Recently I came across this event that was circulating on Facebook called Dine It Forward. Although I wasn't "officially" invited to the event, it was a public one, and with me being such a foodie, the word 'Dine' being in the event name simply caught my attention. So I clicked on it to see what it was about, and after reading up about it I was really keen to get involved.
Basically the event is part of a campaign organised by a local youth NGO called Palmera, based primarily in Sydney. Their vision is to "channel the power of human compassion to deliver sustainable projects in the areas of health care, education and income generation to marginalised communities". Their project profile is quite impressive, having started out volunteering to help transfer skills to marginalised Sri Lankan communities, working with local NGOs to assist victims of the 2006 Boxing Day Tsunami along the way, to an extensive project profile that now branches out to other parts of Asia such as Cambodia, recently becoming a nationwide operation by expanding their family into Melbourne. This particular project of Dine It Forward aims to "build a sustainable livelihood, community hub, and a source of staple food for marginalised women in Sri Lanka". More specifically, the aim is to develop community access to milling facilities (rice milling is a significant commodity in Sri Lanka), which will in turn create employment opportunites and give residents the chance to interact and build relationships with their local government, build an economy as such and develop organisational and business skills along the way.
The drive to fund such a project comes after the end of a long-standing civil unrest towards the Northern region of Sri Lanka, where many innocent people have been up-rooted from their communities, and their livelihoods destroyed at the expense of the war. Such a project does lie relatively close to my own heart, being of Sri Lankan heritage and all. Even though I have never taken sides or expressed an opinion on the actions of parties involved in the war, and I never will, I do express compassion towards those innocent lives who have been affected by the war. It was never their choice to be involved, and the reports of the use of human shields by either side is absolutely abhorrent. I've watched many documentaries on the topic and it can be difficult to judge what's fiction and what's real. But again, it's those innocent lives who have been disregarded and forgotten by their own who my heart goes out to.
BUT, I digress! The reason why this event really got me interested is that I can raise money for a good cause, while being able to do the thing I love - cook! And even better, I get to cook for those who are willing to get involved - the donators! Who co-incidentally, are my dearest and nearest - even better! The concept of the campaign is based on the 'Pay It Forward' one (go watch the movie if you haven't seen it!) - you cook a meal for your friends and family, and they are then propelled to host their own event where they have you over for a meal along with more of their own friends and family and so it continues, each of you raising money and creating awareness for the project the funds are being raised for.
|Cookin and lookin sexay in my slacks =P|
|Nat enjoying my native food!|
I used slightly less chicken than specified in the recipe, which made it a bit thicker, so next time I'd need to either add more chicken or add less coconut milk. But it still tasted heaps nice! Goes perfectly with some fragrant rice or even a flaky roti. Definitely one you should try yourself. And if you like it maybe you could consider going to one of the launch parties or hosting your own event at home!
Recipe by Charmaine Solomon (from SBS's Food Safari)
1.5kg chicken thigh cutlets
2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil (I only had olive oil)
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
10 curry leaves
2 large onions, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground fennel
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp vinegar
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
6 cardamom pods, bruised
1 stick cinnamon
1 stalk lemon grass
1 pandan leaf (I didn't have one on hand, but it still tasted good without it!)
1 cup thick coconut milk
1. Heat ghee and fry fenugreek and curry leaves until they start to brown.
2. Add onions, garlic and ginger and fry gently until onions are quite soft and transparent.
3. Add turmeric, chilli, coriander, cumin, fennel, paprika, salt and vinegar and stir well (It's probably best to measure out all the spices before you start and put them together in a bowl just to make it easier to add at this point). Add tomatoes, whole spices and lemon grass.
4. Add chicken and stir over medium heat until chicken is thoroughly coated with spices. Cook, covered, over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes.
5. Add coconut milk, taste and add more salt and a squeeze of lemon juice if desired. Do not cover after adding coconut milk. Continue to cook through until liquid thickens slightly. Serve with rice or roti.
For those who don't know, Charmaine Solomon is a best selling cookery author known internationally for her amazing cooking repertoire when it comes to preparing traditional and new age Sri Lankan dishes, but also for her work and efforts to promote Sri Lankan cuisine, and her contribution to the Australian community in terms of her numerous TV appearances, contributions to newspaper columns, demonstrations and cooking classes. She is revered among the Sri Lankan community in Australia and her recipes are known and prepared around the world.
|Clockwise from left: Yellow rice, Dhal (with a HUGE red chilli haha), Asian Greens, Chilli Sambol,|
'Curried' Mushrooms and Chicken Curry
Enjoy (and get involved!) =D xx