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NBC — Consuming meat of monitor lizard or locally called biawak? It sounds strange to hear that menu, let alone eat them. People commonly recognizes monitor lizard as a reptile with one meter in length with hard shell and scales in grayish color. It weighs about three kilograms and sometimes known as wild reptile.
Richly flavored curry of monitor lizard. Photo by Jannerson Girsang.
At the beginning I doubted when a friend offers me richly flavored curry of monitor lizard at a food stall at Jalan RRI at Iraonogeba Sub District, Gunungsitoli. However, upon noting the proper serving as it is the case of the meat simmered in richly flavored curry, I attempt to try to taste it to satisfy my curiosity. In fact, the monitor lizard, or in Latin it is so-called Varanus albigularis, turns to be delicious menu with a good cooking technique. The taste is almost similar to the beef or mutton commonly consumed.
The monitor lizard, which in Nias is locally called boroe, here is well known by Nias people, particularly those residing in Gunungsitoli. At least, there are three restaurants in Gunungsitoli serving monitor lizard meat as their menus.
We go to the restaurant owned by Atulö’ö Telaumbanua, 45, who is better known as Ama Andi Telaumbanua, to taste the menu here. Ama Andi in collaboration with his wife has been running this restaurant since 2006. In his restaurant, the monitor lizard meat is considered the prominent menu. “I love extreme culinary, let alone after traveling across Indonesia for case study engaged by the government program,” he says.
As to Atulö’ö, there is an increasing number of monitor lizard meat lovers in Gunungsitoli. In a week they get up to one ton of monitor lizard supplies. They are caught from some places in Nias including Alasa, Sirombu, Lahewa, and Tuhemberua. “Up to the moment, we got supply of monitor lizard meat from Nias,” says Atulö’ö who has travelled across many regions in Indonesia after graduating from Machine Engineering Vocational School (STM) majoring in Chemical Engineering.
Prior to serving the simmered lizard meat, the supplied reptiles are kept in one cage behind his house yard. “”We get the supplies from some markets that have known us as their customer,” he adds.
In this restaurant, the monitor lizard meat is then cooked in various menus such as soup and richly flavored curry. He still uses manual tools to cook the meat. Atulö’ö collaborates with his wife and his six employees to go through the cooking processes.
In addition to the great taste, monitor lizard meat in fact has many benefits as it could serve as the medication for uric acid. As to Atulö’ö, two Dutch and French professors who have ever tutored him during his case study in Indonesia, gave him this information. It is also believed that monitor lizard can make the skin shiny as told by many sources taken from internet.
Thanks to that sort of information, the number of the reptile meat lovers is increasing. Yosima Halawa, 28, is the example. The woman loves to consume monitor lizard meat. “People say it serves as the medication of uric acid. But I prefer consuming this reptile due to the great taste,” she says smilingly.
Similarly as what Yosima says, Syukur Zendratö, 26, also admits the delicious taste of the cooked monitor lizard meat. “It tastes like chicken meat. Let alone, it is said that the meat could cure uric acid,” says the young man who consumes this reptile meat after his colleague told him.
You need not to worry about the price. One portion of the cooked monitor lizard meat in this restaurant costs IDR10,000. It is really affordable.
Do you want to have more than monitor lizard meat? If you are extreme culinary lover, the restaurant also provides other special menus such as escargot (locally called sigi), frog (talaho), bat (bögi), scaly anteater (sigölu), deer (nago), mouse deer (laosi), snake (gulõ), and crocodile (buaya). However, it would be better to order first due to the mounting demand which leads to run out of stocks. “All animals are mostly derived from Sirombu, Mandrehe, Alasa, and Idanögawo” says Atulö’ö Telaumbanua.
The most expensive culinary in this restaurant is scaly anteater as it costs IDR25,000 per portion. This kind of meat is quite high-priced because the scaly anteater costs up to IDR300,000 per kilogram. Are anxious to taste them?