Kariwang: Favorite Dish of West Sumba

Modjo

Modjo Kale Jami

Program Assistant

Jakarta, Indonesia

July 7, 2015

 

The familiar smell of kariwang, or mashed cassava leaves, permeates the air. The appealing smell combines the cassava leaves with a blend and marination of coconut, basil, and lime. I have been accustomed to this smell all my life. It is my family’s favorite dish. I can hardly resist the smell and temptation while preparing it. 

Food

The favorite dish of West Sumba, Kariwang

Mashed cassava leaves, or kariwang in the Wanukaka dialect of West Sumba, Indonesia, is a favorite dish of most Sumbanese families. Eating kariwang is at the same time a moment of togetherness. Sumbanese people eat kariwang during family events while trading stories. As a native Sumbanese, I have been eating kariwang all my life and have always taken pleasure in the joy the food and the moment brings. If I was away and felt homesick, I cooked kariwang to bring in a warm feeling that could refresh and heal.

The cooking of kariwang is easy. Most women in Sumbanese families know how to cook this favorite dish. The main ingredient, cassava leaves, can be found in the backyard of most family houses. Spices can also either be obtained from one’s backyard or bought from a nearby traditional market. Onion, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, curcuma, lime, coconut milk, and basil are among the spices used to produce the irresistable smell. 

Cooking

Preparing the favorite dish of West Sumba.

The first step is smashing the cassava leaves. They are pounded with a wooden mortar and pestle together with onion, garlic, salt, and a handful of rice, until all the ingredients are evenly mixed and become juicy.

The next step is to prepare for two types of coconut milk. The first is thicker, having more oil content, and the second is more dilluted, having more water content. Light the fire and get your cooking pot ready, then pour in the dilluted coconut milk and wait for a few minutes until it becomes warm. Next, add the raw mixture of kariwang into the cooking pot and wait until it boils.

When it starts to boil, stir and lower the fire. At the same time, add basil, curcuma, galangal, lemongrass, and lime to the mixture. Thin slices of dried fish can also be used. Then, pour in the thicker coconut milk. Let the ingredients marinate for a while and then keep stiring. When the color of the coconut milk turns grayish, the mixture blends into one and the rich smell permeates the air. The kariwang is then ready to be served.

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Still There Are Many Miles I Have to Go!

Desa

Desalegn Mulugeta

West Showa Impact Area Manager

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

July 2, 2015

 

As a West Showa Impact Area Manager, I have the privilege of visiting different program sites and sharing in the lives of the disadvantaged children there. As part of my routine visits, I traveled to West Welega, Mendi. This visit opened up an opportunity for me to see the school where I myself had completed grades 1 through 8. Since I had not seen the school for 28 years, I decided not to miss the opportunity. 

Tables

Desalegn in his classroom in West Welega, Mendi.

It was with mixed feelings that I entered the compound. Inside one of the classrooms, I was taken back to an event that happened when I was in grade 3. I used to travel 3 hours on foot to reach school every day. One day, I was so tried and was taking a nap while my English teacher was teaching. My teacher noticed and threw a piece of chalk at me and hit my eye. Even though my eye continued tearing for two days, I didn’t tell the situation to my family.

The trees in the compound were planted when I was in grade 3 also. I participated in planting these trees. They have grown tall and are giving their shade to people and animals, in the same way a child today may change his or her nation tomorrow. I always remember the encouraging words of my grandfather, who raised me. He would say, “You shouldn’t be illiterate like me. You have to finish your school and be someone tomorrow.” I recall the ups and downs of my everyday experiences in primary education. Looking after cattle, fetching water from the river, collecting firewood, travelling long distances- these were all challenges during my primary school years. The challenges are still there for children in rural communities. Some even face greater challenges than mine, like the risk of rape and abduction while traveling to school. 

Building

Desalegn in his school building in West Welega, Mendi.

I noticed that classrooms had not been added and no Early Childhood Care and Development centers (ECCDs) had been created. As a result, young children will have to stay at home until they can be enrolled in grade 1 at age 7. I also saw that the children are still using unprotected water sources, like the river. I imagined how many children are staying home feeling sick from the unprotected water.

I feel down, for the children from my school are still drinking unsafe water and transportation to school still remains a great challenge. But I also feel pride and happiness with Save the Children’s intervention in Mendi. I have a long journey and large commitment ahead of me. I have to help children go to school, create conducive learning environments for them to stay in school, and improve the quality of education here.

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