East Malaysian Snacks Kaamatan Gawai

5 irresistible East Malaysian snacks to enjoy this harvest season

June is almost here and if you are Sarawakian, you know what that means – the Hari Gawai holidays are just around the corner!

The end of May also marks Tadau Kaamatan, celebrated by our fellow East Malaysians in Sabah and Labuan. Although both are harvest festivals, they have distinctively different traditions and rituals.

Yet these holidays share one common theme – gathering with family and friends and enjoying delicious food together.

However, there is always the risk of binge eating, accidental weight gain, stress, and anxiety, which is why you should practice mindful snacking habits.

Here are five mouth-watering Sabah and Sarawak treats and how to enjoy them while using mindful snacking:

Must-have East Malaysian treats

Kuih Sarang Semut or Kuih Jala

Kuih Sarang Semut - ellynelyvians Instagram
Photo: @ellynelyvians on Instagram

Sarawakian Sarang Semut – translated to “ant’s nest” – is also known as Kuih Jala and enjoyed by both children and adults alike.

Similar to the West Malaysian Kuih Karas, this soft and chewy snack is made by frying long thin strings of glutinous rice flour, tapioca flour, and sugar.

How to snack mindfully: Take a few moments to bite, chew and savour the unique crunchy texture to guarantee a more satisfying snacking experience.


Penganan - augustine_manjah01 Instagram
Photo: @augustine_manjah01 on Instagram

Personally, the Sarawakian penganan is a favourite of mine – in our household we call it the “Mexican hats” as they resemble a sombrero!

This mini cake is fried using a mixture of rice flour, sugar, and coconut milk, giving a sweet and slightly salty taste with a crispy exterior and soft, chewy interior.

How to snack mindfully: Practice moderation and portion control by savouring one piece of this fried deliciousness at a time.


Hinompuka - jeremyjay13 Instagram
Photo: @jeremyjay13 on Instagram

Hinompuka is a delicious Kadazan delicacy presented as a steamed glutinous rice cake wrapped in fragrant banana leaves.

Creamy and chewy, some recipes use coconut milk or palm sugar. Its sweet and subtle flavour comes from adding pandan, banana, or grated yam.

How to snack mindfully: Other than controlling your portions, try removing distractions, slowing down your eating, and checking yourself before reaching for another.


Tebaloi - michelledxplorer Instagram
Photo: @michelledxplorer on Instagram

A traditional food of the Melanau community, tebaloi or sago biscuits are also widely enjoyed and in high demand all over Borneo.

Made from sago flour, coconut, sugar, and eggs, tebaloi is available in a variety of interesting flavours and colours.

How to snack mindfully: Eat moderate portions while appreciating the unique taste experience resulting from the firewood grill.


Bambangan - fruitarian Instagram
Photo: @fruitarian on Instagram

You may think this is mango, but it is actually a Borneo specialty fruit characterised by its thick brown skin and distinct fragrance!

It has a sour and tangy flavour like mango or jackfruit. A common way to prepare it is pickling it with salt, grated bambangan seed, and chilli to make dishes like Hinava Ginapan for Tadau Kaamatan.

How to snack mindfully: Give each bite your full attention and enjoy the snacking moment longer no matter how the dish is prepared.

Time to snack away – mindfully

Mondelez Mindful Snacking
Photo: Mondelez International

If you’re an East Malaysian away from home or simply want to try these Bornean snacks, go ahead and seek out these delicious delights!

Enjoying local food is always a wonderful way to experience in the cultural heritage during the Kaamatan and Gawai seasons while satisfying your tastebuds.

Just remember to be mindful during your snacking experience – starting small allows you to enjoy these treats to their fullest while practicing a better lifestyle.

According to Mondelēz International, 78% of people today are more likely to take their time to savour indulgent snacks, with 61% more likely to portion their food.

Do you consider yourself a mindful snacker? Learn more about these healthy snacking habits and benefits by checking out www.snackmindful.com.

Featured image: michelledexplorer & i_love_stay_at_home

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