Indian Food in Fiji
The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a great influx of Indians entering the island nation of Fiji. This was because the British had colonised the ‘Cannibal Isles’ and needed skilled labour to work on the sugarcane fields. Many were tricked into this form of muted slavery and many of us growing up were not aware that indentured labourers were actually slaves. They travelled across the seas in overcrowded ships, some dying on the way. Upon arrival they were put into ‘lines’ which were overcrowded quarters and were treated harshly for many years on the fields. When the term of their contracts were over, many decided to remain in the country they now called home. They had made a life for themselves and were possibly not keen to travel across the world on a boat again.
That is a very short version of the historical arrival of Indians into Fiji. Since then a lot has changed and many cultures live together peacefully and share a common identity. Food especially, is a shared commodity amongst every race and there is a beautiful creation of unique flavours and tastes that results from the mixing of Fijian, Indian, Chinese, Rotuman and European cuisines. These are just some of the mainstream cuisines, there are many others that have influenced the flavours of Fiji.
It is my humble attempt to bring to the world these flavours and unique recipes and hope that it will bring a new kind of flavour to your table. As for those who are from Fiji like me, I hope that being able to access these recipes would bring you close to home even when you are miles away.
Some books on Fiji and its history: