Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know Part 40

Andrew’s Essential Fiery Food Facts that a Pyro-Gourmaniac needs to Know Part 40

Fiery Cuisines Part 29…… Sambawan Cuisine

People that know me, know my love of the Eastern Islands of Indonesia,The cuisines are simply, at the same time complex in flavour. Their use of Chillies and spices blow my mind, the number of Vegan and Vegetarian dishes is amazing. The Seafood, Poultry and meat dishes, different to the rest of Indonesia, I hope this takes you away to one of my favourite places

Sumbawa is an Indonesian island, to the east of Bali with a population of about 1.5 million people. It is located in the middle of the Lesser Sunda Islands chain, with Lombok to the west, Flores to the east, and Sumba further to the southeast. It is part of the province of West Nusa Tenggara, but there are presently steps being taken by the Indonesian government to turn the island into a separate province. The island is bound by bodies of water; to the west is Alas Strait, south is the Indian Ocean, Saleh Bay creates a major north-central indentation in the island, and the Flores Sea runs the length of the northern coastline. The Sape Strait lies to the east of the island and separates Sumbawa from Flores and the Komodo Islands, there are a number bays and gulfs, most notably Bima Bay, Cempi Bay, and Waworada Bay. It marks the boundary between the islands to the west, which were influenced by religion and culture spreading from India, and the region to the east that was less influenced. Sumbawa is like two islands, divided by geography and language: Sumbawa in the West (Samawa ethnic group) and Bima (Mbojo ethnic group) to the East. The island has historical links with the Makassarese people of South Sulawesi and the Chinese who traded in these waters for hundreds of years. With this population size, the island of Sumbawa has two spoken languages. On the Western side of the island the people speak Basa Semawa and on the Eastern side of the island the people speak Nggahi Mbojo. Traditionally the island is known as the source of sappanwood, as well as honey and sandalwood. Its savanna-like climate and vast grasslands are used to breed horses and cattle and to hunt deer.

Around 85 percent of Sumbawa’s terrain is mountainous. The plains yield prosperous crops and excellent returns to farmers who have long enjoyed the benefits of the fertile volcanic soil, enriched by the dramatic eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. The Guinness Book of World Records describes this event as “the biggest volcanic eruption in modern history”. The top third of the mountain was blown off and over 150 cubic kilometres of rock and ash was showered across the valley.

Sumba had always been an isolated island. It was inhabited by several small ethno linguistic groups. Sumba had its own civilization. There were small clans or kingdoms with their own customs, own social structures, and ceremonies during the cycle of life such as birth, marriage, and death.

In the fourteenth century, Sumba was part of the Javanese Majapahit dynasty. After this dynasty had collapsed, Sumba came under the rule of Bima in Sumbawa and later Gowa in Sulawesi. These political changes had little impact on daily life in Sumba. Life was more influenced by internal wars between clans and small kingdoms concerning land and trading rights. In these clan wars warriors brought the heads of the killed enemies to their villages and speared them up on so-called skull-trees (Andung) in the middle of the village. They believed that the heads would bring a good harvest and wealth for the village. There were also kidnapping and slavery between villages. Sometimes slaves were sold to neighbouring islands. Because of these wars and attacks, villages were built on hills or mountains and surrounded by stone walls for protection. Despite their hostility, they were economically dependent on each other: the inland villagers grew wood, Betel nut, Rice, and fruit, while coastal residents made Ikat, wove textiles, produced Salt, and operated fishing and trading with other islands. Islands around Sumba regarded Sumba as a very violent island. Today you can still see skull-trees and sculls near the Rumah Adat in some villages. Today it still happens that Sumbanese burn houses or villages of other ethnic clans or tribes. Within the last years at least 3 traditional Marapu villages have been partly destroyed that way. I heard the story that recently someone cut out someone’s liver in order to cut out his soul ,which they believe is located there, and ate it.

In 1522 the first ships of the Portuguese people came here. The Netherlands, later the colonialists of Indonesia, initially gave little attention to Sumba because they saw no significant commercial interests in Sumba. Also the large number of small kingdoms made it hard to install a significant impact. The Netherlands did not discover the value of sandalwood until the 18th century, but then started interfering in Sumba. In 1756 a treaty was made between the Dutch United East India Company (VOC) and some of the Sumbanese nobles. Sandalwood was cut to a considerable extent and exported. Sumba was known as Sandalwood Island. This created vast, arid grasslands or savannas.

From 1866 Sumba or in Dutch language Soemba belonged formal legally to the Dutch East Indies. In 1906 Dutch troops invaded Sumba because clan wars disturbed the colonial trade. In 1913 the Netherlands set up a loose civil administration in Sumba. However this changed the social structures of Sumba only very slowly. Actions of the Dutch to gain more power and influence, ended often in bloody conflicts.

Given the location of the island, Sumbawa culture and religion are greatly influenced by many different countries including India, Vietnam, and the Indochina peninsula. Hindu and Buddhist cultures are both practiced on the island, however most of the people who live there are Muslim. Sumba is one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia. As an undeveloped country, the majority of work comes from agriculture and natural resources. Tourism is a growing industry on the island, however the island is difficult to reach for tourists.

Sumbawan cuisine is popular throughout Indonesia. The cuisine is part of everyday life, as associated with religion and tradition. Sumbawa is nothing like Bali when it comes to eating but the food is good and cheap. Their aren’t too many places to eat , but you can find Warungs, Usually you find a place to eat, where a local would give you your own plate, then you get a bit of rice and then choose what food you want with it. There is no service, you just pick whatever food you want and walk to a table. There you eat your food, and afterward you pay for what you ate. However, to be able to pay for what you eat, you need to be able to communicate what exactly is was you ate. Explaining what you eat can be quite a funny thing as most of the locals don’t speak English and my Indonesian is very limited.

The island is near universally Muslim and outside of the surfer areas you’ll generally not see alcohol being consumed in public at all. It is there, generally your hotel will often get you some beer if you ask, but make sure to tell them you’d prefer it cold, also Chinese restaurants also sell it. One of the most popular dishes comes from the island’s main capital, Sumbawa Besar. It offers a pleasant combination of ingredients and flavours, which typically consist of fish, Coconut and Rice. As-Syura, a popular dish that is most often served during the Muslim holiday of 10 Marruban, is one of these popular dishes. It is believed that Noah would not have enough room in his arc for a lot of food, so he decided to create a dish that had a lot of different basic ingredients, sufficient enough for the unforeseen road ahead. Other famous dishes include singang, a dish made up of Fish and curry and sepat , a Fish dish served with dip and rice. All of these dishes can be easily located in food stalls throughout the island.

Sepat is a typical food in the Sumbawa region. It tastes fresh acids, these shoes are usually made or cooked during the fasting month, 30 days of fasting, then 30 days also complete the menu for breaking the fast. This food is popular on Sumbawa. Indeed, this is one of the Sumbawa regional specialties.