We heard this food fair up the street before we saw any food. The tak-a-tak of chopping roti was a giveaway for some good Tamil food on offer.
Heading out to Flemington train station from Newtown involves a change of train just to get one more stop along the line. Getting off at Homebush means you can have a bonus short walk through the suburbs and some exercise to work off your food before you even get there. The other bonus today was a Tamil food fair set up at Homebush Public School which we would have missed had we taken the train all the way.
The rain didn't deter this group of volunteers who put together this small food fair to raise funds for their community centre in Lidcombe. Homebush has a small group of Sri Lankan and Indian restaurants and food stores, so a stall here hits into the shopping heart of the community.
One of the biggest surprises was hearing one of our favourite dishes being made. Chopping up vegetables and making khottu roti must be one of the noisest street food dishes you will ever find. Two big metal cleavers bang away on the hot plate to chop and fry the ingredients at the same time. The cooks were happy to talk about what they were doing and what they were cooking, it was a bright spark to a wet day.
Some choppists make a little song out of the bang, there's a musicality to the racket. We love the way the food cooks through and gets finely cut up at the same time while providing a little bit of a show. The anticipation builds while you watch, listen, smell and wait.
The rest of the volunteers make up the orders. The choices are similar to what you would get in most Sri Lankan hotels or small takeaway stands: biriyani, curry and rice, idli and sambar and a selection of short eats. The crunchy vadai are our favourite.
These cookie like snacks are the vadai, a thin pattie of deep fried lentils mixed with green chilli, onion and curry leaves. These were some of the best we've had here in Sydney. We ate three before we even got a block away.
And the rest of the food? It turned out to be delicious, but pretty brown and unphotogenic. We ordered a lamb biryani and a chicken khottu roti. You can see examples of the style of food in our Sri Lankan travel post, with much better photos.