Food in Fiji: Better late than never

Hey everybody! So I’m home, clearly, and very quickly lost my will to post after over 48 hours of traveling. But finally… I am back on inspired by lovely and talented friend Elise! Anyways, I was going to write a totally new post (and I hopefully will), but I actually found a few posts that never quite made it to the press. I think this is because I always meant to take pictures and put them in but never quite got to it. Actually I’m really sad that I never got pictures from the fruit and vegetable market in Suva since it was such a part of my life and was so beautiful and awesome. So unfortunately I’ll just have to make to with what I have. Perhaps I can get a picture when I go back someday…

Credits to createyourownpath.com

Credits to createyourownpath.com

Cooking in Fiji can both be really good and fun and difficult. Locally grown fresh veggies and fruits can be bought quite cheap at the Suva market. Here’s some typical prices I buy pretty regularly (note prices are in Fiji Dollars and at the time it was approximately $2 FJD for every $1 USD):

4 carrots for $2
3 cucumber $1
6 eggplant $1
Heap of ginger $1
Heap of lemons $1
Onions and potatoes are 80 cents a kilo
4 precut halves of tiny pineapple $2
Bananas depending in number, size, and quality can be $1 to $5
Bok choy $1
2 small papaya $2 or $3
2 or 4 mango in season $2 or $3
Spices such as cinnamon, curry, turmeric, coriander, masala are 50 cents to $1
Dried chickpeas are $6 a kilo

What we look like when we're shopping. This is my friends at Nadi market.

What we look like when we’re shopping. My friends at the Nadi market.

A Soursop some friends bought once. It is incredibly sweet and cloying and a little slimy.

A Soursop some friends bought once. It is incredibly sweet and cloying and a little slimy.

The other place I shop is MH or Morris Henderson. There is one on campus and a few in town. I get milk, yogurt, eggs, cocoa powder, and more from there. Cheese is quite expensive. Parm is $22 for a medium bag. A block of cheddar is around $8. Chicken ends up being $6 for a few small breasts.

Besides the shopping cooking can be a challenge since I share a pretty small kitchen with seven other girls. Even fitting things in the fridge and freezer is a challenge. Of all the blocks my floor is the cleanest and yet it is not uncommon to see unwashed dishes in the sink, as well as dirty counters, pots and pans. Sometimes things get left over the weekend and grow mold inside. The dish drainer also gets full really fast.

One plus side is that we share pots, pans, knives, and pretty everything. So I didn’t have to buy much when I got here. Mostly I just bought some tupperware to hold my food in. It’s absolutely necessary to put things such as flour, sugar, rice, and more in tupperware because of the humidity. I bought a package of flour thinking everything would be okay… and it ended up with a lovely coating of green mold. Also bananas go ripe very fast and so if you want them to stay good I would stick them in the fridge.

As for what I actually eat on a day to day basis well, I get to eat a lot of fruits and veggies here and not too many grains and almost no meat. Other than the occasional night out or the occasional frozen sausage I am almost a vegetarian out of convenience and budget here. However, I do eat a lot of eggs and yogurt and drink a lot of milk.

Legit Korean restaurant on top of the Southern Cross Hotel.

Legit Korean restaurant on top of the Southern Cross Hotel.

We go out sometimes though mostly try to cook and save money for weekend trips. My favorite place to eat is Bad Dogs especially since on Tuesdays pizza is half price. I’ve also eaten at Nandos and Wish Bone by campus which are yummy. Hot Bread Kitchen also has yums such as cream buns, lamingtons, chicken pot pies, fresh rolls and bread. Curry potatoe roti or tuna roti are common snacks/travel meals as well.

Since I’m not very involved on campus I have a lot of free time that I use to cook a lot. Without an oven I am forced to be more creative. I have put in some favorite Fiji dorm-friendly recipes here.

Peanut Butter optional

Homemade Chocolate: peanut butter optional

Homemade Chocolate
Combine coca powder, virgin coconut oil, and sugar until mixture tastes pleasant. I generally start with somewhat equal proportions of each. Use brown sugar for a nice crunch and powdered sugar for a smoother chocolate. Then freeze and enjoy. It isn’t a creamy chocolate but it is yummy. You can also add things like instant coffee, peanut butter, cinnamon, grated ginger, pineapple, bananas, and more for fun flavors.
Credit to Chocolate Covered Katie

Other recipes from that blog include her coffee cake in a mug, chocolate pancakes that turned into mug cakes, cookie dough dip, etc

Healthy Tuna Salad
Can of tuna
Half cucumber diced
Half carrot grated
Fourth onion minced
Spoonful plain yogurt
Generous squeeze of mustard

Alfredo noodles
Boil noodles
Melt 2 tablespoons butter and sauté a clove of garlic
Add about 2 tablespoons of flour
Then add milk and stir
Add cheese (if you have any)
Alternate between milk, flour, and cheese til you read the desired consistency.

Combine with pasta, and any chicken or veggies (I like to just put in a pack of frozen veggies, peas, corn and carrot).

Veggie Tomato Pasta
Sauté garlic, onion, shredded eggplant ( no skin), grated carrot, and tomatoes. Put a lid on top of the stove to keep the veggies moist. Then add tomato sauce with a spoonful of brown sugar and noodles. Add noodles and sautéed sausage if desired.

Falafel

This is a great recipe to use up dried (or canned) chickpeas which are a great (and cheap!) source of protein.

  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Egg (If desired)
  • Oil
  1. Soak chickpeas overnight or through the day if using dried and then boil them for an hour or 2 til soft (I usually do this a day ahead of time).
  2. Prep all your onion and garlic by chopping them as small as possible (very important if you don’t have a food processor like I did)
  3. Combine everything together and food process (if you have one) or if you don’t then just put in a ziplock back and start banging away with whatever is conveinent (chef knife blade, peanut butter jars, etc.) til a paste is formed
  4. Form into balls and slightly flatten.. If you add an egg it will help it stick better, but if you’re out or vegan then that’s fine.
  5. For an easier (and healthier) way than traditional just saute with a bit of oil in a pan on the bottom flipping when brown. If they fall apart (as they usually do for me) just go with it! Then it turns into kind of a hash, but still yummy.
  6. Serve with Tzaziki which is plain yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper (usually it has dill in it, but you use what you got). Just chop the cucumber really tiny and let it marinate a bit and voila! Tzasiki is also really good with carrots, cucumers, and red peppers

Other easy dishes
Stir fry (ginger, garlic, or soy sauce for flavor)
French toast
Pancakes
Scrambled eggs with veggies
Potatoes and onions

Candied Apples

Homemade Candy Apples

I made this recipe for our Halloween/Fall party for those who had never experienced Halloween or Fall. You can find the recipe at An Oregon Cottage.

My friend Brittany and I's costume for the Halloween Party, in case you missed it.

My friend Brittany and I’s costume for the Halloween Party, in case you missed it.

Online recipes

Here are some links to some of my mug creations while in Fiji:

Topped with almonds (a special treat!) from Mikayla

Topped with almonds (a special treat!) from Mikayla

Carrot Cake in a Mug

  • Carrot Cake in a Mug… (Just know it’s possible, though I don’t have a link, oh and that’s some condensed milk on top that was leftover from the caramel)
  • Cookie in a Mug
  • Brownie in a Mug
  • French Toast in a Mug (Okay this one I didn’t really follow this recipe at all because it was too extensive, just mix milk/eggs/vanilla/cinnamon or whatever you normally do to make french toast in a mug, shove the bread in the there, and microwave!)
  • Breakfast Cake in a Mug: Again I just made this up with varied amounts of success combining oatmeal, milk, egg, sugar, cinnamon, etc. in a mug and microwaving. Maybe someday I’ll retest the recipe and get an actual recipe down, but just know it’s possible.

The moral of the story is that you can cook a lot of cake-ish things in a microwave in a mug instead of the oven. Just take your normal recipe, scale it down by a LOT, and then try it out. I sure did and had lots of success. You won’t get that delicious crisp outside that you get with an oven, but you do get a very quick dessert without an oven. Even better for those of us that have an issue of saying “just a little bit more” you get built in portion control.

About Meg LaFollette

I studied abroad in Fiji for 5 months in 2012 and absolutely fell in love with traveling! I went to New Zealand right after and then Peru this summer. When not traveling (and sometimes during) I love healthy, environmentally conscious living. Animals, biology, horses, and behavior are other passions of mine.
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2 Responses to Food in Fiji: Better late than never

  1. I’ve had so many people ask about using the caramel dip to coat apples and I didn’t know if it would work – so glad to know it worked for you. And it looks yummy that way!

    • mlafollette says:

      Yeah it definitely worked! It kind of melted off the apples a bit after they sat there for a while, but I think if you refrigerated them right until serving (or even had them in air-conditioning and not sitting in disgusting Fiji heat/humidity for a few hours) then it would stay on really well. It certainly gets the point across and people absolutely loved them even when they were a bit melted.

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