Experiencing a Dayak smorgasbord of treats at MakanMakan Gawai
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
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.
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.
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.
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.
Then afterwards, when the rice was finally served, an amazing line up of main dishes were finally brought out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
MakanMakan is held in conjunction with the four major cultural festivals in Malaysia: Chinese New Year, Hari Gawai, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Deepavali.
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.
Also present during MakanMakan Gawai was Minister of Youth and Sports and Solidarity Datuk Sri Michael Manyin Jawong.
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/