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Preserving legacy of the Kadazan
Published on: Monday, March 02, 2020
By: Lorena Binisol
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In the olden days, salt was used to preserve food.
DETERMINED to preserve Kadazan legacy, Evelyn Annol equipped herself with knowledge and skills she learnt from her parents such as the language, history, tradition and food.

On her wish list is the preservation of Kadazan recipe into a book.

Evelyn had no problem sourcing for the recipes as her mother, Rosenani Sogondu, has all the information in her fingertips.

“My mother is my great motivator for she has been the one championing all these beautiful and alluring Kadazan food.  And now, I am determined to put them all together in a book. I am very excited about it,” said Evelyn.

 Popular dessert: Tapioca with Dahit in broth.

At her home in Kg Penapah in Kondis, Sugud, Evelyn prepared 10 types of Kadazan food for tasting.

She said these food are her everyday meal.

“In one hour I can make many types of dishes. I have been doing it for many years. All my children know how to eat these food as they have been trained since young.”

She had Pinasakan Sada (fish simmered with sour fruits); Kokoiton (homemade salted fish) with Bambangan; Sup Soko apaon miampai Manuk Kampung (Bamboo shoot cooked in chicken soup), Hinugu Kiou (barbequed brinjal); Ginuling Sada (fried fish); Hinava Sada (raw fish salad); Hinava Solimpogun (herbs salad); Napa Taduk (yam stalk); and two dessert – Hinompuka (black rice flour steamed in banana leaves and Tonimbu Mundok Miampai Dahit (Tapioca broth with durian).

She said the recipes would be documented accordingly, so people who would like to try Kadazan dishes can easily get them.

She shared the secret of making good food lies in the bare hands of the cook.

 A popular Kadazan dish.

According to her mother, it is best to use hands to cut the vegetables (instead of knife), to mix the ingredients with hands (instead of using spoon), that way, the taste would be so much better and different.

“As much as possible, we want to live life naturally, to be close with nature.  We are given two hands to work, make use of it. Of course, using knife to cut is so much more convenient but with bare hands, I guarantee you the taste is so much yummier,” she said.

At a time when there was no refrigerator to store food, people used salt to preserve them. Her mother taught her to continue with preserving all types of preserved food, made into pickled stuff.  

“For all you know, these pickled food become our Kadazan icon and people from other countries place so much interest in it, some even want me to tell them the recipe. I have no problem sharing it.”

She, however, warned that some of the pickles could be pungent which produced some funny smell after a certain period of time.

She said it is just like the cheese made by the Europeans; it has some funny smell too, for those who are not used to it.

“The Kadazan pickles are an acquired taste, it is either you like it or not, there is nothing in between. After attempting a few samples, you will develop fondness for it,” she promised.

“Apart from the pickled stuff, we are pretty good with salad made of raw ingredients as well.

“For example our Hinava Solimpogun, which is a type of plants wildly grown made into salad, crush the leaves with your hands, put a bit of pounded dried prawn, mix it well with just salt and lime.”

 Evelyn was excited to show the blooming grapes to her husband Marcus. 


Besides cooking, Evelyn has been campaigning to her family and friends to grow their own plants and fruit trees.

She has become the motivator to her fellow villagers to have love for the environment by creating their own “orchard” in the backyard.

She said it gives her a sense of satisfaction and calmness whenever she is gardening or simply just looking at her little garden.

“I talk to my plants everyday, believe it or not. They are irresistible. You can’t stop staring at them the first thing you wake up in the morning. They give me happiness. Even the ducks and chickens are my happiness for they remind me of the good old days.”

 Evelyn also rears ducks and chickens.

On her two-acre land, she grows Durian trees, Rambutan, Langsat, Jackfruit, Mangoesteens and many types of edible herbs, among others.

While giving me a tour at her little farm, Evelyn was astonished to find her grape vine producing fruits.

Jumping with excitement, she called out for her husband Marcus Josue @ Boyd to have a look at the little grapes just about to bloom in full, it was as if she had found treasures in her backyard. Amazing feeling, she reckoned.

Even more interesting, she named her four children with Kadazan-sounding words – Linibid, Sobinti, Gumbanol and Jud @ Butod.

She explained Linibid means brightness (ninavau); Sobinti is her great-grandfather’s name; Gumbanol means great spirit (Sunduvan Komohoingan) and Jud means miraculous and multitasking.

 The Kinavo Kinulabut-labut was a common headgear in the past. 

One of her plans upon retirement is to set up Kadazan Museum by collecting all the items that used to be in the households of the Kadazan people in the early days. A land had been identified to build museum.

Meanwhile, she had been collecting all the items for display in the museum, noting that many households in Penampang possess the “antiques”.

Among her collections was an old iron and hand-woven hat. Each has strong historical value, said Evelyn. She said the iron is easily more than 50 years old.  

 Some of the antiques that she hoped to display in the Kadazan Museum.

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