Confinement practices are traditional postnatal practices aimed at helping a new mum recover from the rigours of pregnancy, labour and child birth. Mum and baby are said to be in confinement because they are effectively “quarantined” at home.
Chinese confinement restrictions include avoiding “cool element” such as cold water or low temperatures from air conditioners hence showering in warm water or bath soaked with herbs is only permitted. These prohibitions are said to help ensure that the body retain as much heat as possible. It is believed this will help avoid health problems such as rheumatism, arthritis, headaches and body pains later in life.
Besides being confined in her bedroom, the new mum is also restricted to a special diet of dishes that will “warm” the body. These include ginger and a traditional tonic brewed with herbs. They are believed to promote better blood circulation and strengthen the joints.
For a Malaysian-Chinese mum, the confinement period lasts for a whole month from baby’s birth. During this period, the signature dish for the new mum is kacang ma (motherwort chicken). It is chicken cooked with wine, ginger and dried herbs.
This dish is exclusive only to Sarawak (not the whole of Malaysia or Singapore). Due to its popularity, ‘kacang ma’ is now available in some restaurants and homes as a dinner dish or that much loved dish for parties.
Having a quiet Sunday (yesterday), here’s my step-by- step pictures ‘Cooking Kacang Ma’. As you can see, I used Chinese wine to simmer the pieces and then red wine added for that special ‘kick’. The herbs were imported from Kuching as I have no idea how to make them from scratch.
Introducing Kacang Ma to Our Growing Edge.