Welcome to the SSI Food Blog. The recipes and stories here come from SSI employees, volunteers, refugees and people seeking asylum who all share a love of food.
One of the many benefits of cultural diversity is delicious food, so let's enjoy!
Sajeda's lamb curry prepared at Community Kitchen.
Curry, a staple cuisine of South Asia, has become internationally popular for its simple method and delicious flavour. But for Sajeda Bahadurmia, curry is more than a staple; it brings back nostalgic memories of her childhood in Myanmar.
Sajeeda, who came to Australia with her family in 2013, has been cooking curry for as long as she can remember. Now 28 years old, she has perfected her favourite recipes and is now sharing the skills she learned from her father with her five children, aged from 11 months to 12 years.
Sajeda has mastered the art of curry and Rohingya cuisine. She has also become a memorable face of SSI’s fortnightly Community Kitchen, with her Rohingya dishes favoured by many attendees. Sajeda has also been featured in SBS’s Feast Magazine.
Curry is one of the main staples of Rohingyan cuisine, and lamb curry is one of the standouts. Beef is another popular option, but as Sajeda explains, lamb curry is the best “shortcut curry” in the Rohingya recipe book.
“Everyone eats it as they’re growing up – it’s an all-rounder dish,”Sajeda said. “We would often cook it as a family, and my father and sister really love this dish.”
But when it comes to striking the right balance between spice and saltiness, not everyone agrees.
“Our family can never agree on how much salt and chilli should go into this dish,” Sajeda said. “My mum loves chilli and always puts a lot into the lamb curry, but my brother doesn’t. He always prefers much more salt . . . it’s a soft topic,” she quips. “But in my view, hotter is better!”
Sajeda is proud of her heritage and enjoys sharing Rohingya cuisine with others. Her famed curry is not only enjoyed at Community Kitchen, her family often put in requests for her recipes whenever they get the chance.
“My father is a great cook and he taught me all he knows,” she said. “As a family we cook together, and now that we live apart, my family always tell me that they miss my food, especially my eldest brother.”
Cooking is just one way that Sajeda remains connected with her heritage, and she plans to continue the tradition by sharing traditional recipes with her family.
“Entertaining is what we do, and we love to share our cooking with others,” Sajeda said. “I also get much joy from seeing other people enjoy Rohingya cuisine, and sharing it with people at Community Kitchen makes me smile.”
Rohingya lamb curry
500 gm onion (diced finely)
25 gm garlic (finely chopped)
15 gm ginger (finely chopped or grated)
400 gm tomatoes (tinned or fresh diced)
200 gm potato (peeled and chopped)
Hot green chilli (to taste)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp hot spice mix
Vegetable oil or oil of choice (used generously!)
Rice – to serve
- Add a generous amount of oil. The oil and tomato juice are the only liquid in this recipe.
- Mix onion and garlic together over medium heat until soft.
- Add lamb and cook until sealed.
- Add ginger, tomato and potato, and stir until combined.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
- Serve with steamed rice and naan bread.