Fiji Friday – Traditional Cooking

This is something new that I want to try and stick to posting Fijian culture/language post each Friday. As I am now taking Fijian classes hopefully I’ll be able to share some of what I learn (providing that I do retain some of the information).

This week was my third week of classes and we focused on being able to speak Fijian at the markets to purchase our goods and then cooked up a couple of Fijian dishes.

J & I have been going to the markets almost every weekend since we’ve both been here. Fresh produce markets are something we did every week when we lived in Brisbane and we really missed having access to good quality fresh produce during our time in Darwin. Each time we’ve gone to the markets in Suva we’ve just muddled our way through using English and that has served us well thus far.

In this week’s class we learnt how to speak with vendors in Fijian, asking the price of the food and selecting which bundle/pile to purchase. Thankfully we went through the markets on Thursday when it was a lot quieter than it ever is on a Saturday. I took my script notes with me to help remember exactly what to say. The difference in the vendor’s attitude towards us when we were attempting to converse in Fijian was incredible they seemed amazed and very enthusiastic about us giving it a go (the locals really are lovely here).

With all of our fresh produce purchased everyone came back to our house to cook up a Fijian feast. On Wednesday I’d started the marinating process for the tuna J caught a couple of weekends ago for the Kokoda (pronounced Ko-kon-da). The fish was simply diced and left to sit in lemon juice for about a day.

For the four of us we cooked, roasted kumala (sweet potato), Kokoda, Roro balls and a Vudi (pronounced vun-di) dessert. It’s amazing how much cheaper it is to purchase the local foods and the sheer quantity of food for your money.

One takeaway from today, was that I have never appreciated shredded coconut so much before in my life. With a coconut scraper and five coconuts we all took turns in scraping out the flesh into shredded coconut. It took me ages to do my half a coconut, so never again will I take for granted shredded coconut that comes in a packet. Simple things that make a huge difference.

For someone who never used to experiment much with food I have really enjoyed trying to cook like a Fijian and learn some of their recipes.

Roro Balls
*recipe below

Plain Flour
Niu Milk

Boil the roro leaves in water until they reduce and become very soggy.
Drain the roro. Line the bottom of a tray with plain flour and use this to roll the balls together with the flour coating the outside.
Heat up a frying pan with 1cm of oil covering the base. Once hot add in roro balls and fry them all over until they turn golden and hard on the outside.
Pull them out of the oil and place them on some paper towel to soak up the excess oil.
Shred the coconut out of one niu and rinse it in a strainer with water, collecting the milk that strains through.
Place the roro balls, coconut milk and a diced onion in a saucepan and bring the milk to the boil.
Allow the milk to boil for a couple of minutes and serve the roro balls with the milk (lolo).

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