Essays on the Marshallese Past
Arrowroot Flour: Food & Other Uses
Traditionally, as well as today, flour is the only form in which arrowroot is used as a food, mainly
as thickener in numerous dishes. In addition to the dishes, arrowroot flour was sometimes added to dried
and preserved mogan during the production process, thus prolonging the preserve and adding further starch. The addition of arrowroot starch gives many dishes a
gelatinous, brain-like appearance; for this reasons these dishes are called in Marshallese KāmØlij.
Aikiu: A soup made from iu (spongy coconut) and arrowroot flour.
Benben in mokmok: The most common way to use arrowroot flour was to boil it in water and to
add coconut sap (jekaro) until it attained a thick jelly-like consistency. The matter would then be shaped
into small balls or patties and rolled in grated coconut.
Beru: Soft pulp from the ends of boiled pandanus keys combined with arrowroot flour, poured
into a cone-shaped receptacle made of two fresh breadfruit leaves; cooked together as a dessert.
Bobo: Arrowroot flour mixed with coconut water and cooked in coconut shells. This food is mainly
used for sick and old people (and infants?).
Buiabui: An emergency and starvation ("typhoon") food could be made by pounding the internal part
of a kind of driftwood tree to pulp and then mixing it with arrowroot flour and water. A variation of this
seems to be to pound the internal wood of an old coconut palm and mix it water and with arrowroot flour.
Bwiro iiāk: Preserved breadfruit mixed with arrowroot flour and coconut sap (jekaro), wrapped in
breadfruit leaves and baked.
Jamok(ok): Arrowroot flour with grated coconut meat from semi-ripe coconuts and baked.
Jup in mokmok: Arrowroot flour, iu (coconut embryo), fish and coconut milk.
Kebjeltak: Arrowroot flour, crackers and jekaro.
Likābla: Arrowroot flour and jekaro or arrowroot and water mixed together at a ratio of three to one.
The starch is first mixed with water, sugared water or jekaro unto a watery consistency. Then the mixture is
slowly poured into a pot of boiling water and stirred until a soft, sticky substance is obtained.
Managedjen: Bwiro mixed with arrowroot flour, kneaded and shaped into a ball. It is then sun dried
and can be stored for a limited period of time. When it is to be eaten, the ball is immersed in water and
allowed to soak for an hour. At meal time the water is poured out and the ball is mashed with a Tridacna pounder.
Peaut: Iu cooked with water or coconut milk and arrowroot flour.
Wagakgak: Meal prepared from arrowroot flour boiled with grated coconut.
no name. An innovative dish, apparently introduced by the UNDP Integrated Atoll Project was
reported for Taroa, Maloelap Atoll, where Papaya (Carica papaya) and arrowroot are mixed with water,
apparently to make a poi-like dish.
Bibliographic citation for this document
Spennemann, Dirk H.R. (1998). Essays on the Marshallese Past Second edition.
Dirk H.R. Spennemann,
Institute of Land, Water and Society,
Charles Sturt University, P.O.Box 789,
Albury NSW 2640, Australia.