Friday, 13 July 2012

Sireh (Part 2)

Betel leaves are offered to guests when they visit a Malay family.

Fresh betel leaves in a heavy brass serving tray (tepak sireh) for serving to guests. The tepak sireh is available from the main market in Kota Bharu (Pasar Siti Khadijah) for between RM200-RM300.

When I was growing up, almost every elderly woman chewed sireh. Practically everyone chewed sireh. 

Meeeomiin, a 39-year old Myanmarese male, shows his  sireh-stained teeth. Photo courtesy of Ahmad Fuad Haji Morad (Facebook), 13 July 2012.
How Meeeomiin packs his sireh for chewing. Photo courtesy of Ahmad Fuad Haji Morad (Facebook), 13 July 2012.

Now I grow my own sireh plant (it is a vine). The leaves are used for many things by myself and the women in my neighbourhood.


Sireh stamen/flower stalk? What's this part called?
The leaves measure 15 cm long x 9 cm wide.
Betel leaves (daun sireh) being prepared for placing in the tepak sireh, betel serving tray.


6 comments:

Prof Faridah said...

From Pak Din (Facebook)

Prof., you may want to add the adap in sireh chewing to your sireh blog. When taking a sireh leaf one removes the petiole and the tip of the leave. It is believed that the petiole will render the person infertile (unless you want to practice contraception). You spread chunam (lime) add gambir and sliced pinang as a standard quid. You can further flavoured it with cinnamon, clove, cardamom or nutmeg. This will help remove halithosis and give some freshness to the breath. Such is the practice of the old sireh chewers. The act itself helps in enhancing digestion, provide a sense of elation (?euphoria) which would aid in longevity and promotes wellness.

Prof Faridah said...

From Ramlan Aziz (Facebook)

Arwah nenek saya yang hidup sehingga umur 90an adalah orang terakhir dalam keluarga saya yang mengunyah sirih. Apa yang Pak Din cakap, itu lah yang diamalkan oleh nenek saya.

Prof Faridah said...

From Pak Din (Facebook)

Prof. I am reading the Ayurvedic System of Medicine circa 1901 - it tells of the need to take sireh quid as an aid to keeping healthy quote "After the act of eating is over, one should chew spices enclosed in betel leaf. The spices laid down are nutmeg, scented seeds of Hibiscus moschatus, the fruit of Cocculus indicus, cloves, Elettaria cardamomum, camphor and areca nut. Such chewing helps digestion by causing considerable quantity of saliva to go down and drench the food taken. All foetid odours, again, disappear, and the mouth becomes fragrant." - Charaka -

Prof Faridah said...

From Pak Din (Facebook)

I believe such practices should be revived. I for one am going to start chewing sireh soon ... :)

Prof Faridah said...

From Ramlan Aziz (Facebook)

But in Malaysia, I was informed that mouth cancer is prevalent with the Indians. Hope it was not caused by the sireh habit or may be because of the wrong way of sireh chewing.

Prof Faridah said...

From Pak Din (Facebook)

Yes, my experience in surgery at UKM back then showed this to be true. However, if it is sireh chewing that is being implicated for cancer tongue amongst the Indians then why are the Malays not affected. There must be something else that they do/eat that predisposed them to tongue cancer. And it was common amongst the women folks and not the men too.