Experiencing a Dayak smorgasbord of treats at MakanMakan Gawai

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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Gawai may be over, but the party isn’t done until you ‘ngiling tikai’… which literally means to roll up the mat.

Once again, another edition of the MakanMakan series was back and this time for the Gawai Dayak celebration featuring mouthwatering traditional Dayak dishes shared by the Iban and Bidayuh communities.


When guests for MakanMakan Gawai first arrived at Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA), they were immediately served a shot of tuak before being ushered to their respective mats.


During the latest MakanMakan edition, guests were seated on mats instead of chairs to get a feel of Gawai Dayak at the longhouse.


Jimbun Tawai from Majlis Adat Istiadat conducting the miring ceremony to welcome guests and honour the spirits

Reenacting a typical Gawai Dayak scene, Jimbun Tawai from Majlis Adat Istiadat first conducted a miring ceremony to welcome guests as well as to honour the ‘petara’ or gods, spirits and ancestors.


A platter of treats for sweet tooth consisting of penganan, kueh jala and kueh cuwan

Once the miring ceremony was over came the moment everyone was waiting for; a round of appreciative applause erupted as waiters began to bring out the first meal which was a dish of Dayak crackers and sweets, consisting of kueh penganan, kueh jala and kueh cuwan, a real treat for those with sweet tooths.


The appetizing spicy and savoury lemongrass sambal goes great with just plain rice

Aside from that, a stick of lemang along with a plate of ‘sambal serai’ or lemongrass sambal was also presented to guests. Sticky and creamy, the sticky rice complemented the savoury and spicy lemongrass sambal.

Guests were entertained with traditional dance during MakanMakan Gawai

Guests were entertained with traditional dance during MakanMakan Gawai

Then afterwards, when the rice was finally served, an amazing line up of main dishes were finally brought out.


Tubi Dowon Manah or Rice wrapped in ‘Manah’ Leaves

At first, we had  preserved fish (‘tikasuom ikien’ in Bidayuh and ‘kasam ikan’ in Iban) and preserved pork (‘tikasuom oyou’ in Bidayuh and ‘kasam babi’ in Iban).

Salty,gingery and zesty, both of these dishes can be a bit overwhelming for those trying them for the first time and it is highly recommended to try them in small amount with rice just to balance out the saltiness of the dishes.


Tikasuom Ikien or Preserved Fish


Tikasuom Oyuo or Preserved Pork

A Gawai Dayak dinner celebration isn’t complete without ‘triboh siok’ (in Bidayuh) or ‘manuk pansuh’ (in Iban).

Arguably the most famous Sarawakian dish, ‘pansuh’ means to steam in green bamboo and this can be either chicken, pork or fish, and is typically stoppered with a bunch of fresh tapioca leaves.


Triboh Siok or Chicken Cooked in Bamboo


Tipuyak Goreng Ikien Pusu or Fried Preserved Durian with Anchovies

In addition to this, guests were also served with ‘tipuyak goreng ikien pusu’ or fried preserved durian with anchovies. During durian season, it is common to see local people start making tempoyak.


Dowon Banuok Nutuk or Pounded Tapioca Leaves

Tipuyak (Bidayuh) or tempoyak is made from durian fruit mixed with salt and left to ferment. As this dish has a peculiar taste, not everyone may like it but it is a local favourite.


Sup Ikien Salai Masak Tiung Masuom or Native Brinjal Soup with Smoked Fish

Other dishes served during MakanMakan Gawai were ‘dowon banuok nutuk’ or pounded tapioca leaves, ‘sup ikien salai masak tiung masuom’ (native brinjal soup with smoked fish), ‘kuduos campur’ or mixed vegetables and tapioca pancake.


Kuduos Campur or Mixed Vegetables consisting of local vegetables

MakanMakan is held in conjunction with the four major cultural festivals in Malaysia: Chinese New Year, Hari Gawai, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Deepavali.


Guest were encouraged to eat with their hands

It is a cultural dinner experience aimed at learning and sharing the diverse food culture, practices and traditions of the many ethnic group in Malaysia, by featuring traditional and authentic cuisine from other culture and educate the community about the rich heritage and culture of each different community.


Dancing around the ranyai tree, led by Manyin (far left). The ranyai palm tree or tree of life is usually erected at the gallery or ruai of longhouses bearing gifts and food and drinks from the branches. Ngajat is performed around the tree where dancers will retrieve the gifts from the branches. The tree was then cut down to symbolised the ending of Gawai Dayak festival.

Also present during MakanMakan Gawai was Minister of Youth and Sports and Solidarity Datuk Sri Michael Manyin Jawong.


Guests also participated in the ‘ngiling tikai’ ceremony or rolling of the mat to symbolise the end of the Gawai Dayak festival.

The next MakanMakan session will be Makan Makan Hari Raya.

For more info and updates of the MakanMakan experience or any activities by The Champions, check out their Facebook page athttps://www.facebook.com/thechampionskch/

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