Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nostalgia and 'comfort' foods

from W
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.


Blogger tooners said...

you have some memories as well. when i was young, we always had a huge garden and grew our own veggies. i used to work in the garden w/ my mom. i miss those times.

so you have come accustomed to the fijian (sp?) foods? i like some of the arabic food but i tend to get tired of it pretty fast and go back to my american roots.

there is a sweet here called halawa... i was wondering, until i read your description, if it was the same. here, it's mainly oil w/ saffron and a few other things. it gets hard and you eat it w/ hot tea or arabic coffee. it's nice but very oily and fattening. :) but sometimes those are the yummiest.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Yes, it is probably a variation - lots of similar recipes are in different countries. I've bought a kind of halwa in a supermarket here - it is hard and you cut it into squares but it has the same taste as the fiji halwa but which has a softer texture.

2:46 AM  

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