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Community Cook - Ary Brown

Growing and understanding local produce

by Emma Lupin and Ary Brown

Ary Brown grew up in a small town called Pekalongan in Central Java, Indonesia, where local food and farming is a huge and important part of life. 

She was living with her family when she met a young American man, Ben, and moved to live with him in East Java. 

That was 22 years ago, and after some time living in Bali, Seattle and Yogyakarta, and three children later, they came to settle in Darwin.

Brown has a love of plants and has been learning about native landscapes and conservation at a training program for migrant women through Greening Australia. Part of this program also encourages the sharing of stories and connection through the love of plants and food. 

Brown loves Darwin and the tropical weather, the markets, the local produce that is easily grown, and the diverse but inclusive community feeling. She also loves that it is not so far from Indonesia but has a lot less traffic and people. 

Brown cooked a wonderful cassava dish to share at a local food lunch. She loves this dish as it reminds her of home, and she often makes it for special occasions. 

Every two weeks, there are particular Muslim gatherings for women and children (Majlis Taklim Shasisoma, Bahasa for knowledge sharing). These are either at the Darwin Mosque or at community members' houses; food is shared and she is always asked to make this dish as it is a favorite among her friends. 

This dish can be easily made from leaves grown in the backyard, so it is inexpensive. You can then buy turkey mince, tempeh or tofu mince to add. The cassava leaves need to be fresh and young. 

Balado Cassava Leaves 

by Ary Brown

Young cassava leaves - enough for 600g when boiled and squeezed dry. 
300-500g turkey mince/ tofu mince or tempeh
1 can coconut cream
2- 3 sticks of lemongrass, cut and smashed
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
7 red long chilies (medium)
2-3 tomatoes
1 cube veggie stock 
Oil (coconut or rice bran) 

Clean the leaves really well and boil in a pan of water for about 10 minutes. Cool, squeeze, and then cut into slices when cold.

Chop and fry the onion and garlic. Add chili, tomatoes, tofu/turkey mince/tempe, fry for 10 minutes until browned and cooked through.

Add veggie stock cube (not in water). Add smashed up lemongrass. Add in the chopped up leaves and stir.

Add coconut milk, stir a little more and cook for 15 minutes. 

Serve in bowl and enjoy with rice and friends. 

If you know a community cook in Darwin who would like to share their recipe, GULP NT can organise a gathering with their small team. $100 plus ingredients can be offered to the participating cook for hosting and sharing thanks to City of Darwin community grants. Get in touch today and share your stories and food love. 

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