SARAWAKiana: Free Food in the Jungles of Sarawak

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IN longhouses in Sarawak, and across the border, in Kalimantan too,the Ibans serve rice cooked in bamboo called lemang when there is a special occasion. This is because it is more manageable and easier to serve. Scooping rice out of a pot is a little clumsy when there are hundreds of guests. With time constraints, guests can just pick one or two or more if they like.

Besides this way of serving rice is also very convenient. It is very practical.. In the days before refrigeration, this lemang could remain fresh for more than a week. Farmers who had to walk many miles to their farm then could pack a lot of lemang for their farm work for three days or may be even for five days!! Lemang is very potable and so easily packed.

Once cut into this length (4 inches), and the outer skin of the bamboo peeled, it is very easy to “open” up the inner bamboo skin. The stump of rice can be handled by hand, dipped into a soup or sauce…and a meal is very easy, eaten with hands. Rice cooked in bamboo is very tasty. Both ordinary rice and glutinous rice can be cooked in bamboo. The best lemang is actually made from newly harvested rice.

By Changyi
Grace Methodist Church, Miri
Photo taken at Matop, Julau.

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