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.