Sticky rice balls

There is a substantial workforce  of Filipinos in Lebanon; due to their presence, stores have popped up with a selection of Filipino products.

I love the Filipino ladies that I have encountered in Lebanon and learned a bit  about their culture as well. 

These rice balls are a twist on a traditional Filipino dessert, palitaw, consisting  of  sticky rice pancakes boiled and topped with coconut, sugar and toasted sesame seeds (served on a banana leaf, I am told). 

Don’t be afraid of working with sticky rice flour; it is extremely easy to form these balls. Just place a mound of flour in a mixing bowl, add enough water to get a dough (similar to play-dough) and you are done; (you can also add some sugar or coconut to the dough itself).

These balls are filled with a small sugar cube or a chocolate chip (I used white chocolate). The balls cook in just minutes in simmering water and are then dipped in shredded coconut. 

INGREDIENTS: Makes about 18

  • 1 cup of sticky rice flour (at Asian stores)
  • 3/4 cup of water (can replace with coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup of small sugar cubes or chocolate chips 
  • 3/4 cup of sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 drops of food color (per color desired) (optional)
  1. Place the sticky rice flour in the bowl of a mixer; add the water gradually, mixing continuously, until a firm dough forms. If the dough is too wet, add a bit more flour and if it is too stiff, add a bit more water but do so gradually, one tablespoon at a time. If you want to color the balls, drop a few drops of food color in the dough and mix until the color is even throughout. Form the dough into even-sized balls and fill each ball with a small sugar cube or a few chocolate chips. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  2. Bring 2 quarts of water to a simmer and drop the cake balls, only a few at a time. Cook until the balls rise up to the surface and remove with a spoon and drop in a bucket of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain and dip into the shredded coconut and serve. 
Recipe adapted from
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  1. Posted March 30, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    They look so cute and festive! Perfect for Easter. A delightful treat.



  2. Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    A wonderful treat , perfect for Easter, thank you Joumana! have a good weekend…

  3. Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Wow! Your sticky rice balls look so pretty, we have something like this here too where we add palm sugar as the filling, delicious!

  4. Posted March 31, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    These are so colorful and delightful! Reason enough to smile.

  5. Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    These look so cute and the best part is that they are so simple to make. Love it.

  6. Posted April 1, 2012 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    These look great for Easter or spring, love the colors! I have used sticky rice flour before and want to use it again. I will try this soon.

  7. Posted April 1, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Your sticky rice balls look just too adorable! Great choice of colours you have used! In my go-to Asian grocery store, they sell something similar filled with sort of a sweet peanut butter filling. Those are Vietnamese, though and alas, I don’t know what they are called. I knew about these, Japanese mochi and now about a Filipino variation. Thank you for that. :)


  8. Posted April 1, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    How beautiful! Where did you get those mati toothpicks? I want!

  9. Posted April 2, 2012 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    These sticky rice balls look so cute and inviting. We have something like this here in Malaysia, prepared with a different filling, like palm sugar or red bean paste.

  10. Joumana
    Posted April 2, 2012 at 4:33 am | Permalink

    @Banana Wonder: In Beirut at a store called Orient 499. They have a lot of beautiful things, overpriced, and these were in my price range!

  11. Posted April 2, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    WOW…aren’t these colorful. They look like little fuzzy easter eggs!

  12. Posted April 3, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    These are just adorable! I don’t think I have ever tried these before, but they look like spring :)

  13. Laila
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    I made those very cute balls , they are really easy and fun to make. I am a bug fan of coconut milk. The first bite took me all the way to Bangkok.

  14. Joumana
    Posted April 6, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    @Laila: Glad you did! Making them with coconut milk was going to be my next attempt!

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