Learn to Cook Papeda at Weriagar District, West Papua

Weriagar is a district located in Teluk Bintuni Regency, West Papua Province, Indonesia. The staple food of the local Weriagar community is Papeda. Papeda is made from sago cooked in boiling water on a stove until the dough looks like glue. Papeda is delicious eaten with fish in soup. Sayur bunga pepaya (papaya flower bud vegetables) and tumis kangkung (stir-fried water spinach) are often served as side-dish vegetables to accompany papeda.

On some coasts and lowlands on Papua, sago is the main ingredient to all the foods. Sagu bakar, sagu lempeng, and sagu bola, has become dishes that is well known to all Papua, especially on the custom folk culinary tradition on Mappi, Asmat and Mimika. Papeda is one of the sago foods that is rarely found.

In general, papeda is consumed with mackerel and fish broth, but it can be replaced with red snapper, tuna, or cork fish. Most of these fishes are spiced with turmeric and lime, giving a distinctive yellow color on the broth. Papeda is sometimes also consumed with boiled starchy tubers, such as those of cassava or yam. Besides yellow broth and fish, papeda can be enjoyed with sayur gameno, which is made from young melinjo leaves, stir-fried papaya flowers and red chilies.

To collect and chop sago from the forest, the Weriagar people have to boat for 1 to 2 hours along Weriagar river until they reach solid ground. These sago palms only grow in dense soil, they cannot grow in marshlands. There are still plenty of sago stocks in this area, so they don’t have to worry about starvation. The community itself already has their own customary rights to take sago, so there is no need to fight over it. From the sago trunk forest, it is pulled by boat to the village. This sago stem is cut and squeezed on the river bank. One stick of sago can be used as food for the whole family for 2 weeks. It depends on the size of the sago stalk.

Because it tastes bland, Papeda is served with yellow sauce fish with various spices and blends with papeda. Then chili sauce is also a complement to this special dish, and will have a perfect taste.


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