Tag Archives: world cooking

World Cooking – Chile

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Chile
Progress: 102/193

The last time I crossed off a South American country, the country was Bolivia and it was nearly a year and a half ago. When the time usually comes for me to make something from the Americas, I end up focussing on the Caribbean nations because I am so concerned about the amount of them and just how much they have in common. So, making something from South America feels like a real treat.

One day I will make empanadas for this challenge. When looking through all the different things I could make for Chile, I then thought it would be better to save that for a country where I was unable to find proper ingredients or there was so much overlap with other cuisines it just made sense. I guess that the variety in Chilean cuisine is down to two things – the mix of indigenous and colonial traditions and the rather extreme geography.

To be honest, there are so many things that I could have made for Chile if we weren’t still, at time of writing, in a lockdown situation. I am not sure that I would have been able to track down yucca or a lot of the necessary seafood because… well I would have if I could have gotten into Central London without the feeling that I was breaking all sorts of rules. Still though, managed to make some delicious things in the name of Chilean cuisine.

Bread: Marraqueta

So I took it upon myself this time, who knows why, that I would make the bread for the main meal. Mostly because getting good bread for my Cuban sandwich was tough enough in the before times, let alone where I am very limited by my bread shopping options. In retrospect, I could have gone with the suggestion of using ciabatta, but it is what it is.

To make this marraqueta, using the recipe from 196 Flavors, it was time for another bout of midnight baking. I don’t know why I end up making a lot of the baked goods for this list around midnight on a Friday. Just living it large at the edge of London I guess.

I know that the ones I made look not a lot like the picture for two things. First, I was not able to properly connect the balls like I was meant to, but they fused enough in their own way so sure. Also, the divot I made with my knife sharpener just ended up almost disappearing as the rolls baked. Still tasted good though.

Main: Chacarero Chileno

Doing this challenge has really shown me the place to look for some of the best sandwiches in the world is in the Americas. The médianoche and the chivito have been some of the most delicious things I have made – just period. This is also the continent that has all the ridiculous types of U.S. sandwiches, so I guess it makes sense that I went for a particularly Chilean sandwich.

Using the recipe from Serious Eats and the rolls I made the night before, these chacarero chileno sandwiches were beautiful. The reason it works so well is the garlic mayonnaise that you end up making. Not only is it delicious as a spread on the bread, but it is also essential in helping keep the steak nice and juicy.

I had to deviate from the recipe in two ways, but honestly I don’t think it would have changed it enough to make it invalid. Firstly, I was limited about the jarred peppers that I could fine, so instead of banana peppers I used these lovely golden pepperdews. I thought that with that these would contrast nicely with the green beans and red tomatoes whilst also being tasty. Also, as I live in a flat, I used my dual-press grill to cook the beef.

This was delicious. Even if it was initially too large to wrap my jaw around.

Dessert: Brazo de Reina

Personally, the fact that I ended up with an end product that remotely resembled what I was meant to be making is thanks to my last remaining brain cells. Thanks to the recipe from Curious Cuisiniere using inches and the pan I ordered using centimetres – I ended up with a bit of a mismatch. Namely, too much mix for my pan that was a bit too small.

The problem? There are two. First, this is a chonky cake. Like this cake was meant to be thinner and over a wider area, which would have made for a more impressive swirl. Then there is the larger issue that, even though I tried to compensate the cooking time, there was a patch of the cake which wasn’t exactly cooked. Thankfully this could be removed with some surgery and about 80% of the cake could be used.

This cake – think a swiss roll with a vanilla sponge and a delicious dulce de leche filling – is the first time that I have ever tried to make a roll cake. Having seen so many fails on The Great British Bake OffI was pretty worried about the cake just falling apart as I wrapped it. Somehow I managed to roll it so that there were no cracks and, despite being a bit thick, got a nice swirl and an overall really good flavour. So yes, a success despite some issues.

So, for the next country I cook for I will not be making as much as I did for Chile. Honestly, for my own sanity I need to keep having more countries with just one dish to cook rather than just overreach. Sure it pretty much all worked out this time… but there have been tears in the past. Hopefully there won’t be any tears when I make my next county. Please.

World Cooking – Tonga

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Tonga
Progress: 101/193

There aren’t a lot of times where I can make Oceanian cuisine due to the lack of countries, but that does mean that the countries become very easy to compare. It’s going to take a lot to beat the Chicken Micronesia in the deliciousness stakes, and I am not counting the hokey-pokey ice cream here as that would be unfair. So let’s see what Tonga has on offer.

Tonga is the in the Polynesian region of Oceania, the largest of the three islands regions which also includes New Zealand and the American state of Hawaii. In terms of sheer area, the Polynesian Triangle is vast and really doesn’t contain a lot of land area. For almost a millennium, a large area of the triangle was ruled by a Tongan Empire with parts, even crossing regional lines and having influence in neighbouring Fiji. This has nothing to do with food, but I just found it incredibly interesting.

The recipe I picked today is a variation on a theme I have found in Oceania and could have also applied to another country – but since I already have something in mind for them (as long as I can locate the right spices) I opted to cook this for Tonga.

Main: Kapisi Pulu

So, I ended up following a recipe for this on Food which was brief to the point that I had to do some research into what the oven temperature was. In retrospect I probably could have found a different recipe, but there is only so much you can do when you have already lined a cake tin with foil and cabbage leaves.

This week’s dish of kapisi pulu has some similarities to the lap lap that I made for Vanuatu to the point where my life would been easier if I had made this outside of lockdown and instead used banana leaf as a wrapper. The filling is made of a mix of coconut cream, tomato, shredded cabbage, onion and tinned meat – in this instance corned beef. I don’t think I have had corned beef for many a year – the only other tinned meat I have had vaguely recently being spam.

I served this with some sweet potato mash, which worked remarkably well. Probably won’t find myself making this again due to the hassle of making the leafy wrap and because it tasted just okay. There are plenty of other things that I have made for this challenge that are better and don’t require the use of metal ring supports to construct it.

Next on this challenge, my aim is to make my first South American dish for over a year. I have had to get some dulce de leche on special order and am living in hope that it arrives soon so I can make a rather scrummy looking dessert… and that’s it as the jar is pretty much all I need.

World Cooking – Hungary

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Hungary
Progress: 100/193

Here we are. I am officially in triple digits for this challenge and it just happened to coincide with my, now yearly, tradition of crossing off a cool country for my husband’s birthday meal. In the history of this little challenge, I have tried to not do neighbouring nations so close to one another. Given that this was my husband’s pick, I guess that this will have to be an exception seeing how my last country bar one was Austria.

Had 2020 not been the dumpster fire of a year it was, there was a high chance that Budapest would have been the destination of my recent annual visits to a European Christmas market. I mean, I’ve seen pictures of how beautiful they do up their capital and the idea of walking through that with a piping hot langos in my hand and trying to not think too hard about their recent political situation.

Alas, twas not to be and I wonder if my husband sensed my slight wish to have been there in December when making his pick. I mean, this is one of those countries that has the weird honour of being universally linked to a particular spice: paprika. When looking at what to make as a main, there was the obvious pick of goulash and then there was nearly everything else which involved paprika at some point. Would I make my own liptauer to top some open-faced sandwiches, or some delicious paprika chicken? I could have gone for some cold sour-cherry soup, but there really isn’t a place for me to find that.

Similarly, there was an obvious choice for a dessert – dobos torte. I loved it when I had it many years ago and, having recently seen it on an old episode of The Great British Bake Off, I had that fancy again. However, there are many other desserts to try and make in Hungarian cuisine – many of them with apricot jam, nuts or poppy seeds. So, I decided that I would go for one obvious dish and one that was less so. Plenty of paprika was spilled along the way.

Main: Goulash

Goulash may have been one of the first dishes that was locked in as a certainty when I started doing this challenge. It’s one of those things that is so iconic for Hungary and is a dish I always love when it is in front of me. There are a number of different recipes online, each one talking about different starches to have it with. You get some with potato in the goulash, others serve it with noodles or spätzle.

In the end, I went with a recipe by the Hairy Bikers as it looked good – but where they talked about serving it with rice, I decided to make some potato dumplings to make it feel properly Central European. The key for this dish is to have good paprika, maybe even a few types for a complex flavour, and to have this cook for so long that the meat can easily come apart with a fork. This meal did just that and, like most stews, was even better when we warmed up the leftovers for dinner later that evening.

Dessert: Gerbeaud Cake

Now, I opted to not make dobos torte because of the nightmare that would be to make a number of evenly thin cake layers. I looked it up in a bunch of recipes and it felt like nightmare fuel, especially as I am still somewhat in post-covid recovery. However, this was for my husband’s birthday meal and so I wanted to make a cake that was somewhat special. Enter the Gerbeaud cake which, much like Sachertorte, is named after the establishment that came up with it… which was named for the founding chef Emil Gerbeaud.

This is a cake (recipe from Kitchen Nostalgia) made of three layers of pastry, with the in between layers made of apricot jam, chopped walnuts and a sprinkling of rum. The whole thing is then covered in a layer of dark chocolate glaze. Not going to mince words, but it is delicious. It was an absolute devil to get out of the baking tin because of a bunch of sugar caramelizing, but it was fine in the end. I mean, hey, I managed to take a picture of a wonderful slice. Made for a decent birthday cake too.

Now it is time to go back to the world of Oceania cooking. I am still avoiding Australia for now as I want to knock out a few more of the island nations – which means I am setting sail for the cuisine of Tonga.

World Cooking – Kyrgyzstan

So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Kyrgyzstan
Progress: 99/193

At nearly a year, I felt like it had been way too long since I last cooked something from one of the former USSR nations. It’s been even longer since I last cooked for one of the Central Asian ones – where I made beshbarmak for Kazakhstan. Considering I have still many recipes in my Samarkand cookbook for other nations in this region, I wanted to prioritize Kyrgyzstan. Also means I no longer have to deal with Google correcting me whenever I spell this country’s name wrong.

As I said before, Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia that formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. On a map, you will find it with two massive neighbours: China to the east and Kazakhstan to the north. With these nations nearby, and the long history as being on the fringes of the Silk Road – their cuisine has been greatly influenced. In fact, the national dish in Kyrgyzstan is shared with Kazakhstan – beshbarmak. Since I have already made this, I needed to find something else.

There was one other option I thought about going for. It’s a dish that can be found in many nations in Central Asia, with there being a large number of variations depending on the country. My Samarkand cookbook, for example, appears to be for the Uzbek version which has more spices and sauce compared to what I ended up making.

Main: Laghman

So I made laghmen – a traditional dish of the Dungan and Uyghur peoples that have large populations in Kyrgyzstan as well as neighbouring China and Kazakhstan. One of the key things about laghmen is a simple and eggless noodle. I did not do this. I am still in recovery and trying to get back to some degree of normality, so I made sure that the noodles I got were ‘free from’ and so were just flour and water (plus preservatives). At this point, I have now made my own noodles a few times so no longer feel the pressure to prove that this is part of my toolbox.

For a recipe, I ended up following the one at Diaries of Travel Inspirations as it seemed to look authentic – even if I went for pre-made noodles. One difficulty I had was that this recipe made no mention of amounts of seasoning to go into this (it even just said ‘herb of choice’ so I went for marjoram as I couldn’t find the parsley). This meant that the initial serving that I photographed was a bit bland.

Luckily we had enough for a second helping and I thought I would just follow the standard French advice of salting the food properly – and wouldn’t you know, all this was missing was salt in order to actually make the flavours sing. Ended up going from disappointment to thinking about how I would swap in orange peppers for green peppers should I make this again. So yes, the power of salt.

The next food country is going to be an important one, the one where I reach 100 crossed off. By some really odd coincidence, this landmark will be occurring around the same time as my husband’s birthday. In previous years this has meant he gets to pick the country, which previously have been Lebanon and his home nation of the Netherlands. Big boots to fill, but I know he’s picked a country that should have some surefire winners.

World Cooking – Austria

So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Austria
Progress: 98/193

Right, I am officially at the halfway point for all the continents. It’s a bit of a weird one that Europe, arguably the easiest to find recipes for, is the final one that went across this landmark. Thing is, thanks to health issues I have been pushing this one back to where I can actually be on my feet for more than 10 minutes without my back wanting to give way or my post-Covid fatigue getting to me. I am not quite there yet, but for delicious food I am the idiot that pushes themselves.

Austria, whilst not a massively well known nation for food outside some of their signature cakes, holds a special place in my heart when it comes to food. The southern regions are where my first taste of Germanic food came from and I got more in touch with my own heritage. Cauldrons of leberknodel soup, amazing central European sausages, the birth of my love of Spezi and the world famous Wiener schnitzel. Genetically I may be predominantly British, but my tongue belongs to Central Europe.

Unlike most countries on this list, I went into this post knowing exactly what I wanted to make. I wanted to recreate food that I had on my previous trips to Kitzbühel and Vienna. To see if I would be able to actually make proper Austrian tasting food whilst sat in lockdown Britain and having to take multiple naps a day to deal with fatigue. Now that I have done this, I can unequivocally say that I succeeded. A big thanks to my mum for importing some Mezzo Mix for me so this could be my own authentic experience.

Main: Tiroler Gröstl

Tiroler Gröstl is by no means a national dish. Even when you look at the Wikipedia entry for the region of Tyrol, they don’t mention this dish. However, this is something that I have had both times I have been in Austria and it is the first thing that I thought of making when it came to ticking off this country. I mean, this is a fried hash made using bacon, onion and potato with caraway and hot-sweet paprika as spices. What isn’t there to love?

Using this recipe from the Austrian tourist portal I made something that transported me. I think it also helped that, for Christmas, I have ordered in a bunch of meats – including speck from the Tyrolean region. Not enough for the whole dish, so it was half speck and half smoked streaky bacon. I have to say, this mix of meats was perfect in giving it that proper feel. Although, if I am to make this again, I’ll have to do it with just regular bacon as I won’t be able to find Tyrolean speck at a cheap enough price to justify it.

This is one of those dishes that I remember being warming and, now I have made my own, I can definitely confirm those magical properties. I just wish that there had been enough for seconds. Oh well though, there was always dessert.

Dessert: Kaiserschmarrn

Austria is well known for their patisserie and their cakes. However, I had no real interest in trying to make a sachertorte or Viennoiseries. Even before the fatigue hit, I knew that trying to make my own flaky pastry would be a fools errand – so I wanted to make something that would go well with the gröstl. My mum suggested Kaiserschmarrn – an Austrian dessert that is made of shreds of fluffy pancakes that have been caramelized with butter and sugar. She was so right to suggest this.

I had a bit of a misadventure when making this (which is not at all down to the excellent recipe by Plated Cravings) because this is such a thick pancake and my pan probably was a bit small. Meant that the bottom caught a little, but that sure didn’t affect the taste. The raisins I left to macerate in rum for 4 hours, those will have affected the taste. This was a beautiful dessert and, again, I just wish I had more of it.

At this point, I can really go many places with the next country. Being that I am still very wobbly, it will need to be something that I can make without being on my feet too long. Still though, that will leave me with more than enough options.

World Cooking – Dominica

So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Dominica
Progress: 97/193

Originally, I was meant to be doing my halfway European country. However, I managed throw my back out – so have delayed this for a little bit whilst I rest up. There has been a fairly large actual gap between making the food for this post and the previous post (thanks again lower back), which is already making me slightly regret getting back to this post-a-day blog pattern.

Anyway, I am icing my back now and still finding myself getting confused between looking up things for Dominica and the Dominican Republic because they share a demonym. Having all things for both of these countries being referred to as ‘Dominican’ really has made researching dishes fairly difficult. Thankfully there are so many wonderful people online who have made Caribbean recipe databases that I can peruse and cook from.

Like many nations in the Caribbean, Dominica has callaloo as part of their cuisine – for this country in particular callaloo soup is their national dish. However, callaloo can also be used as a side dish for other nations – so I wanted to make something that wouldn’t necessarily be a side dish, but also sounded delicious. I’ve had some good times cooking for the Caribbean nations that are part of the British Commonwealth and I knew today would continue that streak.

Main: Pork Chops with Banana and Bacon

Like I said above, finding a website that is essentially a Caribbean recipe database with country tags has the potential to be a real game changer for this latter half of the cooking challenge. So a big thanks to all the contributors to Caribbean Choice for this recipe to make pork chops with bacon-wrapped bananas. I think this may be a recipe that could also be found on other nearby nations, but I’m not going to argue.

The star of the plate was, obviously, the bacon-wrapped bananas. The pork chops were nice enough – although would probably be even better inside a crusty roll – but nothing could compare to the joy that was this side dish. I mean, when I think about it, this was always going to be a home run. So many things taste better with bacon – so why not bananas? Well exactly. I was to find myself in a time warp and having to bring a dish to an Ice Storm era potluck – I think I know what I would be bringing.

Okay, so I am now in the second half of this world cooking challenge and it’s pretty exciting to see the countries I have left to cook for. I mean there’s China, Spain, Ethiopia, India and many other major food nations left. It gives me a lot to look forward to – and I will continue to do so as, for my next country, I’ll be hitting the halfway point for the European countries. My back may not be recovered, but hopefully it’ll be delicious enough to distract.

World Cooking – Guinea-Bissau

So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Guinea-Bissau
Progress: 96/193

Okay so I didn’t quite expect to be doing two African recipes in a row, but when a recipe comes your way that looks quick, tasty and not like something you’ve seen before – well then it’s time to just do it. Especially good for me as this didn’t take a lot out of me to make, which meant that it was ideal for me to make in my covid recovery.

Guinea-Bissau is one of four countries in the world with Guinea in their name, thus making it not so easy to find recipes that are unique (although Papua New Guinea, not being African, is easier in that respect). As such I really wanted to make sure I started crossing these off so that I didn’t have a difficult time later on.

Like Mozambique and São Tomé, Guinea-Bissau’s not-quite-recent history comes as part of Portugal’s colonial ambitions in Africa. This makes it one of the few countries in the world where Portuguese is the national language and explains why a lot of the recipes you end up seeing here – such as caldo verde – can also be found in other Lusophone nations. The recipe I ended up going for, whilst simple, isn’t like something I have seen when researching other countries.

Main: Abacate Com Atum

I am not sure I could have made anything more millennial sounding if I tried. I just needed to have smeared this on toast rather than serving it in the avocado skins and I could have been some sort of meme. As the name would suggest, this dish (recipe from Travel by Stove) is stuffed avocado where the main ingredient in the stuffing is tuna. You also have some dairy, coconut and tomato – but tuna is the real bulk of it.

Having a whole avocado’s worth of this dish is a bit rich – although the squirt of lemon on the top really does help to take the edge off of it. I don’t usually go for the full recipes where there’s a sprinkle of herbs on top or a splash of citrus, but this really showcases the reason why these are put into recipes. Although, at least with a lemon, I have other uses for it – unlike parsley which ends up wilting sadly in the fridge.

Next time on this challenge, fatigue willing, I will be not only cooking my next American country but also will be crossing over the overall halfway mark. Feels like a lot has happened since I first sat down on an Easter Sunday a few years ago with my first country dinner. Sure, this challenge is taking longer than I expected but at least this way it stays fun.

World Cooking – Republic of the Congo

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Republic of the Congo
Progress: 95/193

Researching recipes for some nations can be pretty difficult because of similarities and my, for some reason, desire to find something unique where possible. When you have countries whose names have a significant overlap, things get especially hard. With Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRoC) – you have both issues seeing as all articles you end up finding refer to a joint Congolese cuisine. You have similar issues with North and South Korea – but I found a way around it.

With today’s post, I could have easily done a repeat of making Moambé Chicken as this is a national dish shared by both Congo nations. However, I wanted to go with something different as, in the end, they have had quite different histories. For example, during the colonial era, both nations were invaded and ruled by different European countries. So where the DRoC gained independence from Belgium, the Republic of the Congo fought against France to regain theirs. They also had a distinct first government after independence where the DRoC becoming an American-backed dictatorship whereas the Republic of the Congo aligned themselves with the Communist bloc.

Through all this, when you look at their different histories, the food culture is one that is shared. So, for today’s post I will be doing a recipe that I found online that has rarely been linked to just the Republic of the Congo.

Main: Babute

By cooking babute for the Republic of the Congo, I am following a long line of cook around the world blogs who have made this for this particular nation. The name and the style harken back to bobotie – which I made for South Africa. Both of them are beef dishes flavoured with curry powder and topped with a type of custard and bay leaves.

There is a lot of similarity there but it would appear there is a chance that babute and bobotie co-evolved. If the very stub-like Wikipedia page for ‘babute’ is to be believed, the name is a place in the Congo, whereas ‘bobotie’ comes Indonesian words. There is also a difference in preparation.

For babute (recipe from a web archive snapshot taken from Aussie Tastes) you mix half of the custard mix into the meat until fully incorporated – unlike bobotie where it is just poured over it. In this way, babute is a type of meatloaf whereas bobotie is specifically left as mince meat with ingredients mixed in. When comparing the two though, I think I prefer the meat in the babute and the custard of the bobotie. Maybe I’ll make a fusion dish one day and have the best of both worlds.

So that’s me now halfway through Africa, Asia and Oceania – with my halfway country for Europe already locked in for a New Years Day treat. I am not sure if I am going to get another food country in between now (mid-December) and New Years Day because of Christmas in between, but I guess I’ll just have to see where the chips land. Maybe I’ll find some cool street food!

World Cooking – Oman

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Oman
Progress: 94/193

The last time I made something from the Middle East was for Kuwait, which was the last country I made before the first round of Covid-19 food shortages hit. It was also the last food country before I had my hell summer, so returning to the list of potential dishes for Oman was a bit weird. Also doesn’t help that, for this region, there are so many shared recipes which makes finding something unique but cookable is a bit difficult.

If you think of the shape of the Arabian peninsula as an axe-head, I have now made crossed off both of the nations that make the edge of the blade. When I cooked for Yemen I had real issues with making a specific part of the dish out of fenugreek, but at least I had nice bread. So, with Oman, I wanted to make sure that I did something a bit different… and did not require another attempt to make hulba.

Main: Madrouba

A lot of the recipes you find for Oman are shared with Saudi Arabia, so finding a recipe online that comes from a book about Omani cooking was good enough for me. Sure, this is a dish that can also be found in other Middle Eastern countries like Bahrain – but I just hope to find something else for that.

The recipe I used for this came from Saveur, which ended up being a bit incomplete so I had to make a guess about what was going to happen with the rest of the cardamom. I know that my picture does not look like the recipe and I put it down to two things.

Firstly, it’s way too red as the only plum tomatoes I could find came in a can and I realized half way through pouring in the can that I should not have included the extra juice. Then there is the fact that the rice wasn’t completely broken down when I served it – this came down to hunger in the end as after over two hours on the stove the rice still hadn’t properly disintegrated. It got to four in the afternoon and, with this meant to have been lunch, it just smelt too good to not eat.

Despite the inconsistencies, this was still a very comforting lunch to have. It worked for us on a cool December day in order to warm us up, but I can’t imagine that being as big a deal in a country where the lowest average temperature in a year is still above 17 degrees Celsius. Then again, I guess it’s all relative so when you are used to temperatures being in the 30s, a sudden drop to 18 would drive the need for porridge.

Next time on this list, I am going to be going back to Africa and finishing off the rather confusing (and hard to Google) Congolese area. Since I already tackled the national dish of the Republic of Congo when writing up the Democratic Republic of Congo, I’m going to see what else I can rustle up.

World Cooking – Montenegro

List Item: Cook something from every countryCountry: Montenegro
Progress: 93/193

It occurred to me that as I near the halfway point, there are some regions of the world where it would be neat if I was able to hit some more micro-level halfways. With there being six UN-seated nations to come out of the dissolution of Yugoslavia, it made sense therefore for me to try and get the third of these cooked and crossed off.

Once the world opens up again, Montenegro is one of those places in Europe that is near the top of my list – especially early on before the flocks of insane numbers of tourists make their way to the stunning Bay of Kotor. There is a second place of interest listed as part of the Lonely Planet list, but it’s that picturesque coastal feel I am most looking forward to.

Considering their place on the map, Montenegrin cuisine changes depending on where you are. On the coastline, there is more of an influence of the Mediterranean with seafood like squid being used in a number of dishes. The further inland sees the shift of influence shift back to the world of Central European and old Ottoman influences, similar to neighbouring Bosnia. The dish I ended up making, being more influenced by those living in the south of Montenegro, where the population of Montenegrin Albanians begin to go up.

Main: Brav u Mlijeku

I really dislike the smell of whole milk. When it comes to some recipes, I realize that it is a necessary evil because the higher fat content really can add flavour and help out with thickening. It is just that the initial smell I get when opening a bottle and taste of it make me feel sick – for the sake of context, I have skimmed milk on my cereal and never really liked drinking milk as a child.

So, when the idea of a recipe came up where whole milk was the main ingredient and that I would be boiling meat and vegetables in it, well I put it off for a while as it sounded gross… even if I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it were cream. I like a cream sauce, which is why I ended up really liking this dish whose name basically means ‘lamb in milk’.

Following the recipe from International Cuisine, except that I had to infer that I would not be blending the carrots and potatoes into the cause, I ended up making that was unorthodox but very delicious. The main flavours coming through being a creamy sauce with fennel and garlic – which are two of my favourite flavours. The lamb, potato and carrot became ridiculously soft after the long simmer and the leftover sauce went so well with some nice crusty bread. It was delicious and I never should have doubted it.

Continuing my small regional halfway point trend, next week I will back in the culinary world of the Arabian peninsula, desperately searching for a dish in one of the smaller nations that doesn’t have their origins in any of the larger countries. Or at least something that carries the name of that particular country in most of the recipes. Wish me luck.