Pansuh Food: A Culinary Gem of the Iban Tribe in Malaysia

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The Iban tribe, originating from Sarawak, Borneo, has a rich culinary tradition that stands out for its unique method of preparation and flavours. One of their most renowned dishes is the Pansuh food, which is characterized by its cooking technique using bamboo stems.

Source: nst

Cooking in Bamboo:

Pansuh food is not just a dish but a method of cooking where food, be it meat, chicken, fish, or vegetables, is placed inside a bamboo stem along with spices. This bamboo stem is then placed directly over an open fire. The bamboo not only acts as a cooking vessel but also imparts a distinct aroma and texture to the food, which is not achievable with conventional cooking methods like using woks.

Source: borneotalk

Rainforest: The Iban Supermarket:

Having settled in Sarawak over 400 years ago, the Iban tribe has always utilized the vast resources of the rainforest. From sourcing food to medicines and even materials for their dwellings, the rainforest has been their go-to place. Forest ferns, especially midin and the fiddlehead fern (pucuk paku), are integral to their diet. The ferns, once considered a rural staple, gained popularity in urban areas in the 1980s due to the urban migration of the Iban.

Signature Dishes:

Among the many dishes the Iban tribe is known for, “pansoh manok” or “ayam pansuh” stands out. It consists of chicken and lemongrass cooked in a bamboo log over an open flame. The result is a tender chicken dish with a gravy that carries the fragrances of lemongrass and bamboo. Additionally, visitors to the Iban longhouses are often greeted with tuak, a home-brewed rice wine that is both fragrant and potent.

Source: Reddit.


The Pansuh food of the Iban tribe is a testament to the tribe’s deep connection with nature and their innovative culinary techniques. It’s a culinary experience that goes beyond just taste, offering a glimpse into the rich culture and traditions of the Iban people of Malaysia.


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Article curated by Suwaytha Gopal