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Chanang: Taste the Hidden Gems of Kreung Indigenous Food in Ratanakiri

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Chanang cuisine originated Kreung Indigenous from Ratanakiri province [Image by Chanang Indigenous]
Cambodia is a beautiful destination for national and international tourists because of its diversity of identities, religions, and cultures. Cambodia has a unique culture and wonderful local foods for visitors to taste when they visit this country. 

Most people probably know only Khmer traditional dishes, but not everyone knows Indigenous dishes in local communities. In fact, there are many indigenous foods that not many people have tasted. The tourist would be amazed by the unique flavors of the Indigenous cuisine of Northeast Cambodia. 

Chanang soup [Image by Chanang Indigenous]
Prepare to be astounded by the extraordinary flavor profile of Chanang. Hailing from the enchanting Ratanakiri province in Cambodia, Chanang is a culinary masterpiece that bears the indelible mark of the esteemed Kreung Indigenous community. This extraordinary dish effortlessly embodies the essence of Kreung identity and the rich tapestry of their traditional cuisine. 

Its sway now extends throughout the whole of Ratanakiri province, and its distinctive flavor is instantly recognizable to anybody who visits the area. When people think about cuisine in Ratanakiri, Chanang is the first thing that comes to mind.  Chanang is an indigenous food that originates from the Kreung Indigenous people in Ratanakiri province. It was deeply influenced by the Indigenous Kreung families that discovered Chanang soup many decades ago. 

It has evolved over centuries and reflects the cultural significance of local traditional food. Food plays a crucial role in indigenous social and cultural life. 

This food represents the identity and legacy of the Kreung people in Cambodia. It is not only representing identity; it also promotes indigenous foods and indigenous culture in Cambodia. 

Chanang soup is made from the leaves of a plant that Christians call “Chhung” or Khmer call leaves. Chanang soup looks black; if you look at it for a moment on bamboo with beef stew, it will taste good and make you feel different.

Senna (coffee weed) leaves [Image by Chanang Indigenous]

The dish is often prepared and served in indigenous restaurants or by individuals who aim to preserve and promote traditional Kreung cuisine. It is considered a rare food in comparison to mainstream Cambodian dishes.

Chanang provides cooling and refreshing effects, and the Chanang plant offers health advantages for us. The process of cooking Chanang involves simmering the ingredients for a long time to bring out the flavors and make the soup tender. It is typically enjoyed as a hearty and nourishing meal, showcasing the culinary traditions of the Kreung ethnic group.

The process of cooking Chanang as Indigenous traditional way [Image by Bophan Centre]
It is a traditional soup made with an incorporation of local ingredients, including Senna (coffee weed) leaves, bamboo shoots, baby corn, vegetables, and meat specified as beef or pork. The soup has a thick and dark consistency with a strong, earthy flavor unique to the region.

“Chanang is a kind of food that can be stored for a long time because Kreung elders cook it for families to eat it in long weeks before getting it onto the table,” Sompoy Chansophea’s Kreung man said. 

It’s worth noting that Chanang is a specialty dish that represents the cultural uniqueness of the Kreung people. It is not as widely known or available as mainstream Cambodian cuisine. However, efforts are being made to promote and preserve the traditional food of indigenous communities in Cambodia.

Indigenous women plays important role to preserve and promote indigenous foods [Image by Chanang Online]
“I intend to preserve the traditional food of the Kreung people through this restaurant,” Sok Em told Phnom Post News on July 2nd, 2023. 

Indigenous women have the main role to preserve local indigenous food. Women play a central role in food production, preparation, and preservation. They have a deep understanding of local food knowledge like local ingredients, cooking techniques, and daily cooking of food. 

Women frequently play an important role in community food-related activities, such as planning feasts, making food for rites and festivities, and sharing meals with neighbors and extended family. They encourage social solidarity and reinforce community relationships by engaging in these activities.

It needs to acknowledge and encourage women in their roles inside traditional food systems in order to preserve cultural diversity, achieve food security, and promote sustainable and nutritious meals.

If you are interested in trying or learning more about Chanang, you may want to visit indigenous restaurants or establishments that specialize in Kreung cuisine. Chanang Indigenous is a Kreung unique dish cooked by Indigenous Kreung women from Ratanakiri province. These places might offer an authentic experience and allow you to taste this unique indigenous recipe firsthand. 

If you want to explore local indigenous dishes, you can find them in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and specifically in Ratanakiri province. 

The cultural background of local food is an essential part of indigenous culinary customs, reflecting the history, values, and tastes of a region or nation. Chanang cuisine is a traditional legacy of Kreung people in Cambodia.