A Taste Of Sarawak : Kenyalang Rice By Antares Ventures

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So many choices of Kenyalang rice

A few days ago, I came upon Kenyalang Rice packed in rectangular shapes at Jaya Grocer. My first impression was that they look like premium rice with a price tag to match. They stood out in the rice section because of the special packaging, looks like something you can include in a gift basket.

On googling for more information, Kenyalang Rice is from Antares Ventures in Sarawak. They work closely with various locals in efforts to preserve the paddy planting traditions with effective modern marketing. Therefore, enabling the rural farmers to bring unique produces to a larger market and increases their household income and livelihood.

Antares Ventures’ Goals and Vision

1. To prosper the rural paddy farmers of Sarawak, Borneo.

2. To grow and preserve the paddy planting traditions and activities of Sarawak.

At Antares Ventures, they work together with their various rural farmers from the Bidayuh tribe (Sea Dayaks), Iban tribe (Land Dayak) and from the highlands of Northeastern of Sarawak, the Kelabit tribe and Lunbawang tribe.

Using traditional paddy planting practices, their farmers grow their own unique, heirloom rice and grains annually. Thus, allowing their paddy fields sufficient time to regenerate and ensuring that each rice harvest produces are of the highest quality.

These are some of their rice variants:

Sia & Pandan White Rice

Sia is an indigenous red rice variety cultivated traditionally by the Lun Bawang tribe of Ba’kelalan, Lawas, in the northeastern highlands of Borneo.

The rice’s natural red colour comes naturally from a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which is high in antioxidants and essential nutrients such as manganese and calcium. The rice is popular among locals as it is said to help lower cholesterol levels. It is semi-polished to achieve a balance between its nutrients and eating quality. The rice is aromatic and tasty and has a soft texture when cooked.

Pandan White Rice is a medium-long grain cultivated by local paddy farmers from Lawas, Sarawak to Sipitang, Sabah. The rice fields are well irrigated, and a semi-modern rice cultivation method is applied. It is a double-cropping grain variety that can be cultivated two times per annum. When cooked, the rice is tasty with a subtle sweetness and has a slightly sticky and soft texture.

Fragrant White Rice

A medium-long fragrant rice variety from Siburan, Padawan, Bau and Lundu districts in Sarawak. The method of rice cultivation is done naturally, while some are still done traditionally by the local paddy farmers. 

The rice is aromatic and has a subtle sweetness in flavour with a soft and slightly sticky texture when cooked. 

  • Characteristics : Long grain, Medium size, White & Slight Translucent 
  • Texture : Slight Sticky 
  • Taste : Slight Sweet 
  • Aroma : Mild 
  • Anti-Oxidant Level : Low Nutrients : Iron & Protein 
  • Ideal for : Steamed rice, Fried rice, Asian cuisine & Curry 
Biris, Bireh Red & Bali Keladi

The Biris rice is a traditional long grain rice variety that originates from Simunjan, specifically in Lubok Punggor at Kota Samarahan district. It has long been cultivated by the local Malay and Iban communities and made its debut in the early 1980s as society became more affluent. 

The paddy field is irrigated by rainwater and produced in small quantities with little usage of fertiliser, with areas ranging in size from 0.5 to 1.5 hectares. 

It is a light/photoperiod sensitive heirloom variety that matures in 163 – 167 days from seed to seed and can only be planted once a year, from September to October. Due to urbanisation and modernization, the Biris rice is becoming extinct and production is considered scarce. 

When cooked, the rice has a very smooth texture, soft, slightly sticky and aromatic. The grains look glossy and simply appetising.

  • Characteristics : Long grain, Medium size, Creamy White colour
  • Texture : Sticky & Slight Creamy
  • Taste : Sweet, Light & Smooth
  • Aroma : Pleasant
  • Anti-Oxidant Level : Low
  • Nutrients : Iron, Protein & Thiamin
  • Ideal for : Steamed rice, Fried rice, Porridge, Sushi & Asian cuisine.

Bireh Red is a local red rice variety planted mainly by the Bidayuh community from Siburan, Padawan and Lundu districts in Sarawak. The rice is popular among the locals as it is believed to help lower cholesterol levels. It is rich in essential nutrients such as manganese, calcium and high in anti-oxidants.

The rice’s natural red colour exists naturally due to a flavonoid compound known as anthocyanin, which is found in the outer coating of the grain. The rice is flavourful and aromatic when cooked.

Bali Keladi is a fragrant, purple medium-grain cultivated traditionally by the Iban community in Simunjan dan Sri Aman of Sarawak.

The purple colour of the rice comes naturally from a flavonoid called anthocyanin, which is known to be high in antioxidants and nutrients and can reduce the level of free radicals in the body system. It is popular among the locals and is commonly used in cooking porridge, vegetarian rice and the famous local dish, Hakka Thunder Tea (Lui cha). The rice is flavourful, aromatic and tasty when cooked.

Sa-lѐ White Rice & Bario

Sa-lѐ White Rice is a white medium-grain rice variety that is native to the indigenous Lun Bawang tribe in Ba’kelalan, Long Semadoh and the Kelabit tribe in Bario of the north-eastern Borneo Highlands, Sarawak.

Cultivated traditionally in a cool and unpolluted environment (1000m above sea level) and irrigated by pristine clean mountain waters; the rice has the most excellent grain and taste; making it discernible from the regular rice in the market. The rice is very fragrant with a delicate texture when cooked and is excellent for cooking porridge.

The ‘unrefined’ version of Bario White Rice which is an indigenious rice variety that is native to the Kelabit tribe in the Bario Highlands in the northeastern centre mountainous region of Sarawak. 

The rice is cultivated tradtionally in a cool and unpolluted environment (1000m above sea level) and with the fields irrigated by the pristine clear mountain waters. 

The rice is obtained by removing only the outer husk and leaving the brown seed coat intact, which is rice in fibre and nutirents. The rice has a flavourful nutty taste and chewy texture when cooked. 

  • Characteristics : Small grain, Small size, Light Brown colour 
  • Texture : Fluffy & Chewy 
  • Taste : Light & Nutty 
  • Aroma : Pleasant & Mild Anti-Oxidant 
  • Level : Low Nutrients : Iron, Protein & Thiamin 
  • Ideal for : Steamed rice, Fried rice, Mixgrain & Asian cuisine.

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