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From 18 – 27 March, we officially celebrate Aotearoa Neighbours Day 2022!

This year’s theme is ‘Kai Connections: Celebrating Community, Sharing Food’.

The kaupapa of Neighbours Day Aotearoa is to encourage people to get to know your neighbours better! It is as simple as that!

Kai Connections is about getting people to engage in all the different ways we connect over kai – growing, sharing, eating. A common denominator amongst all communities in Aotearoa is how food brings people together, so we expect to see many diverse ways that Neighbours Day Aotearoa will be celebrated in 2022!

To celebrate this year’s theme, we are sharing two of our most popular Lifewise Merge Café recipes!

‘Chef Umender’s Infamous Dhal’ and ‘Merge Café Choc Chip Cookies’! Both recipes are easy to follow, don’t require much equipment and are cost-efficient!

These recipes will go down a treat with friends, whānau, and neighbours of all ages.

If you’d like to access more tasty recipes, head to the Neighbours Day Aotearoa website, where you will find various recipes and inspiration.

Happy cooking/baking!

Chef Umender’s Infamous Dahl

1 cup dry brown lentils
2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
3 tbs cooking oil
5 cloves garlic (chopped)
10 gms ginger (chopped)
1 large brown onion (chopped)
2 no. tomato (chopped)
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tbs ground coriander powder
1 tbs ground cumin powder
1 tsp Chili flacks
Coriander for garnish


  1. Soak the lentils for 30 min in 3 cups of water,
  2. Rinse the lentils add 4 cups of water and 1 tbs oil, 1tsp turmeric & salt to taste and let it boil till lentils get soft.
  3. In a medium-size saucepan, add the rest of the oil, cumin seeds, chopped ginger & garlic until golden brown.
  4. Add onion sauté until soft.
  5. Add ground cumin, coriander, chilli flacks sauté it for 30 seconds then add chopped tomatoes add half a cup of water and let it cook for 5 min, and add boiled lentils, let it simmer for a couple of minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh coriander served with naan, roti bread or rice.
Birds eye angle of lentil dahl, mid shot
Stack of chocolate chip cookies

Lifewise Merge Café Choc Chip Cookies

Wet Ingredients
500gms butter
1 cup brown sugar
12 tbs condense milk
4 tbs vanilla essence

Dry Ingredients
4 cups plain flour
1 cup rolled oats
4 tsp baking powder
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup desiccated coconut


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan on low heat add brown sugar, condense milk & vanilla essence.
  2. Mix well all the dry ingredients.
  3. Combine dry and wet ingredients together into cookie dough.
  4. Portion the cookie dough into the oven tray. You can save some cookie dough for later on it freezes well.
  5. Let it cool down in fridge
  6. Bake it at 170 degrees for 15-18 min.

Lifewise Merge Cafe operates as a social enterprise and has played a crucial role in supporting Auckland’s street whānau and those experiencing homelessness. We break down societal barriers and offer a warm, safe and supportive space where anyone is welcome.

If you’d like to donate to Lifewise Merge Cafe and its innovative work you can do so here.