Champurrado to Champorado: origin of a favorite Filipino breakfast

In the Philippines, champorado is a chocolate, riced-based porridge typically eaten for breakfast.  In Mexico, champurrado is a chocolate-based drink (made with masa — lime treated corn dough, or corn flour) also served for breakfast.

champorado Filipino style

Champorado is typically eaten at breakfast but can also be served for dessert

The common ingredient is chocolate — but which version came first?

The answer is the Mexican champurrado, as the cacao trees (source of chocolate) grown in the Philippines originally came from Mexico.  And the connection, of course, is that Mexico and the Philippines were colonies of Spain.

Some of the most popular fruits and plants common in the Philippines —  avocados, pineapples, cashews, guyabano — are native to Latin American countries and arrived in the Philippines via the galleon ships from Mexico during the colonial era.  Rice and fruits like the carambola (star fruit) and mangoes were transported from the Philippines to Mexico.

Champorado is a breakfast favorite of my oldest grandson, Jun.  Because there is a lot of stirring involved, he knows it is a special request breakfast and that his Lola has to wake up a little earlier to have it ready before school time.

As with many Filipino sweets, making champorado requires just a handful of ingredients.  Philippine chocolate tablets are the traditional ingredient, but we use cocoa powder in our version.

Recipe:

Philippine Champorado ingriedients w

  • 1 cup of sticky rice – usually marked “Sweet Rice” sourced mainly from Thailand, or the Philippine brands marked “Malagkit”
  • Water & Milk – start with 4 and 1/2 cups of water to cook the rice into a porridge (I add a cup of low-fat milk to the mixture when the porridge is almost done, and depending on the consistency you like, you can add more milk and water)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder – use from 1/2 cup or add more to your liking.  We keep a container of Trader Joe’s brand on hand, sourced from Columbia.
  • Brown sugar can be added during the porridge cooking process or served with the bowl of champorado.

Rinse, then cook the rice with the water over low heat, then gradually add the cocoa powder to make the porridge.  I add the milk and brown sugar when the rice softens and is almost cooked.  Watch over and stir the mixture often.  The champorado is done when the rice is mushy and cooked through.

In the Philippines, champorado is sometimes eaten with salted dried fish (tuyo), as Filipinos love mixing salty and sweet flavors.

For more about chocolate, see Most Craved Food post here, or click on the photo below.

Cacao Photo Group

Cacao tree growing next to a house in the Philippines, bottom photo are cacao seeds drying, and cacao seeds for sale at the market, Central Philippines. Photos Lolako.com

And a little on the early history of chocolate in the Philippines, said to be introduced by missionaries from Mexico in the late 1600’s.  Excerpt from the book “The Philippine Islands”, published in 1898…

The trees are usually planted in gardens near the house, and the chocolate-paste is made at home. A small quantity of the bean is sent annually to Spain; and there is a chocolate factory in Manila for the benefit of those that do not care to trouble themselves with either the growth of the fruit or the preparation of the kernel. The oil of the cocoa is used also for lighting the houses and streets.

It is impossible to find better chocolate than that made by the friars of the Philippines. Special pains are taken with the cacao tree, which is planted in the orchards and gardens of the monasteries, and in the manufacture of the paste and in the making of the beverage.

At Mexican eateries, champurrado is sold as a beverage and often paired with tamales — so, except for the chocolate, completely different from Philippine style champorado.

Cafe Y Champurrado sign Mexican Restaurant

White King brand instant champorado web

White King brand instant champorado mix

Do you make homemade champorado or champurrado?

Or have you bought the instant type Filipino champorado mix at your local Filipino store (like the type pictured at left by White King)?  And if so, was the taste comparable to homemade champorado?

What are your favorite Filipino chocolate related memories?

Related: “Food of the Gods” – more on elixirs of kakaw, also known as chocolatl from the blog In the Company of Plants and Rocks.

More food posts from Lolalako.com:

12 thoughts on “Champurrado to Champorado: origin of a favorite Filipino breakfast

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    • I love the history part of anything I write in the blog, most especially Philippine history, Josh.

      Here in California, it really is so fascinating to learn the things we have in common with the Mexican culture. By the way, because Filipinos have been living here in the Monterey Bay Area / Salinas Valley of California for so long now, and through marriage, I love the name of those identifying their Filipino/Mexican heritage as “Mexipinos” 🙂

    • Thanks for the visit and your comment, Therese. I love caimito — one of my favorite fruits. I’ll double check the names / English version.

      Update: What I meant to write for carambola is star FRUIT (not star apple) and corrected… Thanks again for spotting that, Therese!

      Carambola makes a beautiful star shape when you slice into it. This fruit is indeed native to the Philippines.

      And yes, the “star apple” is another name for the beloved caimito, which is native to the West Indies — the Caribbean and is also grown in Central America.

      I can’t wait to have freshly picked caimito at my next visit home…though I don’t remember if it is available year round or just certain months of the year (?)

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.