Boy howdy am I glad that I didn’t make this one of the first countries that I did for this world cooking challenge. With their semi-recent name change from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to North Macedonia, that would have meant a bunch of awkward changes when I end up referring back to today’s recipe. I really hope that, with this name change, North Macedonia will be well on their way towards membership with the European Union now that Greece won’t be raising their veto. Hey, just because the UK shot themselves in the knee doesn’t mean that other countries shouldn’t enjoy the membership benefits.
Somehow, considering my love for the region, North Macedonia is the first of the former Yugoslavian countries that I have crossed off of this world cooking list. Being a Balkan nation, the cuisine here speaks to their position near the Mediterranean and of their history of once being part of the Ottoman Empire. It makes for an interesting mix that I am keen to observe in the other more northern Yugoslav successor states (where I expect other influences from Italy, Germany and Hungary to start exerting an influence).
As it is, North Macedonia has a number of dishes in their repertoire that resemble things I am likely to make for other countries. They have their own take in baklava, Turkish delight, cabbage rolls and many other things, for the purposes of this blog I wanted to go for something distinctly North Macedonia, so I ended up making a recipe for their national dish.
One thing to note off the bat, I had no clay pot to make this in. I know that for tavče gravče that’s kinda the whole point, but I’ve bought enough kitchenware for this food challenge and I wasn’t about to buy something else that I would likely only use once. This is also why it’s unlikely that I’ll be making tagine for when I eventually get around to cooking for Morocco.
There are many bean stew dishes in Europe that have a similar idea to tavče gravče. In France, for example you have cassoulet. The idea here is a dish that is heart, filling and not necessarily the most expensive thing to put out on the table. The version that I made (from a website specialising in pulses recipes) is pretty much beans, onions, tomato and spices. This may very well be the dish with the highest fibre percentage that I will ever make for this challenge.
Served with some torn flatbread, this made for a really delicious and healthy dinner for a Saturday evening with an episode of Iron Chef. Maybe next time I would make half the amount and have it as a side dish or, if making as a main, include some smoked ham or bacon in order to add an extra bit of oomph. I can imagine this being a great dish to bring to a pot luck, should I ever be invited to one.
Back to Africa for the next dish, where I will be staying in the same vague region as the Democratic Republic of Congo. I just saw a recipe and wanted to make it, so I guess it’s time to find an encyclopaedia as I’ll be making something from the French-speaking nation of Gabon.