June 15, 2010

A Blessed Harvest Celebration in Brunei

(Before you read further ....I do apologise to all my friends who do not eat pork....this page will contain pictures of pork as you scroll down......)

I was invited by warm and hospitable relatives for a Brunei style Gawai over the weekend.

One of the wives managed to get a pig head for celebration to the delight of the extended family and friends. The head was bbq-ed over an open fire for several hours. Traditionally amongst the Ibans a pig head is symbolic food. But to the urban dwellers it is a very nice part of the animal.

The family is very self sufficient in vegetables like their forefathers in Sarawak and Temburong. Next to their Brunei perumahan (government provided housing) house they have grown lots of native vegetables like taro and young sweet corn to mention a few. They plucked some of the cucumber leaves to cook up a good "iban dinner". Their garden is definitely part of their Iban heritage. The humble wife said that their own garden supplies enough greens every day for their needs.

See for youself here how resourceful Indai Louis is: (The dinner was for 30 people with lots of extras for more people in fact)

Taro stew cooked with ladies' fingers and taro shoots and taro itself. The ladies' fingers and the taro "have sticky sap" which make this dish special and tasty. May be they complement each other naturally and provide the antidote against any allergy and itchiness.

A few large ikan sultan steamed together with kechalak and lengkuas. If the father of Louis has time off from his work he can actually catch his own fish in the stream near by. He sometimes goes as far as the Belait River for bigger fish during the spawning season.

Cucumber leaves with sweet young corn and fresh jungle mushhrooms. Some cucumbers are also added. This is a very tasty "indigenous dish" and is absolutely natural.

These are beautiful slices of meat from the pig's head which was slowly bbq-ed over a slow fire.

Mangoes from the garden. Their three trees supply enough mangoes throughout the year.

Guava from the tamu.

The bones of the pig's head are boiled for more than two hours of Chinese salted vegetables and some salted vegetables and sour plums and torch ginger.

This is the brain from the pig's head...steamed with slivers of fresh ginger and some wine.

"We do not waste our food at all and we are careful with our resources. So we plant as many vegetables as we can in both the front and back yards."

This was a nice "ngabang" or visit in Iban. As a meal for people who are away from their own kampongs in Sarawak and Brunei (some of the men are from Temburong while most of the wives are from Kanowit) Indai Louis had indeed shown her Iban hospitality. However she is Oya born but is married to a Brunei born Iban.

It is good to be able to share food both spiritually and physically with friends . It is good to be always thankful for these blessings.



The Observer said...

Looks wonderful and if I was invited I'd probably have 3 - 4 rounds with nice hot rice and end it with the mango. One thing I know about Iban cooking is that they are as generous as Foochows when it comes to cooking and their tables (mats tee hee, I'd love to have that experience again) will always have plenty for everyone.

No overlapping stories from me (like my comment in your wheelchair entry, I realized that it was a very very long comment) this time this is your "moment", like how Beyonce Knowles gave Taylor Swift her "moment".

I am now craving for the food in photos you took. Will find it hard to find the cucumber leaves. I'm hoping for a lot of that when I go back for Christmas

Ann said...

We didn't know you can eat cucumber leaves. My parents used to grow them. What a waste.

My west Malaysian friend tells me that when you fry some chilli leaves with your food, they will be very fragrance. Oh dear, I have been to busy blogging, I just let my chilli plants freeze to death. I could have harvested the leaves.

I feel like eating that pig's head.

Ann said...

Hi CY,

I did a bit more investigating in the 1080 as it is top news today.

I added a new website with a protest song. I didn't realise that it is so lethal.


There are beautiful NZ country side and wild life. Don't look at the sad scenes if you don't want to.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Observer
The dishes can really make people go 3 to 4 rounds especially the pig head and the special Iban chili and kicap sauce with a bit of lime juice....
Hope Christmas every one will have some good bbq...and lots of jungle veg.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Actually I like the bitter cucumber leaves...do you know that pumpkin flowers are very nice to eat?

I think fried chili leaves are the same as basil leaves...(jiu cheng tak) I use curry leaves and peanuts fried together and then throw in sugar and chili sauce...

Come to Miri.....let's go and get a head to celebrate!!

Sarawakiana@2 said...


Will check the website....thanks.

Anonymous said...

This is really nice about the Ibans and their relatives in Brunei...I know a few from Temburong they have visited Marudi relatives in the past.


Ah Ngao said...

waa....sedaaap ! most of the dishes are healthy dishes - vege,vege..
Ann,you must try your best lah,fly back to Borneo,get Sarawakiana order one pig head and enjoy (hearsay pig's brain good for smooth complexion),...kekeke

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Justin
The Temburong Ibans are lucky to have a pristine environment - good river and good forest...I heard the wild fruits are plentiful.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...yes definitely these dishes are very healthy...

Ann should come soon!

Brains good for thinking and headaches...

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