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AFGHANISTAN

The central emblem is the classical emblem of Afghanistan with a mosque with its mihrab facing Mecca. Interestingly, Afghanistan has had the most changes to its national flag in the 20th century than any other country in the world.
COUNTRYAfghanistan 
DishesBolani, Pulao 
Time 3 hours 
Effort 7/10
Rough cost £8 (not including spices + oil) *but most of stuff you will have 
COUNTRY Afghanistan 
Capital Kabul 
Population 32, 225, 560 (44th largest) 
Land mass 652,230 km2 (40th largest)
Languages Pashtun (60%), Dari (40%)
ReligionsMuslim (99.7%)

HISTORY

Kabuli Pulao was created by the upper class in Kabul, as they could afford caramelised carrots, raisins and nuts in their rice. However, overtime this dish has become one of the commonly cooked in Afghanistan, and so the name has changed to Qabili Pulao. Qabili means ‘accomplished’.

Bolani is a traditional celebration bread eaten at birthdays, weddings and festivals. It can be made via many different methods and with many different fillings. Each family will have their own traditional Bolani recipe. Other fillings include: lentils, pumpkin or leeks.

NOTES

It is important to remember that, as with all home cooking, these dishes vary enormously from home to home and from season to season. Do not be put off making the dishes if you are missing a couple of spices or have different vegetables. Just go ahead and use what you have handy. Making a dish your own is the essence of celebratory cooking!We cooked the rice on its own as we were making a vegan supper. You will find lots of recipes online where the rice is cooked with lamb and this will give a delicious flavour, but requires a slightly different technique.

BOLANI

Ingredients

DoughFilling
2 cups plain flour 
1 ½ cups of wholemeal flour 
1 ½ tsp dried yeast 
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp warm water
½ tsp salt
3 potatoes, boiled + grated 
3 spring onions 
3 cloves garlic, grated
Salt + Pepper (to taste)
Spices: ground ginger, ground cumin,
ground coriander, paprika, turmeric (to taste)

Method

  1. Mix everything together in a bowl. The only tricky bit with bread and it comes with practice, is getting the moisture level right. Too dry or too wet and the dough will not rise properly. It should be dry enough to knead the dough easily but wet enough to stick a bit to your hands and the counter. Different flours absorb different amounts of liquid and so a recipe is not the be all and end all here. As you start to knead the dough you may have to add water or flour to get the right consistency.
  2. Knead until the dough is soft and pliable and springs back when you poke it or pull it – 5 to 10 minutes. If you have never made bread before, YouTube will have some useful tutorials.
  3. Mix all the filling ingredients together.
  4. When the dough is risen, divide it up and roll it into 15 balls.
  5. On a floured counter, roll the dough ball into a disc.
  6. Put a good tbsp. of filling in the centre of and fold it into a triangle, sealing the edges *see picture
  7. Brush each side with vegetable oil and fry on both sides on a medium heat until the dough is cooked and is a good brown colour. *we had to push down the triangle edges with a spatula and finish them off in the oven for the sake of time.

Mwara’s Tips (a.k.a breadmaster)

These stuffed flatbreads were pretty easy to make and absolutely delicious. We kept the left overs in an airtight container and the made a very good packed lunch the next day.

Making bread is not as difficult or as exact a science as some television chefs would have you believe. People have been making bread at home in pretty basic conditions for thousands of years! Your own, homemade bread may not have the ‘perfect’ structure, but will be really fun to make, smell lovely when it is cooking and taste delicious. No additives, preservatives or other nasty extras, just flour, yeast, water and salt.

If you are used to making bread or have a bread maker, then a standard bread dough with a 1/3 wholemeal to 2/3 white flour mix is perfect here.

Processed with MOLDIV

PULAO

Ingredients

BrothRice
4 cardamom pods, crushed
½ teaspoon cinnamon 
1 onion, peeled + halved 
1 whole head of garlic 
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp paprika
1/2tsp salt
Warm water to cover
Basmati rice for 4 people
4 carrots, in matchsticks 
1 onion, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped 
½ cup slivered / flaked almonds
½ cup raisins / sultanas
5 cardamom pods 
Spices: ground ginger, ground cumin,
ground coriander,
chilli powder, turmeric (to taste)

Method

  1. Put all the broth ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes. Then remove the vegetables and pods with a spoon or strainer.
  2. Fry the onions until soft. Then add the carrots and garlic and continue to fry.
  3. Soak and rinse the rice in cold water.
  4. Add all the ingredients (inc. rice) to the broth pan and bring to the boil.
  5. When it reaches boiling point, give it a good stir, shut the lid and turn off the heat but leave the pan on the hob. The rice should soak up all the juices and stay warm.
  6. To finish, fluff up the rice with a fork. You can stir in a bit of butter or oil, sprinkle with fresh toasted almond slices, raisins, shelled toasted pistachios, fresh coriander – it is up to you.
  7. Serve with either a meat (lamb is best) or vegetable stew.

VEGETABLE TAGINE

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of mixed vegetables in big chunks (2cm diced) including squash, sweet potatoes, courgettes, aubergine, leeks, turnips, carrots, swede, parsnip.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 ginger
  • salt + pepper (to taste)

Method

  1. Fry the onion in a tbsp. of oil until soft but not browned.
  2. Add the garlic and spices and fry to mix – about 30 seconds.
  3. Add all the vegetables and stir to coat with spices.
  4. Add the chickpeas.
  5. Add enough water to come about ½ way up the pan. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes. You could transfer to the oven at about 1400C to free up the stove top.

SERVING

Traditional the pulao is served with Kabuli, which is a lamb stew. However, Bridget made a vegan tagine with swede, canned tomatoes, canned chickpeas, onion and spices (*see recipe above). We served it all up with chopped coriander, chilli, harissa and oat milk cream.

OUR THOUGHTS

We loved cooking this meal, especially as it was our inaugural dinner! It was really fun making the Bolani and they tasted so good. With this recipe we made enough for 4 people, and lots of left-overs. What we will say, is that is was a bit time-consuming.

Dera manana and see you in Albania! M + B

#pulao #kabuli #bolani #vegan #recipe

JAPAN

Flag of Japan.svg
The flag of Japan is officially called the Flag of Sun (Nisshoki) but is more commonly known as the Circle of the Sun (Hinomaru). It embodies the country’s sobriquet: the Land of the Rising Sun.
COUNTRYJAPAN
DishesSushi, Ramen
Time 1.5 hrs
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £7
COUNTRY JAPAN
Capital Tokyo
Population 125,502,000 (11th largest)
Land mass 377,975 km2 (62nd largest)
Languages Japanese
Religions

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Japan is an island nation located in the northwest Pacific Ocean bordered by the Sea of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea. Japan is part of the Ring of Fire which spans an archipelago of 6852 islands. Despite its disparate geography, Japan is one of the most densely populated and urbanised countries in the world, as Japan’s mountainous terrain concentrates its population of 125 million onto the narrow coastal plains.

The Japanese archipelago has been inhabited since the Upper Paleolithic period in 30,000 BC. Japan’s rich ancient history dates back to the 2nd cent. AD with kingdoms ruled by emperors, samurai (warrior nobility), shogun (military dictators) and daimyo (feudal lords). The Empire of Japan adopted a Western-modelled constitution in the late 19th century, pursuing a program of industrialisation and modernisation which culminated in Japan’s involvement in WWII.

In the aftermath of the war, Japan experienced record economic growth and to this day Japan is still an influential world power. As of 2021, Japan’s economy is the 3rd largest by nominal GDP, and the country ranks very highly on the Human Development Index. The country also has one of the world’s highest life expectancies which can be attributed in part to the nation’s typical healthy unprocessed diet of rice and noodles, fish, veggies, and broths. Fun food fact: Tokyo is the city with the most 3-Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. Mwara made the absolute classic sushi, which is Bee’s favourite food but as I was more limited for ingredients, I made vegan ramen. Sushi requires a good amount of time to nail the rice to perfection but the ramen will be ready in no time at all and the broth tastes incredible cold the next day.

RECIPES

Ramen *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 700ml veg stock
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 chunk of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • toppings: tofu (coated in cornstarch and fried), spring onions, mushrooms, carrot ribbons, beansprouts
  • optional: 1 tsp miso paste, pinch of chilli powder

METHOD

  1. Mix the veg stock, garlic cloves, soy sauce, ginger, five spice, chilli powder and 300ml water in a large saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 mins. Then keep warm until you are ready to eat.
  2. Taste the stock and then add in 1 tsp white sugar or a little more soy sauce to make it sweeter / saltier depending on your liking.
  3. Prepare the ramen noodles following the pack instructions. Prepare the toppings that you would like to use (there are so many options here).
  4. To serve the ramen, divide the noodles between the bowls and arrange your ingredients aesthetically in top. Then divide the stock and pour over the top with or without draining (I prefer to keep all the garlicky-chilli goodness). Top with spring onions and enjoy!

Sushi

INGREDIENTS

Sushi Rice

  • 300g sushi rice
  • 390 ml water
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Sushi (you will need a bamboo roll mat)

  • Nori sheets
  • Wasabi
  • Pickled ginger
  • Sashimi (tuna, salmon), sliced
  • Sliced veggies: carrots, spring onions, peppers, baby corn, cucumber, avocado
  • Tofu, sliced
  • Omlette, sliced
  • *really whatever you like!

METHOD

  1. To make the rice, start by soaking the grains in a large bowl until the water becomes cloudy with starch. Then drain and repeat this process 3 – 5 times until the water remains clear. Soak the rice for a final 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. The next step is to bring the rice to the boil in 390ml of cold water. Then turn down the heat and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes with the lid on. Then remove from the heat and let the rice steam for 15 minutes.
  3. Now mix the rice wine vinegar and sugar together well and then mix this through the cooled rice.
  4. Once the rice is ready and all your fillings are assembled, it is time to get rolling!
  5. Have a bowl of water ready for moistening your fingertips. Place a sheet of nori shiny-side down on the bamboo mat and using damp hands push a thin even layer of rice across half of the nori sheet. Then put some filling horizontally in the middle of the rice. Do not overfill at this stage as it will make rolling harder.
  6. To roll, get a tight grip on the end of the mat and make one initial roll over the filling to form a cylinder and so that all you can see is nori. Use some water to moisten the rest of the nori and then tightly roll up the rest of the roll (or cut off the excess nori). Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into bite-sized chunks and serve dipped in soy sauce with wasabi and ginger!

p.s., there are so many ways to make sushi and so many different types so please have a research and enjoy!

Arigatō and see you in Jordan! M + B x

JAMAICA

Flag of Jamaica.svg
This flag was adopted on the 6th August 1962, which is now Jamaican Independence Day. Fun fact: it is the only national flag which doesn’t contain the colours of red, white or blue.
COUNTRYJAMAICA
DishesGoat Curry, Pineapple Upside-down Cake (vegan)
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £6
COUNTRY JAMAICA
Capital Kingston
Population 2,726,667 (141st largest)
Land mass 10,991 km2 (160th largest)
Languages English, Jamaican Patois
Religions68.9% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

It has been a long long time but the Grubtrotters are back and our hiatus has left us hungry! We are kicking things back off with magical Caribbean nation of Jamaica!

Jamaica is the third largest island in the region, after Cuba and Hispaniola. The island was originally populated by the indigenous Taino peoples. Sadly, their culture was wiped out by centuries of Spanish, and subsequently British, colonial tyranny and slavery. The island achieved independence from the British Empire in 1962 and this period saw a mass emigration of Jamaicans all around the world to seek new opportunities, meaning there is a large Jamaican diaspora community especially in the US, UK and Canada.

Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae music and the Rastafari religion, as well as being very prominent on the world stage in sporting events such as cricket and track and field. In fact, Jamaica is widely considered the world’s ‘least populous cultural superpower’. And when it comes to cuisine, the same is true. Jamaican cooking is famous for its use of ‘jerk’ spice and staple ingredients such as rice, peas, curries and fish.

Mwara cooked a goat curry as curry dishes are quite traditional for Jamaica as in the wake of slave abolition, 40,000 people migrated to the islands from India bringing with them their delicious curry recipes. Goat curry is a must-have Jamaican variation on such recipes. We also made a more loosely Jamaican not-so-traditional Pineapple Upside-down cake!

p.s., Apologies for the lapse in commitment and we ARE getting back on track!

RECIPES

Goat Curry

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 lbs goat meat, cubed
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 5-6 tbsp curry powder
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet chilli
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 large sprig of thyme
  • (another) 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tbsp ketchup

METHOD

  1. Start by marinating the goat meat by mixing the cubed meat together with the top 6 ingredients. Leave in the fridge for at least 5 hours to marinade. Once this is done, remove the onion and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium high heat and brown the goat meat to seal in the juices. Then add in the thyme and 2 cups of boiling water, cover and lower to a medium-low heat. Simmer this for an hour.
  3. After an hour, add in the additional chopped onion as well as the sliced onion and chilli from the marinade. Add in a further 2 cups of boiling water and bring the mix to a boil.
  4. Add more curry powder and salt / pepper to taste.
  5. Then add in the potatoes and ketchup and mix well. Simmer on a low heat with the lid off for 30 minutes until the meat is super soft and some of the liquid has reduced. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Pineapple Upside-down Cake *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 220g plain flour
  • 200g white sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 180ml soy milk
  • 60ml pineapple juice (reserved from the can of slices)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80ml veg oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Topping: 50g vegan butter, 100g brown sugar, 10 slices pineapple, 15 cherries (maraschino or glacé)

METHOD

  1. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter and/not paper and preheat the oven to 180 celsius.
  2. Melt the vegan butter and then pour it out into the bottom of the cake pan evenly. Do the same with the brown sugar. Then layer the pineapple slices along the bottom (you may need to cut some slices in half to go along the sides). Place the cherries nicely where you find a gap.
  3. To prepare the cake batter, sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the white sugar, baking soda and salt.
  4. Into the same bowl, add in the wet ingredients and whisk together until just combined. Pour the batter over the pineapple slices and smooth down with the back of a spoon.
  5. Place into the oven and bake for 55 minutes. Bring it out after 30 minutes and cover with foil then return to the oven to prevent over-browning. Remove the cake from the oven when a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before flipping it out onto a plate. Allow the cake tin to remain on for a few seconds so the sticky caramelized brown sugar can run down over the sides of the cake. Eventually lift it off to reveal the pretty pattern, slice the cake and ENJOY!

Tanks and see you in Japan! M + B x

ITALY

Flag of Italy.svg
The ‘il Tricolore’ features the national colours of Italy and appeared for the first time in Genoa in 1789.
COUNTRY ITALY
Dishes Pomodoro (vegan), Chicken Cacciatore
Time1 hour 
Effort5/10 
Rough cost£7 
COUNTRY ITALY
Capital Rome
Population60,317,116 (23rd largest) 
Land mass301,340 km2 (71st largest) 
LanguagesItalian
Religion84% Christian 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Italy (Republic of) is located in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea and is composed of the mainland peninsula and several islands surrounding it. Due to its central location, Italy has historically been home to a diverse array of people and cultures dating back to the Ancient Roman Empire. However, the Italy the world knows and loves today emerged in the mid-1800’s following a period of political upheaval which resulted in the unification of the ‘Kingdom of Italy’. Today Italy is an advanced economy and ranks very highly on national measures of life expectancy, quality of life, and education (among other things). Fun fact: Italy holds the record for the world’s largest number of national heritage sites and is the 5th most visited country, thanks to the wealth of Italy’s cultural background.

Italian cuisine is likewise enjoyed far and wide with essentially everyone who has tasted the staple Italian dishes of pasta and pizza, falling in love on first mouthful (mmmm carbs). Italian chefs rely on traditional ingredients and the quality of them, as opposed to elaborate preparation methods. In keeping with this theme, we made two absolute classics: pasta pomodoro and chicken cacciatore.

Pomodoro is one of the simplest but most authentic Italian pasta adishes and is the true test of any Italian chef. Chicken Cacciatore (“Hunter-style” chicken) is a staple of Italian home-cooking, which is easy to make and super comforting. Both these dishes were quick to make and delicious, but if you feel like pushing the boat out a bit more, then please do!

RECIPES

Pasta Pomodoro (vegan)

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, puréed in a blender
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
  • spaghetti (300-400g)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (or vegan alternative)

METHOD

  • Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion softens. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and season.
  • Cook the pomodoro sauce, whilst stirring it until it starts to thicken (20 minutes). When the ideal consistency has been reached, stir in the fresh basil.
  • Cook the spaghetti until al dente, according to the packet instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving a little water.
  • To serve, place the pasta back in pot, add the tomato sauce and hot pasta water, and stir until the sauce coats the pasta fully. Add in whatever parmesan cheese you are using and toss well. Plate the pasta and garnish with basil and more parmesan!

Chicken Cacciatore

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 150 ml red wine
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

METHOD

  • The first thing to do is season the chicken thighs with salt + pepper. 
  • In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and sear the chicken on both sides for about 3-4 minutes. Remove the meat from the heat.
  • Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and sauté the onion until transparent. Then add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the peppers, carrot, mushrooms and herbs, cooking for 5 minutes.
  • Next pour in the wine and cook until the wine is reduced (2 minutes).
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, and chill flakes and stir well. Now return the chicken pieces to the mixture and simmer on the stove top with the lid on for 40 minutes until the meat starts falling off the bone. Add in the olives and simmer for a further 10 minutes with the lid off to allow the sauce to thicken up. Enjoy!

Gratzie Mille and see you in ! M + B x

ISRAEL

Flag of Israel.svg
The flag of Israel was adopted in 1948 and depicts a blue hexagonal ‘Star of David’ Jewish symbol.
COUNTRY ISRAEL
Dishes Falafel
Time 1 hour
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £3
COUNTRY ISRAEL
Capital Jerusalem
Population9,450,620 (99th largest) 
Land mass20,770 – 22,072 km2 (150th largest) 
LanguagesHebrew (recognised), Arabic 
Religion74% Judaism 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Israel is a Western Asian country on the shore of the Mediterranean and Red Sea. Tel Aviv is Israel’s economic and technological centre but Jerusalem is recognised by the State of Israel as its official capital. However, as we know, this claim is a controversial one. Israel is in fact the site of the earliest hominid migrations out of Africa during the Middle Bronze Age. Israel defines itself as the nation-state of Jewish people and operates as a Jewish and democratic state. It currently has the highest standard of living of all Middle Eastern countries and ranks very highly on several measures of progressivism.

Israeli cuisine is heavily influenced by Jewish traditional cooking, as well as influences from Israeli diaspora. Mwara made the ultimate Israeli food – FALAFEL! The word falafel, which comes from the word for pepper (pilpel) can traditionally be made in one of two ways: with fava beans or chickpeas or a combination of both. However, favism – an inherited enzymatic deficiency occurring among some Israeli Jews in the 1950s – resulted in Israeli falafel becoming predominantly produced from chickpeas. It is not a secret that we love falafel, and we hope that you will too. Ideally serve these Israeli falafel fresh and stuffed in a pitta bread drizzled with tahini sauce.

RECIPES

Falafel (more falafel…!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (2 x 400g cans)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 – 6 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli
  • 1 tsp salt
  • veg oil (for frying)
  • GARNISH: chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce, pepper, tahini + lemon

METHOD

  1. If you are using dried chickpeas, please soak the chickpeas in a large bowl in cold water over night and then drain. Alternatively, use canned drained chickpeas.
  2. Place the chickpeas, garlic and onions in the bowl of a food processor and blitz. Then add the parsley, coriander, salt, chilli, and cumin. Process until the mix is coarsely blended.
  3. Turn the mixture out into a large bowl and sprinkle over the baking powder and flour, and mix this well. You have to add enough flour so that the dough can form a small ball without sticking in your hands. Refrigerate this for a wee while, if you can, as it makes the falafel balls easier to roll.
  4. To prepare the actual falafel, use your hands or a spoon to form balls of falafel about the size of golf balls.
  5. Now you can choose to fry the falafel in 3 inches of heated oil for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Or you can bake the falafel for 25-30 minutes on a well-oiled baking tray at 180 C, turning the balls half way through cooking to brown each side.
  6. To serve, stuff a pitta with 3 falafel balls, chopped tomatoes, onion, green pepper and whatever else you want! Then drizzle over a load of tahini + lemon dressing and dig in!

Toda and see you in Italy! M + B x

IRELAND (Republic of)

Flag of Ireland.svg
The ‘Tricolour’ was adopted as the flag of Ireland in 1937 with the colours meant to symbolise the unity between Roman Catholics (green) and Protestants (orange).
COUNTRY IRELAND
Dishes Irish Soda Bread
Time 1 hour
Effort2/10  
Rough cost£3 
COUNTRY IRELAND
Capital Dublin
Population 5,011,500 (122nd largest)
Land mass 70,273 km2 (118th largest)
Languages Irish, English
Religion 78% Roman Catholic

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The Republic of Ireland, or Eire (Irish goddess name), is composed of 26 out of the 32 counties which make up the island of Ireland. 40% of the countries population lives in the Greater Dublin Area, on the eastern side of the island, bordered by the Irish Sea. Dublin is one of the top 10 wealthiest countries in the world in terms of GDP per capita. The nation of Ireland was officially declared a Republic in 1949 and Ireland joined the EU in 1973.

Irish cuisine is fairly heavy on meat and dairy products, supplemented with veg (shout out to potatoes) and fish. It also features a lot of classic hearty peasant dishes such as like colcannon, stew, coddle, and boxty. Mwara made some fresh Irish soda bread which is a very traditional Irish bread loaf. This bread is super easy to make – no proving, no yeast, no problems! Bridget majorly copped out this week and just went for some pints of Guinness, which is a dry stout classically made in St. James Gate, Dublin.

RECIPES

Irish Soda Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 170g wholemeal flour
  • 170g plain flour (+ extra for dusting)
  • ½ tsp bicarb
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 290ml buttermilk

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Stir the two flours, salt and bicarb into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk in, mixing quickly with a fork to form a soft dough. (add a little more milk / flour depending on whether the dough is too sticky / wet respectively).
  3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 2-3 minutes. Form the dough into a round and flatten it slightly before putting it on a floured baking sheet.
  4. Using a sharp implement, cut a large cross on the top and bake in your pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes (until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped). Cool on a wire rack and then enjoy warm with fresh butter.

Thank you and see you in Italy! M + B x

IRAQ

The three stripes are composed of the colours of Arab Liberation and the central script reads takbir “‘Allahu akbar‘God is the greatest'”.
COUNTRY IRAQ
Dishes Khoresh Badjeman (vegan)
Time1 hour 
Effort4/10 
Rough cost£4 
COUNTRYIRAQ 
Capital Baghdad
Population40,222,503 (36th largest) 
Land mass438,317 km2 (58th largest) 
LanguagesArabic, Kurdish 
Religion95% Islam  

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Iraq is a Western Asian country which is home to a diverse mix of ethnic groups and religions. The nation has been named the ‘cradle of civilisation’ as Iraq was the location of one of the world’s earliest civilisations – the Sumerian civilisation in the ancient region of Mesopotamia – which emerged during the Chalcolithic and early Bronze Ages (5th – 6th millenium AD). Indeed, Iraq has been the successive seat of several significant historical dynasties.

Thanks to this rich history, Iraqi cuisine has been traced back to 10,000 years ago from recipe tablets (essentially the first cookbook!) found in ancient temple ruins. Classic ingredients of Iraqi cuisine include vegetables like aubergine, tomatoes, okra, onion, and chilli, cereals and pulses, and lemons! Lamb and chicken are served for special meaty occasions.

Bridget made Khoresh (stew) Badjeman (aubergine) which is a soft aubergine stew in thick tomato sauce. This dish is traditionally made with chunks of beef but feel free to leave these out for a tasty vegan version! Mwara is going to attempt some Iraqi cookies – kleicha – just in time for Christmas day!

RECIPES

Khoresh Badjeman (vegan)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 aubergines
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • salt + pepper, to taste
  • SERVE: chopped parsley

METHOD

  1. Prepare the aubergines by peeling them and slicing them into long matchsticks. Place the sticks in a bowl of salted water and let them soak for 20 minutes. Now cube the sticks into nice bite-sized chunks.
  2. Next heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes. Then add in the garlic and tumeric and stir. Add the aubergine chunks and fry everything together for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add into the pan the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice and water. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 15-20 minutes.
  4. When the aubergine is soft and cooked, serve up the stew with some fresh saffron rice and parsley on top. YUM!

Shukran lak and see you in Ireland! M + B x

IRAN (Persia)

The flag of Iran is also known as the Three-Coloured Flag. It features the national emblem ‘Allah’ .
COUNTRYIRAN
DishesFalafel (vegan), Fesenjan, Kuku Sabzi, Tahdig
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £5
COUNTRY IRAN
Capital Tehran
Population 83,183,741 (17th largest)
Land mass 1,648,195 km2 (17th largest)
Languages Persian
ReligionsShia Islam

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Iran, or Persia, is a West Asian country bordered by four other Asian nations, as well as the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Iran is one of the world’s oldest civilisations, recorded to have originated in the 4th millennium BC, and has a very rich history. It is now an Islamic democracy under the rule of the autocratic ‘Supreme Leader’ (Ali Khamenei). This government is viewed as authoritarian based on its abuses against human rights and civil liberties. The country is rich fossil fuel reserves, contributing to its ‘middle power’ status.

The mixture of different ethnic groups and the ancient history of Iran, combines in a cuisine with many diverse influences and flavours. Characteristic flavours are saffron, dried limes (anything sour!), cinnamon, and parsley.

Bridget made a favourite of her’s – Falafel! Falafel has traditionally been made with fava beans in Egypt and other Arab countries, however, Persian falafel is made of chickpeas. Ideally, you would use dried chickpeas but those can be tricky to get your hands on at times. Mwara made Tahdig, which is a crispy rice dish meaning ‘bottom of the pot’ which has strong saffron flavours and a delicious texture. She also made Kuku Sabzi , a festive herb omelette, and Fesenjan, a pomegranate-chicken-walnut stew.

RECIPES

Persian Falafel

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups of dried chickpeas (soaked overnight) or 2 tins of chickpeas
  • 1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • veg oil (for frying if choosing to)

METHOD

  1. Soak the dried chickpeas in a large bowl of water overnight if you are using. The peas will double in size. Drain the water and rinse the chickpeas well.
  2. In a food processor, blitz the chickpeas with the onion, garlic and parsley until a nice paste-like consistency is reached. You should be able to squeeze a clump of dough together and it hold its shape. If the mixture is too dry, add some water, and if it is too wet, then add some plain flour.
  3. Next add the sesame, baking powder, salt + pepper and mix well. Then form a nice ball and put the falafel dough in the fridge to chill. This step is optional but it will help with the forming of the falafel balls. To form the falafel, use the same scoop or spoon to make even-sized patties or use your hands (wetted with some water) to form large golf ball-sized falafel and squish them down slightly. You do you!
  4. When it comes to cooking the falafel, the traditional method is to fry the falafel. This involves heating a 1-inch depth of veg oil in a large skillet and frying the falafel on each side until golden brown (3-5 minutes).
  5. Serve with warm bread, some veggies and a tahini dip! YUM!

Tahdig (Persian scorched rice)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp saffron
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • 3 tbsp veg oil
  • 2 tbsp butter

METHOD

  1. Mix the saffron into 1 cup of warm water and let it sit for 10 minutes so the saffron can release its flavor.
  2. Prepare the rice by rinsing it under cold water. Then put 8 cups of water and some salt in a large pot and bring it to a boil over a medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook it for 5 to 6 minutes. Then drain and set aside. 
  3. Oil the bottom of a 10-inch lidded nonstick pot and press the tortilla down evenly on the bottom.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cooked rice, the veg oil, the butter and 3 tbsp of the saffron water. At this stage, you can add in some extra ingredients such as dried cherries, cinnamon, and orange zest.
  5. Spread the rice mixture evenly over the tortilla. Finish by dotting the top with a bit more butter and then pour the rest of the saffron water on top.
  6. Wrap the pot in a tea-towel and cook on the hob (or in the oven) on a medium heat for 30 minutes until the rice is crispy at the edges. Be careful not to burn the rice though!
  7. Once its cooked, invert the pan over a large plate and flip the dish upside down so that the crispy tortilla is on top!

Kuku Sabzi (herb omlette)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large bunches of coriander
  • 3 large bunches of parsley
  • 1 large bunch of dill
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 cos lettuce heart
  • 3 tbsp + 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 6 large eggs

METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and prepare your dish by lining either an 8-inch square pan or 9-inch round cake pan with parchment and oiling the whole pan generously with olive oil.
  2. In a food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, dill, onion, leeks, lettuce and 3 tbsp of olive oil until everything is finely ground.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the tumeric, salt, pepper, fenugreek, dried dill and baking powder. Then add in 2 of the eggs and whisk until blended, before adding in the rest of the eggs and whisking until just combined. Now fold in the herb-veg mixture into the eggs and pour this into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake in in the pre-heated oven until the center of the omelette is firm (20 – 25 minutes). Set the omelette aside to cool for 10 minutes and then run a knife around the edges to loosen the kuku. Then invert onto a plate and remove the parchment from bottom, before re-inverting it onto your serving plate!

Fesenjan (Persian chicken and walnut stew)

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 – 8 chicken thighs
  • 4 cups of walnuts, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tsp sugar

METHOD

  1. Start by toasting the walnuts in a dry skillet pan on a medium heat, stirring them until lightly toasted.
  2. Next brown off the chicken thighs in a large pot by frying them in 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp olive oil on a medium-high heat. Season with salt at this stage and remove from the pan when done.
  3. In the same pan (add more oil if necessary), sauté the onion for 5 minutes. Add the chicken thighs back to the pan and pour over the chicken stock, simmering this mixture covered for 30 minutes.
  4. Then stir in the walnuts, pomegranate molasses, spices, sugar and saffron. Reduce the heat, cover and cook this for 1 hour, stirring now and then to prevent any sticking or burning.
  5. When the chicken is soft and falling apart, the stew is cooked. You can season with some more salt/pepper/sugar at this point and then enjoy (ideally with some pomegranate seeds and walnuts sprinkled on top)!

and see you in Israel! M + B x

INDONESIA

This flag was first hoisted during the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence in 1945 and again when the Dutch formerly transferred sovereignty back to the Indonesians in 1949.
COUNTRYINDONESIA
DishesNasi Goreng (vegan), Gado Gado salad
Time1 hr
Effort5/10
Rough cost£4
COUNTRYINDONESIA
CapitalJakarta
Population270,203,917 (4th largest)
Land mass1,904,569 km2 (14th largest)
LanguagesIndonesian
Religions86% Islam, 10% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Indonesia is a South-east Asian nation consisting of over 17,000 islands which makes it the world’s largest island country. Java is the country’s most populous island and is home to half the population. The nation state of ‘Indonesia’ emerged after the 350-year period of Dutch colonial rule came to an end in the mid 20th century. Today, Indonesia is a middle power in global affairs and has a strong economy.

Indonesian cuisine is one of the most diverse and flavourful cuisines in the world. Due to the vastness of the island nation, there is a lot of unique regional cuisines – each with their own flavour influences. The national dish is called tumpeng, which is this amazing-looking pyramid of rice surrounded by lots of veg side dishes.

Mwara made gado gado salad – a crunchy, spicy, nutty fresh salad – which was absolutley delicious. Bridget made nasi goreng, which is a classic rice stir-fry dish. It traditionally contains prawns and eggs but leaving these out for a vegan version was still delicious!

RECIPES

Gado Gado salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • 200g tofu, in small chunks
  • 250g cooked potatoes, chopped into chunks
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g green beans, halved lengthways
  • 250g cabbage (ideally Chinese cabbage), finely shredded
  • 100g beansprouts
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • SERVE: a handful of coriander leaves, a handful of crushed prawn crackers, 4 tbsp crispy onions

For the dressing:

  • 50g peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp kecap manis (substitute with 2.5 tbsp soy sauce + 1/2 tbsp honey)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 150ml coconut milk

METHOD

  1. To start, heat the oil in a large frying pan / wok and boil some water in a small saucepan. Fry the tofu for a few minutes on each side until crispy, and then transfer to a plate. Then do the same to the potatoes, frying for a few minutes until starting to crisp, and then set aside to cool.
  2. Boil the eggs in the water for 7 mins, and then cool them straight away in cold water. Refill the saucepan, bring to the boil and cook the beans for 2-3 mins. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
  3. Make the peanut dressing by mashing up the peanut butter and kecap manis together with a fork until smooth. Then whisk in the remaining ingredients!
  4. To assemble the gado gado, put the tofu, potatoes, beans, cabbage, cucumber, beansprouts, carrot and coriander in a large bowl or arrange on a platter. Drizzle over half the dressing, and keep the rest in a wee jug for people to help themselves. Sprinkle over the prawn crackers and crispy onions, peel and quarter the eggs and place on top. Toss everything together just before serving and ENJOY!

Nasi Goreng *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 300g long-grain rice
  • 3 tbsp veg oil
  • 100g green beans, cut in half
  • 200g shallots, thinly sliced (or 1 large onion)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis (substitute with soy sauce + honey)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 8 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • SERVE: 1/2 sliced cucumber, crispy onions, peanuts

METHOD

  1. Cook the rice as you wish and set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the beans into a pan of boiling salted water for 3 mins until just tender and cool under cold water.
  3. Then heat 1 tbsp veg oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Add in the shallots / onions, chillies, garlic, and carrots, and stir-fry for 2 mins until the carrot is just tender. Add the tomato purée, kecap manis, cooked rice and green beans, and stir-fry over a high heat for 2 mins. Next add the soy sauce, spring onions and and mix everything together. Finally, squeeze over the juice of the lime and mix in.
  4. SERVE: spoon the nasi goreng onto the plates, garnish with cucumber, spring onions, crispy fried onions and peanuts!
Terima kasih and see you in Iran! M + B x

INDIA

The flag of India is called the Tiranga meaning Tricolour. In the centre is the Asoka Chakra – a 24-spoke wheel
COUNTRYINDIA
Disheschana masala, lentil dahl, onion bhajis *all vegan
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £6
COUNTRY INDIA
Capital New Delhi
Population 1,352,642,280 km2 (2nd largest)
Land mass 3,287,263 km2 (7th largest)
Languages Hindi, English
Religions80% Hinduism, 15% Islam

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

India is a vast country in South Asia with coastlines on the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. It is the second-most populous country in the world and is a fast-growing major political economy. This large nation has a rich history spanning back 55,000 years ago with many different religions and their influence dominating the records.

Indian cuisine is world famous for its complex flavour profile and regional diversity. Spices are a staple feature of Indian cooking, which serves delicious flavours as well as delicate aromas. There are so many amazing recipes to get stuck into!

Indian cuisine features so many delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, so we served up a vegan proper feast – onion bhajis, chana masala, and lentil dahl. Indian food is meant to be eaten socially until everyone is stuffed – and this is exactly what we did! Bhajis are a staple Indian side dish with different regions using their own main ingredient and recipe. Dahl and masala are two classic, easy meals. This assortment was all served up with fresh rice, coop naan breads, a mango chutney – yogurt dip and chilli flakes! It was absolutely delicious and the best thing was….loads of leftovers.

RECIPES

Lentil Dahl

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, for frying
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 thumb fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups veg stock
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • A good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • salt + pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. In a large saucepan heat the oil on a medium heat and sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli until soft for about 5 minutes. Then add the spices and stir for a further minute.
  2. Prepare the lentils by rinsing them under cold water. Put them into the saucepan, add the veg stock and mix to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10 or so minutes until the lentils have absorbed most of their liquid.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and chopped tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes until the lentils are nice and tender (#BIMINI).
  4. Season with some salt and pepper and add a good squeeze of lemon juice. Serve up with (again) fresh rice and chopped coriander!

Chana Masala

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tins of chickpeas 
  • 3 large onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 3 green chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1½ tbsp dairy free butter / coconut oil
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 3 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • TO SERVE: 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander + fresh white rice

METHOD

  1. Firstly, heat the butter or coconut oil in a large saucepan. Fry the prepared vegetables (onions, garlic, ginger + chillies) for 10 or so minutes.
  2. Stir in all the spices with a splash of water, and fry for a further 3 mins.
  3. Then add in the tomatoes with an extra splash of water and cook for 5 mins. Mix in the chickpeas and another 1/2 cup of water. Cook for 10 mins on a medium heat until everything is well cooked. Season with salt + pepper to taste and serve on fresh rice with fresh coriander sprinkled over the top.

Onion Bhaji

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup gram/chickpea flour (or plain at a push)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 chillies, chopped 
  • 6 tbsp water
  • veg oil, for frying

METHOD

  1. To start, in a large mixing bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cumin and turmeric together until combined.
  2. Next mix in the chilli, coriander, lemon juice and water until a thick batter forms. 
  3. Add in the sliced onions and mix until all of them are fully coated (use your hands!).
  4. In a large frying pan, heat a good inch of veg oil over medium heat.
  5. Once the oil is hot enough, carefully drop big tablespoonfuls of batter into the oil. Cook each bhaji for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. 
  6. Remove each bhaji with a slotted spoon or spatula and transfer them to a cooling rack with a bit of tissue paper underneath. Repeat until all the batter is gone!
धन्यवाद and see you in Indonesia! M + B x

ICELAND

The flag of Iceland was adopted in 1944 on the day that Iceland became a republic. The flag features the classic Nordic cross.
COUNTRYICELAND
DishesIcelandic fish with white sauce
Time 1 hr
Effort 5/10
COUNTRY ICELAND
Capital Reykjavik
Population 371,580 (179th largest)
Land mass 102,775 km2 (106th largest)
Languages Icelandic
Religions75% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The first of the I’s: Iceland! Iceland is a Nordic island nation in the North Atlantic, and is the most sparsely (not dense) populated country in Europe. The central volcanic plateau of Iceland is erupting almost constantly and much of the mountainious island is composed of glaciers, glacial rivers, and even lava fields. Civilisation on Iceland was first recorded in 874 AD in Viking times. The present day Iceland ranks very highly on measures of social, economic, and sustainable welfare. In 2020, Iceland ranked 1st on the Global Peace Index and 4th on the Human Development Index.

As a family, we travelled to Iceland in 2017 and did find the cuisine very different to what we were used to. There was a lot of fish and starches, and other dishes typical of Scandi countries. Due to Iceland’s climate, fresh fruit and vegetables and herbs / spices are not widely used in traditional cuisine. With this in mind, Bee was not able to find a good vegan recipe, but Mwara made an Icelandic inspired dish: roasted Icelandic cod with white onion sauce, boiled potatoes, and cabbage. There are lot of great recipes to try out though, so we will definitely be revisiting Iceland in our kitchen soon!

RECIPES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 large white onions, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • 1 fresh cod fillet per person
  • 1/2 kg potatoes, diced
  • 1 cabbage, roughly sliced
  • salt + pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Prepare all your ingredients: fry the cod and freshen with lemon juice, boil the potatoes, boil the cabbage and prep the onions.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter on a medium heat and soften the chopped onions. Then add in the flour and milk and stir to thicken into a smooth sauce.
  3. Serve up the fresh fish with the boiled potatoes and cabbage on the side. Pour the white onion sauce over the dish and ENJOY!
Þakka þér fyrir and see you in India! M + B x