RCE Kuching[type]


Sarawak Indigenous Cuisine: Preserving its Identity and Heritage
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Sarawak Indigenous Cuisine: Preserving its Identity and Heritage
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Kuching
Contributing organization(s) : 
UCSI University
Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Mukvinder Sandhu
Organizational Affiliation: 
UCSI University
Asst Prof Christopher Wan
Organizational Affiliation: 
UCSI University
Format of project: 
Manuscript, Recipe Book, Video Documentary
Language of project: 
English and Malay
Date of submission:
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Geographical & Education Information
Kuching Sarawak
Address of focal point institution for project: 
UCSI University
Lot 2976 Block 7 Muara Tebas Land District
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
This project was conducted in several outskirt areas of Sarawak. Most areas are reachable by car, however, for some, river transportation was sought as they are very remote areas. The socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the targeted villages may vary depending on the location, cultural and economic activities. Sarawak is home to various indigenous ethnic groups including the Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau among others. Most villagers make a living by fishing at nearby rivers, agriculture and small-scale trading. Most rely on subsistence farming and small-scale businesses as often other employment opportunities are scarce and the younger generation often moves to urban areas to seek employment. Most villages have access to electricity and clean water but may be affected by poor internet infrastructure. Many of these villages still practice traditional ceremonies and rituals, shaping their socioeconomic dynamics. There is much reliance on the rainforests near their villages as they provide wild edibles used in their traditional cuisines. Deforestation and logging in some areas of Sarawak may have affected many of these communities who rely on these forests.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Sarawak's diverse rainforests face deforestation and logging, impacting the environment and livelihoods of the indigenous communities who rely on these forests. The rivers and waterways are important ways to access some of these villages and most communities rely on these rivers for food, however environmental degradation and pollution have started to threaten these resources. Also, most indigenous communities face challenges to keep their traditional knowledge alive as most youth prefer to adopt modern ways of living and seek more lucrative employment opportunities in the urban areas of Sarawak and Malaysia.
January, 2022
To preserve the cultural culinary practices from the selected five
indigenous groups in Sarawak; the Bidayuh, Iban, Orang Ulu, Melanau and Chinese communities.
Besides enriching literature on gastronomy culture, the project is designed at documenting the culinary heritage of the indigenous communities of Sarawak who face common struggles to preserve this valuable knowledge.
With the rising curiosity and demand for gastronomy tourism, the outputs of this project should benefit the local communities, especially the indigenous people in Sarawak, besides also boosting the younger generations pride of their cultural heritage.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Various villages best representing the indigenous communities were targeted through the indigenous associations. The association and village heads were interviewed for in-depth information about the culinary heritage of these groups. Recces were conducted by the research team, before a village was 'shortlisted' as the village that best reflects a particular indigenous group.
Size of academic audience: 
Yet to be published. ISBN pending for recipe book. Manuscript has been submitted to the Journal of Ethic Foods.
The following are the outputs of this project:
1. A research article documenting the connotation of indigenous cuisines and festivals of the Bidayuh Indigenous group;
2. A recipe book detailing the recipes and cooking methods of the indigenous cuisines in writing;
3. A video documentary to capture a richer context on the culinary practices where interactions with the local indigenous community is recorded.
More research manuscripts will be produced using the data that has been gathered during this project.
Lessons learned: 
Various challenges were faced. Since most of these villages are in remote areas, it required the research team to travel the depths of Sarawak, often times, having to reach these places by boat after several hours. In the early part of the project, the team faced delays due to extreme bad weather conditions, making it unsafe to travel to these places. It was also a challenge to shortlist some of these villages, as there was often times dispute over which village best represented a particular group.
Key messages: 
It is hoped that this project which aims to
inspire us through the exploration and
capturing of Indigenous cultures and
heritage, continue to serve as a constant
reminder of the profound richness of our
indigenous communities.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
This project was funded entirely by the Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts, Sarawak, Malaysia.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon pic 1 Documentary shooting and recceing villages.png (336.79 KB) Documentary shooting and recceing villages Research Project Team
Image icon pic2 documentary shooting and data collection.png (393.52 KB) Documentary shooting and data collection
Image icon pic 3 transportation to remote villages.png (395.73 KB) Transportation to remote villages
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
Traditional Knowledge  
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: