Along with traditional costumes, musical instruments like gongs, and traditional cuisine of ethnic minorities in the province also contain many unique cultural values, which are diligently preserved and promoted by the locals.

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The cuisine of each ethnic minority community reflects their customs, way of life, and connection with nature and their roots. The dishes are closely tied to daily life, prepared without much complexity, primarily relying on experience passed down through generations. Each community has its own characteristic "recipe" for its cuisine, all aiming to maintain a natural, fresh, and rustic taste in every dish.

Ethnic minority communities have many enticing traditional dishes, among which the most popular is often "com lam" (bamboo-tube rice). Instead of using a pot, the rice is cooked or grilled in bamboo tubes, "nứa" (a type of bamboo container), or hollow bamboo sections. Locals often choose glutinous rice with firm grains, ensuring the rice remains chewy when cooked and does not dry out. Choosing suitable bamboo sections for grilling com lam is crucial; they should be fresh and not too thick to avoid burning and to allow easy removal when cooked. When putting the rice into the bamboo, one end is sealed tightly, while the other end is left open for grilling.

Ms. Y Phan from Kep Ram village (Hoa Binh commune, Kon Tum city) shares her secret: "To make delicious com lam, the most important step is soaking and soaking the rice. Soak the rice for about 4-6 hours; soaking it too long will make it sour and less tasty."

The grilled chicken with bamboo-tube rice is a signature dish of the Kon Tum region.

In addition to com lam, ethnic minority communities also have another quite unique dish called "goi la mi" (cassava leaf salad). This dish utilizes natural herbs and fruits. Despite their bitter, spicy, or pungent tastes, they become a delightful dish for those who have the opportunity to taste it. The ingredients include "la mi" leaves, bitter eggplant, chili, garlic, and lemongrass. Additionally, dried fish, freshwater fish, or meat can be added to enhance the aroma. The leaves and leaf shoots are thoroughly pounded and squeezed for juice, then stir-fried with the ingredients, seasoned according to taste.

Ms. Y Co Vien from Kep Ram village (Hoa Binh commune, Kon Tum city) says: "For traditional leaf salad, the most important thing is the time of picking the leaves, usually picked in the early morning for freshness and to reduce bitterness. The chosen leaves are usually "la mi gòn" (wild betel leaf), the best being "la mi co" (old betel leaf), but they are rare now. Equally important is the pounding process; it must be done evenly from top to bottom without crushing, or it will not taste good."

The traditional cuisine of ethnic minority communities in the province is rustic, close to the mountains and forests, and very nutritious, serving as a food source for many layers of children in the village. Therefore, the ethnic minority communities place great emphasis on passing down cooking experiences and customs to their descendants. On every occasion, whether it's festivals, holidays, or gatherings, ethnic minority families prepare traditional dishes together, creating a bustling and cozy atmosphere.

Among the familiar dishes, we cannot forget to mention "thit nuong ong lo o" (grilled meat in bamboo tubes), which has long been a traditional cooking method of many ethnic minority communities. This dish originated from ancient culture, when the labor process of the locals took a long time in the fields, grilled meat in bamboo tubes would be convenient, delicious, and last longer.

The traditional dish of leaf salad never fails to captivate the hearts of tourists visiting Kon Tum.

At the First Cultural, Sports, and Tourism Festival of Ethnic Groups in the Central Highlands held in Kon Tum province in late November 2023, during the introduction of traditional dishes of the Gié Triêng ethnic group in Dak Rang village (Dak Duc commune, Ngoc Hoi district), grilled meat from kitchen stove, grilled meat in bamboo tubes stirred the hearts of tourists. To make a standard grilled meat in bamboo tubes, ethnic minority communities often choose village pork, without too many spices to preserve the natural taste of the meat, just a little salt, pepper, and rice flour. When the meat absorbs the flavor, it will be stuffed into bamboo tubes.

Ms. Y Nga from Dak Rang village, Dak Duc commune (Ngoc Hoi district) said: "At the festival, we bring traditional dishes and OCOP products to promote to people and tourists, as well as to exchange and spread the culinary beauty with other ethnic minority communities. The most difficult step in cooking grilled meat and grilled meat in bamboo tubes is knowing how to control the fire. The grilling process and preparing the materials are equally important. For the husk, it must be burned for about 3-4 hours to reach the right temperature, then, the bamboo tubes are placed on top for grilling. Throughout the process, you have to control and turn the meat evenly, observe the steam rising to recognize the degree of doneness."

In recent times, at various cultural events and competitions organized by different levels, traditional cuisine has become an indispensable content. Through these events, ethnic minority communities have the opportunity to exchange, promote their traditional feasts to the public and tourists, contributing to the spread of cultural values to the society.

Most recently, at the Kon Tum City Food Festival in 2024, which featured over 250 dishes representing the Central Highlands region, traditional dishes from ethnic minorities in Kon Tum City were highlighted. These included grilled chicken, com lam, stir-fried leaf noodles, leaf salads, grilled fish in banana leaves, grilled chicken, ghè wine, and more. The carefully prepared dishes demonstrated the pride in the traditional cultural values of the ethnic minority communities. Consequently, they attracted hundreds of people and tourists to visit, taste, and learn about the culinary culture.


Ethnic minorities enjoy traditional dishes accompanied by "ghè" wine.

Mr. A Mim, a member of the Dak Ro Wa Tourism - Agriculture Cooperative (Dak Ro Wa village, Dak Ro Wa commune, Kon Tum City), participating in the festival, said: "We, the Ba Na people, bring traditional dishes such as grilled chicken with com lam, stir-fried watercress, bitter eggplant, dried fish, and traditional dishes of the locality, to promote the image of Dak Ro Wa commune to friends inside and outside Kon Tum City