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Heritage foods to be nominated for Unesco recognition
Published on: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
By: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians are a fortunate lot as the country is home to hundreds of delicious traditional foods. Ondeh-ondeh, satay, putu piring, lemang, pajeri, gulai tempoyak, otak-otak, pekasam and nasi kerabu are only a few of the delicious traditional foods that Malaysians get enjoy, each originating from the different states and cultures that make up Malaysia.

Some of these foods are still served during festive seasons and special ceremonies. Some are even produced commercially.

A lot of it, however, are slowly disappearing from the local menu due to changing times and evolving palates. It is no surprise that many from the younger generation have not even heard of these foods that were once a favourite of their great grandparents’.

The National Heritage Department (JWN) has, to date, declared 213 foods to be traditional foods under Act 645 of the National Heritage Act 2005 to ensure that these foods remain a part of Malaysian culture and continue to be enjoyed by the current and future generations.

The JWN Deputy Director General Mohamad Muda Bahadin said that ketupat sotong, nasi minyak and nasi dagang were among the food included in the list.

 “This act provides for the conservation and preservation of National Heritage, natural heritage, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, underwater cultural heritage, treasure trove and related matters,” he told Bernama.

JWN defines heritage as what is inherited by the previous generation. It is described as a national treasure that was, or is, owned by a community or people, and thus it become a collective responsibility to protect and preserve it.

Heritage food can be considered as part of a culture that needs to be preserved so that it can be enjoyed and appreciated by the generations to come.

Mohamad Muda said that JWN has travelled across the nation to seek out housewives, entrepreneurs and those from the older generation who were still producing these heritage foods.

 “Our researchers and officers have conducted studies and created an inventory of traditional foods passed down from our ancestors and have now become part of the identity of a people.

 “Details of these heritage foods such as the name, photos, videos, methods of creation, storage, preparation and the festivals or occasions related with it are all recorded,” Mohamad Muda explained.

He added that tourists and the public are introduced to traditional foods through demonstrations on its preparations, official government events and sales through other government departments and agencies.

One such occasion was during the 2019 National Craft Day celebration where JWN organised cooking demonstrations of several national heritage foods.

 “Among them were the ketupat dakap, which was a sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf and steamed, the ketupat palas, a sticky rice wrapped in palas leaves and steamed, pulut kuning, lopes and buah Melaka. These cooking demonstrations were a hit with visitors,” he said.

Mohamad Muda said that every ethnic group in Malaysia has their own heritage food, most of which are now enjoyed by all Malaysians.

 “Nasi lemak, for example, was originally a breakfast food of ethnic Malays. Today, it is a food loved by all ethnicities and enjoyed not only for breakfast, but for lunch and dinner as well,” he said.

Chinese favourites such as dim sum, mee and kuey teow are also now beloved by Malaysians of all ethnicities.

Foods popular among the ethnicities of Sabah and Sarawak such as umai, linut and manok pansuh are also becoming increasingly popular nationwide, indirectly contributing towards social unity.

(Umai is a dish of sliced raw fish with a mixture of onions, chillies, salt and lime juice; linut – a sticky porridge made from fresh sago flour; manok pansuh – chicken cooked in bamboo).

Meanwhile, JWN’s World Heritage Division Director Mohd Syahrin Abdullah said that the department was working towards obtaining recognition for the heritage foods by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

He added that food was an intangible heritage element that could be nominated for recognition for Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity under the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage 2003. 

However, the recognition requires the fulfilment of several criteria such as ensuring the visibility and awareness of the significance of the heritage and stimulating a dialogue that reflects the cultural diversity and creative expression of the element.

Mohd Syahrin said that in order to obtain approval to the Unesco, the nomination form would first be evaluated by an Advisory Board selected by the Unesco Secretariat.

A panel of experts in intangible heritage and an appointed body, known as the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, would then examine each of the nominations before officially inscribing the candidates as elements on the list.

The committee would announce the final decision when it convenes, which usually happens in November or December every year.

 “If an element is recognised as part of the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, we would be given a certificate signed by the Unesco Director-General,” he explained.

The list of heritage foods under the National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645)

l Air Janda Pulang, Gula Tarik/Sema, Kelamai/Gelamai Tepung Gandum, Ketupat Sotong, Kuih Bongkong/Jongkong, Kuih Tahi Itik, Kuih Tepung Torak, Sambal Hitam Ikan Bilis, Kuih Badak Kubang, Aiskrim Malaysia, Pulut Mangga, Sambal Tahun, Bingka/Bengkang Sawit, Kuih Cek Mek Molek, Cucur Jawa/Cucur Topi/Kuih Penyaram, Kuih Angku/Kuih Peria, Opor Daging, Nasi Minyak, Pulut Durian, Kelupis, Nasi Dalam Buluh, Sup Tulang, Ubi Gadong Parut Masak Dalam Buluh, Ikan Rebus Kering, Ikan Cencaru Sumbat, Sayur Midin Goreng, Masak Lemak Mumbang, Masak Lemak Kulat Sisir, Bubur Lambuk, Bubur Nasi/Nasi Air, Bubur Anak Lebah, Ais Kepal, Emping, Kek Lapis Sarawak, Jala Emas, Kuih Ros, Kuih Kole Kacang, Kuih Bangkit, Kasui, Emas Sejemput, Buah Tanjung, Tepung Pelita, Lompat Tikam, Kuih Siput, Pau, Kuih Getas, Kuih Kasidah, Inang-Inang, Tebaloi, Kerepek, Celorot, Kuih Ketayap, Solok Lada, Solok Ikan, Kebebe, Air Nira, Durian, Rempeyek, Puding Raja, Pengat, Ganti Tandan Jagung, Apam, Apom, Kuih Pepena, Tau Fu Fa, Bubur cha-cha, Pulut Tekan dengan Seri Kaya, Popia, Pie Tee, Ambuyat/Pinantung, Tompe’/Tinompeh, Nonsom Bambangan, Tuak, Rojak, Kuih Rengas, Ubi Kayu Rebus dan Sambal Tumis, Putu Piring, Murtabak, Capati, Choonpiah, Jemput-Jemput, Itik Golek, Umbut Rebus, Sambal Biji Getah, Gulai Masam Keladi Kemahang, Sambal Tempoyak Daun Kayu, Pindang, Sotong Sumbat, Rendang Campur, Kari Kapitan, Sup Belut, Nasi Kebuli, Sambal Rong, Sambal Goreng, Tauge dan Tauhu Masak Lemak, Lawa Terung, Lompap Daging dan Hati, Ayam Pong Teh, Ayam Masak Buah Keluak, Jantung Pisang, Gerang Asam, Budu, Ambila, Asam Rebus, Tempe, Keema, Tauhu, Inche Kabin, Kari Devil, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Ayam, Nasi Kunyit, Nasi Tumpang, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Dagang, Nasi Himpit, Nasi Goreng, Nasi Ulam, Ketupat, Lemang, Pulut Kukus Dalam Periuk Kera, Mi Mamak, Laksa Asam, Mi Kari, Char Kuay Teow Pulau Pinang, Laksa Johor, Bubur Pedas Sarawak, Bubur Asyura, Bubur Sum-Sum, Bubur Kacang Hijau, Sagu, Kuih Bingka Ubi, Rendang, Serunding, Ayam Percik, Manok Pansoh, Masak Asam Pedas, Gulai Tempoyak Ikan Patin, Ikan Bakar, Masak Ikan Tanah Liat, Gulai Lemak Umbut, Gulai Lemak Lada Padi, Gulai Asam Rom, Kari Kepala Ikan, Kurma daging, Pajeri, Masak ikan dan pisang dalam buluh, Yong Tau Foo, Daging Dendeng, Ayam Panggang, Botok-botok ikan, Sambal tumis, Ketam berlada, Teh tarik, Cendol, Air batu campur (ABC), Air kelapa, Air selasih, Hinava/Umai, Pekasam, Tempoyak, Otak-otak, Sambal belacan, Cencaluk, Sambal gesek ikan bilis, Sate atau Satay, Yee sang, Sata, Telur pindang, Kerabu mangga muda, Acar buah, Kuih keria, Kuih koci, Akok, Kuih seri muka, Kuih cara, Kuih bingka, Kuih bakul, Kuih bulan, Kuih cincin, Kuih bakar, Kuih sepit, Apam balik, Pisang goreng, Keropok, Opok-opok, Karipap, Buah melaka atau ondeh-ondeh, Lempeng, Bahulu, Dodol, Lempuk durian, Wajik, Seri kaya, Halwa, Agar-agar sakar, Pulut panggang, Tapai, Masalodeh, Putu mayam, Muruku, Roti jala, Roti canai, Tosai, Penderam, Kuih lopis, Laddu, Ubi kayu, Puding raja, La-tiang, Halwa sukun, Wajik sirat, Wajik ubi kayu . – Bernama



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