Ube is purple
Ube ice cream is made from yam and coconut. Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

What you need to know:

  • Gulf News is going on an ice cream trail this Ramadan.
  • Our twelfth pick of the month is the ube or purple ice cream.
  • Be prepared for our list of 29 ice creams for 29 days.
  • Break your fast and enjoy the Summer months with these sweet and cold treats.

Next on the list we look at an ice cream that has a connection to South East Asia. It is Instagram-friendly because of its unique purple colour. Our 12th pick for the month is ube (pronounced oo-beh) ice cream.

#12 Ube ice cream

What is it?

Ube is the Filipino word for a kind of purple colored yam, a root vegetable found in the tropics. Yes, it is a cousin of the potato.

The ice cream is made of yam and Macapuno or wax coconut. In the Philippines, ube is extremely popular and is found in many desserts. They are usually converted into jams and pastes called ‘halaya’. It is also used in the Filipino dish Halo Halo, which is another cold dessert.

Dubai-based Filipino resident Melanie Borbon told Gulf News: “The word is pronounced as ‘ooh-beh’ and has a subtle sweet flavour. The taste is similar to that of sweet potatoes.”

Ube is a common everyday vegtable in the Philippines.

Dubai-based technician Marcial Gragorio first had ube when his grandmother had cooked it for him. He said: “I have grown up having it. The purple yam tastes like a regular potato but it’s a little sweeter.

“The advantage of ube is that it is easy to grow. You can grow it in your back yard. When the soil is a little watery, it is perfect for the root vegetable.”


Ronica Valdeavilla a writer on www.theculturetrip.com posted that “no one knows how it [ube] became a constant, a familiar dessert staple among Filipino families”. There is no written documentation to trace its origin.

Valdeavilla wrote that Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, “a Filipino food historian who has been gathering histories and information about Filipino cuisine since the 1970s” has documented its presence in “the first Tagalog and Spanish dictionary published in 1613”. So, well, it’s been around for a few hundred years.

Health benefits?

As reported by American magazine Men’s Health, a study conducted in 2014 stated that purple yams are rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, which gives the vegetable its colour. It is said that diets that use antioxidants can promote better health. However, the health benefits do change depending on how it is consumed.

Ube ice cream flavour
Ube ice cream can be found in Jelly belly, at La Mer, Dubai Image Credit: Shreya Bhatia/ Gulf News

Where to find it?

In Dubai, ube ice cream can be found at the Jelly Belly ice cream shop in La Mer. Chief operating officer Paul Rason said: “We make a lot of the products locally, and get some ingredients from outside. We import the ube in the form of a purée from the Philippines, and it is 100 per cent natural. We take our time to source the ingredients for our ice creams so that we can give our customers the best.”


Price: Dh17 (starting)
Place: Jelly Belly ice cream shop in La Mer, Dubai.
Availability: The shop has outlets in other emirates in the UAE. Another place to get Ube ice cream is from iScream at La Mer Dubai. It can also be found in most supermarkets in the country.