm used to it as I was raised as a "dinengdeng addict" (although, of course, I cannot be considered a vegan for that matter, for I also love meat). Be it a simple dinengdeng or inabraw of saluyot and marunggay leaves with or without any sagpaw (add-on fish or meat), or even a solo fare of kalunay or kuantong, or alukon leaves, or utong tops, or karabasa flowers.

Now, here are some of my favorite dinengdengs that I cooked and consumed with gusto over the years:

This is a dinengdeng a tarong (eggplant), kalunay (spinach), patani (lima beans). You'll love this combination, the eggplant fruit here is called "marabusel" or "agadi iti busel"-- very young and very tender, still budding fruit; and the patani here is freshly picked from the vine and is very young you don't need to ukisan or peel off its skin (this is my favorite kind of patani, the one with a larger fruit with "flat" beans; another kind of patani is what we call as "perkolis" in Nueva Vizcaya, which has smaller pod and rounded beans; another one is the "nabanglo a patani" which has flat beans and kind of "fragrant" when cooked); the spinach here are the larger ones and not the "native" ones that grow wild, though; but it's still kalunay.

Patani still and now with alukon flowers. I adore patani as I grew with it and it was a favorite bean of mine as a child because my mother then (and until now) has a lot of patani vines that climb the shrubberies and trees in our yard. The young pods of the patani is also edible and it can go with the young beans in a hearty dinengdeng. The mature beans is also perfect for pinablad (boiled) like mung beans or cowpeas. As a child, we also love to grill patani over the fire, the roasted bean is very delicious! You gather patani fruits and roast the whole fruit, then open them and eat the cooked beans while piping hot.

This is a buridibod variation. Still, with the bagas ti kamote (camote, or sweet potato) as a main ingredient, with alukon flowers, and with kabatiti fruit and tarong. The blend is doubly sweet because of the camote and the kabatiti.

This is a medley of tarong, kuantong (native/wild spinach or amaranth), and paria (ampalaya, bitter melon) fruit.

And here's young kardis (kadios, pigeon peas) beans, with kuantong, tarong and paria.

Yet another tarong, paria and patani variation, with kabatiti. Some may shun a paria & kabatiti combination as the paria's bitterness may overwhelm the kabatiti. But I love them both in my dinengdengs. I simply don't put in the two at once in the pot, but at a time, I put the kabatiti first, cook it for a while and then afterwards, I put in the paria--it is the kabatiti's sweetness now that overwhelms the bitter paria. Also, don't overcook the paria. And slice your paria thinly crosswise and not length-wise for it to cook evenly minimizing its bitterness.

Utong (sitaw in Tagalog, cowpea) fruit and tarong and again paria & kabatiti. You might notice that I add in tomato slices in some of my dinengdeng and you might wonder (as some folks don't ever put in kamatis in their dinengdeng, something like a taboo for them). I just love it because for me, for my distinct taste buds, anyway, kamatis adds a little "sweet & sour" to the dinengdeng. I compare it to blanched or boiled veggies (kinilnat or nilambong or ensalada) with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona). I add kamatis slices especially when I cook dinengdeng ala-ensalada--that is cooked just right and not overcooked but not undercooked, with the veggies just crisp but succulent. Needless to say, I also "spice" my dinengdengs with few onion slices or if available, young onions/shallots with leaves (the young garlic would be greater for this end!), for "aroma" purposes.

This my favorite utong variety, the ones which grow as small shrub, its fruit not "yard-long," and doesn't climb (not a vine, saan nga agkalatkat, I forgot the local name). Its young fruit and beans are perfect for dinengdeng, it has this unique veggie sweetness especially if the fruit is freshly picked. And here, look at what I added--it's papait! Instead of paria, I added the more bitter papait and the result is is a perfect "bittersweet" blend. But anyway, papait is not that overly bitter when added to a dinengdeng. Put it in the pot as the last ingredient just some minutes before you put off the fire or adaw (get it off the fire) the dinengdeng. Just wilt it quick and serve it atop the dinengdeng. In this particular dinengdeng, I added as sagpaw dried shrimp fry (daing a kuros). You might also notice that my dinengdengs here are mostly without sagpaw (grilled or fried or dried or salted fish or meat). Well, I only put sagpaw when there's available. But usually, I prefer mine to be a "hardcore" dinengdeng--pure veggies and bugguong without fish or meat.

To dinengdeng, then be the glory!

And for more dinengdengs: 



  1. Truly Glorious dinengdeng

  2. Truly glorious dinengdeng

  3. I love alukon! and I can't live without dinengdeng... even in the US I try to eat it at least once a week.

  4. I want to go to Ilokos just to try all these healthy and deliscious food!

  5. im a 52yo tagalog thru and thru.a friend served me my 1st dinengdeng 40 yrs ago and am hooked until now.bastat may patani.i got a4yr old jar of bagoong sa ref .my kids thinks am weird.my dinengdeng got lots of sabaw..heaven pag lubog sa kanin wd lotsa taba ng babi hehe,,,am i weird?