Emma tried her hand at a few of the delicious meals included in this year’s official Harmony Day Cookbook, creating a multicultural and celebratory feast.
Shish Taouk – Lebanon
I am a big fan of Lebanese food so to recreate this cuisine at home was a challenge I gladly accepted. Using an assortment of herbs and spices this unpretentious yet wholesome dish was one of the highlights of my culinary adventure. I added a couple of extra vegetables to the chicken skewers and cooked them on a low heat over the barbeque to really enhance the aromatic qualities of the marinade. This recipe was a hit and has inspired me to tackle the sides that accompany this dish in future attempts – tabbouleh and chickpea hummus.
Pasta Frola – Argentina
Desserts are not my forte and this recipe reaffirmed that fact. I wasn’t overly concerned with getting this dish picture perfect, however, I didn’t realise the precision that was required for a seemingly modest recipe. The homemade pastry was the main struggle with this Argentinian dessert staple – a humble tart with a quince and coconut filling. After accidentally leaving it in the oven for too long I was ready to admit defeat! Despite these disastrous results my house smelt wonderfully good for around 20 minutes whilst the tart was baking. I would make this dish again although I would highly recommend pre-rolled pastry sheets if you’re stuck for time or if you’re incompetent in the desserts department.
Dolmades – Greece
This Greek classic was the surprise standout! This simple dish required a little bit of extra research (lessons from my mum) in order to get the rolling technique just right. With basic ingredients and a little bit of imagination you could easily alter this dish to your pleasing – there are endless variations available online if you need some inspiration. I used fresh vine leaves which made the preparation time a little longer but I think it was worth the effort. For a first-timer I would definitely recommend making Dolmades – a perfect entrée served warm or eaten straight from the fridge.
Bánh Xèo – Vietnam
I consider myself to be an experienced home cook however this recipe was a little bit trickier than expected. Bánh Xèo is a traditional Vietnamese dish which literally translates into ‘sizzling cake’ and with ingredients I would never typically use I thought I’d give this one a go. After making the sharp-but-sweet sauce (with extra chilli) I decided to accompany the pancakes with the recommended Asiatic greens and freshly cooked prawns. The dish itself was delicious but the pancakes didn’t crisp up as they should have – a fault perhaps caused by my stovetop or the pan that I used. I’ve had Vietnamese pancakes at restaurants before and absolutely loved them, however this is one dish I’m happy to leave to the professionals.
All recipes were sourced from the official Harmony Day cook book ‘Recipes for Harmony’, available freely online from the following link: www.harmony.gov.au. Harmony Day is celebrated on March 21st.
Words: Emma McConnell