By crossing off South Sudan as the 50th cooking country, I have now made a dish from the world’s newest country. A country so young, that it won’t even be aged in the double digits by the time this post goes up. Having separated from the rest of Sudan in 2011, after years of civil war, the country of South Sudan continues to be embroiled in a civil war of its own and is the sad owner of the third lowest Human Development Index value in the world (only ahead of Niger and the Central African Republic).
Given the recent split from Sudan and the years of unrest, the culture and food of South Sudan has yet to develop under it’s own steam. Instead, it is very similar to it’s neighbouring nations – which means plenty of influence from Sudan as well as other nearby Arab countries. This also has the effect of few books and websites being available that specifically cater to South Sudanese cuisine, thankfully I found one blog and used it to find the name of a dish that I could do a deeper dive on.
What is today’s dish? Well, Bamya is a stew whose predominant ingredients are okra, tomato and lamb. This is the first time that I have had to use okra for this world cooking challenge and I sure hope that is isn’t the last. Truly, I wish I knew of more dishes that I could use okra in – maybe further countries on this list will add to the arsenal. Still though, it was a treat to have it again and to actually have it cooked whole and to the point of near disintegration.
This stew reminded me a bit of some of the Ethiopian dishes that I used to get from a food vendor near my old office (before the location was sadly closed down). The main spices in here are coriander and cardamom, although the former is far more prevalent. There is so much delicious sauce here, that I admittedly had to thicken with cornflour as I added an excessive amount of water in the beginning, so you’ll want something to dip and soak it up.
Originally I wanted to make this dish using an actual South Sudanese recipe but, as the only one I could find was on YouTube and had no separate list of ingredients, I ended up going with one from Sudanese Kitchen (who I need to keep bookmarked for when I eventually make something from Sudan). I only wish that I had some proper flatbread to go with this, but maybe that’s something for another time.
So that’s it for the newest member state of the United Nations, next time I’m thinking of doing one of the original 49 members from when it was formed in 1945. Granted I’ve covered a bunch of these already (including Greece, Lebanon and the Dominican Republic), but it does leave some wiggle room to pick some recipes that I really like the look of.