SSI News Blog

SSI’s Community Kitchen is always a cultural melting pot, and this was particularly so in April when Iraqi-born chef Ammar drew from Italian and Australian cuisine to create a fusion feast.

Ammar has become a big fan of cooking TV shows such as Master Chef since he arrived in Australia in 2013, where he learned about the cuisines of many different cultures.

Chef seeking asylum Ammar at Community Kitchen
Ammar was head chef for a recent Community Kitchen meal.

The avid home cook drew inspiration from these TV chefs to develop his culturally diverse menu, which combined Italian and Australian cuisine.

“I cook these dishes at home sometimes for friends. I really enjoy being in the kitchen and cooking,” he said.

Ammar, who is seeking asylum in Australia, has enjoyed cooking from an early age, when he would watch his mother prepare meals in his native country of Iraq.

“She made different food from the Australian and Italian meals I have here. We had rice, smoked fish and chicken. Before I came to Australia, I sometimes cooked for my mum too,” he said.

Chicken mushroom risotto pasta Italian food
Ammar paired risotto and pasta with a salad.

Chicken and mushroom risotto

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

300g chicken breast, diced

Two cups of mushrooms, chopped

¼ cup of cream

Bunch of shallots/spring onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 ½ cups Arborio rice

Three cups of stock or water

Olive oil to taste

Method:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add chicken and mushrooms until cooked through.
  2. Add the cream, shallots and garlic, and continue stirring.
  3. Add the rice and stir.
  4. Add stock or water one ladle at a time. Stir until rice has absorbed the liquid, then add another ladleful until the rice is cooked.

Tomato vegetarian pasta

Serves 4–6

Ingredients:

500g penne pasta

1 red capsicum, chopped

1 green capsicum, chopped

200g mushrooms

1 Spanish onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped 

½ tablespoon of butter

½ cup pitted black olives

1 jar whole peeled Italian tomatoes 

A handful of basil leaves

A pinch of white pepper

A pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Heat butter in a fry pan until melted.
  2. Add garlic, onion, mushrooms, olives and both capsicums, and fry.
  3. Add the tinned tomato, basil and white pepper, and sauté until heated through.
  4. Meanwhile, cook penne pasta in boiling water with a pinch of salt until al dente.
  5. Drain the pasta and stir the sauce through.

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