Tag Archives: world cooking

World Cooking – Sri Lanka

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Sri Lanka
Progress: 114/193

Like I said when I posted about Fiji, it has been way too long since I last made something from the Indian subcontinent. Last time it was Pakistan when I made a slightly ill-fated attempt at making dessert. It was nice enough, but nowhere close to what it should have been. Given that I am on a ‘coming towards the end of lockdown’ diet I am not making dessert this time, although it would be more likely that I would have tried to make hoppers… if I knew I could pull them off.

The main influence in Sri Lankan cuisine is, somewhat unsurprisingly, South Indian food. This not only makes total sense seeing how they are across the water from each other, but also because until 540 years ago they were directly connected by a land bridge that was destroyed by a cyclone. These ties would have had to shift entirely towards naval trade, but the food shows just how much they remained in tact.

So much of the food you see in Sri Lankan recipes online is for various types of curry and the foods that you would like to have with your curry. Roti, hoppers, sambal and many other delicious things. Being one of the big spice islands in the area, specifically for cinnamon, you are unlikely to find bland foods in a recipe book. As I knew I would end up making curry again, I wanted a protein in the curry that I had yet to make and still made sense for Sri Lanka. I think I achieved that.

Main: Polos Curry

One thing, when making this I misread the recipe when it came to the amount of salt. I managed to stop most of it going in, but it was still saltier than it should have been. I know now that the recipe from Olive asked for three-quarters a tablespoon of salt rather than three to four… so I am glad I only ended up with a bit more rather than so much it would have ruined the dish.

If I had ruined this dish completely, it would have been a crying shame because this jackfruit curry was delicious even with the extra salt (which I tried to combat with a bit of extra lime juice and coconut milk). I have never made anything with jackfruit, although have eaten it before both as a dessert and as a vegan pulled pork. Now that my local supermarket actually has jackfruit available in a can.

This sauce was gorgeous though. Gorgeous enough that I didn’t even think twice that I was (again) making curry for this challenge and (again) having a side of konjac rice so I can try and control the caloric intake. Curry is such a broad category of food that I am sure I could have made crossed off half of the countries using some sort of curry and had an incredibly eclectic mix.

No curry for next week. Like I am sure I could come up with an African country I haven’t ticked off and make a curry, but I think I owe my husband a bit more variety. Also, I just want to make something a bit different next time, even if I do wonder about how starchy it is going to end up being.

World Cooking – Fiji

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Fiji
Progress: 113/193

So the weather improved enough for me to go on a longer walk in order to secure an ingredient. Turns out it was one of those things at the Lidl that was ‘once it’s gone, it’s gone’ so I made do with something from Tesco instead which was just as good. This is a roundabout way to say that I was finally able to make the dish I have been wanting to make for Fiji for a long time.

Fiji is the third of four countries that I will be making food for from the Melanesia region – having already made food for Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. Due to their history as part of the British Empire, and the indentured servitude of many people from India, there is a sizeable minority of Indo-Fijians and so the Indian influence on a more typical Melanesian cuisine is felt deeply.

You still have a majority cuisine which is primarily seasonal, based on what comes from the sea and features local starches such as yam, taro and coconut. Because of the unique history and continued residence of many with an Indian background, I wanted to find something that symbolised this and would make for a different dish from Oceania. Thanks to a good amount of searching, I found what I needed.

Main: Fijian Duck Curry

There is one sentence in this recipe from That Fiji Taste that made me realize that this is something I need to make: “Duck curry is one of Fiji’s favourite dishes”. This coming from a blog about Fijian recipes as written by someone from Fiji carries a lot of weight. Also, in making this, I am adding a new meat to the list of things I have used to make dishes for this challenge. Barring finding actual goat meat nearby or there being a national dish containing turkey, I am not sure if or when this will happen.

The curry itself is a dry one, the only sauce coming from the ducks natural juices, rendered fat and the oil that you cook the spices and onion in. Since it specified a masala spice mix, I figured it would be a good idea to use the leftover mix I made for Kenya. After all, that was fresh enough and I had exactly the right amount left.

Since Lidl no longer stocked a whole duck, I used a pair of duck legs and a pair of duck breasts. It was £4 more expensive this way, but it did take a lot of the faff out of having to debone a whole duck for the sake of curry meat. It also gave me a better idea of the calorie counts, which would be slightly inflated as I only included a third of the duck skin as the recipe indicated.

What was left was probably enough for two good-sized potions than four, but this was a delicious meal and I really did appreciate how flavourful and rich the sauce was. It would have been better with actual rice instead of the konjac rice I had, but that was to ensure I would be able to have something to dip in the sauce – so the pay-off was ultimately a good one.

Next time I post for this particular list, I will be definitely be making something from Asia. Again it will depend slightly if I am able to get what I need and if I am happy to do curry twice in a row. Then again I have really neglected the Indian subcontinent since doing Pakistan years ago, so it makes good sense for me to cover it soon.

World Cooking – Jamaica

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Jamaica
Progress: 112/193

Despite many times cooking thing things from the Americas, it has been a long long time since I last made something from the Caribbean. The last time was Dominica and it was back when I was at the beginning of what would be a longish recovery from COVID-19. I am still thinking about those bacon-wrapped bananas and really need to find more reasons to make them.

With Jamaican food, there are a lot of options to make. The influences on the cuisine are from all over the world – although the main ones are from Africa and from the many nations of the Commonwealth. Unlike a lot of countries on this list, Jamaican food is something I have made before thanks to the 1001 food list. I liked the ackee and saltfish, but obviously I don’t really want to do a repeat when I don’t have to.

So there came the question of do I make something iconic or something a bit different…

Main: Jerk Chicken with Rice & Peas

There was no question that I would be making this dish for Jamaica. Jerk chicken with rice and peas is an iconic meal and it isn’t one I have had before. I am not even sure I have had jerk chicken before, mainly because I have always been worried about the spice level. At least when making it myself, with this recipe from BBC Good Food, I would have some control over the spice level.

It’s not that I’m bad for spice, but I remember being 8 and getting scotch bonnet chilli on my face and it being worse than a bee sting. In the end, I ended up using two peppers instead of three (seeds and membranes removed) so I could taste the peppers without the spice being overwhelming. Instead it was this beautifully warming flavour with plenty of lime and some sweetness. I am a convert and think I might look forward to taking this recipe to some pork in the future – or at least to a barbecue should I find myself at one.

The rice and peas are a great accompaniment. The coconut milk helping if there is any spice from the chicken and the allspice helping to unite the flavours of the plates two halves. This plate is something I have just been too scared too make because of that one experience and I am so glad I got there now. If the comments section of the recipe say anything, whilst this isn’t from Jamaica this is a version that has met with the approval of many of the Caribbean diaspora.

As the weather still isn’t warming up for a while, I don’t think it’ll quite be the weather for the next Oceania weather. So it’s time to make something from Asia once again and it’s a long-needed return to the Indian subcontinent. Feels like it has been a while since I made some curry.

World Cooking – Slovakia

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Slovakia
Progress: 111/193

Well, I’ve done Czechia a while back so it was probably high time that I got around to making food from the other partner from the divorce. The cuisines have a little bit in common, but there’s a good deal of separate dishes to make them both interesting enough to read into. It’s also made me think about how delicious a time I might have when I eventually make it to Bratislava once all the vaccinations have been dished out.

This is one of those cuisines where, now I am in the latter half of the countries, a lot of pieces are falling into place. There is no doubt that it’s influenced by its former partner nation – but there are also pieces of Hungary, Poland and the former Soviet bloc. Like there are pieces here I have seen when researching Ukraine and in meals I had in Lithuania. Definitely going to be a nice food visit when I get there and can gorge on a bunch of different dumplings and pancakes.

This is going to be one of the many countries that is going to suffer from my latest attempt at weight loss. I managed to put on a fair bit in the lockdowns and reversed a fair bit of what made me able to climb Hallasan. As such, I will probably not be making much in the way of desserts for a while. It’s a shame as Slovakia had a lot of nice looking desserts, but the challenge was to make one dish with the option of two… so I won’t beat myself up too much.

Main: Bryndzové Halušky

Okay, I know, I could have done a bit better with the plating of this for the photograph. Then again, I want to enjoy my food whilst it is still warm rather than waiting for the perfect photo for it only to be cold at the first bite. Then again, I am not sure how I could make this look stunning other than by showcasing that this is a dish with bacon, cheese and homemade little potato dumplings.

The name of the dish – bryndzové halušky – is a very descriptive name for this dish, meaning boiled potato dough covered in sheep cheese. To make this, as mentioned in the recipe from a Slovak food store called Halusky, I specially bought a spaetzle maker and that really made the difference here. Between that and the grater attachment on my food processor – I really managed to shave a lot of time when making this.

Since I couldn’t get my hands on proper bryndza in the local Eastern European mart (although I did get some stunning sausages), I followed the recommendation to replace it with feta and sour cream. Must say that the whole thing tasted gorgeous. These little dumplings really smelt like spaetzle and I can imagine them working really well in a clear soup. I might try and fry up the leftovers with some bacon and hope they don’t become one crispy mass. Or maybe I do. That can only taste good.

I found a recipe for a future country that requires a whole duck… but the only place to get it is a long walk away and it’s suddenly getting a bit cold and rainy again. Maybe that’ll have to wait for warmer times and I’ll look at many of the other countries still left to cross off of my list. Maybe make some green noodles assuming I can find enough dill.

World Cooking – Kenya

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Kenya
Progress: 110/193

I am still not too sure how to pronounce Kenya. I usually hear it as Ken-ya, but sometimes I will watch something (for example As Time Goes By) and then it becomes Keen-ya. Now I should probably go with the pronunciation done at the Olympic Games, but you know how it comes to second-guessing yourself when you rarely say the name of a country out loud.

There are a lot of dishes going for Kenyan cuisine. There are some, like ugali, that I have already made for other nations. Then there’s foods like samosa and chapati which I am hoping to make for another nation that doesn’t have quite so many options. Chips mayai would have also been an option, but I don’t know how I could quite justify making a chip omelette… okay so maybe I should have made that. Hopefully another country has this within their cultural repertoire.

Main: Beef and Potato Pilau

Even though my tarte tatin didn’t go the way I’d hoped, I still haven’t counted Tasty out when it comes to recipes. Case in point, today I used their recipe for this Kenyan pilau dish where I ended up eating two servings to myself. With the right side dish, in this instance kachumbari, I can see the serving count working. However kachumbari is a raw onion and tomato salad – and raw onion is one of my two major food hates.

Good thing I didn’t mind too much by having double helpings of this. Similarly, I am super glad I ended up going with some of the more expensive steak so it could be tender and flavourful. As a one-pot dish, this beef and potato pilau hits a lot of the right spots, especially that pilau masala spice blend of cardamom, clove, cumin and paprika which I now have plenty pre-made in an old cinnamon jar. Could be one to make again.

Next time it is back to European cuisine and I will be trying to cross off another country in the Central-Eastern European group. Since I am on a diet, I cannot yet do Slovenia justice as I want to make myself one of those delicious cream slices. I can, however, make food from a country not too far away – even if I did just have to buy a new tool in order to do it justice.

World Cooking – Indonesia

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Indonesia
Progress: 109/193

I had never tried Indonesian food until I met my husband. Even now, you don’t really get too many Indonesian restaurants in the UK. Chinese and Japanese? Definitely. Thai and Vietnamese? Sure. Korean? Increasingly, yes. Indonesian food, however, has gotten left behind, which is a shame for my Dutch husband who grew up with Indonesian in the same way I kinda grew up with Cantonese Chinese takeaways.

It’s the way that the colonial pasts of our countries differ though and it’s the reason why I probably have had more Indonesian food than the average Brit and look forward to being able to travel to a Dutch city so I can have a Rijsttafel again. Until then, I try to make Indonesian food every now and then – which is why it has taken so long for me to make something for this list. I like to space out the cuisines I know a bit about.

Like with the Philippines, to talk about Indonesia as having one cuisine is pretty much glossing over things. There are thousands of islands here with different ethnic groups and traditions. So when looking at what I was going to make, I wanted to not too bogged down into the minutiae and look at what are the national dishes. Luckily for me the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism went and made a list of six dishes that are considered the national dishes – so I thought why not make two of these instead of wrestling with a dessert that requires 20 egg yolks.

Main: Gado-Gado

On the list of six Indonesian national dishes, gado-gado was the only one I had not heard of or seen before somewhere – which meant I automatically gravitated towards it. The name itself means ‘mix-mix’ as it is such a combination of vegetables with egg, tempeh or tofu and then a gorgeous peanut sauce. I love the peanut sauces of Indonesia, so I knew that I had to make something with a peanut sauce – even if just to have a reason to order a jar of sambal from an online specialty store.

Following the recipe from Recipe Tin Eats, the vegetables in my bowl were cucumber, beansprouts, potato and spinach. I know this recipe can be a mix of most vegetables, but I followed this mostly to ensure that I got the portion size correct. This is the first time in years that I have cooked with tempeh and that’s only because my local Tesco have started selling it. So glad I could go authentic here as this second shot at tempeh has really helped me to appreciate it more. I can definitely see me using it in more dishes, like maybe as a vegetarian burger.

Obviously the star of the show was the peanut sauce. It would be rude to say otherwise and this recipe actually made a sauce that reminded me of some I have had in restaurants. As long as I have access to sambal oelak and red curry paste, this is going to be a keeper.

Main: Nasi Goreng

As part of a way to introduce something he knew into the family Christmas traditions, I started to make nasi goreng on Boxing Day with the leftovers. I would normally make this with a premade seasoning and just focus most of the time in chopping the left over meat, potatoes and dumpling into small enough chunks. That, however, resembles nothing of the nasi I have had in Singapore or that amazing plate in Hong Kong Disney.

What I made this time, again thanks to Recipe Tin Eats, it tasted just like the nasi gorengs I have had abroad rather than the Christmas Fried Rice I have been making. The fact that I can get there with just one specialty ingredient – the shrimp paste which makes all the difference – is a real game changer.

Next Christmas I can see myself reaching for this version instead of the sauce base from Tesco. I mean, I am already planning on making this as a weeknight meal soon – so I may have to find a better source of shrimp paste and start thinking of some things to have in the rice to have it be a properly balance meal rather than just a carbo-bomb.

Sure has been nice to cook something from a cuisine that I broadly know. It’s back to the unknowns of African cuisine next week as I find yet another excuse to make something from neither Ethiopia nor Morocco and instead focus on a country that needs some research.

World Cooking – Paraguay

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Paraguay
Progress: 108/193

When it is time, once again, to cook food from the Americas I still find myself scared off from dealing with some of the remaining big dogs. Countries like Brazil, Jamaica and the United States have such a breadth of options that it feels like I am still not sure how to narrow down my options. So, once again, I am looking at one of Brazil’s many neighbours as I make food from Paraguay.

Like pretty much everywhere else in South America, with some notable exceptions, the food in Paraguay is what happens when you mix the foods of the interloping Spanish with that of the native peoples, in this instance the Guaraní people. A lot of the food share common elements like corn, dairy and meat – all of which sounds great to me.

One thing that I couldn’t really do, being that I live in an apartment and (as of writing) we are still in coronavirus lockdown, I am not able to go full pelt with Paraguayan tradition and hold a massive barbecue with a host of different meats. Still though, there was enough to pick from outside of traditional asado fare that would make for a good meal.

Bread: Sopa Paraguaya

So, despite having a name that translates to meaning ‘Paraguayan Soup’, sopa paraguaya is actually Paraguayan cornbread. I really love cornbread, so I honed in on this dish straight away. Also, it’s not that common to have the name of the country in a dish – which was a further sign for me.

Whilst this is in the cornbread family, there are a lot of differences between sopa paraguaya and regular cornbread. For one, there is quite a bit of cheese and other dairy related products in here. From the recipe I used, courtesy of King Arthur Baking Company, this has cheese, milk and cottage cheese in the mix – I guess the cottage cheese being a substitute of whey.

This may be one of the most delicious breads I have baked period. True the moisture content and the cheesiness of this makes it the strange lovechild of a cheese souffle and cornbreads that I have made before, but there is nothing wrong with that. It is absolutely packed with flavour and smelt so good as it came out of the oven. Also this is, apparently, commonly served with another Paraguayan dish – so I made it for my main.

Main: Bife Koygua

So, before I start taking about this soup there are two things to start with other than my poor photography skills. Firstly, I probably didn’t get the right kind of beef for this soup as it ended up being pretty tough – which is on me and not something to do with the dish itself. Secondly, I believe this to be the first time that I have poached an egg. I have always been mildly terrified at the prospect of getting it terribly wrong – which it did not. Instead my egg was still nice and gooey in the middle and gave some much needed flavour to the broth.

Following the recipe from the ever brilliant International Cuisine, it was nice to know that I was able to make a common pairing in Paraguayan cuisine. My own shortcomings aside, this was a nice and hearty soup once I had managed to get the salt and pepper properly distributed when eating it at the table. It really does go well with the sopa paraguaya to the point that I ended up just mopping up ridiculous amounts of leftover soup to the point where I had this leftover mass of delicious sodden breadcrumbs.

Next time on this list, I will be back in the world of Asian cuisine and crossing off a nation that means a fair deal to my husband. When we stay in the Netherlands, I like to have their version of it where possible and it is a cuisine that helped to inspire a Boxing Day tradition of the last 10 years. Time to make some Indonesian food!

World Cooking – Estonia

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Estonia
Progress: 107/193

Just under four years ago, I visited Estonia for an all too brief amount of time. Whilst I was there, I had some medieval style fare, sampled elk meat and tried some pretty squeaky cheese. It is one of those countries that I would like to return to and see more of it outside the capital, possibly seeing some of the many islands or to just spend some more time in their bountiful forests. It does help that whilst I was there, I did have some pretty good food.

The issue with a lot of the food that you see being associated with Estonia is seasonality and that it is hard to necessarily get in the UK when it is (as I am writing this post in early March) still under lockdown. We are talking specialty meats like elk and wild boar or getting the hold of proper mushrooms, dark bread or specific berries. Still though there is plenty to be made as long as I can get the good recipes.

One amazing thing that I was able to find for Estonia is that, whilst a small nation, there are a number of very prolific cookery blogs out there which are just begging for you to get lost in. The food of Estonia is heavily influenced by being a former member of the Soviet Union and by having Finland just a short boat ride away. This is a country where pork and rye are staples, whilst also having an interesting variety of locally grown produce.

In choosing the dishes for today, I really wanted to think of things that are on the lists of proper Estonian foods that are of the everyday. So often I end up making things that feel very much like a special occasion food – so instead I looked through the lists of recipes and thought: if I was an Estonian, what might I actually make that is both traditional and can be done for a weeknight meal. This definitely didn’t disappoint.

Main: Mulgipuder

It was only once I had started making this, with the potatoes on the boil, that it really twigged for me that mulgipuder (meaning barley porridge) is more of a side dish than a main meal. If I had thought about it earlier, I might have gotten some sausages to have with it as I can imagine that being an incredible match. Hey ho, I made more than enough dessert to make up for it.

Using the recipe from Tiramisust ja Fata Morganast I made a nice big batch of this porridge which is essentially a pearl barley and potato mash with additional pork and onion. This really reminds me of some of the one-pot Dutch meals I have had like hutspot – so rather than have the onion and pork on top, like in the picture, I just mixed it right in. This is such a comfort food that I can imagine making again, but as a twist on the more English bangers and mash.

Tomorrow, when I get the remains out of the fridge, I am going to see how this works with some flour mixed in and turned into potato cakes. I can just imagine this being a stunner for some lunchtime leftovers.

Dessert: Roosamanna

Roosamanna, literally meaning pink moose, is probably something that I had on my final night in Tallinn. When I had it, the pink in the pink moose was rose – including rose petals.  In this version, I followed the recipe from Nami-Nami and went for something closer to hand: jam. In this instance, it was strawberry jam and the picture doesn’t quite do justice to the near baby pink that this pudding went once I whisked into a frenzy.

The cool thing about this recipe is just how flexible it is and how easy it is to make. Like, I have also bought a litre of Ocean Spray cranberry-raspberry juice to see how it would go if I went down the juice route rather than basically diluting a jar of jam. This was delicious, comforting and something I ended eating a whole lot of. If I was a kid growing up in Estonia, I can imagine this being something I would have eaten a fair bit – like how I grew up with Angel Delight.

Next time it is time to return to the cooking of the Americas. I still need to make up for neglecting the South American portion of this region, so be returning to this area to make something delicious that hopefully won’t give me the anxiety that Chile did when rolling the dessert.

World Cooking – Egypt

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Egypt
Progress: 106/193

Following Qatar with Egypt is probably the shortest distance between consecutive countries that I have done so far whilst also changing continents. I was thinking, originally, of making something from Sudan so that I could have done both north and South. However, so many of the dishes that I liked the look of turned out to be mostly of Egyptian origins – which begged the question as to why I wasn’t just making food from Egypt.

Looking at a map of the countries that I have already cooked for, it looks like Egypt is really helping me almost complete the coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean. Interestingly Egypt is almost the breakwater between the very strong Levantine cuisine (e.g. Lebanon and Israel) in the East and the similarly strong Magrebi (e.g. Algeria and Libya) to the West. Instead, Egyptian cuisine is its own brand of Mediterranean whose history can be traced along the Nile and into ancient times.

Given where Egypt lays, you are of course going to see a lot of Mediterranean staples. This was the place where, as a nine year old, I first tried falafel and hummus. Had I been a more adventurous child, I may have ended up trying shakshouka or ful medames… but that wasn’t me. I distinctly remember having a pitta stuffed with french fries when were near one of the bazaars. Well I sure am making up for it now and am making something whose name I used to see every day on the commute to work.

Main: Koshari

Way back when, before moving offices and changing up my commuting route, I always used to pass a place called Koshari Street. I know that, before lockdown, it was still there serving up Egyptian cuisine – but for some reason I never went there. Maybe because it was £7 for an unknown dish when I could get a pork bun and a noodle pot from nearby Chinatown for less than £3. Passing this every day left the name koshari in my head, so when I settled on Egypt for today’s country it felt like the obvious choice.

Koshari is a street food which is an overload of carbohydrates. The main ingredients you have are rice, lentils and pasta – with a tangy tomato sauce, crispy onions and chickpeas going on top. Following the recipe from The Mediterranean Dish, it is easy to see how this would be something that could be simply served as street food. One you have all the carbs cooked, it is simply a matter of keeping it warm before serving it up in layers.

It is a lot of carbs to have on one plate, but it is all really held together by the tangy sauce and the difference in textures between the lentils, pasta and rice. Typically you are meant to have something closer to macaroni, but they ran out of that so I ended up going for spirali. May not be authentic, but I felt like it brought a bit of whimsy to the dish.

Dessert: Umm Ali

So often with foods, the tradition of a recipe isn’t that much older than the 1800s. I mean take a dish like pad thai where it is reportedly less than a century old and has become emblematic of Thai cuisine. Contrast this with Umm Ali which, by all accounts, has a history going back to the 13th century where some form of this dessert was prepared as a celebration in the royal household after a successful assassination.

Revenge, much like this dish, was super sweet and this decadent dessert must have made for a more than adequate way to celebrate. Granted the version I made, from My Big Fat Halal Blog, uses croissants which is not quite an Egyptian pastry from the 1200s – but the result is an absolute stunner that I have already been asked to make again as the ‘perfect dessert for when we have friends over’. Whenever that is. I hope that by the time this blog post is out I will have had the opportunity to do so.

This Um Ali follows a lot of the similar ideas as a bread and butter pudding, or any dessert that bakes a custard into some baked good. However, the cardamom in the milk base and the use of pistachios and coconut really set this apart. It is incredibly rich though, so it is hard to eat too much of it.

There was a reason I was holding out on Egypt for so long – I just knew it would be a brilliant country to cook for. Next week I am back in Europe with one of those countries I have wanted to do for a while, but had difficulties in finding recipes that didn’t rely on specialist meat or berries. But I got there eventually and hope it can hold a candle to this Egyptian feast.

World Cooking – Qatar

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Qatar
Progress: 105/193

Okay so it hasn’t been too long since I last cooked something from a Middle Eastern nation, however I found myself unable to source appropriate ingredients for another country and Qatar worked as a good back-up. I mean, it’s nice to cross off another one of those smaller nations to make it a smoother ride to the finish line eventually.

A fair bit of what have said for other nations in this area still stands. Qatar is a very small nation on the coast of the Arabian peninsula whose only land border is with the far larger Saudi Arabia – which acts as the main influence on their cuisine. It very much comes under the umbrella of Arab cuisine, even though it is a short boat away from Iran and any possible Persian influence on food.

Like with Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which I am yet to find recipes for, there is a specific list of dishes that Qatar has among their recognised foods and so am having to carefully parcel them out. I really hope I don’t regret doing this dish too early, but in the end I needed a win this week.

Main: Machboos

Now, when I crossed off Kuwait, machboos is a dish I explicitly mentioned that I would not be cooking as I felt it would be better suited for Saudi Arabia. Well, here we are with me cooking it for Qatar as it is their national dish and I am sure I’ll be able to find something else to cook for Saudi Arabia when the time comes for me to cross it off.

The name machboos pretty much means ‘spiced rice’, so I think that my end product ticks that box pretty well. I mean, other than the sprinkling of parsley on top, I think that my own bowl doesn’t look to different to the one on Food52 whose recipe I used. Having a husband who doesn’t like chicken or meat on the bone made this interesting to dish up, but for me I just gnawed away on the tasty meat as it was in the picture.

One thing that I wish I had with this meal was some sort of acid or moisture to go with the rice. I was thinking some sort of yogurt sauce would have worked really well, or at least a squeeze of lemon so that the rice wouldn’t have felt as dry as it did. The earthiness of the spice mix probably did not help here. I mean, as a meal it was fine but I was hoping for a bit more than what I got.

It’s back to Africa with the next food country and I think I might have some really nice recipes to make – including a dessert, which is a rarity when it comes to my dives into African cooking. It’s one of those countries that I’ve been saving up for a while, but I think that I have done so many of the more difficult ones recently that I am due to go for something that requires a lot less research.