Roti – Do it for the Hits.

Recently it was brought to my attention that there are a lot of people using the internet in India. This is something I had previously overlooked in my quest to get hits for my blog (and subsequently, become an internet e-celebrity). I have decided to remedy this oversight immediately by including more Indian themed content, starting with this helpful recipe on how to make one of the staples of Indian cuisine, the roti. This recipe was put together from a variety of sources, many of whom have been waking up at 6am to make roti for their family every day since before I was born, so if you try it, and it doesn’t come out right, you might need a little more practice. JI HAAAA!



HUNT’S PLAGIARISED ROTI RECIPE

Ingredients:
Flour (around 250g + a bit extra for dusting)
Water
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of oil
ghee or butter

You will need:
Fists for pounding
A rolling pin
A cutting board
A big bowl
Some tunes
A roti pan (or a flat frypan but it isn’t as good)
Some grease proof paper

Method:
1. Put the flour and salt in a bowl and mix well.


2. Add oil and stir through. Make sure the delicious oily globules are evenly spread. I like to pretend at this point that I am Harry Potter or Hermione Granger mixing a brew in potions class for that jerk Professor Snape.


3. Your brew should look as such before you even think of adding water, Mr Potter.


4. Next, add water slowly, yeaaaah, real slow like.


5. Well might you say “well then how shall I stir it?” to which I would answer: “With a spoon you shall good sir, with a spoon”. Add the water slowly, stir a bit, add more, stir a bit until it looks like there are no dry white floury bits.


6. Your dough should now look like this. If it doesn’t you should start again and this time try not to fail as much, or it’ll be more than 10 points from gryffindor that you have to worry about.


7. Now for the fun part; take your fists of fury and pound the dough like it claimed to have dated your sister and then dumped said sister for her BFF.


8. Heat the roti pan and start rolling your roti. Sprinkle the crap out of everything with flour first. Cutting board, rolling pin, hands, invisible cape… everything. Then break off a bit of dough and make an oval shaped cake. Roll the cake out slowly, spinning it every time you roll. Flip it occasionally. There is no easy way of learning this other than practice.


9. Put the roti on the pan and while it cooks go and roll another one. Flip it after it starts to turn translucent.


10. If you are awesome your roti should rise. If you are not awesome, don’t despair, you can hang out with, or marry someone who is awesome and they will help you to be awesome by osmosis. It’s a scientific fact. Many white papers have been written on the subject and several conventions have been held in European cities with classy sounding names like Geneva and Copenhagen and Hamburger.


11. After you have flipped your roti, and it puffs up, dab some butter or ghee on the thing and press down the bits that puff up. You can use the grease proof paper for the dabbing. After you have dabbed, flip and dab a second time.


12. Repeat several times until you have a stack of roti like this. If you make this recipe, please let me know how it goes and take a picture of the finshed product!


COMMON MISTAKES/FAQ:
Q. My Roti are really crispy! Why do I suck so much?
A. You didn’t follow the recipe fool.

Q. My Roti are oddly shaped! Should I quit and become a barber?
A. No! Hold an Australian themed Roti party instead!

Q. My dog ate my roti!
A. That old bit? 10 points from Gryffindor.

Q. Wassap bro! Woooow! Great blog man! Would organic wholemeal flour be gnarly in this recipe or what?
A. Only if you want it to no longer be enjoyable to eat.

Q. Do you do catering for functions and weddings?
A. No.

Joose – The Thirst Quencher

Fiji is a hot country. People here get hot and thirsty. A hard earned thirst needs a big cold drink… and the best cold drink is Joose.

Joose, not to be confused with juice, is sold all over the streets in Suva either by the cup or by the bottle. The going rate at time of writing is 50c for a cup and $2 for a bottle, but if you are a whitey with an accent expect to pay up to twice that. Joose is somewhat of an all encompassing term, and there are really only two attributes that are common to all Jooses:

* Joose must be liquid… and
* Joose must be fruity.

This means that all kinds of things can be passed off as Joose, even things that are not in any way related to actual fruit juice. Here is a non-exhaustive guide to the do and don’ts, the can and can’ts and the what and whatnots of Joose.

1) Joose can actually be cordial
If your juice is particularly cheap, you are probably about to be handed a bottle or cup of cordial. Easier to tell when it is red or green cordial, but if it is lemon or orange you might not realise until you take a swig. Either way buddy, suck it up! Joose is not a drink for complaining whingers, you get what you are given.

2) Most of the time Joose is predominately Tang‚ĄĘ
All the market sellers claim their Joose is juice, but their Joose ain’t just juice if the Joose house bin is littered with empty tang packets now is it? Indeed.

3) Joose may contain actual juice
If you find a Joose seller that sells Joose that tastes slightly different to all the other Joose sellers, chances are the guy adds actual juice to his Joose. This is a good thing! Latch onto it! Other clues your Joose may contain actual juice is if it is any way sour or bitter in taste, if the consistency is at all thicker than watery and if the hue looks different to other sellers.

4) Joose may actually be juice
I think this has happened once.

5) Joose can be substituted for kava if you aren’t the kava drinking type
Kava is more about the social aspect of sharing drink than it is about getting paralytic, so a bucket of Joose can easily be substituted for a tanoa of kava. Possibly a major contributing factor to the Fijian diabetes epidemic.

Joose really is a versatile drink. Next time you are in sunny downtown Suva man up and order a Joose. It’s the lucky dip of the beverage world. Besides, it’s gotta be better than the “water” we get from the taps sometimes.

Things Fijian People Like

Singing harmonies
Contrary to tales and folklore, not every Fijian person has a voice that would make angels weep tears of joy. In fact I’d say proportionally the number of amazing virtuoso vocalists in Fiji is similar to that of my home country, Australia. The general standard of vocal prowess though is top notch. You still get the odd guy or girl who sings a bit out of tune, but it is rare, and the average Joe in the street understands harmonies, can sing a fifth and has memorised his natural vocal part for about 200 different hymns.

Naps

Short back and sides
It’s manly, it ventilates, it’s $2.

Volleyball
It really is fun watching an unassuming and well rounded Fijian mama take apart a bunch of loud, shirtless backpacker jocks in a game of volleyball. They should really know better though, Fijians love playing volleyball, and they will mess you up at it if you give them half a chance.

Two minute noodles
Some prefer ‘Maggi’, others like the homegrown brand ‘Chow’. Here is an authentic local recipe for a dish called ‘noodle fiesta’ that some kids showed me at Kadavu:

8 packets of Chow noodles
2 tins corned beef
2 tins tuna

Boil 10L of water and put in a bucket. Break noodles into bucket and add spice packets. Stir. Wait for a couple of minutes, then serve noodles onto plate. Scoop corned beef and tuna onto noodles and stir through. Consume with cordial (aka ‘joose’).

It’s a good meal, but I’m not sure about the nutritional value.

Church
Church for a few hours and then lovo. The perfect Sunday. Church in Australia definitely feels a bit short now when I go to a service.

Political discussions
Fijians read the newspaper every day, and they absorb everything. They seriously put my feeble memory to shame. So if something happens in the political world, I no longer need to read the paper, because chances are my taxi driver or the people at work will tell me something about it. I know a lot about the uprisings in the middle east now. I mean, enough that I could probably be a political correspondent.

Schoolboy athletics meets
In Fiji, schoolboy athletics is more popular than adult athletics. The Coca Cola games is the biggest competition and it was just on. There was busloads of kids screaming, people everywhere, the coverage on the TV was national and the results made front page of the papers. For three days the whole of Fiji had massive ‘Coca Cola games fever’ and everyone was talking about it everywhere we went. I think it might even be bigger than rugby.

Slapstick comedy
If you do get hurt here, people are going to laugh at you.

Roti
These are so cheap and so good. The Indian diet has definitely been adopted by the whole country and roti are at the centre of it. It’s a good thing too, because there is only so much cassava a man can eat.

Greeting each other in the street
If you walk past someone you know, you have to say hello. Suva is about as populous as the shire, and the downtown area is only about as big as Miranda fair. I’ve been living here six months and I always run into people I know, so it must take Suva natives about an hour to walk across town with the amount of people they would be bumping into.

Children
People here actually don’t think of other people’s kids as annoying here. They actually dote on them, even picking them up and giving them hugs! What is that all about? In my world people just say that kids are important and valuable then treat them like inconveniences until they are old enough to vote, work and pay for things! Crazy backward Fijian culture!

Formalities
If there is an occasion, there is a speech.

“Mates rates” and the non-commerce-based implementation thereof
Gotta say that as annoying as this is, I probably would get involved in this in a big way if I was kaiviti.

Surprise dress regulations
Sorry… no thongs…. on Saturdays… and maybe Fridays…. and uh… long pants…. yeah wear those too… we like our club sweaty so you buy more beverages.

Putting money and clothes on performers mid-performance
I’m still getting my head around this one.

Top 40 hits
Since living here, I have grown a new appreciation for Rhianna, Akon, TI, Beyonce, Jason Mraz, Train, Lady Gaga and many others. I’m still not quite there on the ‘Beib train’ though, no matter how many times I hear it on the bus, in the taxi, on people’s ring-tones when you dial them or in the cluuub.

Corned beef
See: 2 minute noodles.

Bula shirts
Hawaiin print shirts that you can dress up for a formal dinner, or dress down for a day at the beach.

Pets
M: Bula honey, this cat followed me home. Can we keep him?
F: We already got 3 pregnant dogs, 4 cats, several mongooses and a chicken
M: You’re right, we need a bigger house.

Fruit
Totally understandable because it’s delicious here, and grows on countless fruit trees in every backyard and vacant block in the country. Despite this, our neighbours suckered Connie and Nikki into giving them our bananas off our only banana tree! They’re too nice for their own good sometimes.

Food and Floods

It’s been a bit of a quiet week here in Suva, I went to a cool little church yesterday which was nice – we even sang “every day” which was a bit of Australiana thrown in there. The band was playing one of the songs from “united we stand” as an instrumental before the service too, which was nice. The rest of my house went to pac harbour for golf and swims. They all got sunburned though ūüė¶

During the service something came up that has been a reoccurring theme the last week or so. They were praying for the people in Australia affected by the floods. Ever since the floods have hit the news here people have been really concerned about Australia and saying how they really feel bad for the people stuck in it all. It feels a bit like I am in the devloped country hearing about¬†devastating¬†disasters in a developing country. They will say things like “I mean we have floods in Fiji, but I saw that video on youtube and those pictures on the news and man, they got it bad over there right now”. People here are raising money to send to the QLD flood victims and I heard the other day that Papua New Guinea pledged a couple of million dollars to help out. Honestly, the world feels like it has been turned on its head, but it’s beautiful to see the¬†generosity of people who don’t really have a lot, but see a need and give what they can.

Just so this post isn’t totally about very deep and serious stuff, I thought I would include a few images of dishes we have been cooking over here so you can see what we are up to with food. We mostly only take pictures if we make something special, so this is a good indication of the best of our diet:

Freshly caught donu cooking in a pan.

 

Cheese is expensive here, so when we get haloumi it's kinda a big deal.

We made this sushi with a fish we caught while towing a lure behind a canoe in Suva harbour.

We didn't make this, but in Fiji, you wont be worrying what is on Jenny Baker's plate.

Chilli Dip of Doom

Last night we were making some nachos so I thought I’d make a cheese and chilli (or chili if you are americano?) dip to go with it. Usually I cut up a whole tray of chillis, however, since I didn’t know how hot the chillis here are, I thought I would go with four chillis for my dip. I cut them up and realised I didn’t have anything to dip in the dip, so my housemate Glen and I set off to the store on foot to buy some bread.

The local supermarket is about 6 or 7 blocks away, I think it takes about 20 minutes to walk there. It would take about 15 if the humidity wasn’t so high, but we kind of stroll here in Suva since the place collects humid air with the same insatiable desire as ash collecting pokemon. About half way to the store my fingers on my left hand started to burn a little, I thought that was a bit weird, and maybe I had just got chilli juice in some oyster cuts from my previous adventure. The burning got worse and worse as we made it to the store, bought the bread and came home, so by the time I got back my hands felt a bit like they were sitting in a bowl of water that was on a slow heat. I ran the hand under cold water for a while, which helped, and ate my dip and nachos with one hand. The dip was really good, had a lot of kick, but everyone in the house other than Nikki slammed down about 3/4 of it before we were all full.

My hand was feeling a lot worse by this point, and so we started googling remedies for chilli burn on hands. It was clear at this point that the burn wasn’t limited to any existing cuts, because the ends of all of my fingers on my left hand were going red. We started out scientific and put burn cream on my fingers. This didn’t really make me feel any better, but it was medical so I was kinda confident that as long as I was patient my hand would feel better. It didn’t. I started sweating and felt like I was going to throw up, and after 15 minutes I couldn’t take any more patient sufferance so I dunked my hand in a bowl of ice water. I felt relief in a second from the burn and the nausea. Unfortunately this wasn’t a long term solution because my hand slowly started burning inside the ice water, and when I took it out I got a sharp burning feeling.

My team of medical staff witch doctors housemates started googling solutions to my problem. The first home remedy suggested by yahoo answers was putting my hand in milk. It felt ok, but was similar in effect to the ice water. It was also a little weird. The next solution recommended by e-how I think or wiki answers (or some other shonky online operation) was submerging my hand in vegetable oil. It didn’t help at all and was really gross – but we only had canola oil, so as a scientist I can’t rule it out as a possible solution. The next effort involved squeezing lemon juice on my hand, which I thought sounded more like torture than medical aid, but luckily it didn’t sting, it just had no positive effect. By this point my index finger had started to blister a bit, so I considered going to the hospital but was talked out of it when we called them and they sounded uninterested but polite.

My hands.

Finally we found two bits of information that kind of worked, and I will share this sage advice with you all in case you ever cut hot chillies without the use of protective gloves. The first thing that helped was scrubbing my hands with alcohol. We used a middle of the range vodka as we were out of medical swabs. Chilli oil is apparently alcohol¬†soluble¬†so while this doesn’t ease the pain it stops the burn from getting worse. It worked for me. The second part of my chilli burned hands home remedy is to soak your hand in iced soapy water. This soothes the pain and seems to neutralise the acidic properties of the chilli and other failed home remedies you may have tried. We used Pure Fiji soap flakes that we got in bulk for cheap, but I think any genuine soap would do.

I spent the rest of the night watching avatar the last air bender until I fell asleep with my hand in the soap bowl. I also took a neurofen painkiller which helped a bit. Probably the most impressive part of this whole story is that my housemates ate the dip containing the dangerous chillis, and at present there have been no recorded incidents of mouth burn or ring sting. I mean if it can do 6 hours of pain to my hands? Wow.

As usual, I leave you with two film reviews from the past week or two:

Megamind 3D – This was pretty good for your usual holiday animated feature designed to milk dollars from families heading to the cinema during the break. It had some big stars voicing it, the characters were pretty good and the story was OK. Try not to watch the trailer or you might get some of the funny bits spoiled, but it suited my tastes, and was a good way to spend an afternoon. Rating: Volunteer to take your nephew

True Grit – I had been promising Nikki I would see this with her cos she liked westerns and loves the Coen brothers. I thought it looked like a film I would like from the previews, despite the presence of Maaaatt Daaaamon. The characters were great, the script was awesome but the plot was kinda a bit whacky. I would still recommend it if you are the kind of person that likes strong characters and witty banter. Rating: Good enough to pay Sydney ticket prices

Perks of the Job

There are a lot of good things about development work, however, in Fiji there is an added benefit of sneaky island escapes on the weekends. I have been in the country for a month now, and twice we have managed to get away for a weekend off in the sun.

Caqalai

The first place we went was called caqalai (pronounced thangalai). It’s a very small island, the kind you can walk around in only 15 minutes. It had palm trees, sand, coral and all the essentials.

The guys there have some old rickety boats that I paid $10 to go out fishing in, and you can walk around the coral flats at low tide. There is some pretty good snorkelling too.

Mealtime is everytime at the surfing resort.

The accommodation is pretty basic but you only pay like $15AUD a night for a dorm bed and you get a mosquito net. It also includes free meals, but the food is not very good. The locals are pretty fond of their kava, so they gave us some when they were drinking n singin, singin n drinkin. It’s pretty good and cheap for a small island in Fiji that is ok for a weekend trip from Suva.

sea bass

Donu and kawakawa

The other island we went to was a little one near Beqa. It was a small surfing resort and Connie and I were the only people there. We kinda got spoiled a bit and definitely were overfed by the lady running the resort. It was a step up in price and luxury from caqalai, but still not too bad at about $75AUD per night (that’s a lot for us – but we are poor volunteers).

The upside of this place was that the fishing trips were better, the snorkelling was better, and the food was in a whole different stratosphere. They cooked for about 6-7 people and it was just us eating, and everything tasted amazing. They had fresh juices every meal, and asked us what we wanted to eat and made it for us. It was really good eatin. I also managed to catch a few fish which is nice! Caught two coral trout and a big sea bass. The coral trout were delicious – I cooked it up really plain but it was still so very good.

This week I’m planning to add a link for posting things to us (since everyone has been asking) and also info if you want to visit Fiji while we are here. Check for it in the next few days before we go to the “island of nishing” in about 7 days time.

 

Unthematic but vaguely informative.

The last week or so has been exceptionally sunny for Suva, so of course we are out in it as much as possible. Another genius plan is to escape from the heat by seeing a lot of movies. Here is my quick review for those poor few back in Australia that are regularly extorted $20 instead of $3 to see a movie:

Harry Potter – great although not a kids movie. Lots of bloodshed and an awkward erotic moment, even though it was a CGI projection. The next one should be really good because this was the boring half of the book (unless you like teenagers bickering). Rating – Commendable

Fair Game – worth $3, not worth $20. I had really low expectations but it surpassed those and was enteratining and well shot/acted. You wouldn’t really miss anything if you skipped it, but it was entertaining. Rating – Only if they give you free popcorn

Due Date – All you need to know about this movie is that on my way to see Fair Game, a drunk Fijian guy tried to sell me the merits of Due Date instead by yelling out “Hey bro, in this one the man is¬†masturbating¬†and the dog is¬†masturbating¬†at the same time!”. Rating – You’re paying for torture in an airconditioned room

I actually watched a few DVDs this week too, so my film education and appreciation is coming along nicely,¬†more-so¬†than the things I had planned to get good at while here such as Fijian language and guitar playing. In a point-counterpoint though, I have been practicing my pentatonic scale and learning a few new songs – it’s just sporadic.

This week was the first time I have felt like I moved to a developing country. The water went out on¬†Wednesday¬†after frisbee, so I couldn’t have a shower even though I had been running around and jumping in mud. It always rains for frisbee on Wednesdays, so we come back really muddy. I was supposed to go out for Connie’s 30th that night so I cleaned up using a bottle of water I found in the kitchen and we did some teppanyaki. Going to teppanyaki reminded me I’m being a development wuss about the water going out once, and that I should suck it up because all the other guys around the world in hectic places are shocked when the water comes on. I can even drink the water straight from the tap and not get sick!! Although sometimes it comes out brown or kind of cloudy, so I have juice instead those days. OJ is expensive here though.

The red party.

Connie and I are settling into our house well, we even had a housewarming with a “red” theme. Almost everyone dressed up and much fun was had, but someone stole my havianas and left me some crappy Fijian thongs ūüė¶ the big jerk. There are a few cool things coming up in the next month or so so I should be posting about them – but basically I joined a basketball team, and we are apparently going to a remote island over Christmas and new year for some crazy village times and ancient fishing rituals. Apparently they involve nudity. Looks like I’m going… nishing!?