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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Cangkok Manis - Mani Chai or Sweet Leaf



Cangkok Manis or Mani Chai or Lakian Chai(as has been politically incorrectly called) has been a favourite of the Foochows since they landed in Sungei Merah in 1903.

When the Foochows first arrived they were supposed to be the agriculturists the Second Rajah was interested in transplanting on the deltaic regions of the Rejang. According to some of the documents available, the Foochows were given land to plant padi. Later they were given land to plant rubber and pepper. having a very good background in agriculture, the first Foochow settlers were very successful as they were hardworking and very desperate to make a fortune.

They must have seen the Malays and Ibans planting cangkok manis and eating the vegetable. They acquired the taste, along side kangkong too. These settlers had also brought along with them a lot of seeds of mustard green, bitter cucumber, and others like gourds and pumpkins. Thus domesticated vegetables were grown besides some of the local wild vegetables. Being very hardworking and good agriculturists everything seemed to grow well under their tender fingers. Everyone in the family lent a helping in growing vegetables, fruits and rice, and later , pepper.

My grandmother living in Lower Southern Village would always have about six plots of this vegetable.

The vegetable has a hardy stalk, lots of little branches with small leaves.

We eat them when they are about two to three feet tall. You should just break off the vegetable about a foot above the ground. Take about 10 plants. Once in the kitchen, you should just pull off the leaves from the small stalks or branches, wash them and they are ready for a good stir fry with eggs or some belacan.

A plant is deemed too old for the table if the little red seeds appear under the leaves on the stalks.

Most of the leaves are quite chewy if they are slightly too old. But generally when young these leaves are perfect. There is a sweet after taste actually. That is why the Malays call it sweet vegetable.

I love it as a soup, as part of my quiche (that's fusion cooking), and simply stir fried.

My family can eat it every day in fact!! It is just so good.

7 memories:

AlisonBuda said...

The scientific name for mani chai is Sauropus androgynous. It is a native plants in teh jungle of Sarawak and has been domesticated. A wild one would be quiye bush and as high as a human. Now there is even a version called "Sabah mani chai"

Some people are just crazy about mani chai but I am not.

FrancisN said...

Count me as one who is crazy about mani chai.

The last time I had it was in 2004.

How I wish I can have that for lunch today.

rat said...

Lakian Chai that is a racist term.


Similarly we now use "Kampong Chicken" and not L**ian.
otherwise nice article.

sarawakiana said...

I stand corrected. Used it without malice and indecent implications.

I know it as mani chai and it will always be changkok manis.

cooknengr said...

I plant a bight pot of Mani chai in my living room here in Los Angeles. The weather is way too dry to be planted outside.However, in humid states like Florida and Texas they do grow well outdor. I know 4 outlets in the US, Boston, Atlata and two other places in TX that sells Mani chai. Contact me if you are manichai craving Sarawak expat

cooknengr said...

I plant a bight pot of Mani chai in my living room here in Los Angeles. The weather is way too dry to be planted outside.However, in humid states like Florida and Texas they do grow well outdor. I know 4 outlets in the US, Boston, Atlata and two other places in TX that sells Mani chai. Contact me if you are manichai craving Sarawak expat

vinesandspines said...

I know someone with a really large bush of it here in miami. I got my cuttings from her for my own plants.

 

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