Sarawakian Localights: Turmeric Chicken and Terong Pipit

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Small holders and local longhouse residents often cannot get curry paste easily. But they can usually grow their own turmeric or kunyit in their small farms. Hence they use this ingredient to add special flavours to their chicken. Turmeric is a very flavourful natural spice.

Traditionally turmeric or kunyit is used for medicinal purposes. A rhizome, it is of the same family as the ginger and is therefore considered a heaty herb, used by mothers who have just given birth. It is pounded and made into a tea for the new mothers.

Besides, warm turmeric tea helps to expel wind from the body. Thus it is a very important ingredient in the preparation of many different kinds of jamu (local herbal concoction). Sometimes pounded fresh turmeric is used as a poultice over boils and wounds.

When a chicken is available for a meal, the longhouse housewife would also look for terong pipit or Birds’ brinjal, those little green pearls, from a tree which can be easily found everywhere; she can put together a dish that is very tasty and flavourful.

This dish is simple to do. Stir fry bite size pieces of chicken with 3 tablespoons of freshly pounded turmeric, two or three stalks lemon grass, some ginger, one large Bombay onions and some chillies. Add water and two cups of coconut milk (optional). Simmer for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Finally add the terong pipit and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Scientists today have found that the active compound of turmeric curcumin have many scientific proven health benefits such as the potential to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer. It’s a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and may also help improve symptoms of depression and arthritis.

Besides many research has been made to study its positive effects on reduction of inflammation of the bones and muscle aches.

By Changyi, Miri

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