To Market, To Market

The monsoon rain didn’t fall last night. Australia’s weather is totally messed up at the moment. Maybe we can blame that universal whipping-boy, Global Warming. Whatever. All I know is that it’s very hot here in Darwin. In fact, as yesterday’s Northern Territory News reflected:

“It’s officially ‘bloody hot’

Darwin sweltered through its fourth-hottest recorded (October) day yesterday. The mercury hit 37.5C in the city (that’s 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit, US readers) – the highest temperature recorded since a 1982 October day reached 39.9C

Meanwhile Sydney shivers through its coldest October days on record. The day I left it even snowed in some New South Wales locations. What on earth is going on?

My host Andrew suggested we visit the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Market last night. This famous Northern Territory icon has over 260 Craft and Food stalls. It must be one of the biggest, if not the biggest market of it’s kind in Australia. Ten thousand visitors frequent the place each time it’s open. I must say, vegetarian food was conspicuous here by it’s absence. Any Hare Krishna Food Booth here would certainly do well.

Surabhi's Shop:

I bumped into my old friend Surabhi (above, left) at her exotic clothing, books and incence stall. She’s been here for 15 years and has never missed a single market day. Surabhi single-handedly runs a small Hare Krishna temple near the city centre.

This lady from East Timor (just a hop and a skip over the sea from here) was selling peak-of-season Bowen mangoes for $4.95 a kilo, all sliced and pitted and ready to go. I noticed she was using one of my favourite Furi knives.

Thai Sweet Stand:

I did find one food stall of interest: Nok’s Thai Desserts. Many traditional Thai sweets, all vegetarian, were on offer, and I did try a few. Very authentic, and all prepared by Nok’s elderly mother. This is Sticky Rice with Taro, steamed in banana leaves.

Sticky Rice with Taro:

I didn’t try the Toddy Palm Cakes. I noticed on Devadeva’s blog that she’s making jams out of palm fruits. I think these are made from the same thing, though Toddy Palms may be a different variety.

Toddy Palm Cake:

I did try these pale-green Pandan-scented Coconut Balls, stuffed with palm sugar syrup. Wonderful! They are popular all over Southeast Asia. I have a recipe for them in my Quick Vegetarian Dishes. I pointed out to Andrew that the same Pandan bush growing in his garden is the source of the green colour and wonderful “Asian Vanilla” aroma of these delicacies.

Pandan Scented Coconut Balls:

There were so many desserts to try. I decided not to taste the ubiquitous Sticky Rice with Mango (its recipe is also in my QVD book), but rather taste the Black Sticky Rice, with palm sugar caramelised fresh coconut on top. Wonderful.

Black Sticky Rice:

Sunset over the Arafura Sea attracts many locals and tourists. I was there as the sun dipped low over the horizon. Beaches with west-facing aspects are not common in many places in Australia other than the west coast, by the way (duh).

Sunset over Arafura:

It’s sunrise in Darwin, and already over 30 degrees. Time for another mango breakfast. Life is tough in the tropics.
Posted by Kurma on 24/10/08; 10:06:58 AM

Life and Travel

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