PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Chicken and mango rice

It’s a bit of a trick finding recipe sources that are actually from Papua New Guinea, but this one for chicken and mango rice came from Trukai rice, a major PNG brand – recipe from here.

This was a straightforward recipe of chicken browned then cooked with rice in stock, with seasonings at the end. It calls for “sweet chili sauce”, as there doesn’t seem to be a lot of preference for really spicy food in the PNG recipes I looked through – very different from neighbouring Indonesia! I went for a “Szechwan chutney” from an Indian grocery store – still some heat, but sweetness too.

It’s really good.

I really like using mango in savoury dishes – it goes really well with the green onion and chicken. It also liked the technique of adding in the raw veggies at the very end and letting them lightly blanch in the heat while the rice rests – meant they stayed crisp. It made a HUGE amount of food and was really quick, I think I’m adding it to my recipe roster!

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Independence from Australia

In 2015, PNG celebrated its 40th anniversary of independence from British and Australian rule. As part of celebrations, EMTV, one of the main broadcasters in PNG, put out this interesting little special on the country’s history since independence:

It’s a bit rah-rah rose tinted glasses, but it’s a refreshing change from a lot of very orientalist discussions about PNG out there – ones that either paint it as exotic tribes or dangerous gangs. It’s also interesting that PNG is positioning itself in Oceania as a “big small Pacific state” – that it has much more in common with countries a fraction of its size like Fiji and Vanuatu than it does to Australia or New Zealand.

There’s also an interesting Australian mini-documentary on PNG’s independence that hits on the big tension of the time – the desire both internationally and within Australia to stop being a colonial power, but also colonies like PNG flagging their concerns of being cut loose by Australia with little preparation (see Nauru as a cautionary tale).


While I never learned much about the Pacific battles of WWII growing up, I do know that the fighting along islands in southeast Asia and the Pacific was particularly brutal, and that Japan invaded New Guinea – getting so close to Australia as to bomb cities like Darwin. Japan was eventually pushed out by Allied troops. I found interesting this old American wartime propaganda film of the Battle of New Guinea – the conditions seem like a proto-Vietnam from this angle:

A really important part of the narrative that doesn’t come out in the war documentaries often is the experiences of Papuans themselves – many were pulled into the war as scouts and labourers, and villages were destroyed and caught in the crossfire of the fighting. Kokoda Story is a great little documentary of Papuans’ war experiences along the Kokoda Track campaign:

Check out this Allied airfield, with planes, that was abandonned and has now been completely reclaimed by the forest. (Warning, video is LOUD)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Bougainville

Two looks at the incipient country of Bougainville, an autonomous region of PNG that is set to become its own sovereign nation in 2027. The first is a bit of history on the island and the larger history of PNG, while the second is a more nuanced look at the geopolitics surrounding independence (and the economic issues this new country may be born into).

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Geography Now!

So, as I often do with countries I really don’t know much about, I’m getting a start with good ol’ Geography Now:

The “exoticism” of the remote interior seems to be a theme, I wonder if it’s really as uncontacted or isolated as this video makes it out to be.

Bougainville is another situation I want to dig into more – I heard that it’s set to become a fully independent country in a few years.


I’m back after a little break to my regularly scheduled programming – another country picked at random. This month, I’ll be learning more about Papua New Guinea!

So, as always, what do I know off the top of my head about PNG before I start?

I know that despite sharing the island of New Guinea with Indonesia, it’s not part of Asia, but Oceania – geographically, culturally, and historically. I think it’s part of Melanesia. I’ve also mainly heard about PNG in outsiders’ ethnographic or exoticized terms, but little from Papuans themselves.

PNG is famous for having the most linguistic diversity in the world; there’s about 800 indigenous languages spoken there, many from unrelated language families. In comparison, there’s about 60-70 indigenous languages spoken in all of Canada – half a continent vs half an island.

I know they were a British colony, so English is spoken widely there, and like Canada, they’re a Commonwealth Realm with the King as head of state. I’m not sure how their government works on the ground, either in terms of function or effectiveness, and I know it isn’t the richest country.

From what I’ve learned from the other Oceanian countries I’ve looked at – especially Nauru – there’s no way Australia doesn’t have major involvement in PNG’s government and economy. And likewise, I’m sure PNG is also navigating China’s growing presence in the south Pacific.

I do know of some people who have been to PNG, but they were extended American relatives who went as missionaries. (Yes, missionaries. In today’s day and age! Or, well, the 90s.) I’m not sure how difficult it will be to find Papuan-made media, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a Papuan community in Canada – there isn’t a single PNG restaurant in Toronto, which normally has a restaurant from every country on earth.