Happy Australia Day! A day for us to be glad we live in a free country and focus on all the things we do have instead of all the things we don't. Except for our current Prime Minister. He's one of the things we do have that I really wish we didn't. So sorry, citizens of the world for inflicting this man on you as our representative. But please don't blame me personally, I didn't vote for Tony Abbott. His nugget of wisdom on our day of days? "My duty, as your prime minister, is to ensure that, as far as possible, in this great land of ours, no one is left behind," Except if you're on a boat obviously. In which case, not only are you left behind, but you're taken back as well. And we don't have enough cash for improvements to disability schemes, or giving more to foreign aid, but he did find some loose change down the back of the couch for newlyweds to get relationship counselling. But that's for another post. So I will continue to be glad I live in a free country and glad we will have the opportunity to get rid of him at the next election. Or earlier. You never know, this is Australia, we have changed PMs quicker than Bonds undies the last few years.
But enough of that. When I think of all our national foods there are a few that come to mind. What's a cake drive without a Lamington? Or morning tea without Tim Tams? Or a takeaway shop without a Chiko Roll? Yeah yeah yeah, we impress our international visitors with our rich multicultural grub, our fusion foods (aka Modern Australian Cuisine), and emphasise that despite guzzling beer we do a very nice Chardonnay. But truth be told, we're pretty happy with the everyday stuff too. So this year I decided it was high time for a veg version of the Chiko Roll.
For those of you across the seas a Chiko is kinda like a spring roll but with much thicker pastry so it doesn't crumble in your hand. It reminds me of summer holidays and swimming at the beach. The traditional walk with my Dad up to the local fish and chip shop to get lunch - feeling slightly sticky with saltwater, covered in sand and wrapped in a towel, thwick -thwacking the hot pavement with my thongs. It makes me feel all gooey with nostalgia just thinking about it. And we always had an ice cream afterwards, my choice was usually a Bubble-O Bill or a Golden Gaytime (yes, for you non Aussies there is an ice cream called a Gaytime and yes it still exists. It's delicious, albeit not vegan. Hmmm...maybe I should try veganising that for another post). Despite the name it doesn't have any chicken and has a mixture of beef and shredded vegetables in it. And when I looked at the manufacturers website, quite a bit of TVP despite the beef and tallow. I don't think I've had one for about 13 or 14 years, but the Beloved thought it was a pretty good approximation and thought it smelled pretty Chiko-ey alhtough he hasn't had one for ages either. It would be pretty hard to buy pre made pastry for this, the texture wouldn't be right. I guess you could use a savoury shortcrust sheet if you really couldn't be bothered making the dough. But you might as well make it while you're waiting for the mixture to cool, it isn't hard.
Makes approximately 8 large rolls
For the pastry
3 cups plain flour
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1 chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped cabbage and kale
1 shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped green beans
1 cup cooked barley or rice
1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
2 teaspoons Massel chicken style stock powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground white pepper
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
1.Cook lentils, barley, and rice and set aside.
2.In a large frying pan, heat a little oil and saute onion, celery, carrot, beans, cabbage and kale until soft.
3.Add barley (or rice) and lentils, stock powder and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
4. To make pastry, place flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in in water and gradually take in flour from the sides until all water is incorporated. Knead for a few minutes until you have a smooth soft dough.
5. Divide dough into 8 portions and roll out into a rectangle, about 3mm thick.
6.Spoon about 1/2 cup cooled mixture down the centre of the rectangle lengthways, leaving about 5cm at either end.
7. Fold over the shorter ends, and the fold over one half of the pastry lengthways over filling, and roll to wrap remainder of pastry and to seal.
8. Heat oil in a frying pan and gently place a couple of rolls in at a time, seal side down first, frying until brown and crisp, and then turn over (you can deep fry if you would like, I couldn't be bothered messing about with all that oil!)
Serve straight away while crisp and hot.
P.S. Tony - if we didn't have plenty of "boat people" come to this country we wouldn't have the Chiko Roll so ner!