Biryani Johor and Zapin dance to be nominated as UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage items

JOHOR BAHRU, Oct 19: The Johor state government is working towards nominating Johor’s Biryani dish and the Zapin dance as Intangible Cultural Heritage items under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Yayasan Warisan Johor (YWJ) director Sharil Nizam Abdul Rahim said he was confident that Johor’s Biryani and the Zapin could meet the criteria set by UNESCO to gain recognition.

He, however, said that efforts to publicise the two heritage items of the state needed to go through various processes and stages.

“The conditions and criteria under UNESCO to gazette a heritage item are strict, including making a presentation, getting expert help and so on.

“The process towards the effort to gazette it will also take time, maybe four to five years,” he said at a press conference after the launching ceremony of Biryani Johor as Johor’s heritage food, here today.

Sharil Nizam explained that Biryani Johor, for example, was significant to the state’s historical relationship with other countries such as India and Persia, among others, which were connected through the spice trade and diplomatic links.

He said these linkages had simultaneously influenced the food culture in Johor till this day.

“Biryani Johor is unique because there are two types – the regular Biryani and Biryani Gam – and are always served with side dishes such as ‘pindang eggs’ (braised hard-boiled eggs) and ‘garam berlada’ (peppered salt) besides the usual side dishes such as ‘acar’ or pickles. This is what sets apart Biryani Johor from others,” he said.

Sharil Nizam said the Zapin, which is popular in Johor, is performed at various events across the state.