Sunday, July 13, 2014


It’s warmer in Indianapolis than it is in Suva, Fiji. But that’s not stopping me from eating their food.  It’s been a fairly good week for us: I’m finally going to be able to get my proofreading business up and running, and we got a heck of a deal on a used vehicle yesterday, so I’m on a roll!  And what better way to celebrate than to eat Fijian food. 

There are no words for this. Divine would be an understatement. 
The first thing I made today was babakau so that we could have something to snack on while we waited for the rest of dinner.  I mixed my flour, yeast, and sugar together with some warm water until it became dough consistency, letting it sit for about 20-30 minutes to rest. I rolled the dough out so that it wasn’t too thick or thin, about a quarter to a half-inch thick and cut it into triangles. It’s really humid today, so the dough kept sticking and stretching. No amount of flour was keeping it from doing that it seemed. But I manage to separate them, deep-frying the dough pieces until it was golden brown. I saw several different options or suggestions on how to eat it, but I went with butter and jam (I had blackberry and mango jam). I thought about chocolate syrup, powdered sugar, or Nutella. These were extremely good. It somewhat reminded me of a fried scone.

The biggest surprise of the day. I didn't think I would like this as much as I did. I stand corrected.

Today’s main dish is palusami.  It calls for taro leaves, but come on, this is Indiana. I definitely had to substitute for that one. I used Swiss chard for this. I love red or rainbow Swiss chard; it’s such a beautiful plant.  I removed the stalk from the chard and dipped them in hot water to make them more pliable (it didn’t help much though). In order to cover any holes or tears, I doubled up on the leaves and placed them in a ramekin as opposed to making it in my palm. I first placed some coconut cream (which was hard to find; it’s not the same as coconut milk or cream of coconut, but I did find it in the Vietnamese/Thai section of the international grocery store), followed by some canned corned beef (I really needed to add more) and topped with diced tomatoes and onion and a little salt, topped with more coconut cream.  Then I folded up the leaves around it like a little parcel, using toothpicks to keep it shut as best I could. After wrapping the whole ramekin up in tin foil, I placed them on a cookie and baked it at around 350º for 30 minutes. The original recipe calls to put each parcel in a covered dish, so I amended it a little. It also said this can be served either cold or warm; I prefer warm. The flavors of the corned beef and the Swiss chard were new to me, but it was so delicious.  It just needed more corned beef. The odd thing about coconut cream is that it comes in a block, life tofu but not as firm. When I think of coconut, I think of something sweet, but this was not really that sweet at all.

What's not to love? If everyone ate this, there would no more war.  
To go with this, I also chose an Indo-Fijian recipe for Fijian potato omelette. I think this is normally served at breakfast, but I think it’s merely a suggestion. I started out sautéing diced onion and spices (including dried mustard, cumin, anise in lieu of fennel [my husbands HATES fennel], cayenne, ginger, garlic, salt, black pepper, and fenugreek in lieu of “curry”). After about ten minutes, I took it off the heat and added it to some peas and potatoes (I had to cook the diced potatoes first).  I beat six eggs in a large bowl, and then added in the vegetable-spice mix into the egg mixture and stirred to coat everything evenly. Adding just a little bit of oil into the same skillet I used earlier and added in the eggs and vegetables, letting it cook on low heat, making sure it doesn’t burn (a perpetual problem for me). It was supposed to cook for 8-10 minutes, but because it was thick, it took closer to 15-18 minutes. The recipe suggested placing it under a grill to finish it, but I’m not even sure what that means. So, I just skipped that and hoped it wasn’t crucial. (That philosophy got me through high school, college, and insurance licensing. And here I am, awesome as ever.) It took a little longer than it said. The top took a long time to get done (maybe this is where the grill was coming into play, perhaps?) When it was done, I cut wedges of omelette and served it as a side dish to the palusami.

The zenith of perfection.
Everything about this meal was good.  It was an excellent combination of flavors, and it was best to eat them together.  My husband and I agree that we need to make these again.  As I was shopping for my ingredients yesterday, I went to grab something to drink for the drive home. And of course, I saw Fiji Water. Seeing how I have never had it simply because of its price, I finally relented only because I was cooking from Fiji today. And after I took my much-anticipated first sip of this expensive bottled water, I realized one thing: it tastes like the cheaper store-brand bottled water I normally get. Well, I hope they’re sending the money back to Fiji and that it’s going towards the people there. Bottled water rant aside, this whole meal was surprisingly really good. Better than some island countries I’ve tried to cook from.

Yes, proof of purchase. 
Up next: Finland

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