Dining With Dragons is the fascinating and humourous story of leading Asian food writer and chef, Carol Selva Rajah, and her journey from war-torn Malaysia to culinary success, both in Australia and the globe. The book carries forward the story of a family in transition from the late 19th Century, spanning three generations and their lives as it is lived in Srilanka, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, the US and finally Australia.
Stories unfold across a mix of cultures, religions and continents, driven by the characters, their food, and the eating and cooking of it. The book focuses on women, the dragons who surrounded Carol,their lives in Asia through one hundred and twenty years of war, turmoil and independence and their transition to the west in the dying light of colonialism in Asia.
The Japanese invade Malaya plunging the country into four long, lean years as Malayans are brought to their knees with fear, hunger and illness, then forced into a war with Mao-inspired Communists who want the British out. Carol goes to university in Singapore, travels to Canada and the United States, and finally to Australia, when Malaysian Independence brings a new set of rules to Malaya.
Food becomes Carol’s career in Sydney where she settles with her children and her husband ,and ultimately goes on to become a culinary success…
Each chapter of the book ends with a recipe or a menu pertinent to the chapter. All are original recipes, one in the hand-writing of her orphaned mother Sara, who vowed never to enter a kitchen again, and another in the handwriting of her Auntie Siok.
This is a book that inspires one that with trust, nothing is impossible.
About the author:
One of Australia’s most respected experts in Asian cuisine, Carol Selva Rajah is a celebrity chef with an exceptional intellectual and cultural pedigree. She is an engaging television presenter and an authoritative university guest lecturer, and the author of 11 cook books: two as prize winning books.
The Food of India won an award for the best cookbook at Tasting Australia in Adelaide 2003. Among her awards in culinary tourism is the prestigious Jaguar/Gourmet Traveller award for her work in raising the image of Sydney’s Cabramatta. In 2011, she was inducted into the Sydney Morning Herald Hall of Fame and has been recognized as one of the great women chefs of Australia. She remains a dedicated educator in the field of culinary culture. Carol has cooked in many countries, and cooking schools, among them Copia in the Napa Valley and William Sonoma, San Francisco and aboard the QE2.
She is also the first Australian and South East Asian woman invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard Foundation in New York City. Carol’s life, like her work, is a fusion of foods and cultures. Her parents, both educators, have been influential in Carol’s life and her work. Her mother was partly of Indian descent, brought up by Nonya Hokkiens in a mission house for orphans in Penang, while both her father and husband were Sri Lankan.
Carol grew up south of Kuala Lumpur, in an ancient untidy town, Klang, and now lives close to her three children in Sydney Australia, which has been her home for over 40 years. This book, four years in the execution, has been a factual and historical account of her life and of the Dragon women who surrounded her life and gave her fire and the passion for life and food. it is co-authored with her brother, surgeon Abel Arumugam, who has been the inspiration behind the book as they both sought to discover themselves in among the jumble of family, memory, food and traditions.
“The arrival of Carol Selva Rajah… made life interesting and changed areas like Cabramatta with her interesting heavenly food and aromatic spices. And now we have Dining with Dragons: Cooking, like food, offers a fascinating life style. Thank you Carol.”—Margaret Fulton, ‘100 Most Influential Australians’, ‘100 Australian Living Treasures’
“Carol’s writing is as delicious as her cooking. Food memories and recipes will have you licking the pages. Do not approach on an empty stomach.”—Andrea Rademan, Vice President, Int’l Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association, Los Angeles
“I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about an interesting time in the mid-20th Century in Malaysia.”Justice Tan Sri Dato’ V C George, Retired Judge of the Malaysian Court of Appeal
“If there is one book that will enrich your life with gratitude, reflection and celebration, it is Dining With Dragons. Whether it is rekindling the memories of her powerful ‘dragon’ guardians or grappling with personal loss and social rights, this book embodies the best of Carol’s philosophy. The world finally knows the Woman behind the Wok.”—Simon Goh, Australian restaurateur, Chinta Ria & Temple of Love
“In reading this enthralling book, one understands that Carol absolutely lived multiculturalism and reinforces what I have always known for the last 3 decades – that this beautiful writer is brave and generous, adores food and its environs and is a loving woman to all.”—Peter Howard, Journalist