Rare serves from across the globe

Elias and father Kamil with the za''atar pizza at Why Not? Wooden Bakery. 229979_02 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Dandenong Market’s bevy of food traders are cooking up one-off special dishes for the return of Dandenong World Fare festival.

The eye-catching options include a rarely-seen purple yam dough sensation that’s popular breakfast or snack fare in the Philippines.

Served warm, the ‘Ube Cheese Pandesal’ is filled with a sweet yam jam and melted cheese. The handmade dough is light as a donut’s.

Its creator Catherine from Si Kat Pinoy Eatscetera – known for Filipino street food – says the yam is an easy-to-grow staple used most commonly in poorer, rural areas of her homeland.

But they’re much more expensive in Australia. So she confines purple yam dishes as one-off specials such as for Dandenong Food Fare.

Two years ago, her purple-yam champorado – or rice pudding – was much sought after.

“So why not make it purple again for this festival?” she says.

During Covid, Catherine was much admired for offering free food to stranded international students.

At NZ Street Food, a special one-off rendition of battered oysters and chips are on offer.

A traditional and popular feed at any New Zealand fish-and-chippery, the generously large oysters are sealed fresh and moist inside the batter coat.

Seven years ago, NZ Street Food started in a food van as the first New Zealand eatery in Melbourne. Its gained a loyal following for its offerings including the traditional hangi – a dish of chicken, lamb and vegies wrapped and heated in a customized oven. As well as for its imported Kiwi chips and other snacks.

Why Not? Wooden Bakery offers a unique take on its traditional za’atar pizza. Za’atar is a traditional green herb mix of sesame, thyme and olive oil with a citric tang.

For Dandenong World Fare, it will stack delicious vegetarian ingredients such as feta, olives, capsicium and tomato and a generous layer of olive oil.

At Kadak Chai, a rare blast of saffron not only permeates its tea’s colour but its taste.

Its co-owner Shabbir is famous for his imaginative and famous cups of pink chai.

He says just two or three strands of the rich red flower are enough to intensify the traditional brew of cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric and nutmeg.

Other tasty offerings include a cherry burek – usually served as a dessert only at Christmas – from Dandy Burek, and a secret chicken biryani recipe handed down two family generations at Downtown Punjab.

A market spokesperson said the aim of this year’s World Fare was to “hero” the market’s traders after a tough Covid-afflicted 2020.

And to encourage them to offer a unique, one-off dish from their home cuisines.

The festival also offers an all-day program of entertainment such as haka dances, lion dances, African drumming and a reggae band.

Dandenong Market World Fare is on Sunday 28 March, 10am-4pm at The Terrace, Dandenong Market, corner Clow and Cleeland streets, Dandenong. Free entry and free parking.