Nostalgia and 'comfort' foods
Tooners, a blogger from Bahrain, raised the subject of 'comfort' foods and favourites and wrote that she went in for macaroni cheese and even mashed potatoes. There are those foods that remind us of childhood and our Mum's fabulous cooking - those days mothers really took time to make nutritious and colourful foods and they even baked! But they really were over-salted, or over-sugared or vegetables boiled too long! I remember the holiday times mostly - down the Mornington Peninsular, and during our evening walks beside the sea at places like Dromana we would try varieties of icecream - rum, banana, coconut, plum pudding.
Mostly though I remember a garden full of fresh food - all vegetables home grown - peas, beans, carrots, artichokes, pumpkin, etc. and an orchard of fruit trees - lemon, orange, grapefruit, pear, apple, blood plum, nectarines, apricots, cherry-plums, almonds, walnuts, and the list goes on.
Then when I left home at 17 for the big city of Melbourne, I discovered Spaghetti Bolognese, coffee scrolls, Danish pastries, different kinds of coffee, icecream with toppings, so rejected the old nutritious kind of meals.
Then I moved to Fiji and tried all kinds of exotic Indian, Chinese, Fijian foods and have stuck with these recipes mostly ever since. Roti and curry, halwa, sawai, yam and fish in coconut cream, sweet and sour pork, fried rice. Specialties in season also - ota - which is fern, and duruka - a kind of Fiji asparagus. And of course mangoes, especially parrot mangoes.
Sometimes we do change our preferences though - I used to like Cherry Ripes, but now chocolate seems too sweet, and fruit cake gives me indigestion!
I guess some 'comfort' foods are still roast lamb, pork chops, marinaded chicken, but sense decrees that lots of rabbit food - dozens of green and pink leaves - are necessary for heath! In cafes these days, there is usually a large white plate with a pyramid of rabbit food that doesn't have much taste at all. Not that we dine out much. And takeaways - fish and chips from the Lebanese shop across the road - are still on our menu!
Next week is the Indian Diwali Festival time and I remember visiting friends and eating halwa - a sweet pudding. This recipe sounds close to the kind of halwa made in Fiji. It's the cardamons that give it the lovely flavour.
Besan (Gram Flour) 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Sugar 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder 1 tsp
Pure ghee 1/2 cup
Almonds or Cashews or Pista 10 or 15 finely chopped
1. Heat ghee in a thick pan or vessel prefer copper bottom.
2. Now add gram flour and keep on stirring on low flame until the flour turns golden colour.
3. Then add cardamon, milk and sugar.
4. Keep on stirring the mixture until the mixture turns thick.
Serve hot by decorating with fried nuts in ghee.