Featured

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

GHANA

This flag was adopted in 1957 when Ghana gained its independence.
COUNTRYGHANA
DishesKychinga kebabs with suya spice
Time 1 hr
Effort 4/10
Rough cost £3
COUNTRY GHANA
Capital Accra
Population 31,072,940 (47th largest)
Land mass 239,567 km2 (80th largest)
Languages English (official), 10 recognised
Religions71% Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ghana is a West African country bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Togo. It was the first African country to gain back its sovereignty after colonisation by the British. Since that time, Ghana has remained a strong, stable and democratic prosperous nation.

Ghanian cuisine is diverse in its influences and tastes. Fish is a staple, thanks to its coast-line, as is fufu, maize, apples and chillies.

Bridget made kychinga kebabs with a suya spice blend. There are many different ways of making this recipe, so check out a few before you start! Traditionally these kebabs are made with beef but we adapted the recipe to make it vegan. The dish was very tasty and fun to make.

RECIPES

Kychinga Kebabs with Suya spice

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cup peanuts (or peanut powder)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • KEBABS: bell peppers (cut in cubes), red onion (peeled), tofu (cubed) or vegan ch*cken

METHOD

  1. Blend the peanuts into a fine powder using a food processor.
  2. Add in all the spices and oil and mix in a bowl with a spoon.
  3. Prepare the kebab ingredients. Rub the ch*cken or tofu in the suya spice blend. Then build the kebabs with onion, pepper and tofu onto a wooden kebab stick.
  4. Barbecue on hot coals until charred and cooked – you may need to finish these off in the oven. ENJOY with whatever you should so wish!

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

GERMANY

The Schwarz-Rot-Gold flag of Germany displaying the national colours: Black, Red, and Gold.
COUNTRYGERMANY
DishesKartoffelpuffer, Griessbrei, Senfeier, German Potato Salad
Time 2 hours
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £10
COUNTRY GERMANY
Capital Berlin
Population 83,190,556 (18th largest)
Land mass 357,022 km2 (63rd largest)
Languages German
Religionsn/a

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Germany is a large Central European country – the second most populated country in Europe. The region has been documented as having been inhabited since before 100 AD. Emerging from the aftermath of the World Wars, Germany has become a great power with a strong economy, and is a global leader in several consumer sectors.

Its cuisine is regionally variable and has some strong international influences. We opted for an Internoshnal Grubtrotters favourite – make a massive brunch spread, German-style!

Kartoffelpuffer is a German potato pancake – a classic snack all-year round but specifically during Christmas time. Griessbrei is similar to rice pudding and is a traditional German comfort food to be enjoyed hot or cold. Seinfeier is a creamy, mustard-y, baked egg dish full of delicious flavours which is served as a brunch staple. Finally, we made traditional German potato salad, with the special additions of bacon bits, cider vinegar, cucumbers and spring onions. All the recipes were pretty quick and easy to make and 100% delivered on DELICIOUSNESS.

RECIPES

Kartoffelpuffer

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 large russet potatoes, grated
  • 1 yellow onion, grated
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup veg oil (for frying)
  • TO SERVE: fresh apple sauce

METHOD

  1. Wash and grate the potatoes into a muslin cloth and squeeze as much of the water out as possible.
  2. Let the liquid sit for a few minutes to allow the starch to sink to the bottom (white thick liquid). Spoon this out and add it back into the grated potato.
  3. Grate the onion into the potato and add the salt, pepper, egg and nutmeg. Mix this well.
  4. Heat the oil in a large pan or skillet. Drop 1/2 a cup of potato mix into the hot oil and flatten into a pancake with a spatula. Fry the cake on each side until golden brown for 3-5 minutes. Repeat!

Griessbrei

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup of milk

METHOD

  1. Add all the ingredients into a saucepan on a medium heat and mix well.
  2. Heat the mixture to a soft boil and whisk often to ensure that the liquid doesn’t burn.
  3. Turn down the heat and whisk continuously for 3-5 minutes until it reaches a smooth porridge consistency.
  4. SERVE: cold or hot with fresh cherry compote or brown sugar!

Senfeier

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 boiled eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 30g cup plain flour
  • 250ml cup veg broth
  • 100ml double cream
  • 1/2 lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 large pinch of white sugar
  • 4 tbsp fresh dill

METHOD

  1. Pre-boil the eggs and leave to cool in a bowl of cold water.
  2. To make the mustard sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat and add in the flour, whisking continuously as if making a rou.
  3. Add the veg broth slowly, whisking to avoid clumping, and then add in the cream.
  4. Stir the mixture until it is smooth and then bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sauce has thickened (8 minutes).
  5. Then add in the Dijon, lemon juice, dill and sugar, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cut the eggs in half and place in the sauce & ENJOY!

German Potato Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs small potatoes
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt + pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water, and then allow them to cool completely.
  2. In a large pan on a medium heat, heat some oil and fry the bacon until it is crispy. Remove from the pan. 
  3. In the same oily pan, fry the red onion on a medium heat until its golden brown.
  4. Into the onion pan, whisk in the apple cider vinegar, water, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and sugar. Simmer this mixture for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and season with salt + pepper to taste. 
  5. In a large serving dish, mix the spring onions and cucumber with the potato mix and serve warm!
Dánke and see you in Ghana! M + B x

GEORGIA

The ‘Five Cross Flag’ of Georgia was an original banner of the medieval Kingdom of Georgia.
COUNTRYGEORGIA
DishesLobio, Pkhali
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £5
COUNTRY GEORGIA
Capital Tbilisi
Population 3,716,858 (131st largest)
Land mass 69,700 km2 (119th largest)
Languages Georgian, Abkhaian
Religions88% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Georgia is a country in the Caucasus region, sandwiched between Eastern Europe and Western Asia, and bordered to the West by the Black Sea. It is a nation with rich ancient and medieval historical roots, and once formed parts of the Ottoman, Mongol, and Russian empires. Georgia is now a developing country, aspiring for NATO membership, and is a representative democracy.

Georgian feasts – supras – are full of salads, stews, breads and music, and can even last for days on end! The classic accompanying drink is orange organic wine, which is in fact an item of UNESCO cultural heritage status. The cuisine is a combination of Eastern and Western flavours and techniques, creating an interesting and delicious mix.

Meat has historically been saved for special occasions in Georgia, meaning there was a multitude of great veggie/vegan recipes to choose from. Bridget went for Pkhali – a vegetable pate made from ground walnuts (classic Georgian ingredient) and spices with cooked veg mixed in – and Lobio – a red kidney bean stew full of spices and herbs. Both dishes were delicious but be warned of having very very garlic breath afterwards!

RECIPES

Lobio (red kidney bean stew)

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g red kidney beans (if using dried beans soak prior to use)
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp blue fenugreek (or normal fenugreek)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup veg stock
  • a good glug of oil
  • salt + pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Using a pestle & mortar, grind up the fenugreek with the garlic and coriander into a mushy paste.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and fry the diced onion until golden. Then add the spice paste and cook for 3 mins until fragrant.
  3. Lower the heat and add in the kidney beans along with a little bit of the bean water. Mash the beans a little with the back of a wooden spoon.
  4. Mix everything well and then add in the stock and bay leaves. Cook the stew for about 20 minutes until a nice consistency is reached.
  5. Add salt + pepper to taste and serve with fresh Mchadi (fresh cornbread)!

Pkhali (beetroot + walnut paté balls)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp blue fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups of walnuts
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 1/2 fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • 0.5 lbs beetroots (I used pickled beets)

METHOD

  1. Using a pestle & mortar, grind the blue fenugreek, and cayenne pepper together.
  2. Then the spices into the food processor with the walnuts, chopped onion and garlic. Grind roughly. 
  3. Add the herbs into the food processor, then add vinegar and salt. Mix well to make a homogenous paste and transfer this to a bowl.
  4. Grate the pickled beets, and add the grated beets into the bowl for the walnut paste. Mix by hand and add salt to taste.
  5. Take a tablespoon of mixture and roll it in yours hands to make small balls. Make a small dimple on top and garnish with a walnut. Serve as pre-dinner horderves.
გმადლობთ and see you in Germany! M + B x

(The) GAMBIA

The national flag of Gambia was adopted in 1965 when the country gained independence from the British Empire.
COUNTRYThe Gambia
DishesDomada
Time 1 hr
Effort 4/10
Rough cost £3
COUNTRY The Gambia
Capital Banjul
Population 2,173,999 (144th largest)
Land mass 10,689 km2 (74th largest)
Languages English (official), lots of National languages
Religionsn/a

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa and is in West Africa, surrounded by Senegal and with a coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The country takes its name from The Gambia River, which flows through the centre of the nation. Throughout history, the advantages of this river has meant that Gambia was colonised by first the Portuguese in 1765, and then the British Empire, until the nation gained independence in 1965.

The cuisine of Gambia includes traditional West / central African staples like peanuts, rice, onions, tomatoes, cassava and chillis, however, The Gambia River is especially rich with oysters, which feature in some dishes. Bridget made our favourite *again* – vegan peanut stew a.k.a. Domada ! This is a rich and flavourful dish made with groundnut paste, chilli, tomatoes and whatever root veggies are lying around (or chicken for special occasions).

RECIPES

Domada

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb chicken OR 2-3 large sweet potatoes OR 1 lb pumpkin cut into chunks / cubes
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups of boiling water + vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • salt + pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat some oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Fry the onions, garlic and chilli for 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well.
  2. Next add in whatever meat / veg staple you are using (we used sweet potatoes). Stir into the mixture and then add the stock and peanut butter.
  3. Mix everything to combine fully and cook on a low heat for 30 – 45 minutes. The meat / root veg should be soft and cooked and the sauce should thicken up nicely.
  4. SERVE with fresh rice and greens = YUM!

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

GABON

The tricolour flag was adopted in 1960 to replace the French Tricolour colonial flag, with alternative colours and orientation.
COUNTRYGABON
DishesGabonese Mustard Chicken
Time 1.30 hrs
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £4
COUNTRY GABON
Capital Libreville
Population 2,119,275 (146th largest)
Land mass 267,667 km2 (76th largest)
Languages French
Religions82% Christianity, 10% Islam

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Gabon – officially the Gabonese Republic – is a country on the west coast of Central Africa consisting of coastal regions, mountainous region and savanna area. By the 18th century, Gabon was a powerful trading centre under the Kingdom of Orange, however, this power was removed by the arrival of the French colonists and the slave trade. Gabon broke free of French rule in 1960, and thanks to its highly available petroleum stores, it has become one of the most prosperous sub-Saharan African countries.

A country famous for its music, Gabon also has a wonderful cuisine. It has a lot of French influence but with added flair granted by the staple crops and flavours native to Gabon, such as cassava, yams, fish, bus meat, berbere, and tropical fruits. Mwara made Gabonese mustard chicken – a classic dish made with traditional ingredients. The flavours and textures complemented each other so well, and it was delicious cold the next day. Sub-out the chicken for a meat-free alternative if you fancy doing a veggie/vegan alternative!

RECIPES

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 organic chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup French mustard 
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced 
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • Vegetable stock

METHOD

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into large chunks and fry it in oil. Transfer the chicken to a dish for later. 
  2. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sauté the onion and garlic together.
  3. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan.
  4. Add about 1/2 cup of stock and stir well to de-glaze the pan.
  5. Add the mustard and the chicken to the pan. Simmer this mixture for about 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened up a bit.
  6. SERVE: with fresh rice and a crunchy veg salad = YUM!

Merci beaucoup and see you in Gambia! M + B x

FRANCE

The Tricolore flag
COUNTRYFRANCE
DishesVegan *Beef* Bourguignon, Tarte à l’oignon ou pissaladière
Time 1.30 hour
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £8
COUNTRY FRANCE
Capital Paris
Population 67,413,000 (20th largest)
Land mass 640,679 km2 (42nd)
Languages French
Religions51% Christianity, 40% a-religious, 5% Islam

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

After a little delay (Bridget had exams), we are back and its FRENCH WEEK. A country famous for its wine, food and dining culture, there was a huge array of French dishes to choose from – so definitely recommend having a look for yourself.

France consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions, with its capital in Paris. The country has a rich and ancient history dating back to the Gauls in the Iron Age. As a result, it is a country with an immense cultural status – art, philosophy, science, music and film. Mais oui, also cooking! French cuisine is known to be one of the finest in the world, with each region having its own traditional dishes and wines. A classic French meal often consists of three courses, hors d’œuvre or entrée (introductory course), plat principal (main course), and the fromage (cheese course) or dessert. A meal will also begin with an aperitif and end with cafés. In other words – a FEAST.

We both made a vegan version of the classic Beef Bourguignon, which substitutes the beef for mushrooms. Chuck any old sort of mushrooms in this recipe and enjoy the amazing sage – thyme – red wine scents and flavours. It was delicious! Mwara also made a classic French onion tart, traditionally made with anchovies for an additional salty flavour to balance the rich sweetness of the onions. She used ready-made puff pastry but feel free to make your own.

Needless to say but whatever you make, be sure to wash it down with a strong French red and un cafe to finish!

RECIPES

Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ tsp olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into slices
  • 1 yellow onion, finely sliced
  • 1 packet button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 packet chestnut mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • A tablespoon of fresh thyme sprig leaves, or 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 150ml full-bodied vegan red wine (aim for a French ‘un)
  • 200ml veg stock 
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée 
  • salt and black pepper – to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat up the oil in a heavy-based pan on a medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and fry for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in all the mushrooms, thyme, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Stir it well.
  3. Add in the wine and bring to the boil for 2 minutes. Then lower the heat down and add the stock, bay leaves, tomato purée and marmite and stir it well. Add in the cornflour and whisk it in until it is well-combined.
  4. Cook the bourguignon for 10 minutes, then season it to taste with salt and pepper!
  5. We served it up with creamy garlic *butter* vegan mash

Onion Tart with Anchovies (Tarte à l’oignon ou pissaladière)

INGREDIENTS *vegan op

  • 1 kg onions, finely sliced
  • 250g puff pastry *vegan
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 6 sage leaves
  • (1 tin of anchovy fillets + 3 sardines if using)
  • 20 or so black olives
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 50 ml white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. If adding the fish into the pie, then crush together half of the sardines + anchovies.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan, heat the olive oil and add in the onions and garlic. Fry these on a high heat until browned (5 minutes).
  3. Lower the heat, add in the sugar, salt, pepper and thyme. Then add in the wine and cook the mixture down. This will take about an hour.
  4. If using the fish, add the paste to the mixture and take it off the heat.
  5. Now preheat the oven to 180’C. Take the puff pastry and spread it across a large rectangular baking tray. Cover the dough with some baking paper, weight it down and par-bake for 8 minutes.
  6. Take it out of the oven and spread the onion (-fish) mixture over the pastry, sprinkle the top with thyme and sage, and add the black olives on top. Bake for a further 20 – 25 minutes. YUM!

Merci beaucoup and see you in Gabon! M + B x

FINLAND

The ‘Blue Cross Flag’ dates back to the 20th century and features the classic Nordic blue cross, which represents Christianity.
COUNTRYFINLAND
DishesRosolli, Mustikkapiirakka, Pulla
Time 1 hour
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £5
COUNTRY FINLAND
Capital Helsinki
Population5,536,146 (166th largest)
Land mass 338, 455 km2 (65th largest)
Languages Finnish, Swedish (recognised languages: Sami, Kalo, Karelian, et al.)
Religions70% Christian

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Finland is a Nordic country and shares borders with Sweden, Russia, and Norway. Its land cover is primarily boreal forest and it contains a whopping 180,000 lakes. Finland became inhabited in 9000 BC following the Last Glacial Period and was an active area in the Stone, Bronze and Iron Age. It is rapidly industrialised country and is a top performer in many measures of national performance: education, economy, civil liberties, development, quality of life and world human capital (1st in the world). It also has ranked top of the World Happiness Report every year since 2018!

Its cuisine is famous for combining traditional peasant fare and high cuisine into modern fusion dishes. Meat and fish feature more heavily in the west of Finland, whereas Eastern cuisine is more vegetable based. Fun fact, Finland has the world’s highest consumption per capita of coffee!

Bridget made Rosolli – a classic cold salad with the staples of potatoes, beets and carrots. It is a traditional side dish on the Finnish Christmas table. She served it up smorrebrod style with rye-bread, tofu egg-mayo and pickled cucumbers. Mwara made Mustikkapiirakka – a classic blueberry hot tart / cheesecake bit of deliciousness on a spiced cardamom crust. Everything was delicious! To top off our Finnish feast, Mwara also baked pulla, which are the Finnish version of a cinnamon roll.

RECIPES

Rosolli *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cup diced cooked beets (pickled or fresh & boiled)
  • 1 cup diced + boiled potatoes
  • 1 cup diced + boiled carrots
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 apple, diced
  • ½ cup pickles/gherkins, diced
  • Dressing: 1/2 heavy cream (we used dairy free!), 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp salt + pepper

METHOD

  1. Prepare all the vegetables and boil them in salted water until they are cooked but not mushy. Allow to cool.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.
  3. Add all the ingredients to a large serving bowl and cover with the dressing, mixing until fully incorporated. Season to taste and serve!

Mustikkapiirakka

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

  • 100g butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 100g rye flour
  • 100g all purpose / plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of cardamom

Filling:

  • 250g fresh blueberries (we used frozen)
  • 250g sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp sugar

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 *celsius and butter a 10 inch tart pan, ideally one with a loose bottom.
  2. To make the crust, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Then add in the egg, and mix well.
  3. Stir in both the flours, the cardamom, and baking powder. Combine this mixture into a loose ball.
  4. Turn the dough into your greased tart pan and spread it in an even layer across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
  5. Prick the bottom with a fork and bake the empty crust for 10 mins. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  6. To make the filling, whisk the sour cream, egg, sugar, vanilla, and cardamom together in a large bowl until it reaches a thin, pourable consistency.
  7. Spread the blueberries evenly across the cooled crust and carefully pour the filling all over the berries and spread it gently with a utensil until the crust is filled evenly.
  8. Return the tart to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the filling around the edges is set. The centre should still be a bit wobbly but largely firm.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool. Then serve warm or cool with ice cream or whipped cream!

Pulla (cinnamon rolls)

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • 1 generous cup milk 
  • 1 oz fresh yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 2tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
  • 1tbsp cardamom 
  • 1tsp salt
  • 75g butter 
  • 3 cups plain flour 

Filling 

  • 75g butter
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar

METHOD

  1. Add the yeast to warm milk and mix well (got to activate that yeast!). You know the milk is warm enough if you can put your pinky finger in the milk and it not be too hot or cold.
  2. Then whisk in the sugar, vanilla sugar/extract, salt, and cardamom. Stir in the flour, one cup at a time, and a dough will begin to form.
  3. Knead the dough in the bowl until it becomes elastic. Add in the butter and continue to knead the dough for around five minutes. Form a smooth ball of dough and cover with a towel and leave in a warm place for at least 30 mins for the dough to rise & double in size.
  4. Then put the dough out on a well-floured surface and roll it out into a 40×40 cm square.
  5. Spread softened butter evenly over dough and then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top of the butter. Roll up the dough into a nice tight Swiss roll-type affair. Cut the roll up into 1/2 inch round sections with a sharp knife.
  6. Place the cinnamon rolls on a papered baking tray, cover with a towel and let them rise again for 30 minutes. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 390°F / 200°C.
  7. If you want, you can glaze the rolls at this point with one egg (whisked) and brush the tops of the rolls with the glaze. Sprinkle some more sugar on top and bake the rolls for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Allow the buns to cool briefly, make some fresh coffee and eat immediately!
Kiitos and see you in France! M + B x

ETHIOPIA

This flag was adopted in the 17th century and features the National Emblem.
COUNTRYETHIOPIA
DishesEthiopian stewed lentils, Niter Kibbeh (spiced butter)
Time 1 hour
Effort 5/10
Rough cost £5
COUNTRY ETHIOPIA
Capital Addis Ababa
Population 109,224,414 (13th largest)
Land mass 1,104,300 km2 (28th largest)
Languages Amharic, Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali, Afar
Religions62.8% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

We both made the same dish this week and are glad we did because it was too delicious to describe over the phone. This dish was flavoursome, comforting and nutritious. For me (B), it has re-inspired the use of lentils in my cooking. Served up with some fresh rice and a sprinkle of parsley, this was an easy to make, low-cost, healthy and tasty meal (with plenty of left-overs)!

Mwara also made niter kebbeh – Ethiopian spiced butter! This is a staple of Ethiopian cooking and can go in pretty much any dish. It was aromatic, delicious and great in the lentil stew.

RECIPES

Ethiopian stewed lentils *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 -2 tbsp niter kibbeh / butter /coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp berbere spice mix
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp coriander / cumin
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup dry red lentils (soaked for 2 hours)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • SERVE: chopped parsley, fresh rice, Ethiopian injera bread
  • salt + pepper

METHOD

  1. Heat oil in a large sauce-pan with the butter/coconut oil. Then add the onions, berbere, garlic, cumin, ginger + smoked paprika. Stir the mix for about 2-3 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add in the soaked lentils, tomato paste and stir for about 2-3 more minutes. Add in the stock and the salt + pepper.
  3. Bring the mix to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer until sauce thickens. This might take around 30 minutes.
  4. Serve with some sprinkled parsley on top!

Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian spiced butter) *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lbs unsalted butter / coconut oil (we used this)
  • 2 shallots, minced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 13 crushed cardamom pods
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground fenugreek

METHOD Toast the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in a dry pan over medium heat until they are aromatic, about a minute.

Cut the butter into cubes.

  1. Put everything into a large pot on a low heat. Bring this mixture to a low simmer and cook gently for at least 30 minutes (can take as long as you like). Take it off the heat when the liquid starts to brown. Just make sure that you don’t burn the milk solids as this will ruin it.
  2. Strain the mixture through a muslin / cheesecloth and store in a clean glass jar. (niter kebbeh will last up to 6 months in the fridge, a week on the counter, and for agesss in the freezer).

አመሰግናለሁ and see you in Fiji! M + B x

FIJI

The ‘Blue Ensign’ has remained unchanged since Fiji was declared a Republic in 1987.
COUNTRYFIJI
DishesFish in Lomo, Fijian iTaukei Hot-dogs
Time 1 hour
Effort 6/10
Rough cost £6
COUNTRY FIJI
Capital Suva
Population 926,276 (161st largest)
Land mass 18,274 km2 (151st largest)
Languages Fijian, English, Fiji Hindu
Religions64% Christianity, 28% Hindu

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Fiji is an island country in Melansia in the South Pacific, 1000 nautical miles from New Zealand. It is an archipelago of more than 330 islands and more than 500 islets. All Fijian land mass was formed from volcanic activity 150 million years ago.

Fijian cuisine has staples such as cassava, taro and seafood – all in Lolo (coconut cream / milk). For the first of the F’s, Mwara made a fish dish full of Fijian flavours – Fijian fish in loom. Bridget made a Fijian street-food classic – iTaukei hot-dog! The food was delicious, fresh and full of flavour.

RECIPES

Fish in Lomo

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 ripe chopped tomatoes (or 1 can tomatoes)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 large handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 600g white fish fillets 
  • TO SERVE: baby spinach, fresh rice, shredded basil

METHOD

  1. Heat a large fry-pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add a quarter of the coconut milk, the lemongrass and chilli and fry it until most of the liquid evaporates and the lemongrass is soft (2-3 minutes). Then stir in the rest of the coconut milk, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar and basil. Simmer the mix for 5 minutes.
  3. Prepare the fish and season it with some salt and pepper. Place the fish in the coconut mixture and simmer it for 4 minutes. Then turn the fillets and cook on the other side until they are just cooked.
  4. To serve, briefly steam the spinach until it is just wilted and place on top of some fresh rice with a generous portion of fish and coconut sauce. Top with the chopped basil and dig in!

Fijian iTaukei hot-dogs *vegan

INGREDIENTS

  • Hot-dogs (we used tofu weiners), prepared according to packet instructions
  • Hot-dog buns
  • Desiccated coconut
  • Spinach: 2 cups of spinach, 1/2 can coconut milk, salt + pepper
  • Pickled onions: sliced red onions, 3 tbsp vinegar, 1 cup water, 2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp sugar

METHOD

  1. Pre-make the pickled onions. Add the sliced onions to a bowl with some salt to draw the water out and leave for 5 minutes. Drain the water out and add all the other ingredients. Mix well and leave for at least an hour (can store for up to a week).
  2. To make the spinach, place in a large oven dish and cover with some coconut milk. Keep layering the spinach up with the milk and salt + pepper it up! Cook in the oven at 180″ for 40 minutes.
  3. Prepare the hot dogs by slicing the buns, putting the hot-dog in, top with the cooked spinach and pickled onions. YUM.

Vinaka and see you in Finland! M + B

ESWATINI

This flag was adopted in 1968 when Eswatini (previously called Swaziland) gained independence from the British Empire one month before.
COUNTRYESWATINI
DishesSlaai, Relish (stew)
Time 1 hour
Effort 4/10
Rough cost £4
COUNTRY ESWATINI
Capital Mbabane
Population 1,136,281 (155th largest)
Land mass 17,634 km2 (153rd largest)
Languages Swazi, English
Religions89% Christianity

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Eswatini is one of the smallest countries in Africa but is has one of the most diverse climates. It was previously called Swaziland but changed its name in April 2018. It has an absolute monarchy government and is a lower-middle income developing economy.

In terms of cuisine, staples include sorghum, maize, beans and vegetables. We made the classic salad Slaai, which is heavily seasoned with ginger and citrus juice – as many Eswatini dishes are. Mwara made relish which, as in all Eswatini cookbooks we looked in, is a very traditional stew-type dish made of any meat / veg that is lying around! We served it with the staple carb crop of Eswatini – maize meal. All the dishes were simple and tasty.

RECIPES

Slaai

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 nugget of freshly grated ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 ripe avocados, diced finely (mush it up a wee bit!)

METHOD

  1. Prepare and mix everything together. Then leave to marinate for a little while before serving.

Relish (aubergine)

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 aubergine, chopped
  • veg stock cube
  • salt to taste
  • SIDE DISH: maize meal + pigeon peas (cooked & mixed)

METHOD

  1. Heat some oil in a large frying pan and fry the garlic + onions together for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add in the rest of the veg and stir well, cooking for about 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add in the stock cube (with some hot water), mix well and let everything simmer well for about 20 minutes on a low heat. Add salt to taste and serve with the maize meal.

Ngiyacela and see you in Ethiopia! M + B x