Tag Archives: #kokoda

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 26…Fiji a beautiful South Pacific Island…

Welcome back to my A-Z of World Cuisines after the Christmas and New Year break…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Fiji…

After nearly a century as a British colony, Fiji became independent in 1970…a country in the South Pacific, Fiji is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. It’s famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons.

Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture as you would expect after being a British colony for nearly a century…

Traditionally, the Fijian cooking method uses an open fire or an underground oven dug out of the ground and covered with banana leaves. Still used today, the Lovo or underground overcooking is a thrilling cultural experience for all travellers to Fiji.

Just seeing lovely fresh fish or meat cooked like this would heighten the senses and the food would taste sublime…

Surrounded by water seafood has to be one of the major players in Fijian cuisine however you may also find a curry to die for…Rice, sweet potatoes, taro, coconuts, cassava, breadfruit, and of course, fish, have made up the majority of the Fijian diet for centuries…with traditional recipes passed down through the ages…like the “Lovo” yes that pretty BBQ in the image above is the traditional way to cook a feast of fish, meats and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves… it is cooked in a makeshift underground oven that is dug into the earth, lined with coconut husks and covered with stones.

Having been traditionally prepared to celebrate significant events in the village, like a wedding or a festival. Today, most resorts offer regular lovo feasts for their guests to enjoy…

With so much fresh fish available there has to be ceviche on the menu here it is called kokoda a delicacy made of raw fish marinated in coconut cream, onions, tomatoes and lime…

I am drooling as I type all those flavours are ones readily available here and ones I love…This national dish of Fiji is served in a large clamshell, coconut shell or bamboo in a festive style.

Because roughly 40% of Fiji’s population is of Indian descent…this came about in the late 19th century and early 20th century when Indians were sent to Fiji by their British colonial rulers to work on sugarcane plantations…hence Indo-Fijian food that is like anything you’d find in Delhi or Mumbai, with spicy curries, rice and roti bread…also a small part of the population is of  Chinese descent therefore if Chinese is your favoured cuisine then you will find it here.

Fiji is also rich in tropical and juicy fruits such as sea grapes, pawpaw, banana, various melons and of course pineapple and jackfruit! …Nama or sea grapes or green grapes grow in shallow waters, are similar to caviar (fish eggs), and are served with chillies and lemon… they are something that we eat here on occasion the kids love them…I like them if I can get a look in -smile-

It is also used as a garnish in Fiji and can be added to either a salad or coconut milk. Nama contains Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Fijians use Nama with coconut to make a thick paste known as kora made by first squeezing the coconut milk from the freshly grated coconut, separating the milk and the grated coconut, packing them in sacks and dipping it into the sea for two weeks or more it is the seawater that gives it its unique taste…This is then served with seafood…and it is apparently most delicious…

Another delicacy is the Sea urchin, locally known as Cawaki, which is the only species of urchin in Fiji that is edible. So much so that it has become a popular delicacy in coastal villages. Cawaki is found in Fiji’s shallow coral reef ecosystem. The women of Fiji provide the main collection process for the Cawaki, after which they take the Cawaki to sell at markets. .. collecting and selling sea urchins is now a source of income for women.

Palusami is popular in Fiji and is made of boiled Taro leaves mashed into a curry and has a stewed spinach flavour. Little to no spices or chillies are used in this dish which is garnished with coconut cream. These leaves are stuffed with meat, sometimes corned beef, with onions and a coconut mixture because fresh meat isn’t always available.​

It wouldn’t be a trip to Fiji if you didn’t sample the Mahi Mahi…although the fish is most often used when making Kokoda… and It is very popular not only with locals but tourists and usually grilled or cooked in a frying pan and served with vegetables…Mahi Mahi Mahi Mahi is a fish sourced from the deep waters around Fiji.

If you have been or are planning a visit to Fiji then don’t forget to try the National drink of Kava…

Kava is described as a drug made from ground-up roots of a South Pacific plant, the Piper methysticum, a member of the pepper family and is taken as a drink. Kava is traditionally made of crushed, ground, or powdered root soaked in water and drunk as tea and has been used by Pacific Islanders for hundreds of years. Kava is used in traditional ceremonies and cultural events in the Pacific region.

When travelling I always head for the markets as that is often where you will find the most amazing Street Food…not so In Fiji…you will find very little cooked food sold in markets partly due to the heat and lack of refrigeration although there is a newish project called “Street Foods Fiji” outside Port Denarau on the mainland side of the bridge that crosses the river to the Island of Denarau about 20 minutes drive from Nadi International Airport, it is as close as the country comes to authentic micro restaurants, selling a variety of traditional and Indo-Fijian snack plates…however, it would still be an experience to wander around the markets trying lovely unusual fresh fruits and drinks…

Thank you for joining me today for this virtual tour of Fiji as always I look forward to your comments xx