Roro balls served with braised bele and cucumber, and fresh corn in our back yard
Fijian food is delicious!
If you come to Fiji, whether your hosts are iTaukei (indigenous) or Indo-Fijian, make sure that you ask them if it is ok if they serve you the normal food that they eat, as so many Fijians really do believe that you won’t like the food at all, and are really not sure what you will eat at all, as they believe that there is nothing in the cuisine that you will like.
dinner at our place on a school night – mashed dalo, braised beans, and other goodies
Here is a little recipe which can be easily adapted if you want to try it. These balls are really light and delicious and are the perfect quick fix if you are having friends over for drinks at the last minute, or have to take something to a party. It is my husband’s only concession to Kava (yaqona – pronounce yangona) drinking and our mix of cultures. Traditionally, food is not eaten at all until all of the Kava is finished and the guests are gone. In fact, it is traditional that the male guests do not eat no matter what kind of feast is prepared, but you must pack a meal for them to take home. It is a real panic if you have inadvertently run out of yoghurt containers for the purpose! Anyway, I digress: if my husband invites people home, he asks if I can cook this quick snack, and serve it while the kava ceremony is in progress, which is normally several hours.
Dom with his dinner
This snack is served at roadside food vendors all over Fiji (here, they are called Bean Carts). Roro is actually the name for the green dalo leaf which looks like an elephant ear, but the balls are not made with roro. If you do try and use roro, you will find that the balls make your throat itch, as roro needs to be cooked for a long time to take away that side effect. Indo-Fijians use mothe which is kind of like English Spinach, but I use bele as a substitute. Bele has a bigger leaf, and is related to the hibiscus plant, and for me at least is much easier to grow.
The only thing you have to do is make sure that you have some pea flour (besan flour), normal flour or plain flour, and oil in the cupboard just in case. The rest you can wing it.
This recipe is courtesy of Mrs Kumar of Shane Cafe in Nausori, Fiji, but I have adapted it slightly as I like to use the coconut scrapes (or fresh grated coconut) as many families simply throw it out.
All of the fresh ingredients normally come from our garden, and you can use your common sense and substitute for other stuff you have lying around.
- 1 cob fresh corn – cut kernels off the cob (or a small tin of corn)
Roni with some corn from our yard
- 1 cup very finely chopped bele, mothe, or spinach/silverbeet (bele and mothe are soft leafy vegetables freely available in Fiji)
- 1/2 cup pea or besan flour
- 1 and 1/2 cups plain or normal flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- juice of one lime OR half a lemon, OR teaspoon of any type of vinegar just to get the baking powder going
- 2 small hot chilies or to taste
- 1 small onion, very finely diced (or chopped to within an inch of its life without blood loss if you are in a hurry)
- a couple of cloves of garlic chopped as above
- salt, pepper
- a pinch of any type of curry or masala powder if you like
- corriander (dhania/cilentro) if you like
- cooking oil
- newspaper or paper towel to drain
- 1/2 cup fresh coconut scrapes, or 1/4 cup dessicated coconut
- 2 cups water
How to do it: Don’t labour over it, as it is really very quick