With so much controversy circling this Island, I wanted to show a more personal side of Christmas Island. Alimah Bilda came to Australia from Christmas Island in 1973 where she met husband, Aman Mohd. For the past 15 years they’ve run a Lakemba institution, Island Dreams Cafe serving the best food from Christmas and Cocos Islands. I met them over 10 years ago and I’m glad to have the opportunity to chat to them again for SBS Feast magazine.
Christmas Island is sandwiched between Australia and Indonesia, their food is based heavily on Malaysian cooking with some Chinese and Indonesian influence. There are around 1,000 permanent residents on the Island and this is the only Christmas Island restaurant in Australia. Homemade roti as well as the fancier version, martabak, roti filled with beef, egg and potato are popular.
And everyone loves Alimah’s ayam panggang (lemon chilli chicken), especially recent arrivals from Somali who now live in Lakemba. The chicken melts off the bone and the curry oh-so-tasty – goes perfectly with roti or rice.
Alimah’s relatives make fish crackers and sends them over to Island Dreams when they can. It’s a week long process that gets consumed in seconds. They’re stunningly colourful, if you see them on the counter, grab some!
To wash it all down, try a glass of rose syrup drink with milk and basil seeds – see the layer of rose syrup at the bottom? Make sure you mix it all up and you’ll be buzzing for days.
The rice pudding (in video) is deliciously cheeky, comes out in a tiny glass and apart from sago and milk.. there’s a secret recipe. Watch Simon Marnie from ABC 702Sydney and I attempt to guess it in the video in this post.
47 Haldon St, Lakemba