Tag Archives: world cooking

World Cooking – Maldives

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Maldives
Progress: 8/193

 So here I am making food from the smallest country in Asia: the Maldives. If it’s starting to look like I am trying to cross off a bunch of the smaller countries early, that would be fairly accurate – especially as I am saving some of the more major countries for landmark posts. It’s also worth crossing off the Maldives somewhat early seeing how the country itself is in peril from rising sea levels, and so may not exist in it’s current state by the time I finish off this country list.

Being an island nation with close ties to India and Sri Lanka, a lot of the foods combine the natural resources (namely fresh fish and coconuts), curry spices, rice and flatbread.

Now, I know that I’m probably doing to be making a few curries on my journey around the world, especially when looking at countries in South East Asia and in the Indian subcontinent. I am not sure, however, how many of them will be listing a creamy coconut fish curry as among their national dishes? Probably a few, but I’m still happy that I made mas riha.

Main: Mas Riha

So there are quite a few different recipes out there for mas riha, but the one that I followed the closed was this one on Food and Wine. It’s marked the first time in a while that I’ve made my own curry paste, and this was a delicious one (and that’s not just because of the decent amount of ground fennel seed). It’s also marked the death of my beloved Kenwood Mini Chopper – it was on it’s last legs for a while, but it was sad.

Now, usually I’m not one to have a fish curry because the sauce usually takes on a lot of the fish taste. However, the mas riha remained fresh and fragrant whilst the fish actually tasted a lot meatier (and less fishy) than I expected. I guess that’s the benefit of choosing the correct fish for a curry like this – it might have helped that I didn’t let the fish stew in the curry for too long. In any event, this might be something worth having again.

It’s going to be off to the Americas for the next dish – since I want to save the U.S. and Canada for a while, I guess I’ll be aiming for something from the Caribbean or South America next time.

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World Cooking – The Gambia

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: The Gambia
Progress: 7/193

When you look at a map of Africa, it’s hard to not think of The Gambia as being a bit of a geographical oddity. Not only is it the smallest country on the main African landmass, but it also bordered on three sides by Senegal and is solely made up of the land bordering the Gambia river. It is also a small area of English in an area of Africa that is predominantly French – a hangover of colonial times.

The food of The Gambia shares a lot in common with its West African neighbours, which made choosing a representative dish slightly difficult. At some point I will need to make Jolof rice, as multiple countries in this region list these as amongst their national dishes, but today I will be making another of these big West African dishes: peanut soup. Well, peanut soup – Gambian style.

Main: Domoda 

Domoda is the Gambian regional version of West African peanut stew – with the use of tomato and chunks of starchy vegetables (in my version, sweet potato) differentiating this from the other recipes. For today’s dish I followed the domoda recipe from The Daring Gourmet with the only difference being that I used Kallo tomato stock cubes instead of Maggi ones (as I could not find those anywhere).

Honestly, I have made peanut soup before and I really did not like it. This was years ago, but the thought stayed with me as I was making this dish. Then again, this was a long time ago and I have learned a lot about cooking since then – also I used proper all natural non-sweetened peanut butter to make this, which makes the world of difference.

I guess this is all a preface to my saying that I absolutely loved this dish. Everything just works in this soup and it’s all down to variation in texture. If all the incredients had been blended together, like with a lot of other soups, it would have still tasted good but it would have been a bit boring to eat. However, the chunks of beef and sweet potato, as well as the grains of rice and the small fragments of peanut, kept things interesting.

It is also remarkable to see how much the flavour of this soup deepened before and after it was simmered for around an hour. The savouriness of the tomato really came through as a good base for the peanut butter and helped to make this a very moreish soup. I can only imagine how much better this is going to be when I heat it up again tomorrow, not only will this become more concentrated but the ingredients will have also had a further 24 hours to get to know each other.

I know that I am only seven countries in, but already this is fast becoming one of my favourite challenges on this blog. Next time I am going to be heading back to Asia – still not sure where, but it’s likely to be Central or South Asian. I guess I’ll just see what recipes take my fancy as I research.

World Cooking – Belgium

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Belgium
Progress: 6/193

Today’s entry in my quest to cook my way around the world marks the first time that I am making something from a country that I have already visited. Also, this is about as close to home as I can get without making something from the UK (which I am not going to be doing for a very long time).

The cuisine of Belgium is one of those that is heavily influenced by its neighbours. With culinary juggernauts France and Germany just across the border (as well as The Netherlands to the north) the food is a crossroads between Romantic and Germanic cuisine.

You also have the interesting split between the Northern Dutch-speaking region of Flanders and the Southern French-speaking region of Wallonia… so I wanted to make sure I picked dishes that could be found in both regions rather than just focusing on one.

Main: Gegratineerde witloof / Chicons au gratin

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 734/751Food item: Belgian Endive

The stars truly aligned with this dish. I only recently discovered that my local Morrison’s sells Belgian endives (called chicory here in the UK) and this helped to give Belgium priority when choosing countries. After all, I don’t know when the season for this vegetable ends and whether or not they’ll continue to be sold next year.

So, I decided to make endive gratin – which is pretty much parboiled heads of endive that is baked in a Mornay sauce with slices of ham. I went with the Raymond Blanc recipe for this one which sandwiches the ham between the endive heads rather than wrapping each individual endive with a slice of ham.

I’m glad that this recipe calls for the parboiling of the endives as it removed pretty much all the bitterness and left behind something creamy like palm hearts, but still with a slight bitterness that is characteristic of the vegetable. It was also a great flavour absorber (especially of the mustard in the sauce) which helped to make this dish feel incredibly satisfying.

Dessert: Brussels Waffles

I cannot quite believe just how many types of waffles there are in Belgium. It really made my research for this recipe all the more interesting as it meant I had to pick something typical whilst also being representative. I settled on Brussels Waffles because I loved the idea that I would be making something to the same recipe as a blogger’s grandmother.

What sets Brussels waffles apart from others is the use of both egg whites and yeast as leavening agents. This means that I was lucky to experience some incredibly fluffy waffles unlike anything I’ve eaten outside of Belgium. I mean these are real Belgian waffles, unlike the Belgian waffles you get elsewhere that are far denser and based on a simplified version of the Brussels waffle.

I had to go whole hog on these and serve these crisp and fluffy waffles with a dusting of icing sugar, some whipped cream and a dash of chocolate sauce. The way that the sugar began to caramalize on top… well it just made all the work feel worthwhile.

World Cooking – São Tomé and Príncipe

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: São Tomé and Príncipe
Progress: 5/193

I know that it would have been a bit easier if I had picked a country like Morocco for my first African entry on this list, but sometimes you just strike it lucky with finding a recipe. Also, if this list is going to have any staying power then I cannot just cross off all the easy countries from the off… plus it’s just more fun this way.

So where do I start with some background on São Tomé and Príncipe. It’s the second smallest country in Africa and, like nearby Angola, is a former colony of Portugal. As such the cuisine takes elements of Portuguese and mixes it with the regional cuisine of this area of Africa. Since coffee and cocoa are major cash crops, these are flavours that crop up in a number of dishes alongside tropical fruits, vegetables, fish and protein. Sounds pretty ideal if you’re a big fan of coffee and chocolate.

Main: Chicken in Coffee Sauce

So yes, I ended up going with a recipe for Chicken with Coffee Sauce that I found on Afro Tourism. When comparing the picture on their website to how mine turned out, I guess that we just make the coffee weaker in this house. Maybe when I next make this recipe I’ll go for more of an espresso than an americano… and, once again, double the sauce ingredients. You need plenty of it to really enjoy the dish.

I guess the surprising thing for me in this recipe was how well coffee worked as the base for a sauce with chicken. It works for chocolate in mole sauce, so I guess it stands to reason that the slight bitterness of coffee would find harmony in an almost barbecue sauce.

From here I can really see opportunities to play with the recipe and make this a regular fixture in my week night dinners – it’s just that simple to make and I can imagine that it would work well with similar vegetables to a satay sauce (i.e. pineapple, bell pepper and celery) and maybe try it with some pork instead. Truly, this was a success.

Now that I have crossed off a country from each continent it’s time for me to start hopping around to whatever cuisine takes my fancy. I’ll be back in Europe for the next edition of this list as I check in with the food of Belgium. As I don’t necessarily trust my ability to cook mussels without ending up with a case of food poisoning, I’m having to deviate from the more stereotypical moules-frites…. but I will, of course, be making waffles. It just wouldn’t be Belgium without waffles.

World Cooking – New Zealand

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: New Zealand
Progress: 4/193

Despite boasting the smallest number of countries, the continent that I think will give me the most trouble is Oceania. Where Africa has the most countries with a lot of unique ingredients, the continent’s diaspora means that I am able to make a number of their dishes by using specialist shops and websites. For the island nations of Oceania… this isn’t always the case.

As I wanted to cross off one Oceanian nation within the first five, I thought I would go for one of the larger nations – which is how I ended up opting for New Zealand. It’s interesting to see how a nation’s menu changes over the centuries. I mean, for New Zealand they have got a traditional Polynesian cuisine that has been fused and/or usurped with the food brought by Europeans. In the years since it has come difficult to differentiate what makes for New Zealand or Australian cuisine, which is a long way of saying that I hedged my bets this week and made three things.

Main: Kiwiburger

Ah yes the Kiwiburger. When I first came across one of these it was as a menu item in Gourmet Burger Kitchen where some of the profits of selling the burger went towards kiwi bird conservation efforts. Little did I know that this was the invention of a McDonalds franchise owner from who wanted to create a proper New Zealand burger that would both sell and be representative of what was being eaten before fast food chains really took hold.

Since then this burger, topped with beetroot and a fried egg, seems to have been properly embraced with many different recipes and variations now being available online. Of all the versions out there, I went for Chelsea Winter’s Ultimate Kiwiburger as the one I chose to make.

As you can see from the picture, this kiwiburger is absolutely massive. The patty itself was a delicious mix of flavours and was one of the moistest burgers I have ever made. I wasn’t  a big fan of having beetroot on the burger (since I don’t particularly like pickled beetroot), but it was worth using it for the sake of accuracy. Eating this burger filled me to the point that I had to defer dessert until the next meal, which is a pity as this is the best dessert so far.

Dessert: Anzac Biscuits and Hokey Pokey Ice Cream

Anzac biscuits are, rightfully, claimed by both Australia and New Zealand as they are mainly associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War One. The biscuit, whose recipe contains minimal perishable items, are mainly flavoured by oats, coconut and golden syrup. It’s a particularly dry mix (which always catches me out) but these are one of those biscuits that have always come out well for me. I really could not resist the urge to revisit this recipe, especially as (when I get around to Australia) I am thinking of making something similarly shared between the two countries.

For the second dessert I made something that appears to be quintessentially New Zealand: hokey pokey ice cream. As a concept this is very simple, a vanilla ice cream that contains folded in pieces of honeycomb. However, I am not one to do things by half… also I am not entirely sure where I would be able to buy a slab of honeycomb,

No. In making hokey pokey ice cream I actually learned how to make my own honeycomb – which was so quick and easy that it honestly felt like I was doing a magic trick in the kitchen. For the vanilla ice cream I got out my ice cream machine (which I hadn’t used for well over a year and so had forgotten about the need to freeze the bowl in advance) and followed this recipe from The Kiwi Cook.

Honestly, this tasted better than a lot of ice creams I have bought from the supermarket – and it was really fun to make to (and cheaper!). It’s a shame that for my next country, which is going to be either The Gambia or São Tomé and Príncipe, there will just be a main. Still, it is high time that I did an African country and I look forward to seeing which of these ends up being crossed off first.

World Cooking – South Korea

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: South Korea
Progress: 3/193

In recent years, Korean food has become one of my absolute favourites. It’s where I went for my recent leaving meal at work, it’s what I ate for New Year’s when I was up in London and it is something I eat for lunch with some degree of regularity. Thanks to it’s rich history there is a huge amount of dishes to pick from, but for this post I decided to cook things that would be considered recent additions to the cuisine.

With both North and South Korea to cook for I was presented with an opportunity to do the same cuisine twice. So, rather than just make japchae or kimbap for both countries I thought I would look at pre-Korean war dishes for the North and post-Korean dishes for the south. This doesn’t help round down things too much, but at least both countries will be distinctive (which is more than I can say for my fruitless attempts to find recipes for Swaziland).

Main: Budae Jjigae

Budae-jjgae (or Army Stew) is an interesting example of Korean fusion cuisine that has become widely adopted within South Korea. It came about just after the Korean war where, due to local food supplies being scarce because of war, supplies from the American army bases were used alongside regular Korean food.

In this version from the MyKoreanKitchen website (made using a brand now shallow pot) contains Spam, frankfurters and cheese slices alongside Korean rice cakes, instant noodles, kimchi, tofu and three types of East Asian mushrooms. Other versions can also include baked beans, however this felt like a bit of overkill considering that there was an entire tin of Spam in the pot.

This dish feels and looks a bit like a weird mish-mash, probably because it is, but it feels like the ultimate warming one pot dish for the autumn or winter months. I halved the chilli flakes in my version (as I could only get local ones), which I am relieved to have done as this could otherwise have been a bit too spicy. For me, the stars of this dish were the shiitake mushrooms, the frankfurters and the broth – although we were fighting over the slices of spam.

Considering the caloric content of this dish, it really isn’t something to be made too often. However, it is definitely something to make when I have company round… or at least some variation of it as I have 900g of frozen Korean rice cakes to use up.

Dessert: Matdongsan 

I really wanted to make something from the Maangchi website and her recipe for Matdongsan caught my eye. This is more like a homemade version of a popular sweet snack than a proper dessert, but they looked so crunchy and inviting that I just had to make them. Also, their name means something along the lines of ‘small mountain taste’, which sounds like a powerful boast for a cookie that resembles a honey-glazed cocktail sausage.

Despite this weeks misadventure whilst making them (whereby the front of the cutlery drawer fell off) these were a delicious cookie. In the recipe you both fry and bake them, which results in a pleasingly crunchy texture with an audible snap as you take that first bite. You also have the crunch from the peanuts and some sweet stickiness from the rice syrup coating; both of which made these incredibly moreish.

Although we were full to the brim with budae-jjgae that did not stop us from polishing all the cookies that I hadn’t previously eaten in the name of ‘taste testing’. I have it on my husband’s authority that they were good with coffee, although I didn’t need a beverage to enjoy fist after fist of them. Neither of these dishes are particularly diet friendly… but I think there are plenty of opportunities for that in the next 190 countries.

I have yet to decide on my next country, but I want to make sure I cover all five continents in the first five posts – so it’ll have to be either African or Oceanian. At the moment I haven’t thought far enough ahead as to the identity of the next country so, until I make my decision, masitkke deuseyo!

World Cooking – Mexico

List Item:  Cook something from every countryCountry: Mexico
Progress:
2/193

Ah yes, Mexican cuisine. Much like Chinese and Indian food, the food of Mexico has been adapted very heavily by the rest of the world. Much like the rest of this list, my aim is to try and make something actually reminiscent of a dish made in Mexico. Not Tex-Mex (like in the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song ‘Group Hang’).

With a population of 127.5 million and about 7 recognised regional cuisines, there really is plenty of dishes to choose from when trying to cook something Mexican. The least I could do was try to find a dishes from two different regions – so I chose an Oaxacan main and a dessert with from Guadalajara.

For the main, I decided to make the first food that came to mind: mole. But which type of mole? There are so many different types of mole out there (mole poblano, mole negro, mole amarillo etc.) that it was hard to make a choice – so I just went for one where I would be able to source the proper chiles for the job (thank you Wholefoods).

Main: Mole Coloradito

There are so many mole recipes out there for mole coloradito, all of them with conflicting ingredients. Some have plantains, some use pork instead of chicken, some have different proportions of ancho chiles to guajillo chilles. I just opted for a recipe that seemed like a happy medium (which was this one from Genius Kitchen) and adapted it from there.

The main changes I made was to condense some of the frying steps and to boil a whole chicken for 100 minutes. Even with that, I was cooking for over three hours (where my weird blender didn’t help things) and needed a good sit down at the end of it. It also meant that I did not wait the full 15 minutes of cooling and just started eating it right away.

Never did I think just how important that cooling would be to the flavour. Before cooling it was nice enough, but a bit bitter. After the cooling process the flavours became more complex, the richness of the chocolate came through and most of the bitterness disappeared. It went from nice to incredibly morish – so I cannot wait to see what it’s like when I have the leftovers for dinner tomorrow.

Would I make this again? Yes, I know it took a while but since I better know what I am doing this should be easier next time. Also, I would like to try and make some of the other mole sauces to have with some flour tortillas.

Dessert: Bionico

Considering how long it takes to make mole sauce, I figured it would be a good idea to have a simpler dessert that would compliment the heat from the chiles. So when I found a recipe for Bionico on Mexico in My Kitchen it felt like the perfect match – especially since this is a dish that started life as Mexican street food whose name literally means ‘bionic’.

Being from the UK, I am very much used to the idea of fruit and cream as a dessert (I mean, what else are you meant to do when you watch the tennis at Wimbledon), but I was not quite prepared for the creme mixture here and how it would work with 4 different types of fruit and all those toppings.

Honestly I think the creme (a mixture of condensed milk, sour cream, natural yogurt and vanilla) really made this dish. I could probably just drink that until I got sick. I also like how this recipe can be so easily adapted depending on what fruit is available; today I used the four from the recipe, but I can see how banana, mango or peach would also work.

So that’s it from Mexico, I have decided that to start this list off I want to do one country per continent before just roaming around cuisines. Next time I will be cooking from an Asian country, not sure which yet but probably an East Asian one.

Until then, ¡Buen apetito!

World Cooking – Russia

Here we are christening this new list and, despite being a Brit, I thought it would be cool to start off with Russia. There are two Russian things in the 1001 foods list that I have wanted to make for a while and I thought that this would provide me with the perfect opportunity.

List Item:  Cook something from every countryCountry: Russia
Progress:
1/193

Russian cuisine, like the country, is vast. If it was not for the 1001 foods list providing me some focus I would have had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to one or two dishes. I might have made some of things in GentleWhispering’s ASMR video on traditional Russian cuisine, although there is no way I could have made as pretty a block of gingerbread as Maria did.

This huge variation in dishes does bleed into a lot of the surrounding countries, which means I have somewhere to start from when I plan my meals for the likes of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. For example, I know I am going to make plov at some point – it’s just that I need to assign a country.

So… what did I make?

Main Dish: Kulebiaka

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 723/751Food item: Kulebiaka

Kulebiaka (or coulibiac) is one of those things that I have wanted to make ever since I first saw the recipe for it in my copy of the Samarkand cookbook. On the surface of it, kulebiaka looks like it would be a difficult thing to make. However, once you decide to get premade puff pastry instead of making your own, it is deceptively easy to make.

What we essentially have here is two layers of a rice mix (containing mushrooms, rice, onion and various herbs and spices), one layer of sliced hard-boiled eggs and a layer of flaked salmon. All this is wrapped in puff pastry and then baked in the oven after giving it a good eggwash.

I cannot begin to describe how proud I am of this and it tasted so good. I did wonder about the inclusion of three hard-boiled eggs, but they really took on the flavours (and colours) of the turmeric, cardamom and cumin – so I shouldn’t have worried. The smell as we cut this open was something else as well.

This will not be the only thing I end up making from the Samarkand cookbook and it probably won’t be the last time I make a Kulebiaka. Now that I have the confidence to make it, I think I might start experimenting with flavours to see how I can pull it in different cultural directions.

Dessert: Pashka

List Item: Try three quarters of the 1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die
Progress: 724/751Food item: Pashka

As we were eating this for lunch on Easter Sunday (yup, I’m more than 6 months ahead now) I thought that this would be the perfect time to try and make pashka. This is a creation traditionally made for Easter to be served with kulich (a pannetone-style Russian loaf) and is made from curd cheese, dried fruit and cream.

Technically, this dessert is meant to be turned out of the dish and decorated with dried fruit, but I didn’t trust this enough to not completely collapse over the table. So, I took this picture and just went to town on it with a spoon and spread it on chunks of kulich that I had bought from a Russian bakery in Borough Market.

I got the recipe for this from Great British Chefs and, aside from my blender breaking halfway through, this was really simple to make and taste delicious. It’s incredibly rich and, the version I made, really reminded me of the filling of a rum-raisin cheesecake. Again, this is something that I would want to make again and, maybe, have the nerve to turn it out and decorate it in the traditional style before eating it.

Extras

Being the first country (and as we did this for Easter), we thought it would be cool to also have a Russian style appetiser and what’s more Russian than caviar and blini. This is my first time eating something labelled as caviar (please note that this is lumpfish caviar because I am not made of money) and I really liked it. Especially with the blini and creme fraiche.

List Item: Try caviar
Progress: Completed

The next country will probably not be as extravagant as this, but I had to start this list off with a bang. At the moment I have no plans for what the next country will be, so I guess I need to see where the recipe searches take me.

So, until next time, prijatnogo appetita!

New List Appeared: Cooking Around The World!

It’s been nearly two years since I added the last new project to this blog, so why not add another one? Well that’s pretty much what my husband must have been thinking when he suggested that I do this as we watched an old episode of The Great British Bake Off.

Sure, I laughed him off at first… and then I spent the next week thinking about it and getting excited at the prospect of finding recipes from every nations from China to Comoros. I started making spreadsheets and, as you can see, I have adopted this as one of my many long running goals.

So here we are at the start:

List Item:  Cook something from every countryProgress: 0/193

Now, I am nowhere near the first blogger to start on this idea. Just a simple Google search for some recipe ideas of the more far flung countries (like Vanuatu) unearthed a whole heap of them, most of them seemingly unfinished but there are a few who have already succeeded. That really gives me hope!

So, why 193 countries? Well, there’s no real comprehensive list out there so I made a choice to go with the members of the United Nations. It means that I won’t be doing Kosovo or Taiwan, but maybe they’ll join the U.N. by the time I finish off this list. Who knows, weirder things have happened since I started this blog (i.e. Brexit).

As an additional thing, I am going to be trying to make either a main dish or a dessert for each country. If the country has a vast amount of foods to choose from (e.g. France, Japan and U.S.A.), I am going to try and make a main and a dessert.

I will be starting this challenge tomorrow where I’m going to be marrying this new list with the other food list. So see you then.