Over the hills and far away…

Up in the highlands of Sarawak lies the small town of Bario, unspoilt by development and surrounded by nature at its best. There, the ethnic inhabitants grow their own hill rice which is popularly known here as Bario rice…

Bario rice

It is very fragrant and very very nice…slightly on the sticky side but it is not pulut or glutinous rice and for this reason, it is advisable not to add too much water when cooking it.

The trouble is it is not very easy to buy the genuine unadulterated Bario rice. What you see in the supermarkets and grocery stores packed in plastic bags of 5 kg each is not so nice as they probably have mixed it with ordinary rice or it is not fresh from the hills and will pale in comparison. Even when those selling the rice in towns like Miri or Bintulu insist that it is the original authentic Bario rice, when you buy some and cook, you may find that you have been hoodwinked.

My missus bought some from her colleague who hails from that place over the hills and far away, so we are very sure that this is the real thing and true enough, when we cook it, it is simply out of this world…

Bario rice - cooked

I used to buy the imported fragrant rice but I noticed that once I had opened the bag, the rice would be fragrant the first few times I cooked it but after a while, the fragrance would be gone and it would be just like any other ordinary type of rice despite having to pay more for it. I don’t know how true it is but I’ve heard some people saying that I should stop eating those fragrant rice as they add some chemical to it to make it smell nice.

This Bario rice is served in some of the better restaurants in town with fish head curry and they really go well together; it certainly compliments the taste of the curry. My missus fried some leftover Bario rice the other day…

Bario rice - fried

…and needless to say, it was absolutely delicious, a whole lot better than the same thing with other types of rice.

I bet this would be perfect for cooking my nasi kuning (yellow rice) or nasi kunyit (tumeric rice) or nasi minyak (ghee rice) or whatever one may choose to call it. I usually use ordinary rice but I know some people use pulut (glutinous rice) which is nice but a tad too sticky. I think I will give it a try one of these days with Bario rice…

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

37 thoughts on “Over the hills and far away…”

  1. I love Bario’s rice! Haven’t have them in ages though :(! We took Thai Jasmine Rice here, yeah, i did hear something abt the fragrance thing too, but I suppose once u rinse the rice well, shld be ok. Sometimes I cooked ‘oz medium calrose rice also a bit like Bario’s better for sushi or porridge, n also long grain……if my luggage permit, can buy a sml pkt for u to try the calrose….

    Oh no…please don’t go thru’ all that trouble. Wait…wait till I drop by Melbourne one day and I can try it – does sound like Bario rice.

  2. Cikgu… looks like Japanese rice leh…

    The one they use to make sushi? Eyew…not a fan! Not into Japanese food. LOL!!!

    1. Yea… the one that they use to make sushi… looks just like this one!

      Dunno…never made sushi. Possible…as Japan’s a mountainous country. Perhaps should buy a packet and cook…just to try. Should be pretty expensive…

  3. seeing your rice here reminded of my packet of unpolished rice i bought last weekend.. it came out brownish… my girl didnt want to eat that at first but she did after i told her that this type of rice is not as fattening as the other type… that did the trick!! She walloped all after that.. hahahaha…
    what a vain little girl!

    Yes, not so starchy…good for people with diabetic tendencies, much healthier too. My in-laws wouldn’t eat either – I love it!

  4. I love this rice and I used to get them thru an Iban friend for RM15.00 for 1 kati (yes, they still measure in kati). Anyway, I don’t get them anymore. I can find this rice sold locally but a little hesitant about buying.

    The fried rice looks delicious…crispy fried pusu…mmm

    Kati? That isn’t too bad. My missus’ colleague sells by the gantang! It’s a wonder that they still have those things. Yes, the fried rice was extra nice…because of the Bario rice used. Yum! πŸ˜‰

  5. Sorry cikgu, my house internet went kaput just now, now in office, so let continue……….. in actual fact, i have been to Bario once, many many years ago, on a church evengistic trip, really liked the place, and sure sure the Bario rice. i had even eaten the fried insects taken from sago, i think so very nice…not forgetting the air is good.

    Really liked the people there as well.. hope to go there again.

    Lucky you! I’ve never been there…but mainly because I seldom got the chance to travel when I was young and later, I was tied down with work and family and though I have been to many places in line of duty, I never made it up there. Now, I guess I’m already too old – not so adventurous anymore. SIGH!!! And btw, those were not insects that you ate – those were worms, sago worms. I tried once…but not really crazy about them! LOL!!!

  6. Wah… looks like those japanese rice, never heard of Bario rice though!:)

    So now you’ve heard of it! Come more often, you’ll get to learn new things time and again. LOL!! 1Malaysia!!! πŸ˜‰

  7. “Over the hills and far away”…..eh, this one Teletubbies tag line lah. STP favourite show ah? ha ha ha!

    Is it? I didn’t know that!!! Don’t tell me you’re a fan of Teletubbies! πŸ˜€ Mine’s the title of a rock song! Rock on, brudder!! Muahahahahaha!!!! πŸ˜€

  8. I love bario rice. It smell good, soft and not hard, compare to other rice, it look “shorter” a bit like “round” shape. Last time i also ask my mum to bring some for me.

    Hmmm…I wonder if she knows people who sell the real stuff – not mixed with other types of rice. Those would be really very nice…

  9. Fried bario rice…never considered it as bario rice tends to be starchier, thus stickier as well. Favourite rice to fry is actually basmati…I like rice that “separates”..haha.
    ps/ Bario rice ranks high on the GI scale, bad for diabetics.

    Oh? Is that so? But never mind…once this supply finishes, not going to get anymore for a long, long time. No point buying those in the shops – all adulterated stuff, not nice. Cooking the rice, must not add too much water…then you will still get all the grains. It’s the taste that’s different – more wangi, so very yummy…or was it because my missus was in a good mood that morning when she fried it? LOL!! πŸ˜‰

  10. i love bario rice too, once cannot tahan and bought a packet in a supermarket in KL to try.. result? real disappointed 😦 . another rice that is really nice is taiwan’s feng lai rice πŸ™‚

    Yup…a KL friend asked me to buy as she got some from a Bario friend before and she loved it so much. So I bought the 5kg pack from a shop here…and brought it all the way to KL – got scolding in the end, asked me what I bought – so lousy one! Carried all the way and gave her free some more! Tsk! Tsk!😦

  11. i think i tred it once when i was a little girl. it’s sure not cheap right nowadays…. @_@ fragrant rice has chemicals? oh now have to google to see if any research done bout it. lol. but frankly the fragrance rice that i bought don’t even taste better than the non fragrance rice. i feel cheated lah…

    I think my missus heard it somewhere. She was the one who used to buy but now, she has stopped doing that. I would just cook any ordinary rice and throw in a few pandan leaves – lots growing in my backyard…and they will make the rice fragrant!

  12. oooh, the texture looks nice, quite close to the japanese rice.. and of course your plate of fried rice is definitely attractive to me, haha!! πŸ˜€

    Not mine, my missus’…she fried the rice! Drool…drool! LOL!!! πŸ˜€

  13. I like this post. Gave me belly laughs. STP eating his ‘important fragrant rice’…hahahahahah and reading about ‘kati’ and ‘gantang’ in this day and time. Was immediately transported back to Hang Tuah Hang Jebat’s time hahahaha. They must be pretty skillful in math. Sticking to kilograms would have been easier, no ?

    P/s : Does your wife’s colleague sell the rice to members of the public, like, er, me ? I want fried bario rice !

    Oops!!! *imported… Amended already lah! This teacher! Can’t escape her eagle eyes, eh? “kati” and “gantang”…not that long ago lah! 50s and 60s, we were using those measurements…and that definitely wasn’t Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat time (They probably had barter trade then!).

    Ummmm…..no! Even for what we have presently, she had to fight tooth and claw that day…and only managed to grab a couple of gantangs.

  14. Din know we have such rice in our country. The way you describe looks like very delicious.

    It is. A whole lot nicer than other types of rice…if you can get the real thing!

  15. Ehh the rice looks nice! Looks like the rice I had in China, bigger and fatter but not as glutinous as Jap rice. I love it! Can give me some?? LOL!

    Probably the same, lots of hills in China too. You want? You’re beginning to have cravings already, is it? Hehehehehehe!!!!

    1. WOI WOI! I’m not pregnant ok πŸ˜› Notti notti
      Btw, BOTH your comments are there in my blog what.. why did you say the first comment was gone? :S

      Hahahahahaha!!! Got kah? I browsed thru but didn’t see…so I thought it had disappeared. Hmmmm….no plans yet? πŸ˜‰

  16. Typo : *Will

    Where : Spot the error lor.

    Whose? Mine?…No idea where and as they say, “What I don’t know wouldn’t hurt me!” Hehehehehehe!!!!! >.<

  17. I love fragrant rice.. BUT i find that fragrant rice got kutu faster than normal rice.. do u think so? I oso so love nasi kunyit.. the stickier the better πŸ˜›

    The boll weevils? That would only mean that the rice isn’t fresh anymore. There was a godown here where the Lembaga Padi & Beras Negara stored the rice – dunno if it’s still there…but at the time, the people in the houses around there could not open their doors and windows as the boll weevils would enter – so many of them!

    Nasi kunyit…using pulut, you can find at nyonya restaurants – like the one I had at Tropicana. Not bad, very nice actually…

  18. ok ok… next time, i come to visit you and try ur cooking kekekekee no problem right πŸ˜› wakakaka

    No problem at all. So when are you coming? πŸ˜‰

  19. see, my mum wanted me to bring a bag of bario over and I scoffed 😦 remind me to just shut up and nod the next time my mum tries to give me food

    Poor thing! I’d probably be in the same shoes. I prefer travelling light and would just say no to whatever people would want to give me… 😦

  20. the hill rice looks like the japanese rice for making sushi.

    That’s what everybody seems to tell me. I wouldn’t know as I’ve never tried making sushi – not a fan.

  21. Yummm….rice is something which i cannot skip in a day after i shifted out from mom’s house. I need lot of carbohydrate…LOL.But eat too much also a problem…kekekeke

    Like my father… Must have rice every day – a problem whenever he want to visit my brother in NZ. Had to buy fried rice from Chinese takeaways when not eating at home.

  22. While Bario rice is pretty well known here, not many have heard of the other great things from Bario, their pineapple. As sweet (but mushy) as the Sawit Pineapple from Mukah and as crunchy (but sour) as Sarikei’s pineapple (while incidentally, is reportedly better than the famed Hawaiian pineapple). That makes Bario’s pineapple simply the best in the world. Want some? Only way is to go to Bario.

    The 18-seater Twin Otter wouldn’t take me anymore… 😦 Muahahahahaha!!!!!

  23. BTW, there are other things just as well known. Kelabit ladies has the reputation to be the prettiest amongst them all. Very fair. And very hard working because you can see them working in the padi field but not the man (at least I didn’t see any the last time I were there).

    Ah! This I would agree…all fair and lovely! πŸ˜‰

  24. Yap. With the small 18-seaters Twin Otter plane, they have to delicately arrange sitting position to come up with even weight distribution. Mainly because Bario is high up in the plateau and when night comes, it can get pretty cold similar to Genting highland.


    Been in those little planes to Lawas, Limbang, Mukah and Marudi – not that keen to get on it again, thank you ! LOL!!!

  25. And here is another thing worth mentioning. While being one of the smallest (reportedly a few thousands only) minority original tribe of Sarawak, the Kelabit are probably the most progressive of all. Vast majority of them are Christian which have a strong bearing with them being progressive with disproportionate numbers of professional. For example, the great Idris Jala of MAS fame is a Kelabit.

    Yup… Btw, I think the Kelabits call themselves Lun Bawang now or something?Not too sure – that’s why I did not mention the names of the ethnic races in the post.

  26. Hihihi…. at my house in sibu, we have the supply of this Bario rice as my bro in law is from Bario. Got i way they cook the rice is balut with daun and stim eat. Really nice!!!!!

    Daun pisang? I must try then… Aha!!! So now I know where I can bagi some Bario rice when mine runs out. – satu/dua gantang boleh? Muahahahahaha!!!!!

  27. it not with daun pisang. It balut with one daun which those lun bawang ppl always use. the daun itself give the taste.

    Oh? Maybe can do it with lotus leaf…the one they use for lor mai kai… Fusion bah! πŸ˜‰

  28. Bario rice at Seng Ek Trading Co @ 4.39289N,113.98750E seems pretty authentic. They seem to have about a dozen different variety of Bario rice.

    It’s a bit too expensive to indulge in and they say that of all the rice, this one is the most “unhealthy”. But it really is so very much nicer than other types of rice. Will KIV, maybe will buy and serve on special occasions…not for everyday consumption. πŸ˜‰

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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