Tuesday, May 23, 2023

5 East Malaysian Delights You Should Try This Kaamatan & Gawai Season

East Malaysians will be treated to some of the island's biggest celebrations in the coming weeks. Tadau Kaamatan is celebrated annually on the 30th and 31st of May in Sabah and Labuan, while Hari Gawai is celebrated by Dayaks in Sarawak on the 1st and 2nd of June

While both are used to commemorate harvest festivals, their traditions and rituals are noticeably different. Tadau Kaamatan celebrates the bonds between creator and creation, as told in the legend of Huminodun, a fair maiden who sacrificed herself by transforming her body into lush food and crops that saved humanity. Hari Gawai, on the other hand, focuses on making offerings and rituals that represent the people's gratitude for a bountiful harvest, as well as celebrating people and spirits and other natural representations.

Food is one of the most anticipated aspects of Tadau Kaamatan and Hari Gawai, which celebrate a good harvest. Many of us are looking forward to gathering with family and friends this holiday season and sharing a variety of delicious foods. Did you know that denying yourself of your favourite holiday treats can lead to binge eating, resulting in unintentional weight gain, stress, and anxiety? This is where mindful snacking comes in, which involves eating with intention and attention, focusing on the present moment, and savouring how the food tastes.

Here are five unique Sabah and Sarawak treats that you must try, as well as how you can incorporate mindful snacking habits while enjoying them:

1. Kuih Sarang Semut or Kuih Jala 

Sarang Semut, which translates to "ant's nest" in Sarawak, is made by frying long thin strings of glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour, and sugar mixture, similar to Kuih Karas in Peninsula Malaysia. The soft and slightly chewy snack, also known as Kuih Jala, is popular with both children and adults due to its intriguing taste. Take a few moments to bite, chew, and savour the unique crunchy texture of Kuih Sarang Semut for a more satisfying snacking experience. 

2. Penganan 

Penganan, a traditional Sarawak treat, is made by frying a mixture of rice flour, sugar, and coconut milk. This mini cake has a sweet and slightly salty flavour, a crispy exterior, and a soft, chewy interior - ideal for tantalising your taste buds, hot or warm. Because it is a fried dish, eat one piece at a time to practise moderation and portion control.

3. Hinompuka (Steamed Glutinous Rice Cake) 

Hinompuka is a delicious Kadazan delicacy that is wrapped in banana leaves as a sticky rice cake. It has a chewy texture and is sweet and creamy. Some recipes call for coconut milk to add a rich, creamy flavour, while others call for palm sugar to add a sweet kick. Its distinct flavour is also derived from the addition of pandan extract, banana, or grated yam to the mixture, making it an excellent dessert or snack option for those who prefer more subtle flavours. In addition to exercising portion control, elevate your senses by removing distractions from your eating environment and slowing down your eating pace. Check in with yourself before reaching for another hinompuka to see if you're satisfied with the portion you just had. 
4. Tebaloi 

Tebaloi or sago biscuits are a traditional Melanau food, but they are also popular throughout Borneo. Tebaloi, which is made from sago flour, coconut, sugar, and eggs, comes in a variety of interesting flavours and colours. Enjoy your tebaloi in small portions while appreciating the distinct texture, colour, and flavour produced by the firewood grill to enhance your gastronomic experience.

5. Bambangan 

While mango is frequently confused with this Borneo specialty fruit, it has a thick brown skin and a distinct fragrance. It can be eaten fresh or pickled with salt, grated bambangan seed, and snips of chilli to make dishes like Hinava Ginapan for Tadau Kaamatan. Bambangan has a sour, tangy, and distinct flavour, similar to mango or jackfruit. Give each bite your full attention, whether raw, cooked, or pickled, to extend the snacking experience.

Indulging in these delectable snacks during Kaamatan and Gawai is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of these festivals while satisfying your hunger. Because there is still a lot to taste and enjoy together, remember to be mindful of your snacking intentions - portion out your snack before eating and try to reduce or avoid distractions to truly enjoy your snacking experience where anyone, anywhere, and at any time can practise this.

Starting small during these festivities not only allows you to fully enjoy these treats, but it also puts you on the path to a healthier lifestyle. According to a Mondelez International report on global snacking habits, 78% of people today are more likely to take their time savouring indulgent snacks, and 61% take the time to portion their food before eating. Are you one of them as well? Visit www.snackmindful.com to learn more about mindful snacking habits and benefits.

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