Tag Archives: Fiji

Fijian Food Finally… Bale Bistro – Martintar, Nadi, Fiji

Expecting Fijian Food was something I had practically given up.  Three trips

Bale Bistro - No Frills, You eat what they offer!!!

there and so far nothing.  I expected people to have Lovos (underground ovens) roasting taro, and chicken, pork and all sorts of things all over the place at all times of the day, alas it was a dream.

In fact I think I had more Lovo food in Australia then in Fiji.  Well I still did not get anything from the Lovo this time around but while getting ingredients to cook dinner for Angela, she nonchalantly walks to this little place which I would have not even noticed and says, “You want Fijian food, here it is”…

So we enter this little shack like eating place, you know something you would find in a lot of places in Malaysia, where believe it or not it would be so crowded and even sometime cause traffic with the cars who park around wanting to get a bite.  Well this was not far off, minus the cars and the havoc and the fact that this was not near some factory area.

Bale Bistro it is called.  And so we entered in, and again me expecting to see

Our Chef -

someone inside this big area which would be a Lovo, alas it was not to be. But having said that, I chanced upon real Fijian Tucker, some of which I had not eaten for years and years.  And while some people may look funny at the food as appearance wise it is not as appealing and more rustic, the tastes of it was just divine.  The portions, well let’s just say that if Angela fed me that kind of food for the duration I was in Fiji, I’d need an extra ticket for an extra seat on the plane to get back to Australia.

So we entered in this no frills and thrills place, and was greeted in true Fijian

What we had for lunch - Dalo, Fish Head Lolo, Lamb Stew and Rou Rou

style, something that is quite lacking in this part of the world.  A big loud Bula and that big welcoming smile always makes a difference no matter if you are a local or a tourist.

So now the food. The sizes of the fish and meat that you see serve PER PERSON.

Fish Lolo

Now the first is Fish Lo Lo. Fish in coconut milk.   The size of the fish gave me a shock because it was enough for two people or more. And this was fir a single serve.  Being a non fish eater (You know the drill, anything that looks like fish, tastes like fish, smells like fish, has skin and bones) I do not really like, so I steered away. So much for craving and ranting and raving about Fijian Food.

The fish used is usually mackerel cooked with onions, garlic, ginger, the slightest hint of seasoning and of course coconut cream. There are several versions that have an Indian touch to it , where curry powder and curry leaves are added and several other spices. This one was good ole Fijian style.  Now surprisingly the taste was not as fishy as I thought it would be. I took some of Angelas, and we do not eat it with rice, we eat it with boiled Dalo or Cassava.  The fish flaked properly and did not break into pieces. This was probably because of the size of the fish.  A small piece was enough of course.

The next was I believed boiled fish in lightly salted water. That I stayed away from of course, because I just could not fathom eating something like that simply because I am just hopeless with fish in that style. Fish like that is usually flaked with your fingers and salt is added along with chilly and whatever condiments that may be offered.  I am sure it would taste nice but it was not me. So I shan’t say more.

Next dish looked a bit more promising.  Half a Roast Chook with a nice gravy. Once again you had the option of having one for yourself or sharing.  We

Roast Chicken

decided not to have chicken as we had roast chicken the last few days and tonight would be chicken curry so we went for lamb stew. Now the size of the lamb and the portion with regards for the price was quite strange.

Even as a caterer I think I would have not charged so cheap for it. They were

Lamb Stew - Sheer Divinity

huge meaty pieces, with silky like gravy. The meat was cooked to perfection and fell off the bone. No pulling and tugging at the bone.  Ahhh just a dash of red wine would have added such divinity to it, alas, I’m in Fiji and we’re eating Fijian Food.

The next dish was a big confusing, because I could not make it out at first glance, and then when I looked closer I saw teeth and thought surely it can’t be fish head.  Well it was, and once again, each person takes one head to eat because as we were sitting and eating, I saw many men carrying a whole fish head with Dalo and eating it just like that. The fish was cooked Miti style once again with thick coconut milk. Angela took a small head.  I just shook mine!

Chicken curry, now Fijian Chicken Curry is not like what we eat, it is cooked

Fijian Chicken Curry

very differently and the degree of spice and spiciness is really really different. To most Malaysians, I believe we would find it almost like a stew.  But if eaten with Fijian Roti, it is something else, much like a meaty aloo gobi minus the cauliflower.

Rou Rou (Pronounced Row Row) is cassava leaves boiled and mashed to a

Rou Rou

pulp and cooked with pork.  I loved the Rou Rou.  I wish it was cooked with ham hock or corned beef, because the saltiness of the meat would have complemented this dish, but I have no complaints.  I could have eaten it like it was bowls of hot green stew.  It was in my own words Luscious!  I don’t know why that word came to my head when I ate it.  I didn’t eat the meat but the flavor was really rich and I knew I had my fill of fibre for the day.

Prettifying Fijian Grub

I left the place feeling like a fat cow.  It was a pity I had a pie earlier in the morning and slices of freshly baked Fijian white bread with Rewa Butter.

I’ll go back to Bale Bistro next year for sure and this time I will go hungry.


Payasam – A step by step process of a very easy Indian dessert

I have always liked this Indian dessert called Payasam. But funnily enough, every time I have eaten it, it is always a big disappointment.  The taste would be wrong, not rich enough, not enough ingredients, or it would be thick mush. It is like they could never get it right although it is so easy to make.

I had nice payasam strangely enough in Fiji at Raju’s Healthy Hash Café. Now let it be known, Raju is actually Doctor Raju, who owns a large two storey building in Nadi Town and I think he is rather clever too as there are no Indian restaurants around that I noticed and it is a place where its simple dining and they serve rather nice roti and an assortment of curries which are different then what we get here in Malaysia.

His café is upstairs facing the street.  Now at lunch time the place suddenly filled up so quickly so we left so others could have place.

Each tray was for one person

While it is suppose to be a vegetarian café, somehow they seem to have snuck in some chicken curry for the meat eaters as well.  The photos you are seeing are some of the curries we ate that day with roti. I will do a step by step recipe for roti. I just love the stuff and it is quite easy to make so I am told.

And the payasam part of it came by accident as they happened to be making some and my friend Angela who is well known and a regular over there took us in so we each had a small cup. And for the first time, the payasam was perfect. No stinging on ingredients, not thickened with sago, it was just right. And from that day on I have been craving for payasam.  So yesterday, while Eda was cleaning the cupboards, out come a box of Payasam Vermicelli that was going to expire in two days time. So I did not waste anytime and got into making it.

Here is the step by step as there is no particular recipe.

The payasam vermicelli is from AKS – do check www.aks.com.my

So here goes:

  1. As the box indicated, dry fry the vermicelli as shown.  It should be on low flame and not too hot or the vermicelli will burn.  Dry fry till it become a darker yellow.  I did not see any difference, but that is what the box said.
  2. Soak 1 cup full of sago pearls.
  3. Heat a frying pan, with a dollop of ghee, and slow fry a handful or cashews, remove from heat and then fry a handful of raisins. Golden raisins are a better choice as it looks more pleasing instead of black bits all over your payasam.
  4. Now it the left over oil, you are suppose to add in three or four cardamoms and let it pop before pouring in 1 litre of milk.  I just poured a whole box it. By the way I forgot to add in the cardamoms so I will show it later.
  5. Next I threw in the noodles and the raisins. I also forgot to show it clearly but I think you get the picture.
  6. I added in sugar to taste, roughly about 4 soup spoons.  Once it is boiled, simmer on low flame.
  7. Add in the sago pearls, and stir through to prevent burning.
  8. Since I forgot to add in the cardamoms, I heated a pan with a bit of ghee and three in a few cardamoms. I let it pop and then poured it over the payasam.
  9. Continue cooking till sago pearls are clear and vermicelli is cooked
  10. It will take about 30 to 40 minutes.  And you may have to add in some water to prevent it from thickening. The gravy should be a nice thick and pourable consistency, much like thickish batter.  Add in a pinch of salt.
  11. Serve it hot
  12. Mum asked for more…. There was none! I had all of one bowl, they ate the rest.

Introducing Mama’s Pizza – Fiji’s very own home grown pizza. http://webmedia-staging.com/mamas/

It was a Wednesday night and since I was not in the best of health and was quite lazy to do anything else as we had quite an eventful day with Dan’s Sky Diving and then we went to this horrible horrible Kebab Place near the hotel, a name that I just cannot seem to remember but trust me its not worth remembering as the Kebab’s were lousy.  Later I found out it was owned by a Malaysian.  So there you go!

As Angela had a heavy day and we were not too keen to go out to eat again, Angela brought home Pizza.  Fiji’s own Mama’s Pizza.  I had seen Mama’s Pizza in a few places as we were driving around Nadi (Pronounced Nandi).

Now let me be straight with everyone here, I AM NOT  FAN OF PIZZA!

I may eat a tiny bit if it is a Pizza Margherita but I would scarcely touch normal pizza from the Pizza places around. I would eat a little from Italian restaurants but with moderation.

So when Angela walked in the door after her Parents Teacher Meeting at Meretalai’s school, I notice it was a very large box she was carrying.  The size I had not seen for a long long time not even in most of the Aussie Pizza places I have eaten at.

So she opened it and announced it was a Meat Lovers Pizza and half was Hawaiian and the other half was Ground Beef, Ham, Pepperoni & savory sausage with BBQ Sauce. I was quite shocked that they did not stinge on ingredients as food ingredients especially importer food ingredients is expensive.

I was curious, so I took a piece and after 5 pieces later I had to declare it was a very nice family made pizza.  None of those pretentious nonsense we get with mozzarella cheese folded into the pizza bread and triple and double crust nonsense. It was filled to the brim with meat, and not stingily too. The ration of meat and pizza bread was perfect unlike the ones we get in other places where more dough means we’re filled up faster.  I must confess though, when Angela and I were in school, we actually used to fight for the crust!

Mama’s Pizza is a Pizzeria Café, so you can dine in, take away and even get it delivered.

Malaysia should start a home grown pizza place with no pretense and fluff. Mama’s Pizza has stood up to giants like Pizza Hut in Fiji, and with what we ate, I reckon Pizza Hut would have a good fight.

Mama’s Pizza opened 26 years ago, by a single mum who needed the cash back then for her kids and the rest is history.  A success story, and a lot of success to come.  I am stressing this to Malaysians simply because we are so blinded by American Pizza and even Canadian, and look what this local woman did 26 years ago which was probably the same time we started getting into Pizzas. This should be made an example to young entrepreneurs out there.

Anything is possible, you dish out good food, even the giants cannot fight you.  And in the case of Mama’s Pizza, I believe the giants won’t be able to.

By the way I forgot to mention the pizza  was 45 cm across.  We were all “pizzaed” out, we gave some to the teachers at the school later on.  I would have loved to have gotten my hands on Mama’s Pizza’s Menu and actually dined there to feel the ambiance and just smell the whole restaurant.

Read their history at their website.

And to Robin Ragg the original Mama of Mama’s Pizza… You Go Girl!!!!!!