‘Black soup’ a must-have for Sabahan community


Deeply nostalgic: Known as tiyulah itum, this quintessentially Sabahan dish gets its dark green colour from burnt coconut flesh.

Deeply nostalgic: Known as tiyulah itum, this quintessentially Sabahan dish gets its dark green colour from burnt coconut flesh.

JOHOR BARU: While most people prefer rendang, ketupat, lemang and satay for their Hari Raya celebrations, the Sabahan community here enjoys their own special dish.

Tiyula itum or black soup, which is made either from braised beef or chicken meat, is a delicacy enjoyed by the community which numbers a few thousand, especially around the industrial area of Pasir Gudang.

The dish is usually served at weddings and other celebrations, including Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Its most noticeable characteristic is that it is dark green in colour, which is caused by the burnt coconut flesh that is added as flavouring.

Housewife Rehamna Kasuaggi, 50, said cooking the dish would usually take more than an hour.

She said some of the important ingredients in making this dish included coconut flesh, onions, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, coconut milk and water.

“The dish is usually served with rice, ketupat or piutu and sianglag (fermented yam),” Rehamna said.

The dish is also sold as a breaking of fast item at the Bazaar Ramadan Pasar Muafakat Sabah in Seri Alam.

Trader Sarah Laiya, 39, said she usually prepared the dried ingredients early to make it easier to cook.

“As the cooking process is long, I will prepare some of the ingredients in advance, especially the powdered burnt coconut.

“It is one of the must-have traditional dishes in any Sabahan house because aside from giving our belly a warm feeling, it also reminds us of our hometown,” she said.

Sarah said the soup, which was prepared daily, was sold at RM5 a packet.