Kelara Vusoniwailala's Mango Cafe in Suva is a showcase for her larger-than-life personality and great "Western food with Pacific flavours".
Her menu includes many dishes that use Fijian ingredients with international flair: tubua (amaranth) quiche, a delicious rourou (taro leaf) soup with tavioka (cassava) chips, and wonderful home-made desserts. My favourite is her mango pudding.
When mango season hits in Fiji, it hits hard. There are many varieties. They are sold on the side of the road as well as at the markets, along with simply falling off trees everywhere. Green mangoes are eaten as a snack; the crispy wedges dipped in salt and chilli powder. Indo-Fijian households turn out delicious mango achar (pickle), a hot-and-sour condiment made with grated mango that's been steeped in mustard oil, garlic and chilli.
What I love about Kelara's recipe is that the batter has mango flesh folded into it, so it is a very mangoey, moist, dense pudding. It's fine served cold, but incredible served warm.
KELARA VUSONIWAILALA'S MANGO PUDDING
1 1/4 cups sugar (raw or brown)
4 large eggs
3 cups flour
6 tsp baking powder
1 cup mango pulp, from fresh or frozen mangoes (non-stringy variety)
3/4 cup soya bean oil
10-12 thin slices mango flesh
1 cup mango pulp
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 cup water
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 2cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.
Beat the butter and sugar until creamy with an electric mixer. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Sift the flour and baking powder together, then use a wooden spoon to fold them into the creamed mixture. Blend four-fifths of the mango pulp with the oil. Combine this with the cake mixture, using a wooden spoon.
Place the mango slices on the bottom of the cake tin, folding where necessary to go slightly up the sides of the tin.
Pour the remaining mango pulp into the tin. Spread it to line the base thinly.
Pour the cake batter into the tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes.
Once the cake is fully baked, a skewer inserted in the middle should come out clean, although it may be slightly sticky due to the density of the pudding.
Let the baked pudding cool for 20 minutes before turning it out.
Meanwhile, make the mango sauce.
Blend all the sauce ingredients until smooth. Place in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly.
Once boiled, take the sauce off the heat to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until needed.
To serve, pour the sauce over the pudding and heat in the microwave on high for 45 seconds.
Serve warm with whipped cream, coconut cream or ice cream.By Robert Oliver