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Pansoh Ayam

An Iconic Ethnic Sarawakian Dish with Strong Ties to Gawai Dayak
Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, is renowned for its diverse cultural and ethnic heritage. And, when it comes to food, Sarawak offers a variety of delicious dishes that reflect its cultural diversity. One such dish is Pansoh Ayam or Pansuh Ayam, also known as Manok Pansoh (the Iban term for chicken cooked in bamboo), an iconic ethnic dish typical among the Dayak community in Sarawak which is loved by all Sarawakians and a must-try for anyone visiting the region. Here are a few interesting facts about this incredibly aromatic delicacy.

Bamboo plays a large role in preparing the dish

Pansoh Ayam is a unique dish that is prepared by cooking chicken meat in a freshly cut bamboo stalk. The chicken is first mixed with aromatics like onions, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, torched ginger flower, and galangal to enhance the flavour and then stuffed into the bamboo. The bamboo opening is then covered with tapioca leaves from the cassava plant, and the stuffed bamboo is roasted slowly over an open fire. The dish is cooked without adding oil or water, as the juice from the chicken mixes with other ingredients to create a flavourful soup that is served with the cooked chicken and the cooked tapioca leaves. The roasted bamboo adds a distinctive aroma and flavour to the dish, making it a popular choice among food enthusiasts.

Pansoh Ayam might have been created through a lack of kitchenware!

While the origin of Pansoh Ayam is unclear, it is believed that the dish was created as a way to prepare food without kitchen essentials like pots and gas stoves. This is why bamboo is used as a cooking vessel in making the dish. Traditionally, free-range village chicken is used to prepare Pansoh Ayam as it gives a sweeter flavour. However, nowadays, the dish can be found on restaurant menus, during longhouse visits, or even during the open house season during Christmas festivals.

It’s a symbol of cultural heritage

Pansoh Ayam is not only a delicious dish, but it is also a symbol of cultural heritage for the Dayak community in Sarawak. The dish is typically served during the Gawai Dayak festival, which falls in the month of June every year. Gawai Dayak is a Thanksgiving festival marking a bountiful harvest, and Pansoh Ayam is one of the key celebratory dishes served on this occasion. During the festival, the Dayak community comes together to celebrate the harvest season and offer prayers for a prosperous year ahead. The festival is marked by traditional ceremonies, dances, and music, and the food is an integral part of the celebration.

Preparation requires a lot of time and attention

The preparation of Pansoh Ayam is a time-consuming process, and it requires a lot of skill and expertise to get it right. This is why the dish is usually prepared by experienced cooks who have mastered the art of cooking Pansoh Ayam over the years. Thankfully, we’ve prepared a very special meal kit designed to capture the authentic essence of the iconic Pansoh Ayam recipe that’s cooked in a pot as opposed to bamboo. Our team of recipe experts have curated ingredients (including the use of cage-free chickens) to ensure that you can easily enjoy this dish at home!

Recent popularity of Pansoh Ayam is on the rise

In recent years, Pansoh Ayam has gained popularity beyond the Dayak community, and it has become a favourite among tourists visiting Sarawak. The dish is often featured on the menu of local restaurants and food stalls, and it is highly recommended for those who want to experience the authentic flavours of Sarawakian cuisine.

Ultimately, Pansoh Ayam is an iconic ethnic dish that is deeply rooted in the cultural heritage of the Dayak community in Sarawak. Some believe that the dish is a perfect example of how the lack of modern-day kitchen essentials like pots and gas stoves led to the creation of a unique and delicious dish that has stood the test of time.

If you are planning a trip to Sarawak, make sure to try Pansoh Ayam, and experience the unique flavours and aromas of this iconic dish. And, if you happen to be in Sarawak during the Gawai Dayak festival, do not miss the opportunity to try Pansoh Ayam as part of the traditional feast served during the celebration!

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