Brunei, officially the Nation of Brunei, the Abode of Peace is a sovereign state on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia.
According to legend, Brunei was founded by Awang Alak Betatar, later to be Sultan Muhammad Shah, in the late 14th century. Upon landing he exclaimed, Baru nah (loosely translated as “that’s it!” or “there”), from which the name “Brunei” was derived. He was the first Muslim ruler of Brunei.
Hassanal Bolkiah, the current Sultan of Brunei is the second richest royal in the world, he has a collection of more than 5,000 cars. He was once the richest man in the world before being overtaken by Bill Gates in the 1990s. The IMF have ranked Brunei fifth in the world by GDP per capita at purchasing power parity and Forbes also ranks Brunei as the fifth richest nation, based on its petroleum and natural gas fields.
Most of Brunei is within the Borneo lowland rain forests ecoregion, which covers most of the island. It’s known for its beaches and biodiverse rainforest. It has 161 km of coastline on the South China sea, and it shares a 381 km border with Malaysia. The total population of Brunei is approximately 430,000, of which around 240,000 live in the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, which is home to the opulent Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah mosque and its 29 golden domes. The Istana Nurul Iman palace, also in the capital, is the residence of the Sultan of Brunei.
The cuisine of Brunei is similar to, and heavily influenced by the cuisine of neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, with additional influences from India, China, Thailand, and Japan. Recipes I came across were Ambuyat (a sticky ball of starch dipped into a sour fruit sauce sometimes called ‘edible glue’), Daging Masak Lada Hitam (spicy slow cooked beef with potatoes and beans), Udang Sambal Serai Bersantan (chilli prawns with coconut milk) and Serondeng Pandag (Fried chicken with garlic wrapped in pandan leaves). I opted to make Bruneian Fish curry, which unfortunately didn’t turn out very well. The addition of whole spices towards the end of cooking was the recipe’s downfall and rendered it inedible. If you do feel the need to give this recipe a try, I would pound the spices with the chilli and garlic and add at the same time.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
500 grams white fish fillets (cut into 5cm pieces)
1½ cups coconut milk
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons ghee
3 onions (cut into wedges)
3 gloves garlic (pounded)
3-5 hot green chillies (pounded)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2½ teaspoons cumin seeds
1½ cup chicken stock
Blend tamarind juice with ¼ cup coconut milk
Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions, garlic and chillies
Stir-fry till golden brown
Reduce heat, add remaining spices, stock and coconut milk
Boil gently till oil separates
Bring to rapid boil, add fish and tamarind mixture
Simmer 5 minutes, stirring carefully
Remove and serve hot with steamed rice