Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sijangkang, Selangor | Ayam Balaos - A Banjar Delicacy

No. Not ayam blouse nor ayam ber-Laos (as in the country Laos). Laos is lengkuas or galangal in Banjar language, meaning that lengkuas is heavily used in this delicious Banjar dish.

A Banjar dish is a delicacy by the Banjarese or orang Banjar; an ethnic group from South Kalimantan, Indonesia. The Banjarese travelled to many places in Malaysia setting up settlement (kampungs) in Perak, Selangor and Johor as well as other states. The largest migration took place in the 19th century due to political turmoil and royal family rivalry.

Generally, most Banjarese are are farmers, thus the main focus of their settlements are skewed to agriculture land in Selangor’s Sungai Besar, Sijangkang, Sabak Bernam dan Tanjung Karang, Batu Pahat in Johor and Bagan Datoh in Perak, as well as in Sabah and Sarawak. Their other distinctive skills are painting, jewelry and business.

Bringing with them their culture, customs and most importantly their unique delicacies, namely mandai (fried cured/preserved-marinated with salt jack fruit), pekasam berabai (cured/preserved fish marinated with salt) and of course, ayam balaos (chicken cook in galangal gravy).

Ayam Balaos
The way it is cook is similar to Minang’s Kalio. This dish is usually served during Eid celebration.

Heat the wok with oil
Stir-fry lemon grass till fragrant
Add dried chili paste pre-blended with turmeric till cooked
Then add blend galangal, red and white onion, wait until it is fully cooked (naik minyak)
Add salt to taste and Garcinia atroviridis (asam keeping)
Simmer the gravy paste and add chicken till tender and cooked

Like other ethnic in Malaysia, food is often the primary bond that unites people, similar to other ethnicity, some dishes are cooked during festival that requires villages assistance in preparation and execution (cooking), serving, this act is called gotong royong or rewang. This will foster friendship among themselves. It is still practiced until now.

What sadden me was that the younger generation is losing touch of their roots in terms language, delicacy and custom as most have moved out from the settlements and villagers into the cities. Those that still preserves the culture and heritage are generally the middle-aged 50 years and above; upholding the strong traditional customs values and practices, and are proud to speak the language.

I sincerely hope that the Banjar traditions, customs, culture and heritage does not fade away as modernity takes place as every ethnic group is unique and special.

Eat. Travel. Write – Selangor Media Fam Trip is in collaboration with UPENS (Unit Perancangan Negeri Selangor), Tourism Selangor and all its sponsors with #GayaTravel as media coordinator.

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