October 16, 2009

Dabai or Gar Rang

In the 60's dabai's from Kapit and Kanowit were sold by the whole baskets to families who really liked them. And the grandmothers would salt more than half of them in huge glass jars or ceramic vases. In this way the family could have dabai throughout the year.

I loved the way my grandmother salted her gar rang. Went with porridge very well.

But we also liked to crack the seeds after we had eaten the flesh. The seeds could be toasted over the Foochow stove. If we forgot them the seeds would turn black from over toasting like over toasted bread and we would have a good laugh. I remember my mother would get all of us kids by the kitchen door and crack the seeds patiently. We would get ready our safety pins to pick out the kernels while she would patiently crush the seeds.

(Back then we did not realise that we were getting a good measure of organic kernels! Today we pay RM35 for a kilo of organic melon seeds.)

Even though it was a very simple act I treasure the time spent together as a family - mother and children enjoying dabai to its very last good bit.

Today many just eat the kernels without toasting over a fire. Sometimes when I remember the roasted seeds I would toast them over a gas fire. But it is different. Most of the time they get burnt. I miss our family's old wood fire Foochow stove.

The kernels inside are lovely. The photos show our dabai seeds and how we crack them using a mortar and pestle. Some old ways are still good.

We cannot use a modern nutcracker to crack this hard seed.

I am wondering if families still do such an activity together today and feel the joy of sibling sharing and of course mother's love.



Ah Ngao said...

last2 ...30 years ago i think only available in Sibu but now and lately,we can get it in Kuching,together with the "mata kucing" - or local longan .

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao

I have not realised this. Now I do remember that one of the nice gifts Sibu people could bring to Kuching a long time ago was a few gantangs(old measurement) of dabai and langsat.

This season the dabai is only RM10 a kg.

Have you ever tried rice fried with dabai?

Ah Ngao said...

oh yeah...,sedapp!

Greenspot said...

Hi Sarawakiana

Yes, I remember extracting the nut from dabai very well. It was 2-3 decades ago. lovely nut that taste like a cross between pistachio and almond.

Different species of dabai (Canarium sp) are grown commercially in plantation in the Philippines and New Guinea for their nuts. It is non-timber forest products, important for sustainable forest utilisation._forest is not just for timber!

I have written something about the nut of dabai too.


I understand that the best dabai and isau comes from SOng.

Have a good weekend!


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Ah Ngao
I am glad the people of Kuching have learned to enjoy dabai after so many years!

Sarawakiana@2 said...


Thanks for the references.
I will try to go to Song one day and enjoy the fruits there.
Yes forests are just not for timber. There are so many other important uses. If only man can learn.
Thanks. Have a good weekend too.

William said...

I still like to eat the "nut"! But at the same time, I was worried about cutting my fingers. Now you just gave me a bright idea!

wenn said...

must be as tasty as groundnuts..

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi William

One of the best things in our lives - mortar and pestle....chung hoo or lesong.

Cheers. Enjoy!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Both fresh and roasted have unique tastes.

Cheers. Thanks for dropping by.

Sarawakiana@2 said...


I am sorry. You must come to SArawak to try the dabai...which is like a mini avocado but then it is again different. The seed inside has a kernel that is more akin to a pine nut.

Dabai is very perishable.

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