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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

DJIBOUTI (Republic)

This flag was adopted in 1977. The blue and green symbolise the Issa Somalis and Afars ethnic groups respectively, with the white symbolising Peace.
COUNTRYThe Republic of DJIBOUTI
DishesBanana Fritters (vegan)
Time 30 mins
Effort 4/10
Rough cost £2
COUNTRY The Republic of DJIBOUTI
Capital Djibouti
Population 921, 804 (168th largest)
Land mass 23,200 km2 (146th)
Languages French, Arabic (Somali, Afar)
Religions94% Islam, Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The Republic of Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa, with a coastline on the Red Sea. This makes Djibouti a hub of commercial maritime activity and it acts as an essential port. Its population is the smallest of mainland Africa and is majorly comprised of two ethnic groups: the Somali and the Afar people.

Djiboutian cuisine is a mixture of Somali, Afar, Yemeni and French cooking and also incorporate a lot of Middle Eastern spices. We really recommend checking out some of the delicious meat and fish dishes of Djibouti, like Skudahkharis, which is the national dish. However, Mwara is joining Bridget this month in doing VEGANUARY, so we opted for Djiboutian Banana Fritters.

These Banana fritters are a common sweet treat in Djibouti and were very easy, quick and cheap to make. These can come in different forms, from pancake-type to deep fried balls, so have a look online. Either way, they are traditional served dusted with some sugar – YUM!

RECIPES

Djibouti Banana Fritters *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bananas, mushed
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar, dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Oil for frying

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients together into a well-combined, smooth mixture. *Add more water if necessary to get a pancake consistency.
  2. Heat your choice of oil in a frying pan on a medium heat. Spoon a good dollop of mixture onto the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until nice and browned.
  3. Serve hot or cold with whatever you wish!

Merci Beaucoup and see you in Dominica! M + B x

DENMARK

This flag design was reportedly used by the Kings of Denmark in the 14th century and features an elongated Nordic Cross.
COUNTRYDENMARK
DishesSmørrebrød, Risalamande
Time 1.30 hours
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £10
COUNTRY DENMARK
Capital Copenhagen
Population5,837,213 (114th largest)
Land mass 42,933 km2 (130th largest)
Languages Danish (official), Faroese, Greenlandic, German (recognised regional)
Religions76% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Happy Christmas everyone! We are on the first of the D’s and we did a Danish Xmas Eve celebration. Denmark is the southernmost of the Scandinavian countries with an archipelago of 443 islands. It is bordered by Germany to the south and has autonomy over Greenland and the Faroe Islands. It shares strong cultural and historical ties with the other Scandinavian countries, and is similarly one to the most progressive countries in the world. Its cuisine is highly seasonal and features a lot of meat, fish and veg. We made the classic smørrebrød, which are Danish open sandwiches, beetroot salad and risalamande, which is the classic rice pudding-type dessert ate on Christmas Eve. YUM!

The Danish Xmas Eve started off with some shots of aquavit, before a feast of smørrebrød and the traditional risalamande pudding in which some naughty elves have hidden a whole almond to be found for a prize! We then sang carols around the tree and settled down on the sofa by the fire for some Danish hygge (cosiness!). It was absolutely wonderful and we’re thinking of making it a Christmas tradition! We hope everyone had as best a time as they could. Glædelig jul!

RECIPES

Smørrebrød (vegan options)

INGREDIENTS

  • slices of rye bread (as much as you want)
  • Mustard
  • 1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • Butter / Sunflower spread
  • Sliced smoked salmon
  • Sliced roast beef / Vegan ham
  • Pickled herring
  • 2 avocados, mashed with lemon juice
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 5 boiled eggs, chopped
  • Vegan mayonnaise
  • Vegan creme fraiche
  • salt + pepper

METHOD

  1. Make the egg salad by mixing chopped eggs with some red onion, chives, mustard, mayo and creme fraiche. Mix it well and then season to taste.
  2. Lay everything out on your table and get ready!
  3. There are some rules to smørrebrød; butter and mustard is always spread on first & do not mix proteins. Oh, and start the meal with aqua vit.
  4. Here are some ideas for combo’s: salmon + cucumber, mashed avocados + tomatoes + onions (vegan), mustard + roast beef / vegan ham (vegan), egg salad, pickled herring + chives + mustard.
  5. ENJOY (with some aqua vit). Serve also with Danish beetroot salad.

Danish beetroot salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 jar of pickled beetroot, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 apple, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp vegan creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • salt + pepper

METHOD

  1. Combine all the ingredients together and season to taste .
  2. Sprinkle with chives and serve with your smørrebrød.

Risalamande *VEGAN (serves 5)

INGREDIENTS

  • 125g pudding rice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 500 ml almond milk
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 cup almonds, chopped finely
  • 1 whole almond
  • 1 can coconut cream / milk
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • COMPOTE: 1 cup cherries, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 lemon juiced

METHOD

  1. On a medium heat, bring the rice and the water to a boil. Then add in the milk, sugar and vanilla.
  2. Stir the mix and lower the heat. Cook for 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until a nice rice pudding-type consistency is achieved.
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the chopped almonds. Allow the mixture to fully cool down.
  4. Make the compote by combining all the ingredients and cooking it on a medium-high heat and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. Allow this to also cool down.
  5. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream with the icing sugar until stiff peaks form.
  6. Fold the cream carefully into the cooled rice. KEY: pop 1 single full almond in and mix it in to hide it.
  7. Serve the Risalamande cool and with a big dollop of cherry compote. Whoever gets the single almond in their own portion wins a special prize!


Tak skal du have and see you in Djibouti! M + B x

CZECH REPUBLIC

This flag has remained since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, while Slovakia adopted a new flag.
COUNTRYCEZCH REPUBLIC
DishesKolaches *vegan
Time 6 hours
Effort 7/10
Rough cost £5
COUNTRY CZECH REPUBLIC
Capital Prague
Population 10,693,939 (86th largest)
Land mass 78,866 km2 (155th largest)
Languages Czech
Religions45% undeclared religion

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The final C (-ountdown): we’ve made it! The Czech Republic is a land-locked country in Central Europe, which formerly was part of Czechoslovakia until 1993. It ranks as the 11th safest and most peaceful country in the world, enjoys a democratic government and a social welfare state model.

Classic Czech cuisine heavily features meat, potatoes and grains. Czech beer is also world renowned, with the highest beer consumption per capita in the world. However, we went for a sweet treat and Mwara made the tasty pastry Kolaches. These did take a while to make, what with the several rising periods, but were well worth it in the end and went down lovely with a nice cup of coffee! Mwara made two flavours: blueberry and apricot.

RECIPES

Kolaches *vegan

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • 1 cup warm milk (105 to 115°F for dry yeast) *we used oat milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (traditionally use unsalted butter)
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 4 cups plain all-purpose flour 

Apricot Filling

  • 2 cups dried apricots 
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice or dark rum

METHOD (for filling)

  1. In a medium saucepan, simmer the apricots and orange juice over medium heat until tender, for about 30 minutes. Then drain.
  2. Blend the fruit in a food processor with the sugar and lemon juice until it’s smooth.

Blueberry Filling

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar 
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch 
  • Pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups blueberries 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice 

METHOD (for filling)

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and, cinnamon. Add the blueberries and lemon juice.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened (for about 10 minutes).

*both fillings can be kept in the fridge for 5 days (+ use for other yummy stuff!).

METHOD

  1. MAKE THE DOUGH: Dissolve the yeast in ¼ cup warm-ish milk.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the rest of the milk, coconut oil, eggs, sugar + salt. Blend in 1½ cups flour.
  3. Then gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a workable dough and on a lightly floured surface (or in a mixer with a dough hook), knead the dough until its smooth and springy (5 minutes).
  4. Place in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a kitchen towel or loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until nearly doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, cover, and let rise in a warm spot until nearly doubled in size, for about 1.5 hours.
  6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease the sheet. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, divide in half, form into balls, and let stand for 10 minutes.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough ½ inch thick. Cut into 2½-inch rounds. Reroll and cut out the scraps.
  8. Place on parchment paper-lined or greased baking sheets about 1 inch apart, cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  9. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 180 ‘C. Using your thumb press 1 large indentations into the center of each dough round, leaving a ½-inch wide-rim. Brush the edges with the egg wash. (see photos)
  10. Spoon about 1 tablespoon topping into the indent.
  11. Bake until golden brown for about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
  12. Kolache are best eaten fresh out of the oven! YUMMY


Děkuji and see you in Denmark (on Xmas Eve)! M + B x

CYPRUS

This flag was adopted in 1960 when Cyprus was proclaimed an independent state. The flag symbolises harmony between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
COUNTRYCYPRUS
DishesFassolia Piaz (bean salad), Veggie / Vegan Souvla
Time 45 minutes
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £8
COUNTRY CYPRUS
Capital Nicosia
Population 1,189,265 (158th)
Land mass 9,251 km2 (162nd)
Languages Greek, Turkish
Religions89% Orthodox Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Its the penultimate C – Cyprus! It is the 3rd largest and most populous island in the Med, and lies off the north coast of Egypt & south of Turkey. It is a country with ancient origins in classical Greek and Persian cultures, and was even taken over by Alexander the Great in 333 BC. There exists a divide between Greek and Turkish Cypriots but following the intercommunal conflicts of the mid 20th cent., there now is relative peace between the two groups. However, the Cyprus culture is still a mix-match of these two influences.

A staple food of Cyprus is HALLOUMI! So we cooked this up along with some grilled mushrooms, to replace the grilled meat in the traditional Cypriot Souvla. This a classic lunchtime or street food dish; easy + delicious.

RECIPES

Souvla *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • Hummus
  • Greek olives
  • Halloumi (we managed to get Cypriot & VEGAN TESCO HALLOUMI), sliced
  • Portobello mushrooms, sliced in lengths
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • Olive oil for frying
  • Pitta breads

METHOD

  1. Prepare the mushrooms by frying them with olive oil and garlic until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and fry the halloumi for about 3-5 mins on each side, until golden.
  3. Lay everything out on the table and assemble the Souvla by filling a pitta with hummus, mushrooms and halloumi!

Fassolia Piaz (bean salad) *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tin white beans (we used haricot)
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • A good glug of olive oil (GREEK if poss.!)
  • Salt & ground black pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Prepare all the ingredients and combine them all in a serving dish. YUM!

To go with the meal we also made a classic tomato and cucumber fresh salad.

efcharistó and see you in Czech Republic! M + B x

CUBA

This is the “Lone Star” flag of Cuba and is one of the only two communist countries whose flag doesn’t contain the symbol.
COUNTRYCUBA
DishesCubanos (Cuban sandwich), Cuba vegan bowl, Cuba Libres
Time 1 hr (+ time for Cuban pork)
Effort 7/10
Rough cost £8
COUNTRY CUBA
Capital Havana
Population 11, 193, 470 (82nd)
Land mass 109, 884 km2 (104th)
Languages Spanish
ReligionsChristian 59%, No 23%

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Cuba is a nation of archipelagos in the northern Caribbean, just south of Florida in the US. It was colonised by the Spanish in the 15th cent. before passing into American rule, but it gained independence in 1902. Since 1965 and the Castro government, Cuba has remained a communist state. Cuba is a beautiful and prosperous place to live, and has the title of the only country that meets conditions of sustainable development put forward by the WWF.

Its culture is multiethnic, with strong African and Spanish influences. Its music is loved throughout the world, as is its cuisine. Staples ingredients include plantains, black beans, rice, pork and tropical fruit. We went for the classic Cubanos sandwich, Cuba Libres & a ‘Bowl’!

As a family we have a love affair with the Cubanons, which always makes an appearance at gatherings (pre-COVID). These sandwiches are pure deliciousness and a staple of Cuban street food. The cuban bowl is a more westernised dish, however does combine many classic Cuban ingredients together in a healthy, veggie dish. To top it all off – a classic Cuban cocktail!

Stay safe and happy!

RECIPES

Cubanos (+ Cuban pork)

INGREDIENTS

Sandwich

  • 4 brioche rolls (Cuban Medianoche rolls if you can!)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb Cuban Roast Pork
  • 8 slices sliced ham 
  • 8 slices Swiss Cheese (Ledameer!)
  • Pickle slices
  • Classic yellow mustard

Cuban Roast Pork

  • 4 pound Pork shoulder roast
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 cup orange juice (not from concentrate)
  • 2 lime juiced
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 

METHOD

Cuban Roast Pork

  • Blend the garlic, salt and peppercorns into a paste, using a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Stir in sour orange juice, onion and thyme. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan until hot. Remove the oil from the heat and quickly whisk the garlic-orange juice mixture until well blended. Let cool before using as a marinade.
  • Pierce the pork roast several times all over with a fork or sharp knife. Place it in a roasting pan and pour garlic mixture (save a little for basting while roasting) over pork. Cover and let sit for 3 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  • Remove lid from the pork and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 150 degrees and roast until the meat is soft and you can pull it apart easily with a fork (about 2.30 hours). Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

Assembly! (see photos)

  • Spread the top and bottom of the bread with butter and mustard.
  • Layer up the pickles, followed by the roasted pork, ham, and cheese.
  • Turn on your toastier maker (or butter a hot griddle or pan). Place the sandwich in the pan and flatten the sandwich for approximately 3 minutes and then flip to the other side.
  • Slice the sandwich diagonally and serve immediately.

Cuban Vegan Bowl

INGREDIENTS (for 1)

  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cubed cooked sweet potato (or yams)
  • 1 serving of guacamole
  • 1 serving of salsa
  • handful of plantain chips
  • squeeze of lime,
  • salt & pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Prepare everything and arrange it in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Squeeze with some lime & season. DIG IN!

Cuba Libre

  1. Rum + Coke + Ice + Lime = DONZO!

Muchas Gracias and see you in Cyprus! M + B x

CROATIA

The Tricolor is the national flag of Croatia and has been since 1848. In the middle is the coat of arms of Croatia.
COUNTRYCROATIA
DishesSataras (vegan), Peka
Time 2 hours
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £10
COUNTRY CROATIA
Capital Zagreb
Population 4,058,165 km2 (128th largest)
Land mass 56,594 km2 (124th largest)
Languages Croatian
Religions90% Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Croatia is officially the Republic of Croatia and is a Central-Eastern European country, which shares a coastal border with Italy. It has a warm and wet climate, which grants Croatia one of the richest biodiversities of a European country. Croatia is one of the 20th most popular tourist destinations in the world, providing 20% of its annual GDP. It also ranks very high on the Human Development Index and has high gender equality.

Its cuisine is regionally variable, with heavy Turkish, Austrian and Hungarian influences. Mwara made Peka which is a classic dish, traditionally made with octopus. It is cooked on an open fire, which was totally awesome, especially on a cold November night. Bridget made a super simple and quick veggie side dish called Sataras. It was pure onion-y, tomato-y deliciousness.

RECIPES

Sataras (vegan)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely sliced
  • 2 large red bell peppers, finely sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium high heat and then fry the onions for around 3-5 minutes until it is soft.
  2. Add in the peppers and stir for 2 minutes. Then add in the chopped tomatoes and mix well.
  3. Stir in the paprika, salt and pepper and then turn down the heat. Cook for around 10-15 minutes until some of the liquid has boiled off and you have a rich saucy consistency.
  4. Serve with fresh rice, potatoes or just bread. YUM!

Peka

INGREDIENTS

  • 2kg lamb gigot chops (traditionally octopus)
  • 3kg potatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 3 garlic cloves (whole) 
  • 1 ¼ cup of white wine 
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 onions (halved)
  • 3 medium carrots (chopped)
  • 3 peppers (chopped)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & black pepper

METHOD

  1. Line your dish with the potatoes and coat with them with olive oil.
  2. Add in the carrots, pepper, onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then drizzle some more olive oil over the top
  3. Place the octopus on top of the ingredients and press lightly to combine. Add the bay leaf and sprig of rosemary on top
  4. Cover with the lid and place into your FIRE! (could also use oven or slow cooker).
  5. Add coal embers on top of the dish, to completely cover the lid.
  6. Cook for 45 minutes and then carefully get the Peka out, remove the lid and gently stir everything. *If its too liquidy remove some or if its too dry then add additional wine.
  7. Cover with the lid again and cooking for an additional 30 minutes.
  8. Carefully remove the coals from the lid, take the lid off and serve
  9. Enjoy!
Hvala vam and see you in Cuba! M + B x

COSTA RICA

The modified flag of Costa Rica was adopted in 1907 and no loner holds the official coat of arms.
COUNTRYCosta Rica
DishesGallo Pinto (vegan), Costa Rican blackberry smoothie
Time 30 mins
Effort 3/10
Rough cost £4
COUNTRY COSTA RICA
Capital San Jose
Population 4,999,441 (123rd largest)
Land mass 51,100 km2 (126th largest)
Languages Spanish (official), Mekatelyu, Bribri, Patios (recognised)
Religions79% Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Costa Rica literally means ‘Rich Coast’ and it is a Central American country with the Caribbean Sea to the north and a large southern coastline on the Pacific Ocean. The country was inhabited by indigenous people until it came under Spanish colonial rule in the 16th century and the First Mexican Empire, before gaining independence in 1847. It enjoys a high Human Development Index, has the 7th freest press and is the 12th happiest place to live (World Happiness Report). A common reply to ‘How are are you?’ would be ‘Pura Vida’ (pure life), which represents the simple, stress free and positive feeling for life in this nation. Costa Rica has a rich cultural, with Spanish, Mesoamerican and South American influences. Its cuisine reflects these same influences.

Bridget made Gallo Pinto which is an iconic Costa Rican dish. It is served at any time of the day, as a side or a main. We made the classic version however, why not try it with a fried egg and avocado or some fake / real meat and greens. Mwara made a refreshing blackberry smoothie which is traditionally made with milk powder.

RECIPES

Gallo Pinto (vegan)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 400g tin of black beans
  • 1/2 cup Lizano salsa (I sort of made my own)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • coriander to serve

METHOD (super easy!)

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Sauté the onions, peppers and garlic for around 5 minutes until they are tender.
  • Mix all the spices together in a bowl, and then add into the pan with the cooked rice and beans.
  • Give it a good stir and add in the salsa. Turn the heat off but leave the pan on the hob and mix to coat all the rice.
  • Serve with chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime ( + a cold cervaza!).

Costa Rican Blackberry Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag frozen / fresh blackberries
  • 3 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk powder (use vegan milk powder or a can of coconut milk)

I used a bit less water as my jug was not big enough, and I did not bother to soak the fruit. Literally a bag of frozen blackberries, 3 cup water and half cup sugar in the blender. Sieve, add the half cup milk powder and more water. The end. Yum. I think you could easily replace the milk powder for a tin of coconut milk in a vegan version, just reduce the water.

METHOD

  1. Add 3 cups of water, the fruit and sugar into a blender and blitz well.
  2. Sieve in the milk powder and the little extra water and blend until fully smooth.
  3. Thats it- Delicious!

Gracias and see you in Croatia! M + B x

REPUBLIC OF CONGO

This flag was adopted in 1959 to replace the French Tricolour. The colours are of the Pan-African movement, with the diagonal yellow band representing the “friendship and nobility” of the Congolese people.
COUNTRYCONGO (republic of)
DishesMuamba nsusu (vegan)
Time 1 hour
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £4
COUNTRY CONGO (republic of)
Capital Brazzaville
Population 5,244,359 (117th largest)
Land mass 342,000 km2 (64th largest)
Languages French (official), Kituba, Kikongo, Lingala (recognised regional)
Religions88.5% Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The Republic of Congo (also Congo, The Congo, Congo-Brazzaville) is a country on the West Coast of Central Africa. Bantu-speaking tribes were the earliest inhabitants of this area in around 1500 BC! Congo came under the control of French colonialism in 1880, gaining independence in 1960. The country then ended up under Soviet Eastern Bloc rule in 1977, which in time led to brutal civil war. In modern day, Congo has a multi-party political system and its economy prospers from the oil industry.

Congo’s national dish is moambe chicken, which we have made a type of from Benin. The peanut / palm nut stew is the moambe / mwambe sauce, which serves the basis for a variety of West African classic dishes. So, Bridget decided to cook the slightly different Muamba Nsusu, which uses this sauce to create more of a curry-type sauce, with spices and heat. It was absolutely delicious and was lovely with the soft texture of the tofu.

RECIPES

Muamba Nsusu (vegan)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 block of tofu, pressed and cubed (or 1 lbs chicken)
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large cup of spinach
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter (YUM)
  • 1/2 veg broth
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • TO SERVE: rice / yam / fufu, spring onions, crushed peanuts

METHOD

  1. Start by marinating the cubed tofu in a mix of the lemon juice, paprika, turmeric and chillies. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Heat up some oil in a large pan and add the onions, cooking for around 3 minutes until softened. Add the tofu and let it fry-cook on one side for 2 minutes, then flip to the other side for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, spinach and cumin and stir everything. Then let cook for 2-3 minutes. The tomatoes should break down.
  4. Add in the vegetable broth and the peanut butter and mix it to incorporate everything to a smooth texture. Bring this to the boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing some liquid to boil off.
  5. Serve with rice

Merci Beaucoup and see you in Costa Rica! M + B x

COMOROS

This flag was adopted in 2001. The star and crescent symbol representing the main religion of Islam. The four colours represent the 4 Comoros Islands.
COUNTRYCOMOROS
DishesLangouste a la Vanille, Poulet de Comoros (with sweet mash)
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £8
COUNTRY COMOROS
Capital Moroni
Population 850,688 (160th largest)
Land mass 1,861 km2 (171st largest)
Languages Comorian, French, Arabic
ReligionsSunni Islam

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Comoros is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique and Tanzania, and sharing a maritime border with Madagascar. It is a member of the Arab League, with Arabic, French and Comorian as its official languages. It is made up of 3 different islands; Grande Comore, Moheli, Anjouan, and also has claim to the island of Mayotte.

Its cuisine has influence from French and Arabic cultures, with aromatic spices. Thanks to its geographical location, the cuisine also features lots of fresh seafood and wonderful fruits. Mwara went down this road and made Langouste a la Vanille, a famous dish made traditionally with fresh South African lobster caught in Comorian waters and newly harvested vanilla beans, which are a major agricultural crop. The dish has its origins in French cuisine. I was unable to source lobsters and so served raw whole tiger prawns in the sauce instead. I roasted them in their shells and removed the meat, as described for the lobster. Bridget made a vegan version of another classic main course Poulet de Comoros. This is served with a delicious sweet potato mash, which has coconut flakes and cinnamon in it – almost a dessert!

RECIPES

Langouste a la Vanille

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lobsters OR 2 bags of tiger prawns (M used prawns!)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, sliced
  • 3/4 lb fresh spinach
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 medium shallots, peeled and finely diced
  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • salt and pepper to tase

METHOD

  1. Prepare the tiger prawns by laying out in a roasting tin, tossing in oil and roasting in a hot oven until cooked (max. 10 mins)
  2. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside to cool.
  3. Melt two teaspoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan.
  4. Sauté the shallots in the butter for about three minutes until soft.
  5. Pour in the wine and vinegar.
  6. Cook on medium high heat for about five minutes
  7. Turn off the stove when the liquid has been reduced to about a tablespoon.
  8. Stir in six tablespoons of butter, one at a time
  9. Prod the seeds out of the halved vanilla bean and add to the sauce
  10. Strain the sauce into a clean saucepan, and discard the diced shallots
  11. Season the sauce with a sprinkle of salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  12. Chop whatever meat you have into ¼ inch chunks and place the meat chunks into a container and cover with aluminium foil to keep warm
  13. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a pan and sauté the spinach and onions. Cook until the spinach is tender.
  14. Season with salt and pepper
  15. Arrange the greens onto the serving dish, and then place the warm lobster on top of it.
  16. Reheat the sauce and pour it over the prawns and serve with rice. 

Poulet de Comoros

INGREDIENTS

Chicken

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 packet mushrooms (I added these in cause I had some kicking about)
  • (I also added 1 finely sliced fresh green chilli)
  • 1 packet vegan chicken (B used the This is not chicken)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Sweet potato mash

  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vegan butter

METHOD

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a pan on a medium high heat. Fry the garlic and onion and chilli for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the chicken and mushrooms and a little more oil, stirring for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and put the lid on the pan for 10 minutes. Then add in the coconut milk and stir well, and stir in the ginger, salt, and pepper. Cook on a low-medium heat for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced a bit.
  4. Serve it up with the mash (mash all ingredients up) and parsley! YUM!

Merci and see you in Congo! M + B x

COLOMBIA

The Tricolor Nacional flag represents independence from Spain in 1810.
COUNTRYCOLOMBIA
DishesAreppas, Cholado Colombiano
Time 1 hour
Effort 7/10
Rough cost £7
COUNTRY COLOMBIA
Capital Bogota
Population 50,372,424 (28th)
Land mass 1,141,748 km2 (25th)
Languages Spanish
Religions88.6% Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Colombia is a transcontinental country, with territory in both South and North America. It is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse countries in the world, reflecting its rich heritage from American, European, African and Middle Eastern influences. The country has been occupied by indigenous people since at least 12,000 BCE!

Its cuisine reflects this cultural richness and dishes vary from region to region. Staple ingredients include: rice, maize, potato, cassava, chicken and goat and fish! It also uses many colourful tropical fruits, most of which we can’t get in the UK. Bridget made the classic street food dish Arepas with guacamole, which are a very traditional carb served with a range of meals. Mwara made Cholado Colombiano which incorporates Colombia’s amazing selection of fruit into a delicious iced dessert. YUM!

Hope you are all doing well.

RECIPES

Cholado Colombiano

INGREDIENTS

  • Ice
  • 1 cup strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup banana, sliced
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced
  • 1 cup mango, diced
  • Sweet condensed milk, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • To serve: maraschino cherries, straws

Passion Fruit Syrup

  • 2 cups fresh passion fruit insides
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of sugar

Berry Syrup

  • 2 cups Colombian blackberries (just pick some brambles from near you!)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 3/4 cup of sugar

METHOD

  1. Prepare all fruit to bite size and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.
  2. To make the syrups: Combine water, fruit pulp and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Keep cooking the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, and there is a thick mixture. Let the syrup cool in the refrigerator  before using.
  4. Assemblage: Crush the ice in a blender or food processor.
  5. Put you serving glasses on a work surface. Add 1/2 cup of crushed iced, drizzle passion fruit syrup and berry syrup over ice. Add some condensed milk on top.
  6. Place 1 pile of fruit on top of the ice. Drizzle more condensed milk on top of the fruit. Garnish with shredded coconut and a cherry. YUM!

Arepas (with guacamole)

INGREDIENTS

Arepas

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 heaped tsp sea salt
  • 2 cup areparina (a.k.a. masarepa – I couldn’t get this so I mixed corn flour with polenta to give a textured, lovely yellow colour dough!)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, veg oil or vegan butter for cooking 

Guacamole

  • 2 avocados, mashed up
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chilli, finely chopped
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lime, juice of

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Add to a large mixing bowl, the water and salt. Stir to combine and dissolve salt. 
  • A little at a time, add the areparina (or whatever you are using and stir with your hands. Work all the rest of the flour in, although be intuitive here. You’re looking for a dough that doesn’t easily stick to your hands, is moldable and moist, and can be rolled into a ball. Add more flour if its too wet or water if too dry. Once you have that consistency, cover with a towel for 5 minutes.
  • Uncover, grab a large handful of dough, and roll into a golf-ball sized ball.  
  • Carefully press the ball between the palms of your hands to form into a roughly 1/2-inch thick disc (for thinner, crispier arepas, press closer to 1/4 inch).
  • Heat your oil of choice in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Then add arepas, giving them a little room in between so they don’t touch. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until deep golden brown. You’re looking to form a crust. Then flip and cook for 2-3 minutes more or until the underside is also browned.
  • Transfer to an oiled baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until slightly puffed up and a little more golden brown in color. 
  • To enjoy, slice in half and enjoy as is, spread both sides with vegan butter – YUM! You can also cut the arepa 3/4 of the way around, leaving a seam on the edge so you can “stuff” it like a pita. Fillings could include everything from beans to guacamole.
  • To make the guac: mix all the ingredients well and serve with the warm arepas.
  • Best when fresh!

Gracias and see you in Comoros! M + B x