Fijian cuisine on the menu

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Fijian cuisine . . .Ruci Ngahetau (left) and Georgina Wilson shared some of their families' dishes at a community lunch in Kaiapoi last week. Photo: David Hill

By DAVID HILL

Fijian cuisine was on the menu at Friday’s weekly ‘healthy community’ meeting at the Kaiapoi Baptist Church.

The weekly community lunch, Fuller Kai, offers food and good company with a Fijian twist, Person 2 Person Help Trust community co-ordinator Audrey Dragovich says.

“We do have a lot of migrants and different ethnic communities so it’s quite exciting to be able to bring them together and share dishes.

“I would like to see something continue – we’re talking about getting people to bring ‘your own favourite dish’ and we could do a recipe book.

“We are keen to look at ways of connecting with people from different cultures – it’s all about coming together.”

Waimakariri District Council community development facilitator Denise Wiggins has been working closely with migrant groups and says food is an important way of bringing people together in many cultures.

“I think it’s a really good way of highlighting that Fijian people are moving into the district and celebrating diversity and welcoming people.

“There’s something really nice about food bringing people together.”

Chefs Georgina Wilson and Ruci Ngahetau both shared family recipes with a Fijian Indian influence.

Georgina was born in Fiji to a Fijian Indian family, moving to New Zealand 10 years ago and she has been living in Kaiapoi for two years.

She prepared curried chicken, tomato chutney and rice, which are based on traditional Indian recipes but with less spices.

Ruci was born in Auckland to Fijian parents. While her father was a native Fijian, he grew up around Fijian Indians and was fluent in Hindi and learned to cook several Fijian Indian dishes.

She prepared coconut pie and puri or fried bread.

“A more traditional Fijian meal would have a pig cooked underground like a hangi and you would spend most of the day preparing it and usually the men would do it,” Ruci says.

Audrey says the Fuller Kai Friday community lunch has been run by the Person 2 Person Help Trust and hosted by the Kaiapoi Baptist Church for several years.

After the earthquake land zoning announcements in 2011 the trust turned its focus to a weekly Thursday evening community dinner to support the community.

She is planning to resurrect the Thursday evening dinner as monthly event at Rivertown Cafe, which is owned by the trust, from Thursday, May 18, from 5.30pm. People can book in for a $10 meal by contacting Audrey on 22-3081618 or the cafe on (03) 3270304.