Lemang: Authentic Borneo Dayak Cuisine Sold in Jakarta

"Lemang: Authentic Dayak Ethnic cuisine. Image Source: WAG Koperasi Landak.

As one of the world's ethnic groups, the Dayak people also have their own culinary specialties. One of the many Dayak specialties is "Lemang." 

Lemang is a traditional food that is very popular among the Dayak community, as well as in various regions in Indonesia and also in several Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Brunei.

Dayak traditional foods are usually made as part of special celebrations, especially during festive occasions like Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

Lemang: Ingredients and How to Make It

Lemang is made from glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk inside bamboo. The process of making lemang begins by soaking the glutinous rice first to make it softer.

After that, the glutinous rice is mixed with coconut milk and a little salt, then placed into bamboo stems that have been lined with banana leaves inside. These banana leaves serve to prevent the lemang from sticking to the bamboo and add a distinctive aroma when the lemang is grilled.

The bamboo filled with glutinous rice and coconut milk is then grilled over an open fire. The grilling process must be done carefully, and the bamboo is often rotated to ensure the lemang cooks evenly. This process can take several hours, depending on the size and quantity of lemang being made.

Lemang: Distinctive Flavor

The taste of lemang is very unique and delicious; its savory texture from the coconut milk and the aroma of the burnt bamboo make it a special dish. Lemang is usually eaten with side dishes such as rendang, serundeng, or sambal. The combination of the savory taste of lemang with the spiciness or rich spices of the side dishes makes it very enjoyable as a dish for various events and celebrations.

At Rumah Buah in the Lippo Karawaci Mall complex in Tangerang, lemang is sold for Rp 25,000 per piece.

For the Dayak people, lemang is not just food, but also a part of their cultural heritage that contains traditional values and togetherness. The process of making lemang, which requires cooperation and patience, is a symbol of community and solidarity in society.

Lemang Sold at Fruit Houses in Jakarta

Lemang is becoming more widespread and accessible in Jakarta. Although initially it might only be found in traditional markets like Pasar Senen, now lemang is also available at fruit houses in various areas in Jakarta. This shows an increasing interest from Jakarta's residents in tasting traditional culinary delights from various regions in Indonesia, including those from the Dayak ethnic group.

The size of lemang sold at fruit houses is around 40 cm, and the price is Rp 25,000.

The price may vary depending on the region and the seller, but this seems to be quite affordable considering the size and uniqueness of this food. A large lemang like that is usually sufficient to be enjoyed with family or friends as a main dish or snack during gatherings.

Opening Opportunities for Urban Communities

The presence of lemang at fruit houses in Jakarta opens up opportunities for urban communities to enjoy the deliciousness of Dayak cuisine without having to travel to its place of origin. This can also be a business opportunity for food vendors and fruit house owners to offer a more diverse range of culinary options to their customers.

With easier access to Dayak specialties such as lemang in Jakarta, it is hoped that it will further enrich the variety of culinary offerings in the capital city and also broaden the understanding and appreciation of the diversity of culture and cuisine in Indonesia.

  • Masri Sareb Putra

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