2 April 2015

2015-03-29 Rahul b'dy 29 R

We finally got a bunch of kids in the pool when I was there for it.  We thought the water was too dirty, but the kids insisted that they go into water much worse than this.

2015-03-29 Rahul b'dy 13 R

The design of the pool works amazingly well, considering the fly-by-night way  it came together.  The graded steps all the way around give the non-swimmers plenty of space to hang out in.    The number one reason for the pool was so we could give swimming lessons in an attempt to avert the drowning deaths that happen every year in Fiji – even in the nearby river.  So sad.

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But not sad this day!

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For a long time now I have wanted to share a “puri-making” experience with all of you.   I have never lived anywhere where a whole group of people is working together to make one particular food at the same time as a community effort.

PURI  are small fried flat-bread that are served at all local Indian weddings, funerals and parties.   I will share the photos in the order that I took them – it will seem haphazard, no doubt – which is exactly the experience of actually participating.

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The prep area is swept and someone starts building a fire – usually on the ground.

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Life goes on around it.

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Coals from the kitchen are brought to get the fire going.

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A big basin of white flour is brought.    There is nothing in here but just flour.

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Boiling water is poured from the kettle directly into the flour.  One of the older women usually takes over the job of the initial mixing – you have to have hands that are extremely tough against the boiling water.

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Some of the scalding-water dampened flour is put into a kneading basin, and more boiling water is put into another area of the uncooked flour.

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Finally, the fire is blazing.

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Other ladies get their basins of flour to knead.   Up to six ladies will be kneading at once.

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Not me.  I have done this before – it is HOT HOT HOT.

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Finally, it will get to the right consistency, like bread dough.  It is shaped into a temporary loaf and coated with oil.   This puri making session had three ladies kneading and about 10 of these loaves.

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They changed their mind on the fire – took out most of the burning brands and put the southernmost cement block on the north side.  This is all to show how BASIC the cooking facilities are and how constant adjustments are needed.

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A special clean cloth is laid out before the rolling begins.

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About one-fourth of the loaf is cut off and rolled into a long snake.

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It is then cut into about eight equal pieces.

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Then – MY JOB !! – someone rolls the little piece into a ball.

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And makes it FLAT …. just like Pat-a-Cake, Pat-a-Cake.   And that person flours it and tosses it to the ladies who are doing the rolling (usually the same ones who did the kneading.)

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I can’t believe I neglected to take any photos of the ladies rolling.  This is my rolling pin and roti board from home.

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Oh yes, now I remember.  It was because this was a little less organized than most. In this photo you can see some rolled out puri, some of my flattened balls, a basin with a bunch of loaves in it … and MORE HOT WATER going into MORE FLOUR.    Usually all the loaves are finished before the rolling starts.   This was slightly disjointed.   But it all worked out.  There were six roti boards and rolling pins at this working bee – and four ladies doing the rolling.   Often I have seen eight ladies rolling at the same time.

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Frying will happen soon.  Here you see a girl with a big flat pot lid that has rolled out puri on it.   Girls do not do the kneading or rolling – they have two jobs:  carrying the puri to the fire, and maybe doing the pat-a-cake task.

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This is the tray with uncooked puri on it.  It always reminds me of romano cheese slices….

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Oil is heating up in the wok on the fire.

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The puri are in the boiling oil now.   See how they puff up.

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As soon as they are golden, they are pulled out and put into a metal basin with an overturned dish in it to drain and to cool off.

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Then they are packed into their banana leaf-lined box, where they will be good for a few days.  The reason puri are such an important party food is because they can be cooked ahead and then just reheated.

2015-03-27 puri  30  R

I like this final shot because it shows the frying going on in the yard, while the rolling is still proceeding on the porch.   All in all, there will be a minimum of 10 people working on making puri together even for a smaller event.   I love going for puri-making – it feels like a little barn-raising.

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2015-04-02 toad at bee box  R


Junia grabbed my camera to get this picture of a toad at a bee box.   He asked me if it turned out.

I said no.   He looked – he told me that yes it did.

2015-04-02 toad at bee box  Cr

He pointed out this corner I thought was just a leaf.   This is TOAD sitting at the entrance of the bee box….. waiting to eat the bees as they emerge.    I think the toad likes food that has a bite.

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8 thoughts on “2 April 2015

    • Hi Shottie – Usually they just use plain white flour (unbleached) – though traditionally they used “sharps” (like white flour but a bit coarser and it has more protein in it). You wouldn’t want any spices in it, because it is the companion to 10 or more highly spiced curries and chutnies at the meal. As for taste – it tastes good with the curries and chutneys …. it’s kind of like sandwiches where you are paying more attention to the pastrami or peanut butter than to the bread.

  1. I enjoyed the blog Kim. The food looks good and the pool is getting full usage now. Each time I get another edition, I think more about a trip to visit. Hope things are going well. Summer is coming on here and we are having storms, small earth trimmers and everything is beginning to bloom out. It won’t be long till the hot weather will be on us.

    • Spring is so glorious in a temperate zone – it is one thing I miss in our endless summer. When it gets hot there, then is the time to head south of the equator, come hit our gentle cool winter.

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