Recipes from grandma

A year-long project initiated by the seniors at RAIN comes to fruition, writes SUDHA NATARAJAN

Reading Time: 6 minutes

There have been changes in the Aged Care arena as more and more people are advancing in age. We hear lots of talk about ‘consumer directed care’ and ‘person-centred support’ and all aged care service providers are working hard to make sure their clients are well taken care of.
As a seniors support group for the Indian community in Sydney, the Resourceful Australian Indian Network (RAIN) has the unique privilege of having seniors directing operations from day one of incorporation. As the Indian sub-continent senior population increases in every region, RAIN quietly follows its seniors to make it possible for them to have social support groups in areas where they reside.

Rangoli by seniors

With venue support and guidance from Sarah Harrison, Community Service Officer in the Inner West Council, RAIN has been holding regular fortnightly sessions for seniors.
A year-long project entitled the ‘Super Chef Project’ has been the highlight of 2018. Initiated, planned and executed by RAIN, it has been a winner – and a memorable experience for all involved.
Forget MasterChef, we all agree that family elders are the real Super Chefs in our community. To encourage ongoing, voluntary and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge, RAIN put together a Super Chef Project involving seniors and their carers. The contest: vegetarian cooking from different parts of India.
Rangoli by seniors

In an unusual twist, new migrants were also invited to participate, so that the project combined capacity building for seniors, with supporting new migrants by providing opportunities for intergenerational sharing of recipes.
Members of other ethnic groups and people belonging to the wider Australian community were invited to judge the food contests and to participate in the festive sessions. As the project took shape, project coordinators Hardika and Anju collected recipes, took photos and the RAIN Super Chef booklet was created.
Some of the more popular presentations include Pilloo Naoroz’s Kopra Pak, Taunaz Patel’s Sweet Vermicelli, Peruvemba Radhamani’s southern Indian sweet treat Sugian and Hardika Hirani’s Faludo.

Alongside this ongoing competition, RAIN seniors were provided an opportunity to participate in the multicultural festival of the Inner West Council by Raffaela Cavadini, the council’s Community Arts Projects Officer. The group decided to participate by presenting rangoli decorations in and around the Ashfield Service Centre area. Beautiful photos were taken which became part of the official booklet.
The outcome of the project was confidence development for the elderly and skill development for the younger volunteers who attended food safety training sessions. Most importantly culture and traditional cuisine sharing sessions invited participation from other communities providing it a multicultural flavour.
As a grand finale to the year-long project, RAIN celebrated a multicultural Diwali to officially launch the collection of recipes. In a spirit of sharing, different ethnic groups were invited to perform and acquaint us of their culture, while showing off the best traditional artistic performances of the Indian community.
Sarah Harrison at the book launch

Traditional Chinese dances of the Asian Women At Work troupe, as well as Flamenco dances by the Los Carmonas School, meshed well with the Kuchipudi/Bharathnatyam of our very own Sahana Javagal and Iksham Dance School and Bhangra by Jaspreet Singh.
Chief guest Sarah Harrison made a special mention of “RAIN’s interest in and engagement with other cultural groups”, which she described as inspiring.
A special congratulatory message from David Coleman, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, was read out by senior Loganayaki.
When Jaspreet invited the seniors to dance with him, it was a true reflection of the ‘person centred’ approach of our care philosophy: he showed much concern as he led the seniors in gentle steps, and made sure they enjoyed every moment.

Gargi Shah, a dear friend to all RAIN seniors and a valued member, made a special visit from the nursing home and though restricted to a wheel chair, was delighted to have Jaspreet step out of the stage to dance near her. Nirmal Kapila tried a few steps with Jaspreet too, joined by the energetic MC Pradip Pandya who gave it a fair go. Well done, seniors!
The highlight came with the launch of the Super Chef book by Sarah Harrison and Jaya Chivkula, Grants Administration Officer from Multicultural NSW.

The joy in the seniors was unmistakable as they saw their work in print – recipes, photographs and rangoli designs.
In some small way, RAIN had helped them gain a renewed sense of purpose and worth, and to feel connected to the world.
Experts say these can go a long way in combating senior isolation.
Here are some of the recipes featured in the book;
Scraped coconut 3 cups
Jaggery (powdered) 2 cups
Urdh Dhal 1½ cups
Rice flour ½ cup
Ghee 4 teaspoons
Oil 2 cups for frying
Salt ½ teaspoon
Cardamom powder 1 teaspoon.
Prepare the poornam (filling) by adding half a cup water to the powdered jaggery and boil until the mixture gets sticky. Add the scraped coconut and ghee. Stir well till it gets sticky and can be made into small balls.
Add Cardamom powder and mix well. Let it cool and then make small balls and keep them aside.
Soak the urdh dhal in water for one hour. Grind the dhal into a fine paste until air bubbles appear. Add rice flour in the batter with a little salt. The batter must be like dosa batter not too watery, not too thick.
Heat oil in the pan at a low heat. When the oil is hot, dip the coconut balls in the batter and fry them few at a time so that they do not stick to each other. Fry till golden brown and then remove from the oil.
This is a tasty sweet snack that children love and is a traditional sweet that South Indians make on festive days.
A packet of roasted vermicelli
Cut almonds
Nutmeg powder
Cardamom powder
Sugar to taste
Boiled water
In the pot, fry almonds and raisins and remove from the pot.
Add the vermicelli and sauté till browned. Pour in a little water at a time.
Add sugar and keep adding water till vermicelli is cooked.
Add cardamom, nutmeg powders, the fried almonds and raisins. Vanilla essence or rose water may be added for taste.
Icing sugar 750gm
Desiccated coconut 250gm
Vanilla essence 1 tablespoon
Condensed milk 395gm
Pink food colouring
Sift icing sugar into a bowl and add desiccated coconut, vanilla essence and condensed milk. Mix well and press half the mixture into a greased baking tin. Colour the remaining mixture with pink food colouring and press evenly on the top of the white mixture.
Refrigerate overnight, when set, cut into squares which makes about 20-25 pieces.
Milk 3 cups
Sugar 1½ cup
China Grass (Agar Agar) ¾ cup
Rose essence
Rose Pink colour
Almond meal 1 tablespoon
Shredded almond 1 tablespoon
Shredded pistachio ½ tablespoon
Cardamom powder ¼ teaspoon
Cut china grass in small pieces. Soak in just enough water so that all china grass is submerged for 10 min.
Then in a small saucepan let the china grass boil on a very low heat till all grass is melted and looks creamy. Stir occasionally.
At the same time, in a thick based saucepan put 3 cups milk and leave it on a low heat and let it come to boil. Stir occasionally.
Mix sugar in the milk and boil till the sugar is all melted and mixed. Put creamy china grass in the milk and let it be on a low heat till all china grass mixes well with the milk and the milk looks nice and creamy. (Remove any additional water before adding china grass to milk)
Switch off heat.
Add 2 drops of Rose essence and 2 drops of Rose Pink Colour. (You may use any other colour of your liking). Add Almond meal. Add half of the cardamom powder. Mix the milk so the colour has spread out evenly.
Then put the mixture in a glass container.
For decoration; once it is slightly cool sprinkle shredded almonds, shredded pistachio and remaining cardamom powder.
Let it cool to room temperature and let it start becoming thick. Then put the container in the fridge overnight. No need to cover the container. Take the container out from the fridge just before serving the following day.  Cut into pieces and serve in a small bowl. Makes average size 9 pieces.

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