Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Some Island Curry

Tonight's meal comes from the Melanesian island country of Fiji. I know that I just cooked another South Pacific island last week, but I let my roommate pick which country I did next. She chose Fiji because she thought I had done enough countries from Europe already, and she claims to not know of many countries from Asia or Africa. Naturally Fiji should be the first place that comes to mind with those qualifications. :)



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I learned that Fiji has a lot of Indian influence from all the Indian laborers that the British brought to the islands when it used to be a colony back when I cooked Fiji for breakfast. Today they make up over a third of the total population of Fiji Islanders. The native Fijians constitute a little less than the remaining to thirds of the people. In today's meal of Rourou and Chana Dhal and Squash Curry, you see the mixture of the two distinct yet connected culture groups that live across the 110 inhabited islands of Fiji. 
 
 
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Rourou is a typical Fijian soup made from daro leaves that are boiled, pounded out, and then cooked with coconut milk, onion, and garlic. I simplified and Americanized the recipe a bit by subbing spinach for the daro, but feel free to go the traditional route if you can find daro leaves in your area. I have cooked several leafy green dishes with coconut milk so far. I don't have trouble seeing why it is such a popular trend across cultures.
 
 
Rourou
1-12 ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
¼ onion, chopped
2 cups coconut milk
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp oil
dash of salt
 
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the garlic and onion for about 8 minutes until the onion is golden brown. Add the spinach and cook until it is completely wilted, another 8 to 10 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes.
 
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Curry is an important staple to the Indian diet, so they definitely brought it over with them to the tropical paradise where they were forced into labor. (I don't think getting to live on an island makes up for being an indentured servant.) Experience the Indian side of Fiji with this slightly spicy curry and marvel at how small and connected our world really is.
 
Squash and Dhal Curry
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups water
½ cup chana dhal
1 onion, chopped
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp oil
¼ tsp fenugreek
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp curry powder
½ tsp ground mustard
dash of cayenne pepper powder
 
Wash the chana dhal off well. Bring the water and dhal to a boil and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Add in the squash and broth, bring back to a boil, and cook for another 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sauté the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Once the onion is golden brown (about 8 minutes), add in the spices. Mix this into the dhal and squash. Cook for another 5 minutes.
 
 
 
 
To sum up my Fijian experience, I found it to be very flavorful and tasty. It was not my favorite meal so far, but I did enjoy both the soup and curry. A good accompaniment to this meal is roti, a simple unleavened flatbread. Enjoy your Indo- Fijian meal!
 

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