In the Islamic country of Brunei, rice and fish are the staple foods, pork is prohibited, while beef is expensive hence less commonly consumed.
The trading and import of meats which are not certified to be halal is banned, while the sale of alcohol is considered illegal.
Brunei may be the only Southeast Asian country to practise Sharia law, but it is one of the safest and most peace-loving.
Curious to learn more about the different types of local dishes and cuisine in Brunei? Here’s a list to get you started…
1. Nasi Katok
Nasi Katok is one of Brunei’s most commonly found dishes. Sold from as low as B$1 (even cheaper in the suburbs), Nasi Katok is a minimalist and undecorated dish consisting of only three components: plain white rice, sambal (chilli shrimp relish) and a piece of fried chicken.
Despite being a simple dish, Nasi Katok managed to get itself into the franchising business and clinched the title of being a staple food loved by the Bruneians.
2. Exotic durians
There are a few types of durians that can only be found in Brunei and across the Borneo island, and Durian Sukang (red durian) and Durian Dalit (orange durian) are two of them.
While commercially planted durian produces thicker layers of flesh, the durians collected from the deep remote Borneo jungles have thinner layers of flesh and bear a distinct alcoholic-like flavour.
The redder the flesh, the stronger the flavours and the more expensive they are.
Ambuyat is one national dish that surprisingly only very few know about. Created by the Bruneian Malay, this dish is prepared using the interior trunk of a sago palm.
The starchy, flavourless and glutinous substance is eaten using a pair of prongs made from bamboo called chandas.
To eat, simply and artfully twirl the starch around the bamboo sticks until it becomes a deflated ball, before dipping it into any type of cacah (dip) or side dishes of choice, such as tempoyak (fermented durian paste), chilli sauce, ulaman (raw salad) or curry.
Another classic recipe created by the Malay people of Brunei, Kelupis is a type of glutinous rice rolls wrapped in Nyirik leaves.
It is traditionally served during wedding ceremonies or special occasions by the Bisaya, Lun Bawang and Lundayeh ethnic tribes as light refreshments.
It is available with different fillings such as dried shrimp or anchovies, or dipped into a peanut paste or curries.
Cucur is really just fritters – pieces of diced ingredients, deep-fried and eaten as snacks.
In Brunei, cucur plays a huge role in the country’s street food scene and is sold everywhere from roadside food stalls to top-rated restaurants.
Eaten as either a sweet or savoury snack, cucur is most commonly made using fruits and vegetables such as bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots or yams, as well as shrimps.
For more exotic varieties, look out for fritters prepared using local seasonal fruits such as durian, tibadak (cempedak), tarap (johey oak) or sukun (breadfruit).
As the population of Brunei is made up mostly of Malays, the preparation and consumption of kuih-muih is widespread.
These traditional snacks are conveniently sold in bite-size pieces, come in different shapes and colours, and are made primarily of rice flour, sugar, coconut cream and tapioca.
Examples of the most popular kuih-muih in Brunei are selurut, penyaram, tapai and kuih cincin.
Most of the dishes in Brunei can be found in Malaysia. If you are accustomed with the flavours of Malaysian cuisine, you should have no issues dining here.
Malay food is generally mild, slightly spicy and very filling, so you can rest assured your meals here will be a tummy-pleasing one.
This article first appeared in rollinggrace.com
Grace Ng is a serial wanderluster, solo female traveler, award-winning recipe developer and travel writer.