Tinola Sa Gata Recipe: A Delightful Filipino Dish with a Creamy Twist

Tinola Sa Gata Recipe is a comforting Filipino dish that combines the savory goodness of traditional Tinola with the rich creaminess of coconut milk. This fusion results in a hearty, flavorful meal that’s perfect for family dinners or special occasions. If you’re looking to explore the delightful world of Filipino cuisine, this recipe is a must-try. Let’s dive into the step-by-step process of creating this delicious dish.

What is Tinola Sa Gata?

Tinola Sa Gata is a variation of the classic Filipino dish, Tinola. Traditional Tinola is a ginger-based chicken soup that includes green papaya and chili leaves. The addition of coconut milk (gata) in this version introduces a creamy texture and a subtle sweetness that complements the savory flavors perfectly. This dish is a wonderful example of how Filipino cuisine often blends savory and sweet elements to create complex and satisfying flavors.

Ingredients You’ll Need

To make Tinola Sa Gata, gather the following ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches ginger, julienned
  • 1 can (400ml) coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 green papaya, peeled and sliced
  • 1 bunch malunggay (moringa) leaves or chili leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 green chili peppers (optional, for heat)

Preparing the Ingredients

  1. Prepare the Chicken: Start by cutting the chicken into serving pieces. Rinse the pieces under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. This step ensures that the chicken is clean and ready for cooking.
  2. Chop the Vegetables: Peel and slice the green papaya into bite-sized pieces. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and julienne the ginger. Having all your ingredients prepped beforehand makes the cooking process smoother and more enjoyable.

Cooking Tinola Sa Gata

  1. Sauté the Aromatics: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent. Then, add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant. These aromatics form the base of your dish, providing a deep, flavorful foundation.
  2. Cook the Chicken: Add the chicken pieces to the pot. Cook them until they’re lightly browned on all sides. This step helps to lock in the juices and flavor of the chicken.
  3. Add the Liquids: Pour in the fish sauce and give everything a good stir. Then, add the coconut milk and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  4. Incorporate the Vegetables: Add the sliced green papaya to the pot and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, or until the papaya is tender. If you’re using green chili peppers, you can add them at this stage for an extra kick of heat.
  5. Finish with Greens: Finally, add the malunggay or chili leaves to the pot. Stir them into the soup and let them cook for about 2 minutes, just until they’re wilted but still vibrant green.

Serving Suggestions

Tinola Sa Gata is best enjoyed hot, served over steamed white rice. The rice absorbs the flavorful broth, making each bite a delightful experience. For an added touch of authenticity, serve the dish with a side of patis (fish sauce) with a squeeze of calamansi (Filipino lime) for dipping.

Tips for Perfect Tinola Sa Gata

  • Use Fresh Ingredients: Fresh chicken, vegetables, and herbs will always yield the best flavor. Try to source the freshest ingredients available.
  • Adjust the Heat: If you prefer a milder dish, you can omit the green chili peppers. Conversely, if you enjoy spicy food, feel free to add more.
  • Balance the Flavors: Taste the soup before serving and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, or more fish sauce if needed.


Tinola Sa Gata is a delectable and comforting dish that brings a creamy twist to the traditional Tinola. The combination of coconut milk, chicken, and vegetables creates a harmonious blend of flavors that’s sure to please any palate. This dish is a wonderful way to explore Filipino cuisine and bring a taste of the Philippines into your home.

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FAQs About Tinola Sa Gata Recipe

Can I use other vegetables in this recipe?

Yes, you can substitute green papaya with sayote (chayote) or even use spinach instead of malunggay leaves.

What can I use if I don’t have fish sauce?

You can substitute fish sauce with soy sauce or salt, though fish sauce gives a distinct umami flavor that’s hard to replicate.

Is it possible to make this dish vegetarian?

Absolutely! Substitute the chicken with tofu or tempeh and use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

How do I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stove to maintain the texture of the chicken and vegetables.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Yes, Tinola Sa Gata can be made a day ahead. In fact, the flavors often deepen and become even more delicious after sitting overnight. Just reheat before serving.