Christmas and Yam Doughnuts


Merry Christmas from Guam

Merry Christmas from Guam





Christmas traditions and stories run deep on Guam.  Sometimes they run together.  My mother recently wrote such an article on her column “Ask Joyce “on the Pacific Edge that fits.  Christmas and Yam doughnuts (boñelos dagu) go hand in hand.  It made me think of my Christmases past as a boy on Guam. 

The article is reprinted below.  The original posting can be found at:


Ask Joyce: Is boñelos dagu really tasty?

By: Joyce Martratt – The Pacific Edge – November 28, 2008


This question takes me down memory lane to the time when life was totally peaceful and my relatives were always celebrating one special occasion after another together. I remember the Chamorros’ Christmas doughnuts—boñalos dagu — my parents made around Christmas.


My parents were right on the dot early Christmas day, waking my siblings and me around 4:30 a.m. to prepare for church. We would enter the living area and, like magic, a Christmas tree was there – simple but beautiful to us. Our tree was a wild lemon tree with green and red berries and a lemony aroma that permeated the room which added a crisp and pleasant smell to the celebration. We would stand in awe and excitement at the gifts displayed underneath the tree. We were not allowed to open our gifts until after church.


Guided only by the bright, heavenly stars from above, we walked with our relatives to our village church Señora de las Aguas around 5 a.m. to attend Mass. Afterwards, we returned to our homes excited open gifts.


This excitement was followed by hunger pangs and a trip into the dining-kitchen area for the fantastic meals our parents prepared. The menu consisted of the usual red rice, roasted chicken, salads, fruits and desserts—provided from my grandfather’s farm.



One of our favorite desserts was boñelos dagu (yam doughnut). Mom fried the donuts and gave each of us our share along with tuba (sap extracted from the coconut tree) syrup or honey. I can still savor the taste as we sat around enjoying everything and, of course, the boñelos dagu.


Each culture has its special treats and Chamorros consider boñelos dagu the best. Nowadays, regular maple syrup or sugar syrup is used for dipping the donuts.


The Chamorros’ Christmas doughnuts—boñalos dagu?are truly sumptuous. Those who can get dagu from their farms or at vegetable-fruit stands around Christmas week will have these goodies at the Nobenan Niño Jesus (Novena to the Infant Jesus) celebrations.


The recipe is simple; however, peeling the yam (4 pounds) and grating the meat into medium sizes (about 4 to 8 cups) take some time. Place grated yam into a bowl; add three tablespoons of sugar (optional); add vanilla or cinnamon and honey to the yam. Add 1 ? to 2 cups flour. Mix all ingredients by hand (thoroughly wash your hands prior to mixing). In the meantime, in a deep frying pan, add enough vegetable oil to fry the donuts. If you wish to be adventurous, scoop a cup of coconut meat from a very young coconut, cut it into bite sizes and add it to the yam mixture. As soon as the oil gets hot, drop a spoonful of the mixed batter into the oil—another option is to scoop some batter with your hand and squeeze it into a ball; continue this process evenly spacing the rounds of donuts. Boil the batter for four to five minutes on each side for doughnuts before removing it from the oil. Place the donuts on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. The fresh donuts will be ready to dip in your favorite syrup. As we say on Guam, “gof manngé!” (delicious).



si Joyce I. Martratt





One thought on “Christmas and Yam Doughnuts

  1. This is a wonderful, nostalgic Christmas story your mother has written. I thught for sure they roast pigs in Guam for such major celebrations. My mouth is watering for those yam doughnuts.

    I hope you don’t mind that I’m copying the recipe. Those doughnuts sound scrumptious; they’re going to keep me awake.

    Merry Christmas to you.

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