Auckland women from refugee backgrounds join Ginny Grant in the kitchen
FOR THIS WINTER ISSUE, we wanted to go beyond the usual comfort-food cliches by bringing you flavours from all corners of the globe, as well as providing a bit of insight into the contributions that people from different cultural backgrounds can make to our society.
Who better to collaborate with, then, than the WISE Collective, a partnership between Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) and Auckland Resettled Community Coalition (ARCC). WISE, which stands for Women, Inspired, Strong, Empowered and Enterprising, helps women from refugee backgrounds develop knowledge, skills, confidence and resources to enhance their wellbeing and independence, allowing many to generate extra income for their families.
Food is a big part of the WISE Collective – there’s a WISE catering team, and some of the women run stalls at the New Lynn Night Market every Thursday evening.
For this feature, we went along to the weekly Monday morning WISE hub at Henderson Baptist Church. There, five of the WISE women, with support from their families, friends and WISE Collective coordinator Sasi Syed Niyamathullah, shared their cherished dishes with us. While each woman cooked, the others chatted and laughed with each other, shared photos of their families, gave each other shoulder massages or watched the kitchen action and asked questions – and, of course, ate!
To learn more about the WISE Collective, visit settlement.org.nz, or to donate to the project, go to givealittle.co.nz/org/wisecollectiveproject.
MAKES ABOUT 24 / PREPARATION 1½ HOURS / COOKING 35 MINUTES Rangeen Bazmuna and her family moved to New Zealand from Iranian Kurdistan 17 years ago. With help from her daughter Halala Abdullzada, she showed us how to make kuba, a version of kibbeh popular among Kurdish people. FOR THE FILLING 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 2 spring onions, sliced 400g minced lamb 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cardamon 1 teaspoon dried oregano 2 tablespoons sultanas (optional you could also add
slivered almonds if you wish) 1 cup flat-leafed parsley, roughly chopped Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and spring onions and fry until soft. Add the lamb and brown, breaking up the mince so there are no clumps. Add the turmeric, cumin, salt, cinnamon, cardamon and oregano and fry for a few minutes. Add the sultanas and 500ml water and cook gently for 30 minutes or until the liquid has disappeared. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Set aside to cool. FOR THE RICE 500g basmati rice ½ teaspoon turmeric ¼ cup flour (or use dried breadcrumbs) vegetable oil for deep frying Cook the rice with the turmeric in boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes (it should be soft), then drain and put in a bowl. When cool enough to handle, mash the rice to a paste with a wooden spoon or your hands, then mix in the flour well.
Have a bowl filled with cold water (to stop the rice from sticking to your hands) beside you. Dip your hands in the water, take a large spoonful of the rice and flatten into a rough circle. Put 2 tablespoons of the lamb mix in the middle, bring together the edges and seal (patch with extra rice to ensure the edges are sealed if necessary) and roll into a torpedo shape. Place on a baking paper-lined tray. Repeat with the remaining mix. Put into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up.
Fill a saucepan with 6cm-7cm of oil and heat to 160°C. Fry the kuba in batches until golden – about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm. You can also brush the kuba with olive oil and bake in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes, but they won’t be as crisp.
Serve as a snack with hummus, olives and a salad, plus your favourite sauce (such as tomato, sweet chilli or mayonnaise).
MAKES ABOUT 25 / PREPARATION 20 MINUTES PLUS SOAKING TIME / COOKING 15 MINUTES Amutha Kugatheesan, who is from Sri Lanka, joined the WISE Collective in 2014 and began selling her delicious masala vadai at the New Lynn Night Market, where they were a hit. Amutha has now passed the stall on to another Sri Lankan woman, as she has a job as a tutor with HIPPY (Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters). FOR THE VADAI 2½ cups yellow split peas 8 cloves garlic 1 onion, chopped 1 teaspoon salt ½ cup curry leaves, roughly chopped ½ cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 3-4 teaspoons chilli flakes (depending on how hot you like it) vegetable oil for frying thinly sliced red onion and coriander leaves to garnish Cover the split peas with cold water and soak overnight. Drain and rinse well. Put ¼ of the split peas in a bowl. In batches, blitz the remaining split peas with the garlic to a slightly coarse paste. Add to the bowl with the whole split peas along with the onion, salt, curry leaves, coriander leaves, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Shape the mix into patties about 1cm thick.
Fill a saucepan with about 5cm oil and heat to 160°C. Cook a few vadai at a time for around 4-5 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve on a platter, garnishing with red onion and coriander leaves, with the coconut chutney on the side. FOR THE COCONUT CHUTNEY 1 green chilli 1 tablespoon roasted bengal gram* 3 teaspoons cumin seeds 1 tablespoon tamarind puree ¼ coconut, flesh roughly chopped 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 tablespoon urad dhal (split black lentils)* 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds ¼ cup curry leaves 1 -2 dried red chillies (optional) Toast 1 teaspoon of the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant. In a blender or food processor, blend together the chilli, gram and toasted cumin, add the tamarind puree and coconut and blend with some salt and enough water to make a smooth paste. Put into a serving dish.
Just before serving, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the urad dhal, mustard seeds, remaining 2 teaspoons cumin seeds and the dried chillies, if using, and cook for a minute or so until the seeds have started popping and are fragrant. Spoon this over the coconut chutney and serve with the vadai. *Available at Indian food stores
BURMESE PRAWNS & TOMATO
SERVES 6 / PREPARATION 10 MINUTES / COOKING 15 MINUTES Esther Tai Thul owned a noodle soup shop at home in Burma, and also ran an eatery when living in Malaysia. After coming to New Zealand in 2007, she felt isolated and lonely, but joining the WISE Collective in 2014 introduced her to new opportunities, and she now runs a stall at the night market. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large onion, sliced 8 cloves of garlic, peeled, lightly smashed 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon chilli powder 2 tomatoes, halved, sliced 2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce 1kg peeled raw prawns 3cm piece ginger, peeled, sliced 2 cups coriander leaves 125g mung bean sprouts (½ a 250g packet) Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until golden. Add the turmeric and chilli powder and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until thickened then add the soy sauce and prawns and fry, stirring, until cooked through. Adjust seasonings if necessary and stir in the ginger and half the coriander. Garnish with the sprouts and remaining coriander and serve with steamed rice and lemon wedges.
BASBOUSA (SEMOLINA CAKE)
MAKES ABOUT 30 PIECES / PREPARATION 10 MINUTES / COOKING 1 HOUR INCLUDING RESTING TIME Leita Hassan’s cooking skills were first noticed when she began attending ARCC events with her husband, and would always bring a plate. Leita, who is from Sudan, runs her own market stall and is part of the WISE Collective’s catering team. 2 cups semolina (ideally a mix of fine and coarse semolina) 1½ cups desiccated coconut 1 teaspoon baking powder 200g butter, melted, plus a little extra butter for the tin 1 cup thick yoghurt ½ cup slivered almonds 2 cups sugar juice of ½ lemon Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter a Swiss roll tin. Mix the semolina, coconut and baking powder in a large bowl. Add the butter and yoghurt, mix by hand and press into the tin. Cut into 5cm squares or diamonds and press a few almonds onto each piece. Rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put the sugar and 1½ cups water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Bake the basbousa in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Remove and pour over the warm (but not hot) sugar syrup. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing the slices from the tin. Serve warm or cold.
KABULI PULAO SERVES 6-8 / PREPARATION 40 MINUTES / OOKING 3 HOURS
Ayesha Slimankhil is originally from Saudi Arabia, but on marrying an Afghani man and moving to Afghanistan, she learnt to cook the traditional dishes of her adopted country, such as this famous rice dish named after the capital. Ayesha used a Saudi packaged spice mix called Kabssa Rice Spices, which is available at Lotus Supermarket and Shefco, both on Stoddard Rd in Auckland’s Mt Roskill. The spice mix outlined in the recipe can be used instead, or you could substitute with 3 tablespoons of ras el hanout.
FOR THE MEAT
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, chopped 800g-1kg pieces of a slow-cooking cut of beef, ideally with
bone (such as osso buco); or use chicken or lamb 1 teaspoon ground cardamon 2 teaspoons ground cumin 2 teaspoons ground coriander ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon ground fennel 1 teaspoon paprika ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 tomatoes, deseeded, roughly chopped ¼ cup tomato paste 1 teaspoon salt 1 bay leaf Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and fry until soft. Add the beef (in batches if necessary) and brown. Add the spices and fry for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, bay leaf and enough water to barely cover the meat (about 1-2 cups).
Bring to the boil, then simmer, half covered, for about 2 hours or until tender. You can make this the day ahead, and reheat before cooking the pulao. At this point you could remove the meat from the bones.
FOR THE PULAO
6 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into batons ½ cup sultanas or raisins 2 tablespoons sugar 2 oranges ½ teaspoon saffron threads or powder 2 tablespoons rosewater 500g long thread basmati rice 1 teaspoon whole cardamon pods 2 teaspoon whole cloves 1 cinnamon quill 2 bay leaves 75g slivered almonds coriander leaves, sliced spring onion and sliced lemon to serve Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the carrots, sultanas or raisins and sugar and fry for a few minutes, then add a dash of water and cook until the carrots are tender. Set aside.
Peel the orange skins, trying not to get too much of the white pith. Thinly slice the peel and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes then drain and refresh in cold water. Set aside.
Soak the saffron in the rosewater for 1 hour. Soak the rice in cold water for 1 hour, then drain and rinse. Put the spices and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a saucepan of water, add a good tablespoonful of salt and bring slowly to the boil. Add the rice and cook for 5 minutes, then drain well.
Put the rice into a large saucepan. Add the braised beef on one side, the carrots and sultanas on the other, and scatter over the orange peel and the saffron-infused rosewater. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and steam very gently over low heat for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice steam for another 10 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, fry the almonds in the remaining 3 tablespoons oil until golden. Drain the almonds and spread on paper towels.
Gently scoop the carrots and sultanas out of the saucepan and set aside. Mix the beef through the rice then remove from the heat and put onto a warmed platter. Scatter over the carrots and sultanas and the almonds. Garnish with coriander leaves, sliced spring onions and lemon slices.
Serve with a salad of equal parts batons of cucumber and carrot, seeded and sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, spring onions and chopped coriander. Season with salt and lemon juice just before serving.
OPPOSITE TOP LEFT Rangeen Bazmuna and Sasi Syed Niyamathullah
TOP RIGHT Amutha Kugatheesan