Gawai Dayak 2009

Gawai Dayak is a festival celebrated by the ethnic communities of Sarawak on 1st June every year. It is like their new year, a time for celebration and renewal of old ties. During this festival, those who have moved away will make it a point to return to their kampungs to visit friends and relatives. Like other communities in Malaysia, the Dayaks will also have their open house to receive guests. The Gawai celebration will last for several days.

This year I was invited by a colleague to his in-law's house for Gawai. He is an Iban married to a Bidayuh. Bidayuhs traditionally lived inland and are mostly from the southern part of Sarawak. The Ibans traditionally lived near the sea and rivers, and have settled throughout Sarawak. 

The in-laws' house is about 25 km from Kuching. They have made it a point to prepare some traditional food for the guests, so we were in luck.

Guests would usually be served some cakes and titbits first. Due to the multi-cultural influence, these are a mixture of sweets from various communities. At the front are "Honeycomb Cakes", a Malay cake made with caramel and condensed milk. The texture is a bit chewy. The green and orange cakes at the back are "Kek Lapis" or Malay layered cakes.

Various types of cookies and titbits.

These are "Ayam Pansuh", chicken cooked with local herbs stuffed into a bamboo stem. It is essentially a steaming process, and the chicken meat is tender and infused with a bit of fragrance from the bamboo. Very yummy !

My friend told me this is a traditional Bidayuh salad, but to me it looks quite modern and even a bit Western. It is made with small cubes of pineapple and tomatoes in a herb and lime juice dressing. Very nice. 

The ubiquitous chicken curry.

Stewed pork leg with mushroom. This is more of a Chinese dish.

The inlaws' house. There is an annex built in a traditional Bidayuh "Baruk" shape, and that's where the food is served.

My colleague's daughters put on their traditional costumes for the occasion. On the left is the Iban costume, and on the right is the Bidayuh costume. The silver belts are quite heavy and you need to have good stamina to last through the day !


Tan.wiratchada said…
I love chicken curry..YUMMY...;)
Borneoboy said…
All the food was great. I especially liked the salad !

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