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MARTIN

Nadi ..........You don't pronounce it the way it looks. For some reason there's an "n" right in the middle of "Nandi". Anyway, it's where you land when you come to Fiji from an international destination. I was supposed to leave Nadi for Nauru, but one of the worst travel days in my life landed me an extra three days in Fiji. That generates no sympathy from anyone, I know.

As I left the airport by taxi instead of airplane, the driver who took me to my hotel was Sahim.  Sam. 

I always talk to taxi drivers about food. I mean, why not tap into a local resource? When Sam told me that the best way to sample local food was not at a restaurant but rather at someone’s home, I knew what the next words were that I wanted to hear.  Would you like to come to my house for a meal? 

Fortunately for his wife, I wasn’t the first guest that Sam brought home to sample her cooking.  Reshma was simply delightful.  She was at her best when she had several dishes going, all at the same time, with the smell of curry, ginger, garlic, turmeric, masala, onion and smoke filling the kitchen.

Reshma had a variety of ways to cook in her newly refinished kitchen after cyclone Winston came for a visit.  She had a gas plate, an electric hot plate and an open flame cooking area attached to the kitchen.  The beef curry cooked over an open flame, so the first step in this recipe is to gather up firewood from trees downed by the cyclone.  Winston knocked down a lot of trees but nothing was wasted in this home.  A large pile of firewood was neatly stacked in the yard.

in the Kitchen with Sahim, Reshmna and cyclone wood

Beef Curry
Reshma Dean, Nadi, Fiji

1 load of cyclone firewood 
½ cup oil
garlic cloves 
1 Tbs turmeric
ginger 
3 Tbs curry powder 
hot peppers
1 Tbs soy sauce
2 sprigs of curry leaves
salt to taste
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 cups water
 
1 tsp cumin seeds 
1 pound beef  
 
1 onion
1 or more napkins per person
 

Mix up a half cup with a combination of garlic, ginger and hot peppers.  You decided the proportions and especially how much hot pepper suits your tastes.  Then, smash it all up with a mortar and pestle.  This time, not the giant African type of kitchenware.  Use a small countertop version. 

If your cyclone firewood is not up to speed yet, you can blow on it.  Sam used a plastic pipe to really direct the flow of oxygen to the flame.  

Grab a couple of sprigs of fresh curry leaves from the yard and then fry them up with your mortar mix, seeds and onion in oil until everything is golden brown.  Toss in the turmeric, curry powder, soy sauce and salt.

Add water and the beef and cook everything until the meat is tender and done, somewhere around thirty minutes or more.

When the dish is ready, gather family and friends around the floor with the serving dishes in the middle.  It was so easy to understand why this was Sam’s favorite dish.  It was finger lickin’ good.  I really mean that.  In Fiji, you don’t use silverware.  You eat everything with your hands.  It literally was finger lickin’ good.

Copyright 2016 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.

 

 

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