Monday, 19 June 2017

Cook Islands – a cuisine experience...

Six days at Rarotonga in the Cook Islands is not enough time to experience the variety of wholesome eating options around the Island.  My first visit in 1997 it was Trader Jacks that was the main dining place where expats, locals and tourists could enjoy a substantial meal and a refreshing beverage.

Twenty years on and Trader Jacks is still standing, although it has been rebuilt a couple of times due to cyclones.  But, today there is over fifty cafes and restaurants to experience.  My recent visit to Rarotonga, I did experience Tamarind House lunching on a delicious corn fritter with an avocado salsa and on leaving I also got to meet Sue Carruthers the co-owner of Tamarind House, The Rickshaw Café offering Asian cuisine and La Casita Mexican Café.  Her second and more recent recipe book South Seas Cuisine was on display and it got us chatting. 

She was born in Nairobi, lived and studied in London whilst working in hospitality during the sixties.  She’s travelled Europe, India and South East Asia and lived in Cape Town, South Africa where she set up several pizza places with her then husband.  In 1979 with her husband and daughter set sail from Cape Town and sailed and worked their way to Rarotonga arriving in 1984. This is so much more to this woman I could possibly fit within this blog, but Sue did tell and gave me the recipe to one of her favourite recipes.

Fabulous Fish Curry
Fish Curry
750g fish fillets
1 tablespoon garam masala or mild curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
4-5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 teaspoons grated ginger
1 teaspoon crushed bottled chilli or 2-3 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
Spice Blend
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin or cumin seeds
4 teaspoons ground coriander
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch cloves
¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Mix the spices together in a small bowl
4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped or use 1 x 425g can tomatoes, crushed
2 cups coconut cream
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 level teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or basil
Juice of 1 lemon

Cut fish fillets into large cubes.  Stir the 1 tablespoon gram masala and salt together.  Toss fish cubes in the garam masala mix.  Keep aside or refrigerate while preparing sauce.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan and cook mustard seeds until they start to pop.  Remove the seeds and put aside on a plate.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the same pot and cook onion and garlic until soft.  Add the ginger and crushed chilli and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Stir in the spice blend and cook until aromatic.  Add chopped tomatoes and popped mustard seeds, and cook 5 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup coconut cream and cook for 5 minutes over a gentle heat or until sauce is reduced.*  In a separate frying pan heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and seal the fish cubes on all sides until golden.
Add the fish cubes to the curry sauce and simmer until just cooked through.  Stir in the 1 teaspoon garam masala, remaining cup of coconut cream, brown sugar, fresh coriander and lemon juice.  Stir only once and then serve immediately.  Serve with rice and/or chapatti and the chutney of your choice.

Recipe can be prepared in advance to this stage, cooked and kept refrigerated, ready to finish at serving time. 
Tamarind House - ocean view dining

Fabulous Fish Curry - Sue Carruthers 

Good bye Rarotonga until next time...
Other fun holiday activities:
Storyteller eco cycling tours
Aitutaki Day Tour
Night SUP
Stroll through Hidden Secret Garden
Raro Safari Tour
Complimentary use of bikes, snorkelling equipment, SUP and kayaks when staying at SeaChange Villas

Exclusive offer:
Book your Cook Island holiday with Travel With A Difference during 2017 and receive a complimentary $50 dining voucher for Tamarind House.

Read on:
Discover more of my time in the Cook Islands on page 142