|On Sunday I spent an enjoyable day at the home of Jan and Noel Leverett who live in Brown Hill, on the outskirts of the historic town of Ballarat, a little over an hour outside Melbourne. Jan had arranged 10 of her friends to come and participate in a cookery class and lunch. Jan is a midwife, as are a good number of her friends.
I know what you’re thinking: how did we all fit into such a little house? No that’s a shed in their garden – ha ha. Just thought you might like to have a look at the local countryside.
It was a bitterly cold day. Three degrees Celcius, and possible snow on the way. Ballarat and environs are famous for their inclement weather. The lovely wood heater, an essential accesory in Victorian country homes was glowing red and filled the sturdy wooden home with waves of radiant heat.
The first dish to spin off our conveyor of culinary delights was the eggplant and tomato Javanese-style. Balado Terong hails from Padang in Western Java. We blended fresh tomatoes with hot red chilies, then cooked them with sliced galangal, ginger, curry leaves and lemongrass, along with shaved coconut palm sugar. Meanwhile I fried rings of baby eggplant until tender, and added the untraditional but delicious chunks of fried freshly-made panir cheese. It tasted as delectable as it looks.
For an appetizer, we made Dukkah, a loose, coarsely-ground mixture of roasted sesame seeds, hazelnuts and aromatic cumin and coriander. We served it with extra-virgin olive oil-dunked bread. Variants of dukkah are found all over the Middle East; our version was from Egypt.
We prepared Karhi, a smooth yogurt-based dishe that is always served with rice, although we broke the ‘rules’ and served it alone at the onset of the meal. Our recipe from Gujarat was traditionally soup-like with a hint of sweetness.
Our Canadian-inspired rice dish was a very colorful melange of wild rice, basmati rice, folded with continental parsley, slivered toasted pecans, currants and orange zest.
We also made dosa pancakes stuffed with spicy masala potatoes and accompanied with coconut chutney, and a middle-eastern inspired salad consisiting of bitter greens, salty feta, toasted bread, lemon zest, fresh dates, sliced fresh fennel, roasted almonds and generous handfuls of fresh parsley and mint leaves.
Here’s our crew sitting down for lunch. Jan, our hostess, is fourth from the right.
That’s class number 4 completed. The long and winding culinary road around Australia continues.
Posted by Kurma on 9/5/06; 7:48:00 AM