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Fiji: Fact Sheet

The flamboyant Peta Mathias hits the gastronomic road again with Taste Takes Off - a revamped overseas version of Taste New Zealand. New Zealand's footloose TV foodie explores the flavours, the style and the sights of 10 destinations around the Pacific. Peta's lived the food traditions of the world and each Taste Takes Off travels to a country seeking out the people and stories behind the flavours.

Taste Takes Off travels to Fiji, land of sun, sand and beautiful Island resorts. Fabulous as the resorts are, we discover there's a lot more to the food scene. Fiji is the multicultural hub of the South Pacific and its food is a blend of "local" or Fijian - Indian Chinese and Western influences. 


Suva Market
The Old Mill Restaurant Suva, a United Nations of food
Navuki style cooking, bamboo wrapped food cooked on an open fire
Wainadoi Spice Gardens, the base for a nationwide network of small village farmers who grow organic spices
Nandi home cooking, Mrs Suleman's is the best there is

To Market To Market
Suva market is the largest and liveliest in the South Pacific. Here you can find a vast array of colourful tropical produce, dry goods, kava root, meat and fish everything a Fijian household needs. Saturday is the busiest day with busloads of locals streaming in from the outlying areas to collect their weekly provisions and set up shop. 

Food for Thought
When Mary Nelson opened the Old Mill Cottage her goal was to bring all Fijians together, regardless of race, to enjoy each other's food. She achieved her goal and 25 years later the Old Mill has become a bit of an institution with all locals enjoying the very best Indian, Chinese European and Fijian food. Mary is famous for her lamb curry and traditional Fijian breakfasts. The Old Mill is open Monday to Saturday for breakfast and lunch only.

Contact: Mary Nelson
The Old Mill Cottage
49 Carnavon Street 
Tel: 679 331 2134

Spice of Life
Wainadoi Spice Gardens is a 90-hectare property about 20 minutes drive west of Suva along the Queens Road that grows certified organic spices. It is the base for a nationwide network of small village farmers who grow spices and market them through Wainadoi. Owner Ron Gatty created the farm from scrub 20 years ago and he is still the only spice grower on the island. The Wainadoi product range includes nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, peppercorns and high quality vanilla. Wainadoi spices are available in New Zealand at selected stores such as Zarbo in Auckland.

Contact: Veronica Hazleman Operations Manager
Tel: 679 336 2851

Guest Chef
Within Fiji Ron's main clients are the resorts. We paid a visit to the Outrigger Resort where we met up with Kiwi Chef Adam Haywood. 

Adam's A Taste of Fiji Platter

For the kokoda:
Walu (Spanish mackerel)
1 cup fresh coconut cream
1 tomato diced
1 cucumber peeled seeded and diced
1 small red onion diced
2 spring onions diced
Lime Juice
One fresh chilli minced

Cup lime juice

Placed diced walu in a small mixing bowl with the lime juice and chill for 3 to 4 hours until 'cooked'. Stir every so often. When fish is opaque, drain the lime juice and add remaining ingredients to the bowl, mix and chill. Serve in a halved coconut or try a martini or champagne glass.

For the chilled melon soup:
1 cup rockmelon diced
1 cup honeydew melon diced
1 cup watermelon diced
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
1 tsp sambal oelek
1 cup coconut milk
50mls lime juice
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
1 tbsp fresh basil chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint chopped.

Puree all ingredients, strain and chill. Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts and mint.

For the prawn salad:
500g prawns
Choi sum blanched and chopped
1 tomato diced
1 red onion diced
2 spring onions chopped
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup lime juice
Salt and pepper

Place prawns, choi sum, tomato, red onion and spring onion into a bowl. Add coconut cream and enough of the lime juice to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

For the Palm Heart and Tomato Salad:
4 tomatoes cut into wedges
1 palm heart blanched
1 onion roasted
Balsamic vinaigrette
Basil leaves
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients with balsamic vinaigrette add salt and pepper to taste.

Peta Cooks
To compliment Adam's tasting platter, Peta prepares seared tuna and barbequed aubergine with a fresh zingy coconut chutney.

For the aubergine:
2 aubergines
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp oil
2 chillies
2 sprigs fresh peppercorns
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 vanilla bean

Mix all ingredients except the aubergines in a food processor or with a pestle and mortar. Slice aubergines lengthwise and rub aubergines in pesto mixture or leave to marinate in mixture. Then grill on hotplate for 3-5 minutes each side until golden.

For the tuna:
Drizzle oil over yellow fin tuna and season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes on each side.

For the chutney:
2 cups freshly grated coconut
1 cup of fresh coriander leaves
3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
1 green chilli (optional)
Salt to season

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Curry Favour
Tata's is a small curry restaurant with a big reputation. All the locals insist Tata's curry is the best in Nadi. The owner, Dinesh Pillay, describes his food as traditional southern Indian home cooking. Tata's is located on the Nadi backroad opposite Vinod Patel and is open from Monday to Saturday 8.00am to 8.00pm.

Contact: Dinesh Pillay
Tata's Curry Restaurant
PO Box 1565, Nadi
Tel: 679 670 0502

Mrs Suleman's Home Cooking
If you really want to sample the best of local cuisine then the place to be is a local's home. We were kindly invited to spend the morning with Mrs Suleman in her kitchen while she showed us how to prepare two of her favourite dishes.

Mrs Suleman's Halua

1/2 cup ghee
1 cup semolina
11/2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
250g butter
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/2 cup sultanas
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla essence

In a pot over a low heat mix together the ghee and the semolina. In a separate pot heat the milk and sugar. Add to the semolina, blanched almonds, sultanas, cardamom and nutmeg and then stir in the butter and vanilla essence and finally add the hot milk and sugar and serve.

Mrs Suleman's Crab Curry

Olive Oil
2 Onions chopped
2 tbsp crushed garlic
Green curry leaves
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp chilli paste
Garam masala
2 x 440g tins tomatoes
2 crabs quartered
Chopped coriander

In a pot sauté onions, green curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seed and mustard seed, then add crushed garlic, chilli, garam masala and tomatoes. Finally add crab and simmer until cooked. Just before serving add chopped coriander.

Additional Information

Lonely Planet Fiji