Kitchen Tips

An Introduction to Orang Asli Cuisine

Orang Asli are the indigenous tribes of Malaysia. Like every other tribe or ethnic group Orang Asli too has its own set of food, utensils and cooking techniques that are unique to them.

Orang Asli Boy- An Introduction to Orang Asli Cuisine

Image Courtesy: kT LindSAy used under the Creative Commons Licence

Orang Asli are tribes who till date hunt for their meal. Animal meat and plant produce form a large part of their diet. Tapioca, Tapioca leaves, sweet potato, meat, fish and rice are a staple.

Bamboo logs of different lengths are used to cook various delicacies. Once the bamboo logs are filled, they are placed on simmering wood and cooked slowly. Slow cooking helps retain moisture and flavour. It also helps cook food evenly.

bamboo sticky rice - An Introduction to Orang Asli Cuisine

Image Courtesy: Travel Aficionado used under the Creative Commons Licence

Slow cooking allows the food to cook evenly and also ensures that the juices of the food along with that of bamboo are retained.

Food is always wrapped in fragrant leaves before being filled in bamboo logs. It not just adds flavour and helps retain moisture, but also stops the food from sticking to the walls of the bamboo.

Orang Asli being tribes, food is served on leaves that are available inthe forests. Fresh banana and palm leaves are used extensively.

Rice wrapped in banana leaf - Orang Asli Cuisine

Image Courtesy: Conor used under the Creative Commons Licence

Orang Asli food is filled with natural flavours and is authentic in all aspects (the ingredients used and the process of cooking). In contrast with Malaysian cuisine, Orang Asli Cuisine is not spicy at all. Chillies are not a part of their cuisine as they are not found in rainforests.

Today, due to deforestation and logging, the Orang Asli community are finding it difficult to find their staple food. Being untouched with urban lifestyle, buying processed food and ingredients from markets affects their health and daily lifestyle. Also, as hunting, fishing and agriculture are their main occupations, buying ingredients from markets is not option they can afford.

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