“My mother and father were amazing cooks. Especially my father, he taught me so much”.
Sajeda is of Rohingyan heritage, an ethnic minority in the predominantly Buddhist country of Burma where she was born. In 2013, Sajeda, her husband and their children fled Burma seeking a safer life in Australia. Now a mother to six children, two of which were born in Australia, Sajeda pays homage to her heritage and her parents by continuing to cook the dishes she loved as a child. “Many recipes remind me of my family and eating together. I know they miss my cooking too”.
Preparing all her spice mixtures from scratch, including grinding her own Garam Masala Sajeda is a sensory cook; “When I eat out, I like to recreate things. Once I taste something, I know how to make it again at home”. Beyond sharing her food with family and friends, Sajeda is a regular volunteer at SSI’s Community Kitchen in Auburn, where she cooks for up to 400 people depending on the occasion. Resourceful, and a fast learner, Sajeda speaks six languages; Rohingya, Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, English and little bit of Arabic. Sajeda’s attention to detail and her own cooking is reflected in other parts of her life, since eight years of age she has been practising the art of henna and has often shared her expertise at weddings and community celebrations. A talent she is planning to turn into a business venture in the future.
Sajeda’s Siggussū – Rohingyan Style cripsy beef
1 kilogram of beef
1 teaspoon of Garam masala
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of shredded ginger
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
3 onions sliced
In a small bowl, mix the Garam Masala, tumeric, salt, ginger and garlic until combined
Using your fingers, massage the spice mixture into the meat and set aside to marinate for 30 minutes
Place the meat, with 1/2 a cup of hot water in a medium size saucepan on low heat
Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes until tender
Remove from the saucepan and using a knife or scissors, shred the meat into 2cm pieces
Place the shredded meat in a fry pan with a little oil and onions and fry until slightly crispy
Serve with with glutinous rice topped with shredded coconut and toasted black sesame seeds
This is the tenth post in a special series dedicated to my collaboration with Settlement Services International in the lead up to their annual New Beginnings: Refugee Arts & Culture Festival during Refugee Week 2017. A big, warm thank you to the SSI staff and volunteers who have assisted in the project collaboration so far.