When Life hands you Niueans you’d best make Tikihi

Dear Sophia:

In the long ago days before Covid-19, a very beautiful woman got into the front seat of my car. She was also friendly, and very nice. An Aries. We talked a bit, and she told me that she is Niuean. It’s hard to extrapolate from a small sample, but basically every Niuean I ever met has been a really lovely person. I told her about my writing aspirations and asked “what is the best, yummiest Niuean food? Without any hesitation she said “Tikihi” “How do you make it?” I asked “Do you have a recipe? Whose recipe is it?” This is what she told me – in the tradition of all good family recipes, amounts aren’t given.

Mrs. Betty Tasmania’s Tikihi recipe:

Coconut cream

Yep, that’s it. Slice the pawpaw and taro thinly and alternate layers in a casserole dish. When the dish is full, add coconut cream (Kara) and bake it at 180ish centigrade for around 45 minutes.

So I did this. The flavour was incredible. But the taro was too chewy. The bubblemates ended up eating most of it – them and then the hungry worms.

Shortly after this, I got another Niuean in the car. Another lovely woman, but she seemed tired. Long day at work. We chitchatted and then I asked if I could get her advice on something. “Sure” she said. “Well, I tried to make Tikihi” I started “What? That’s amazing! Tikihi is one of our Christmas foods – it’s a really big deal.” she said excitedly.
“Yep it was delicious, but the taro was super chewy” I said.
“You did it too thick” she said accusingly.
“I did” I said.

“It really needs to be super thin, like paper – use the potato peeler if you have to.” she said.

“What’s this about tapioca powder then?” I said “I’ve read something about this”
“oooh, now you are getting super fancy. That’s brings the whole deal up a notch” she said.

So there you have it Sophia, a recipe from Niue. Pawpaw (if you can’t find enough, supplement a little mango or kumara), Taro, Karo coconut cream and if you are feeling fancy, sprinkle a little tapioca between the layers. Smells like Niuean heaven.

I can’t wait to go visit! Here is the Wikipedia entry if you want to peep it.

Love, Lilo