Kokonda – Fijian Fish Salad

A couple of posts ago I mentioned to you all that I was working on getting my readers involved with my blog by inviting them to contribute their recipes as a guest. Well here is my very first and special reader Simon Deo from Sacramento who has offered to do a guest post for me today.😊 Just so you all know this isn’t a sponsored post. I am merely helping the people in my community to spread the love of our Fijian cuisine. Oh and also because I’m just damn sweet! Careful now..so I don’t give you diabetes.😁

I approached Simon on a Facebook foodie group. I asked Simon if he could prepare a native dish for me. He immediately agreed and offered to cook up Kokonda which happens to be his favourite. I happily accepted. I, of course have my own selfish motive behind this because just like South Indian cuisines I don’t know the a-b-c of native Fijian cuisines either.😉

Simon has been very kind to accept my offer and honour my blog with his speciality today. I believe he is feeling a wee bit nervous and apprehensive about the outcome so I hope all my readers, fellow bloggers and buddies will give him a very warm welcome.

Over to Simon now…

Hi everyone my name is Simon and I’m from Sacramento Ca. I am a college student who loves to cook and take photos. My interest in photography started in high school which is when I fell in love with images I took that turned out natural and captivating. I do photography professionally as extra work here in Sacramento or sometimes around California. Some of my photography samples and gallery can be seen on my website Simon Deo Photography or you can check out my Facebook page link https://www.facebook.com/simondeophotography.

20140731-232346-84226207.jpgSimon says…give me a pout!!!

I self taught myself cooking just like my photography. My passion for cooking started in my childhood. I started with playing and experimenting around in the kitchen with foods and from then on I just couldn’t help but discover new flavors all the time. After graduating from high school I decided to take the two things I love the most, combine it together and share it with everyone.

I first began sharing my photos via Facebook and Instagram. Later I discovered a group called Mai Kana via Facebook. There I was able to share my food photography and recipes. I received very encouraging feedbacks and compliments which felt absolutely stupefying. From there I was approached by Sanjana Soni. She invited me to do a guest post for her blog. Of course I immediately said yes. It was a great opportunity for me to share my knowledge of cooking with others all over the world. So today I will be sharing with you a native Fijian dish called Kokonda which originates in Fiji. It’s basically fish cooked in citric acid mainly lemon/lime.

I first came across Kokonda in Fiji where I tried it at a restaurant and absolutely loved it. Biting into it I remember tasting a creamy and tangy soup. Than as I continued the journey of taste there was a bit of a crunch and then a tender piece of seafood went in my mouth. It was absolutely scrumptuous. Years later I came up with my own version of Kokonda. It was equally delicious but I threw in a my own twist to it by adding a sweet factor. When I normally cook I try to balance my recipe as much as possible. For Kokonda I already had the sourness from the lemon but I wished I had a sweet factor so I decided to add a sweet fruit to it. The addition of a fruit gave this dish a bit of a kick! I hope all of you will enjoy my recipe.

20140731-232312-84192200.jpgSimon with his parents and sister.

Ingredients
2 cups of Fish of choice
1 1/2 cup of Lemon juice
1 1/2 cup of Lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Green chilli for taste
1 cup of Peach, pineapple or mango (I used peach)
1 cup of Coconut cream or milk
1 cup of Bell pepper (preferably red)
1/2 cup of Onions or shallot.

Method
Slice your fish in 1/2 or 1/4 inch bite sized pieces.
• Add 1 and 1/2 a cup of lemon and 1 and 1/2 a cup of lime juice to the fish in a bowl. Make sure your fish is fully submerged in the citric acid.
• Add salt and pepper and give it a quick stir.
• Cover it with a plastic wrap and let it “cook” in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
• Meanwhile, chop your fruit, in my case a peach (or any other fruit of your choice). Also chop bell peppers and onions in cubes (keep the cubes about half the size of your fish bites) and then set it aside in the fridge tightly covered with a plastic wrap.
• After 2hrs (or maybe more as per your preference) add your chopped veggies and fruits into the bowl along with the coconut cream and give it a good stir and cover once again.
• Slice your green chilies very thinly and add into the bowl with the fish. Give it another good stir and taste to check for salt. I like to serve this with tortilla or potato chips (using the kokonda kind of like a dip) but you may choose to serve however you desire!

20140801-230201-82921079.jpg

Aloo Boda Tarkari (Potato And Cow Peas Curry) – Guest Post For Aahaaram

I have been honoured to do a a guest blog post once again and today that special person is Aruna Panangipally of Aahaaram who I fondly call Ms Gorgeous Smile (she doesn’t know that…..yet😉). I have known Aruna since I first started blogging and have had lots of support and encouragement from her. She has given the kind of support a friend gives to another holding your hand and welcoming you in this blogging world with open arms. Yep! That’s Aruna for you an absolute sweetheart. 😘Recently we took a step further and chatted a little and got to know each other better. Aruna then asked me if I would be willing to do a guest blog post for her and I literally jumped at the chance. I mean how could I not? My fellow bloggers and readers when an experienced Masterchef level blogger requests a lazy blogger like me for a guest post you know you’re good hehehe. 😬

Thank you so much Aruna for giving me this chance, you rock!!! I hope your readers have enjoyed my recipe. While you (my special readers) are peeking in here please do check out Arunas awesome blog http://aahaaram.wordpress.com where you will find a delicious smorgasboard of vegetarian cuisines from regional India.

Today my recipe is all about the humble fresh cow peas or black eyed beans or Boda as we call it in Fiji. Although not an authentic native Fijian dish (as Aruna had requested) this dish is commonly cooked in the Fiji-Indian households. For many years this has also been favored by the natives who love their curries as much as we love their super delicious native dishes like Lovo and Pulsami. Hopefully I will master the art of cooking those as well one day (I’m working on it).

There are many colors and varieties of these peas which also happens to totally differ in taste. Put a few together and you feel like you’re being ogled at by beautiful kajal/kohl adorned eyes (me and my crazy imagination 😬hehe). Combine this with potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes and you get a delicious curry which goes hand in hand with roti or chapati. The variety I have used in todays recipe is light brown in color and my preferred choice. Alternatively I use the creamy colored ones which are also known as Lobia beans in India.

20140520-124145-45705383.jpg
photo credit: IITA Image Library via photopin cc

Ingredients
1 Cup Boda/Cow Peas/Black Eyed Beans
1-2 Medium Sized Potatoes (cubed into bite size)
1 Onion (sliced)
1/2 Eggplant (I have used the large dark purple variety)
1 Medium Sized Tomato
A Tiny Pinch Of Sarso/Mustard and Jeera/Cumin Seeds.
2-4 Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
2-3 Garlic Cloves (crushed)
1/4 Tspn Haldi/Tumeric
1 Tspn Garam Masala
1/4 Tspn Chilli Powder or Fresh Chillies (optional)
4-6 Curry Leaves
1-2 Tbspn Oil
Salt To Taste

Method
• Wash and soak the beans in water and set aside.
• Cut the eggplant into long and medium-thin slices, wash and soak.
• Peel, wash and cut potatoes into bite sized cubes and soak in water. Set aside.
• Meanwhile cut tomato in 4 pieces.
• Slice onions thinly and crush the garlic.
• Now heat oil in a pan and add sarso, jeera and methi. Allow it to splutter a little then add onions and garlic along with curry leaves.
• Saute the onions and garlic until its translucent and the raw smell of garlic has gone.
• Now add the dry spices – chillies, haldi and garam masala and stir for couple of minutes. Add a little warm water to get it paste like.
• Discard the water in which the eggplants, cow peas and potatoes were soaked and add them to the pan. Dry fry for 5 mins on low heat then add about a cup of warm water and cover.
• Let the curry simmer until the potatoes are half cooked (spoon break test required) then throw in your tomato pieces.
• Cover and cook until the potatoes are done. If you find the gravy is thin cook uncovered until the medium thick gravy consistency is reached.
• Finally garnish with chopped coriander/cilantro leaves.

This dish is best served with Roti/Chapati.

20140521-000432-272574.jpg

Aloo Baingan Tarkari (Potato Eggplant Curry)

G’day all 🍺🍸🍻🍷Hic! Happy Australia Day!!! I’m back in action after my break. For those who might not have read my last post I was off for surgery for my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. My nerve issue on my right hand and arm is about 50% ok now so no more pains radiating up my arm, shoulder and neck. My thumb and first finger is tingle free. Although it seems like my Ulnar Nerve is playing up so my last three fingers are still weak. Aww does this ever end! I know one thing at a time so hopefully I’ll be all fixed up in the near future. Next fix up on the list is my ulnar then carpal on my left hand and finally the real pain in my b**t my Spinal Nerve Compression.

Now if you’re wondering what nerve pains feel like let me explain. It’s like electrical currents running through your arms and fingers which is extremely sensitive to touch and causes constant pins and needles with weakness (I end up dropping things more often than my daughter does lol). The spinal nerve compression causes sciatic pains with a burst of electrical like currents radiating all the way down to my toes in spurts. Wow! I’m not only radiating I’m electrifying too..oooohh! 😮 I like the sound of that!! hehe😄

Moving along…I dont know whether my Aloo Baingan recipe today should be classified as a curry because its actually a spiceless dish. What the heck lets just call it one anyway since it’s cooked by an Indian and eaten with roti by an Indian. It surely can’t get anymore Indian than that lol. You know sometimes I just want those spiceless days and to give my trusted antacid a break so this comes in as a quick rescue. The base of the flavour is mainly from the tomatoes and garlic. Enjoy this with roti or spread it on a slice of bread, thump another slice on top, press in a sandwich maker and brruuahh! you have a grilled potato sandwich!

Just a pet peeve before I sign off. I’m furious with the surgeons who sliced through my delicate palm and got on my nerves..literally! They have turned my life upside down and you know how? Well they completely screwed up my lifeline didn’t they…there goes my destiny!! Bahhhhh!! 😩 I will need to get my palms read all over again. Now the mystery is..have they actually shortened my life or lengthened it. What do you think? Hmmm😕I guess only time will unravel this mystery. To be continued…..

Ingredients
4 Medium Sized Potatoes
1 Onion
2-3 Garlic Cloves
1-2 Green Chillies (optional)
1 Large Eggplant (I have used the large black-purple variety)
2 Medium Sized Tomatoes
2-3 Tbspn Oil
Salt To Taste

Method
• Wash, peel and cut potatoes into medium-thin wedge like pieces.
• Wash, halve eggplant and cut long med-thin pieces. Set aside soaked in water so it doesnt go off color.
• Slice onions and crush the garlic.
• Chop the tomatoes and chillies finely.
• Heat oil in a non-stick pan and add onions, chillies and garlic into it. Cook until lightly browned.
• Throw in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until it’s mushy soft. If it gets too dry you may add a little water.
• Finally add the eggplants and potatoes and cook covered on low heat until potatoes are done.

This dish is best served with Roti/Chapaati or bread.

20140216-233135.jpg

Corned Mutton Curry (Gravy Version)

Hi everyone I have a dash and run post today before my op tomorrow so I wont blabber much (maybe just a little). I had a few requests for the tari/surwa (gravy) version of my corned mutton curry so here it is, enjoy!😊

Aww! ok just a short story then..I cant resist. Last week we had a fire drill at work and we all had to evacuate our building and assemble at a designated spot. My manager and my manager’s manager (I just had to say it the Desi way hehe) we were all gathered waiting around with a few other colleagues to hear instructions from the fire warden to head back to our building. I happened to notice a few ladies walk right past through us to go upstairs into a building. Few ladies were also coming down the stairs looking flushed and glowy.

Curiousity got the best of me and I had to find out where they were heading. I looked up and read the sign. We were standing right in front of a beauty parlour so aptly named “BrazillianBeauty”. Trust me to speak my thought out aloud and say “well, guess we all know who is coming down after a Brazillian“. Of course I was’nt embarassed then (because this is just me I come up and say totally ridiculous things at times) but I must have embarassed everyone else standing there. It clicked to me a few minutes later what I had said and only then I wished the ground would split open and swallow me up😳. Lesson learned – keep my thoughts to myself (I can only try so no promises😉).

Ingredients
4 Medium Sized Potatoes
1 326g Canned Corned Mutton (I have used Salisbury brand)
1/2 Onion
3-6 Curry Leaves
2-4 Garlic Cloves
1 Inch Piece Ginger
1/2 Tspn Tumeric Powder
1 Tspn Garam Masala
1 Tspn Kashmiri Chilli Powder (optional)
Pinch Of Mustard, Cumin And Fenugreek Seeds
Salt To Taste
2 Tbspn Oil

Method
• Wash, peel and cut potatoes into med-small cubes.
• Crush ginger and garlic.
• Heat oil in a pan and add mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds. Allow it to splatter and brown lightly.
• Add onions, garlic and ginger and fry till brown.
• Now add tumeric, garam masala chilli powder, curry leaves and stir for a second or two before throwing in the potatoes.
• Cook the potatoes in medium flame until done and then add the corned mutton and cook further 5 mins.
• Finally garnish with coriander/cilantro.

This dish is best served with rice.

20140216-233247.jpg