144. Namibia: Potjiekos

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Namibia is not the cheapest but it is one the safest and cleanest places to visit in Africa and that is worth something. Namibia is a very dry country (the driest in Sub-Saharan Africa) and has a lot of desserts, even on the coast. The North Coast of Namibia is dangerous for sailboats the Portuguese called it “The Gates to Hell” and the Bushmen called it “The land God made in anger” but nowadays it’s commonly known as “Skeleton Coast”. Why all these spooky names you ask… Well because of rare geological phenomena in which the colossal dunes merge with the ocean. You could say that an ocean of sand meets an ocean of water. A lot of ships sank there and you can find a lot of shipwrecks in the middle of the desert. Shipwrecks are not the only spooky thing you can find in the desert there is also Kolmanskop ghost town in Southern Namibia. It was once a very rich mining village, now it’s swallowed up by the desert.

Most of the Namibian population lives in the North of the country because that is where you can find the most cultivable land. Namibia’s main industries are diamonds, meat, and fish. But especially diamonds since they are one of the top 10 producers worldwide.

Things you didn’t know about Namibia:

  • The name ‘Namib’ translates as “vast place”, which is apt given that Namibia is one of the least crowded destinations on the planet. Only Greenland, the Falkland Islands, Mongolia and Western Sahara (in that order) have fewer people per square kilometer.
  • If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the fastest land animal on the planet, Namibia is the place to go – for it is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs.
  • In the south of Namibia you can find the largest Canyon in Africa “The Fish Canyon”
  • In the Namib dessert, there is a strange natural phenomena known as fairy circles. Fairy circles are only found in the dry regions of Africa and Australia. The grass naturally grown in a circle pattern with an empty dirty or sandpit in the middle. Scientists have theories as to why this happens, but so far no exact explanation.

Potjiekos is a one-of-a kind dish. The Dutch brought the dish to South Africa and Namibia, when navigator Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Good hope in 1652. As African trade increased the Africans were introduced to many new herbs and spices. These spices made Potjiekos into the unique dish it is now, very far from the dish I know from living in the Netherlands my entire life “Hutspot”. There is a question what distinguishes Potjiekos from a stew. Well I have the answer for you stews are for stirring, a potjiekos should not be stirred! The flavours of the ingredients should mix as little as possible. Yes this dish takes a while, but you can put it needs to simmer for a few hours but the work itself is really really easy and you can do other stuff in the meanwhile.

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143. Myanmar: Mohinga

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Myanmar or Burma (which is the old name).  In 1989, the ruling military governement changed the name from Burma to Myanmar after thousands were killed in an uprising. The city of Rangoon also became Yangon and many other cities had a namechange. However, most people continue to use both names interchangeably without much fuss. Sometimes Burma is just an easier word to pronounce.  Burma is considered to describe ethnic Burmans only, so Myanmar became the politically correct term, which is supposed to encompass all who live in the country. Myanmar is a beautiful country scattered with gilded temples, ancient forests and beautiful beaches.

Things you didn’t know about Myanmar:

  • The fishermen of the Inle lake in Myanmar are world famous for fishing whilst standing on one leg. These fishermen developed a very unusual technique to be able to fish and row a boat at the same time.
  • Kissing sounds are normal in a Myanmar restaurant because this is the sound they make to get the attention of the waiter. (ooooh that would piss me off)
  • Myanmar is one of only three countries in the world that has not adopted the metric system of measurement.  The other two holdouts are Liberia and the United States.
  • You will see small children wear holy thread around their neck or wrist for protection from bad spirits or spells.
  • Chewing betel nut is a national pastime. Small street stalls sell the palm-sized green leaves filled with betel nut, spices and sometimes a pinch of tobacco. The leaves are folded, popped in the mouth and chewed.

Mohinga is a noodle soup that is traditionally eaten for breakfast, catfish is not easy to find here in the Netherlands so i used trout. I liked this recipe but it was not what i was expecting, and personaly I would rather eat it for lunch then for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
Broth
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 2-ounce piece ginger (unpeeled), thickly sliced crosswise into slabs
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 scaled and gutted catfish (i used 2 rainbow trouts, because catfish is kind of hard to find around here)(about 3 pounds)
Soup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 red onions, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • salt
  • 10 ounces fine round rice noodles
Serving
  • 6 eggs, boiled for 6 minutes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Thinly sliced red onions
  1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Spread the rice across a rimmed baking pan and bake, giving the pan an occasional stir, until the rice is an even golden color and aromatic, 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then pulverize in a clean coffee grinder.
  2. To make the broth, select a large wide pot that will fit the catfish comfortably with room to spare. (An 8-quart pot works well.) Add the water, lemongrass, ginger, bay leaves, black and white pepper, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Carefully lower the fish into the pot. The fish may not be completely covered in water, but that’s okay. Bring the pot to a brisk simmer, lower the heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the fish over or at least rotate it slightly to cook the side that was sticking out of the water. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the fish flesh pulls away cleanly from the bone. Using tongs and a spider or slotted spoon, lift the fish out of the broth and transfer to a bowl. Turn off the heat and let the broth sit on the stove.
  4. When the fish is cool enough to handle, pull off the skin and discard. Separate the cooked fish from the bones, trying to keep the skeleton (or skeleton portions if the fish is cut in pieces) intact. Set aside the cooked fish. Return the skeleton (including head and tail) to the pot.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The broth should have a mild ginger-lemongrass flavour and be slightly cloudy. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. You will have about 10 cups. Give the pot a quick rinse (when it’s cool enough to handle), and return the broth to the pot.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered rice and a ladleful of the broth until no lumps remain. Stir into the broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until it starts to barely thicken, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook the broth at a gentle simmer while preparing the soup.
  7. To make the soup, in a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked fish, paprika, and turmeric, mashing the fish gently with a spoon to turn it into a coarse paste, and cook for about 1 minute. If you see any errant bones, pick them out.
  8. Pour the contents of the wok into the broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Add the red onions and fish sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes more or until the flavors start to come together. Taste the broth: it should be on the salty side because the noodles will not have any salt. If it’s not that salty, add some salt or fish sauce. (At this point, the soup can be cooled and served the next day.)
  9. To cook the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring often with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking, for 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Turn off the heat and let the noodles sit in the water for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cool running water, and give the colander a shake to remove excess water. If not serving right away, mix some canola oil into the noodles with your hands to keep them from sticking together. (You can also cook the noodles in advance and soak them in warm water before serving.)
  10. To serve, divide the noodles among the bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and serve the hard-boiled eggs, crackers, cilantro, and lime wedges alongside.

142. Mozambique: Chicken Piri Piri

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Mozambique, a tiny country located north of South Africa. Famous for its beautiful beaches and for being the only country with all 5 vowels. Mozambique has 3 main island archipelago: The Quirimba’s, the Primeras y Segundas, and the largest one Bazaruto. The island of Mozambique is the island where the country derives its name from. A sultan named Ali Musa Mbiki. The country is rich in biodiversity and you can find the “Big 5” (leopard, lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo). The Big 5 are Africa’s undisputed superstars and the reason tourists set out eagerly on dawn and dusk game-viewing excursions. Dance is huge in Mozambique! Almost every tribe has their own traditional dance! The Makhuwa have stilt dance with colorful masks, The Chopi people have a hunting dance that reenacts battles, The woman in Mozambique have a rope-jumping dance, Gule Wamkulu from the Chewa tribe even has a dance thats classified by the UNESCO as a masterpiece of Oral and intangible beritage of humanity.

Things you didn’t know about Mozambique:

  • There are over 40 local languages spoken in Mozambique, most citizens speak more than one language.
  • You don’t just say “Hello” as a greeting in Mozambique. Asking after one’s family’s health is an essential part of greeting each other.
  • Over 50% of Mozambique’s population is under the age of 15. If you thought you were too old for that college town you lived in, imagine an entire country with young people everywhere.
  • Mozambique has some of the best coral reefs in the world, especially those lining the Bazaruto Archipelago. Over 1,200 species of fish have been identified off the coast of the country and it’s also one of the largest marine reserves in the world.
  • The Church of San Antonio de la Polana is a religious building located in the city of Maputo. The church is of modernist architecture, build in 1962 according to the project architect Portuguese Cavreiro Nuno Lopes. It is shaped like an inverted flower however, it is known as many the ‘Lemon Squeezer’. This church was restored in 1992.

This was a tough one guys! I was trying to find a dish. Something that natives themself eat. I contacted a group on Facebook called “Mozambique for All”, and if you have any more questions about the food in Mozambique or traveling there, I recommend joining them! They are a super helpful group of people!!! This recipe turned about great because of their help! My boyfriend bought a rotisserie for his BBQ at home recently. As some of you know he is also a chef, he specialized in BBQ for a year by working for a BBQ catering company. This recipe was the perfect opportunity for us to try out our new toy! I made the marinade and he made sure his new BBQ toy worked properly and cooked the chicken just right. If you don’t have a rotiserie you can always spatchcock the chicken. That also works really well.

Read on for the recipe

141. Morocco: Lamb tagine with plums and apricots with couscous

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Morocco, this beautiful country is very familiar to me. Part of my father’s business is located in the North in Tangier. My parents own an apartment there, so we go there a lot. As a matter of fact, my parents are there right now. Morocco is tailor-made for adventurous travellers. With its seemingly endless dessert, its rusty mountains, its colourful souks, and dreamy medinas where you lose yourself the minute you enter the labyrinth of tiny alleys. Moroccan people are known for their hospitality, and that is not a myth. Every building you enter, people are offering you traditional super sweet mint tea (which I love!) or harrira (a lentil soup). In short, Morocco is a magnificent country with kind and generous people, and you should definitely visit should you ever get the chance!

Things you didn’t know about Morocco:

  • It is the only Islamic country where women’s rights are enshrined in the constitution
  • Tangier used to be known as a center for sex and drugs during the era of Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, and William S Burroughs
  • Under Moroccan Constitutional Law, no party can have an absolute majority
  • Chefchaouen is Spanish rather than French-speaking as it was a Spanish enclave for many years
  • You can ski in the winter – in Oukaimeden

Tagines are cooked on the stove, or on an open fire, not in the oven. I love tagine and this recipe is amazing, and I’ve made it a bunch of times. I got it from a local woman. The sweet stickiness of the prunes blends perfectly with the lamb and all the warm spices like cinnamon and cumin.

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140. Montenegro: Black Cuttlefish Rice with Gamba’s

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Montenegro is located in the southeastern European region known as the Balkans right along the Adriatic Sea. It is the least populated Balkan nation. The name Montenegro means “black mountain” in Venetian Italian. Although its name is derived from Italian, Montenegro is a Slavic nation and not Latin. That’s why they call their own country Crna Gora, which means “black forest”. It probably won’t surprise you that Montenegro has lots of mountains and forests. The best and by far the coolest way to see the 1300 meter high Tara Canyon is rafting, you know the tiny boats on a wild river. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at one of the many many monasteries especially Ostrog Monastery which is built inside a mountain.

Things you didn’t know about Montenegro:

  • Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is one of the biggest bird reserves in Europe. It’s home to over 270 bird species and is a vitally important stop for migrating birds. Among the most popular on the lake are the Dalmatian Pelicans.
  • They have a lazy Olympics in the town of Brezna. You can win about €400 for just being the one that lays down and does nothing for the longest.
  • Montenegrins are known to be very relaxed. In that effort, they have their own set of commandments to live by. Among them are: “Love thy bed as you love thyself”; “If you see someone resting, help him”; and “If you have the urge to work, sit down, wait and you’ll see it will pass.”
  • His Imperial and Royal Highness Stefan Cernetic, Hereditary Prince of Montenegro, Serbia and Albania has been attending gala dinners, giving out Orders (for a fee) and hobnobbing with celebrities and aristocrats for years.Montenegro hasn’t had a royal family since 1918. But that didn’t stop Mr Cernetic from conferring Pamela Anderson the title of Countess of Giglio in a ceremony, in which she knelt before him and thanked him for his generosity, in 2015.
  • Montenegro is one of the founding members of the Red Cross

I love this rice dish. It is a popular meditarian dish and one of my favourites! The ink doesn’t only add color but also a rich flavor!

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139. Mongolia: Boortsog (Fried Cookies)

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Mongolia, a rough country with a tumultuous history squeezed between Russia and China. Mongolia’s founding father is the legendary and once feared Genghis Khan. He came to power by merging several nomadic tribes. In 25 years he conquered more land surface than the Romans did in 4 centuries. Quite an impressive dude right? In the 13th century, the Silk Roads became an important economic route in Asia. Salesmen like Marco Polo traveled all the way from Europe to gain access to luxury goods like diamonds, pearls, rubies, silk, porcelain, paper, peaches, rhubarb, elephants, and horses. Modern-day Mongolia is not what I expected. In the capital city, Ulaanbaatar cars and pedestrians commingle with livestock. Nearly 60% of Mongolia 1,4 million people have moved to the city, where they seek a more luxurious lifestyle. The result is the Ulaanbaatar has become the most polluted capital in the world. It has gotten so bad that in the winter months when the smog is at its worst doctors advise couples to avoid conceiving children.

Things you didn’t know about Mongolia:

  • Mongolia is home to a lot of endangered animals like snow leopards and the twohumped Bactrian camel
  • More than one-quarter of the population live as nomads.
  • There is a theory that Mongolian horsemen first invented the ice cream. They would take animal intestines on long journeys. The combination of freezing and being jolted around on the horse produced an ice-cream like substance. This then made its way to China, Marco Polo, then Italy!
  • Mongolian native horses are the last truly wild horses left on the planet. They have 66 chromosomes, one or twom more than the average horse. 
  • The Gobi desert is Asia’s biggest desert. It is like no other in the world. The Gobi Desert is also regarded as the world’s biggest dinosaur fossil reserve.

These cookies are really good and so easy to make.

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138. Monaco: Fougasse

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Monaco, the second smallest (the smallest being Vatican City) yet wealthiest country (per capita) in the world. You can literally walk from one end of the country to the other end in about an hour, since it’s length is only 4km. It is however the most dense populated country in the world. In the spring of 1956 all eyes in the world were on Monaco where the wedding of the century was taking place. The actress Grace Kelly married Prince Reinier Grimaldi of Monaco. Her dress inspired designers for years to come.

Things you didn’t know about Monaco:

  • Monaco is not only one of the richest countries per capita in the world, but it also has one of the lowest unemployment rates and more billionaires per capita than any other country!
  • Monaco does not grow any commercial crops as there simply is not enough space to do so!
  • Monaco does not have its own major defense force. The country’s defense; however, is France’ responsibility.  Monaco was never a part of France despite its long history and geographical intimacy with France.
  • Do not be surprised to learn that the native of Monaco are not allowed to gamble here and visit the casino. The rule is imposed by the country’s government, which does not want its citizens to gamble away their money. The casino is a source of income for the country and provides employment to its residents.

This bread is so nice! It’s so herby, great to eat with a bit of aioli, goats cheese, or simply dip it in olive oil!

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137. Moldova: Herby Zucchini Feta Pie

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Moldova, a tiny tiny country in Eastern Europe wedged between Romania and Ukraine. The national hero of Moldova is Stephen the Great who is Dracula’s (then know as Vlad The Impaler) cousin. He fought the Turks and won 46 of his 48 battles. He was crowned by the Pope as Atleta Cristi which means Champion of Christ. Then there is the story of Transnistria a country within a country that is nog recognised by the rest of the world as country but a part of Moldova. Nonetheless they have their own currency (which is useless everywhere else), visa, border patrol. The biggest part of Moldova feels connected to Europe, but Transnistria feels more connected to Russia and the old Sovjet Union.

Things you didn’t know about Moldova:

  • Moldova is placed the 12th among the top world wine exporters. Vine growing and wine making in Moldova counts for almost 5,000 years. And also the largest underground wine cellar in the world, Cricova, is “hidden” in this country. It’s a 120km long and the deepest point is more then a 100m deep. The wine cellar holds at about 40 million liters of wine.
  •  Cleopatra Stratan holds the record for the highest paid young artist, the youngest artist to receive an MTV award and the youngest artist to score a #1 hit in a country.
  • In the time of the USSR Soroca became the Gipsy capital of the world.
  • The biggest animal that ever lived on this territory is “Denoterium”, a breed of what is known to be like an elephant.  The animal’s skeleton is now preserved in the ethnographic museum and is considered to be the second biggest in Europe.

This is a really nice recipe perfect for hot summerdays accompanied with a nice salad! The herbs make it nice and fresh!

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136. Micronesia: Banana Curry with Cashew nuts

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Chances are you have never heard about Micronesia. Micronesia is made up of 607 islands and they take up over a 2.589.988 km² of oceanic territory however, in land surface area they only make up 702 km². These islands are divided into 4 states: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae. The islands were formed from underwater volcanos.

Culturally the people of Micronesia come from a long line of clans mostly rooted in traditional stories passed down from generation to generation. For instance, there is the legend of a cursed city that the twin sorcerers created; Nan-Madol. Supposedly they had the help of a flying dragon and that’s how the first dynasty was started according to legend.

Nan-Madol is just as special as Easter Island or Machu Picchu just less accessible and therefore less well-known. To even be able to enter Nan-Madol you have to ask the Chief of the clan for protection and permission to enter the site. There are rumors of people who died who didn’t follow this protocol. You have to undergo a special sakau-ceremony to get the approval of the chief: drink a drink made out of sakau root which is mushed by hand to make sure the spirits of Nan-Madol accept you. Only a tiny fragment of the legendary Saudeleurs city can still be seen, mangroves hide what else is covered.

But who were these Saudeleurs? Pohnpeian legend recounts that the Saudeleur rulers were of foreign origin and that their appearance was quite different from native Pohnpeians. The Saudeleur centralized form of absolute rule is characterized in Pohnpeian legend as becoming increasingly oppressive over several generations. Arbitrary and impossible demands, as well as a reputation for offending Pohnpeian gods and religion. All of this naturally sowed resentment among Pohnpeians.

The Saudeleur Dynasty ended with the invasion of  Isokelekel, another semi-mythical foreigner, who replaced the Saudeleur rule with the more decentralized nahnmwarki system which is still in existence today.

Things you didn’t know about Micronesia

  • In Yap, one of the four states, you should never enter a village without anything in your hands. If you have nothing, then it is understood that you have nothing to do there and have ill intentions. Carrying a green leaf is a sign of having peaceful intentions and a good way to occupy your hands.
  • Chuuk is undoubtedly the wreck diving capital of the world. There are over 50 shipwrecks that sank in Chuuk Lagoon after Operation Hailstone in WWII destroyed the Japanese base. This is a diver’s paradise with wrecks for all levels and at all depths, including some that can be snorkeled. And there is not much else tod do Chuuk , so exploring the underwater life is a must.
  • Although the Micronesian states are made of 607 islands, most of them, especially the larger ones where most visitors stay, are volcanic outcrops surrounded by rocks and mangroves and without any beaches.

Ok so this recipe took me quite a while to come up with. Micronesia doesn’t have a lot of traditional recipes, and since i did’t want to do anything halfway or post a bad recipe. I had to come up with of concoction of my own that highlights a few of the ingredients they use a lot! This recipe is completely vegan and really tasty and also quick to make! So please go ahead and try it. Micronesian readers if you have any traditional recipes you would like to share with please do!

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135. Mexico, El Norte: Machaca con Huevos

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El Norte is sometimes referred to as “unknown Mexico” or “lost Mexico” because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists. It’s a place of vaqueros, horses and small towns, mountains and sweeping deserts. But at the same time with some of the more modern cities in the country. Truly this is a very rich and virgin region. Visit Chihuahua or Coahuila and you will be far off the well worn gringo path. In many ways traveling to the north is like traveling through an old Western movie. Northern Mexico is one of the country’s most wealthy and modern regions.

Chihuahua, Mexico

Things you didn’t know about Mexico:

  • The colonization of the New World by the Spaniards introduced a lot of products to the rest of the world. Among those incredible contributions to global gastronomy are tomatoes, peanuts, avocados, corn, vanilla and hot peppers. Imagine many of our favorite dishes without these ingredients!
  • A Mexican inventor created the world’s first birth control. That’s right. Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas, a 25 year old Mexican chemist came up with the chemical compound – that would become the first birth control pills – in 1951.
  • Mexican Spanish has more Arabic words than Spain’s Spanish. After the colonialization of Mexico by the Spaniards, Spanish in the Old Country underwent an evolution that involved ridding the language of Arabic influence, which the Spanish looked down upon at the time. But the Spanish spoken in Mexico retained this influence and can be seen today in their distinct use of worlds like alberca (pool), almohada (pillow) and Ojalá (which translates roughly to “I hope so” or “if god wills it”).

A bit of breakfast dish right in time for Easterbrunch! This is Machaca a tortilla with scrambled eggs and dried shredded beef! I love it! So damn good and easy to make

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of white onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup of dry beef meat finely shredded (could be substituted with shredded cooked beef)
  • 1 cup tomato finely chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers chopped
  • 6 eggs lightly beaten
  • Salt to taste
  • Mayo
  • Chipotle sauce to taste
  • Creme fraice
  • Flour tortillas to serve

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium heat skillet, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the dry meat. It will absorb the oil in the skillet. Let it brown a little at medium heat stirring frequently. About 5 minutes for this step.
  2. Add more oil if need. Place the chopped tomatoes and Serrano pepper into the skillet. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat.
  3. Now the tomatoes have released their juice.
  4. Pour the eggs into the skillet and stir until they are done and to your liking. Taste to see if they need salt. Do not let them dry.
  5. Well, some people like to eat this dish very saucy.
  6. Serve with with jalapenos, creme fraiche, flour tortillas and cilantro. Mix the mayo with the chipotle sauce.