Usually when someone includes “food” and “feel good about yourself” in the same sentence they’re talking about kale smoothies, and that’s generally my cue to zone out of the conversation or walk away. However, the team at Opportunity Australia have been brewing up a tasty little campaign that can leave you well fed and happy while also warming the cockles of your heart knowing you’ve contributed to something greater than yourself.

Who doesn’t enjoy sharing a good meal?

Who doesn’t enjoy sharing a good meal?

What the heck am I talking about? First, a bit of background. Opportunity Australia is a company with a mission to help impoverished families living in developing countries get the skills and tools they need to transform their lives. Whether that’s providing a small loan to help them start a business, training, or whatever else is needed to help them get out of poverty not as a short term measure, but for good.

In order to raise some much needed funds to keep this good service going, they’re running Food For Thought events over September and October across Australia.

Basically, it entails you inviting your friends over for a meal, whatever that looks like; some of their suggestions include potlucks, dessert degustations – whatever you fancy. All food lovers know the power of a good meal and the way it can bring together a group of people, and now you get to enjoy that with the added perk of raising money for helping families in poverty.

Although it’s more of a DIY in your own home suggestion, Opportunity Australia invited us and a few others in the blogosphere to head out to Babu Ji in St Kilda. This hidden gem is not only supporting the great cause by helping to host the absolute smorgasbord of food they cooked for us, but also have ties to the work Opportunity Australia do helping families in India due to the fact that their cuisine is, in fact, Indian.

It also seriously helps that the food they’re serving up? Ah. Mazing.

Batata Vada: a taste of Mumbai street food found in spiced lentil and potato parcels topped with radish, mint and tamarind

Batata Vada: a taste of Mumbai street food found in spiced lentil and potato parcels topped with radish, mint and tamarind

Roasted prawns marinated in hung yoghurt with lemongrass, lime and basil

Roasted prawns marinated in hung yoghurt with lemongrass, lime and basil

All your Indian favourites, including creamy butter chicken, and slow cooked maram gasala

All your Indian favourites, including creamy butter chicken, and slow cooked maram gasala

The showstopper; Babu Ji’s famous fish curry.

The showstopper; Babu Ji’s famous fish curry.

The name Babu Ji comes from a respectful name to call a father or grandfather in India, stemming from restaurant owner Mani’s desire to create a dining experience that felt homely and trustworthy, just like he sees his own father.

Babu Ji owner Mani has made sure the restaurant’s motif represents the namesake perfectly.

Babu Ji owner Mani has made sure the restaurant’s motif represents the namesake perfectly.

As every region in India has distinctly different cuisines, Mani has shaken things up a bit by getting a bit of each region onto the menu. He’s also worked hard to let the flavours of the meals speak through without adhering to the Western view that Indian food has to be blow-your-brains-out hot. It’s all about the spices, not necessarily being spicy.

Over 3 hours of eating, drinking, and just enjoying good company, it really drew to light the significance that sharing a good meal can have. The fact that you can share this with your friends and/or family with the added impact of helping other friends and families in less fortunate situations get food in their bellies is sure to make your meal taste even better.

Good food for a good cause? I’ll drink to that.

Good food for a good cause? I’ll drink to that.

If you want to sign up to host your own Food For Thought or find out more, head here: https://au.opportunity.org/food-for-thought

For those of you now craving butter chicken, you can also find out more about Babu Ji by visiting their website: http://www.babuji.com.au

Babu Ji is open Sunday – Wednesday 5pm-9pm, plus Thursday – Saturday 5pm-10pm. They take bookings for groups over 4.

When Mel isn’t filling her passport with stamps, she’s letting Melbourne’s multi-cultural food scene bring the world to her on a silver platter (or whatever strange hipster dinnerware every second cafe and restaurant seems to use). She loves the full spectrum of cuisines you can find hidden in this city’s cobbled laneways, from coriander-infused Asian fusions to artery-clogging American burgers and chicken wings.

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