Are you ready to embark on a mouth-watering journey through East Malaysia? If you’re seeking a delightful adventure filled with unique flavours and irresistible treats, then buckle up because we’re about to dive into the tantalising world of Sarawak’s and Sabah’s cuisine.
And there’s no better time to indulge than this Harvest Festival. Hari Gawai is celebrated by the Dayaks of Sarawak on 1 and 2 June, while Tadau Kaamatan is observed on the last two days of May in Sabah and Labuan. As we celebrate the Kaamatan and Gawai seasons, there are heaps of delectable treats that will make your taste buds dance with joy!
Here are five unique Sabah and Sarawak delights you must try and how to include mindful snacking while eating them:
1. Kuih Sarang Semut or Kuih Jala
Similar to Kuih Karas in Peninsula Malaysia, Sarawak’s Sarang Semut, which translates to ‘ant’s nest’, is made by frying long, thin strings of a glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour, and sugar mixture. Both children and adults adore the soft and slightly chewy snack, also known as Kuih Jala, for its unique flavour.
It’s advisable to take some time to bite into, chew, and taste Kuih Sarang Semut’s distinctive crispy texture, which makes for a more satisfying snacking experience.
Sarawakian penganan is a sweet dish traditionally produced by frying a combination of rice flour, sugar, and coconut milk. With a crispy exterior and a soft, chewy interior, this mini cake has a sweet and slightly salty flavour that will pique your taste buds whether it’s served hot or warm. Due to the fact that it’s fried, use moderation and portion control by enjoying one piece at a time.
3. Hinompuka (steamed glutinous rice cake)
Served as a sticky rice cake covered in banana leaves, Hinompuka is a delectable Kadazan treat. It has a chewy texture and is sweet and creamy. While some recipes use palm sugar for a sweet kick, others use coconut milk to add a rich, creamy flavour. Those who like milder flavours will appreciate this as a dessert or snack, as it can be customised with the addition of pandan extract, banana, or shredded yam.
Along with practising portion control, enhance your senses by removing distractions from the dining experience and eating more slowly. Check with yourself to see if you are content with the portion you just ate before reaching out for more Hinompuka.
Tebaloi, also known as sago biscuits, are a popular snack not only among the Melanau people, but also among people from other parts of Borneo. Tebaloi, which is made with sago flour, coconut, sugar, and eggs, comes in a wide range of intriguing tastes and hues. Eat your tebaloi in moderation and savour the distinctive texture, colour, and flavour that the firewood grill produces to elevate your dining experience.
Despite its similarity to mango, this Borneo delicacy is easily distinguished by its thick brown skin and distinctive aroma. It can be collected raw and consumed ripe or used to produce recipes like Hinava Ginapan for Tadau Kaamatan, which is pickled with salt, shredded bambangan seed, and snips of red pepper.
Bambangan has a distinct flavour that is acidic, tangy, and tastes like mango or jackfruit on its own. Whether you’re eating it raw, boiled, or pickled, savouring each bite will make the snacking experience last that much longer.