Asia

106. Kazakhstan: Manti Dumplings

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Kazakhstan, I never realized how big Kazakhstan was. Kazakhstan is sooo big that the distance from one end of the country to the other end is the same as the distance from Londen to Istanbul! That is about 3 to 4 hours by plane I reckon!

Compared to the rest of Kazakhstan the capital looks futuristic, the reason for that is that it’s a completely new city, it’s only been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, so about 20 years!

In the summer the temperatures a fine but in winter it gets bizarrely cold with temperatures as low as -48 C (-53F) and on top of that really windy!! This makes Astana the second coldest capital in the world!

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Things you didn’t know about Kazakhstan:

  • Kazakhs believe that whistling a song inside a building will make you poor for the rest of your life.
  • Stan is an ancient Persian word meaning “land” or “nation,” and Kazakh means “wanderer,” “adventurer,” or “outlaw.” Therefore, the name Kazakhstan translates as “Land of the Wanderers”.
  • When a Kazakh shooter won the gold medal at a 2012 international sporting competition, the organizers mistakenly played the theme music for the film Borat instead of the Kazakh national anthem. In the film, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen plays fictional Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev.
  • Horseriding is a large part of Kazakh culture, including the traditional sport kyz kuu, literally translated as “girl chasing”. It is essentially a race between a man and woman, both on horseback, that either ends up with the man kissing the woman (a victory for the man) or the woman beating the man with a whip (a victory for the woman). Indeed, some say Kazakhs were the first ever to domesticate and ride horses. Incidentally, horse meat is a big part of their cuisine.
  • The traditional nomad home of the Kazakhs is known as a yurta. It is comprised of a collapsible tent, with a wooden frame, covered in felt. Its name comes from the Kazakh word meaning “community,” “people,” or “family.”
  • Kazakhstan’s traditional drink kumis has also been referred to as “milk champagne.” It is made from fermented mare’s milk and is believed to be a cure-all for everything from the common cold to tuberculosis. The Kazakhs living on the steppes also drink shubat, or fermented camel’s milk, which is supposed to have virucidal properties
  • Kazakhstan has an unofficial taxi system. People wave on the street, cars stop, destination and price are discussed, and they go.

These dumplings are a bit greasy but really good! The yoghurt seems like a weird condiment but actually goes perfectly well with the dish!

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of flour
  • Salt

Filling:

  • 200 gr lamb mince
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Cumin

Sauce:

  • Butter
  • Paprika
  • Caraway seeds
  • Chiliflakes
  • Greek yoghurt
  1. In the bowl of a large food processor or a large bowl, combine flour and salt. In a small bowl, beat together eggs and water.
  2. Process or mix into the flour mixture until dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
  3. Lightly grease a medium bowl with oil. Add the dough, turning to coat, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine lamb, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.
  4. Quarter the rested dough. Place one quarter on work surface and cover the remaining with a damp dish towel. On a floured surface or using a pasta machine, roll the dough into a paper thin rectangle.
  5. Cut the dough into 1 1/2-2 inch squares. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the lamb mixture into the center of each square. Fold all the edges over the filling and pinch to keep them together. Pinch to seal the seams over the filling.
  6. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet or counter in a single layer. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Fill a large pot with salted water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add the dumplings in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until they float and the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining well, and transfer to serving bowls.
  7. Repeat with remaining dumplings. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Once it is melted and starting to sizzle, add paprika, mint, and chili flakes. Cook until fragrant and the butter begins to foam, about 30 seconds.
  8. Remove from heat. Top the Manti with Greek yogurt and pour the butter. Serve immediately.

104. Japan: Tokyo: Tsukemen

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Tokyo, to me Tokyo represents the town where anything can happen, from the strangest food combinations like sushi kebab to the extremely traditional rules of some sushi chefs who elevate making sushi to a form of art! And not just food-wise also the fact that there is an entire neighborhood to dedicated to manga art! (it’s called Akihabara). Temples that several centuries old are next door to high tech robot restaurants. Geisha and Sumo wrestlers!!!

There so many sides to Tokyo that it’s impossible to see all of them in one trip!

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Things you didn’t know about Tokyo:

  • Founded as Edo once upon a time (in the 12th century), Tokyo’s literal translation means “East(ern) capital.
  • As the annual Cherry Blossom Festival nears, television and radio reports include information on the “cherry blossom front” (sakura zensen), or the advance of the cherry blossoms across the different regions of Japan.
  • Capsule hotels (hotels that contain rooms roughly the size of a large refrigerator) can be found around Tokyo. Most rooms include televisions, wifi, and an electronic console.
  • Despite its popularity as a worldwide landmark and part of Tokyo’s backdrop, Mount Fuji is actually visible fewer than 180 days per year due to clouds and Tokyo’s air dust concentration.
  • Tokyo contains over 100 universities and colleges, giving it the world’s highest concentration of higher learning institutions. One-third of Japan’s university students attend school in Tokyo.

Tsukemen or dipping noodles as they are also called, are soo good and the perfect dish for a light hot summer meal! You can keep it simple or use as many condiments as you want. But it’s a lovely meal to share with friends or family passing around the little bowls. The sauce is what it’s all about, the best word to describe it is umami, it is sweet and spicy at the same time and just utterly delicious! I served it with leftover jerk chicken from the Jamaica recipe but you can use any left over meat you have, or roasted pork belly would be ideal!

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103. Japan: Hiroshima: Okonomiyaki (Savory Cabbage Pancakes)

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Hiroshima has been through a lot, recovering from the atomic bomb as I hope everyone knows, and if you don’t please read up on your history!!! But really that’s really not what I want to talk about!

Hiroshima is located on the island of Honshu. Nowadays Hiroshima is known as the street food paradise of Japan, especially the tiny island of Miyajima that is a 10-minute ferry trip from the city center. Miyajima is also known for the deer that just roam the village freely, not scared of humans. If you’re lucky you can even pet them!

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Things you didn’t know about Hiroshima:

  • Hiroshima has been farming oysters since the 1500s. Today it produces 25,000 to 30,000 tons of oysters a year, 60 to 70 per cent of Japan’s total production. Known locally as sea milk for their nutritional value, they are eaten boiled, fried, grilled, with rice, in stews, or raw.
  • After the war, Hiroshima needed to get its transport system up and running fast. Tram cars were donated from cities all over Japan and even abroad, earning them the nickname Mobile Museum. Today the tram fleet ranges from pre-war clunkers to the futuristic Green Mover Max. It’s the cheapest, easiest and most eco-friendly way to get around town.
  • Kumano, a village 20 kilometers east of Hiroshima, produces 15 million calligraphy, makeup and artist’s brushes a year. That’s 80 per cent of Japan’s production. Of the town’s 27,000 inhabitants, 1,500 are brush craftsmen, hand-making brushes the traditional way. Visit on September 23 when 10,000 brushes festoon the streets for Kumano’s spectacular Brush Festival.

Okonomiyaki is a very popular takeaway dish in Hiroshima, you can add any ingredients you want so great for using up veggie leftovers! It would also be the perfect drunk food!!!! However, let someone sober make it for you because the transferring from pan to pan will be pretty hard once you had a few drinks.

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95. Iraq: Masgouf Iraqi Tamarind and Turmeric Marinated Fish

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Split between a glorious past and a very bloody recent affaires. Iraq has been a country of turmoil for years! But I really don’t want to focus on the bloody part we see on the news almost everyday today. I want to focus on the good things, the amazing old culture with customs that have been preserved for years!Schermafbeelding 2017-03-29 om 21.26.54Things you didn’t know about Iraq:

  • In Iraq it is typical belief that wrinkles in old age, are caused from wisdom. For this reason parents, and grandparents are highly respected. In fact it is not only rude, but a disgrace for children to be rude.
  • The famous children’s story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves was written in Iraq about 1,000 years ago
  • If someone admires an Iraqi’s possession, such as a vase, the Iraqi will usually insist that the person takes it. Therefore, it is proper etiquette to avoid lavishly praising another person’s possessions.
  • For 5,000 years Iraqis have been keeping bees. Honey is an important source of food and income for many Iraq families.

This week I made a very special branzino, this Iraqi dish is spicy and special and great with a pilav side dish

vis iraq

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound white freshwater fish (carp, catfish, branzino, etc), descaled, gutted and butterflied

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste, dissolved in water (or substitute with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Tomato Curry Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 stalks fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  1. If not already butterflied, take your whole fish and cut it lengthwise down the belly. Keep the back intact, and spread both parts of the fish open to create one flat, connected piece. (Alternatively, you can ask your fishmonger to pre-butterfly the fish for you)
  2. Place the fish into an oven-safe baking dish (cast iron works best), and set aside for the time being
  3. Next, take a small bowl and mix together your olive oil, dissolved tamarind paste, turmeric powder, salt and pepper. Mix well until you have a marinade with a smooth, even consistency to it
  4. Spoon or brush your marinade over the outside of your fish, then open the fish to lay flat and generously marinade the inside
  5. Cover the fish and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes while you tend to the tomato topping
  6. Take a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat with a healthy dollop of olive oil
  7. Start by adding in your minced garlic and onions, and cook for 1-2 minutes as it starts to sweat and become translucent
  8. Next, add in your tomato paste and cherry tomatoes, and cook together for another 1-2 minutes
  9. Follow this by adding in your turmeric, ginger, curry powder, dried parsley leaves and black pepper and mix well. Once well mixed, cook everything for another 6-7 minutes over a medium heat as the tomatoes begin to soften
  10. Turn off the heat at this point and add in your lemon juice. Stir the lemon juice in well into the sauce and then let your sauce sit until your fish is finished baking
  11. By now, your fish will have marinated well and will be ready for the “makeshift masgouf” cooking. Start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit
  12. Sprinkle a little extra sea salt (for good luck) over your butterflied marinated fish, and place it in the oven for 35 minutes
  13. After 35 minutes, take your fish out ever so briefly. Hopefully it appears flaky, at which point you can drizzle some of the tomato curry sauce on top of fish
  14. Turn on the broiler and broil the fish for another 2 minutes, then you’re done. Alternatively, you could also bake it for another 5 minutes at the same heat
  15. Remove the masgouf from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then serve with extra tomato sauce, bread, chutney, salad, a few lemon wedges and anything else you might like. Enjoy!

92. Indonesia: Indonesian meatballs

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Indonesia, the worlds largest archipelago! It stretches from the southern tip of the Malay peninsula most of the way to Australia, taking in the southern half of Borneo and the Western half of New Guinea along the way. In other words HUGE!!!!

A country created by volcanoes and earthquakes, the landscape is still changing every day, with a new volcano eruption almost every year, new islands spring up out the ocean.

But that is not all Indonesia has to offer! Delicious food, insane golden temples, wild jungle landscape, and beaches like nowhere else in the world!

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Things you didn’t know about Indonesia:

  • Of its 17,508 islands, only around 6,000 are inhabited by people.
  • Indonesia is strict when it comes to…religion. The government only recognizes six religions – Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism – and every citizen must officially subscribe to one of those religions, regardless of what he or she may actually believe. Two individuals with different religions are not allowed to marry, unless one of them converts.
  • Indonesia was a regional superpower before it was colonized by the Dutch. The Sri Vijaya and Majapahit Empires spanned the entire Indonesian archipelago, even including the present-day Malaysia and even the southern islands of the Philippines.
  • Indonesia has a fiery side, too. The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is home to around 150 volcanoes. They’re mostly not a threat – and make great tourist attractions – but the country does experience around one volcanic eruption per year.

These meatballs, are out of this world delicious and definitely worth giving a try! they are spicy, but soooo good. I had them with rice but you can just aswel serve them as an appetizer or even on a sandwich 😀 the sauce is sooo creamy and spicy!

meatballs

91. South India: Egg Drop Curry

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The south of India is stunning! Cities like Kerala, Cochin, and Senai are known for their epic beaches, over abundant spices, some of the worlds richest temples. schermafbeelding-2017-01-08-om-22-42-02

Things you didn’t know about South India:

  • Sree Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is known as the ‘Richest Temple in the World’ and is valued at a staggering $22.3 billion in all.
  • Unlike many North Indian states which usually see a concentration of one religion or the other; the religious demographics of South India is more balanced.
  • India is the worlds largest democracy
  • It’s illegal for foreigners to take currency (rupees) out of India
  • The world’s biggest family lives together in India: a man with 39 wives and 94 children.

This egg drop curry is so good I didn’t miss the meat and trust me I LOVVVVVEEE meat! The curry itself is kind of sweet because of the green peas. But this I would happily have for lunch every single day!

egg-drop-curry

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90. India Goa: Prawn Vindaloo

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Goa is the smallest state in India, but I chose to write a separate piece about it anyway because it has very particular past and food culture since Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for 4 centuries, and they left certainly left their mark on the food!

Things you didn’t know about Goa:

  • Not many people know this but Goan people can apply and avail a Portuguese passport along with the Indian one.
  • Goa is the only place in India where you can hire a two wheeler taxi commonly known as “Pilots”. It’s basically a motorcycle and the driver will charge you and drop you to your destination.
  • It might be the smallest state in India but nonetheless it’s also the richest state in India
  • 26.6 percent of Goans practice Christianity and 6.8 percent practice Islam. The remaining one percent are Sikh, Buddhists and Jain.

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The term Vindaloo, derivative of the Portuguese “vinho de alho” (wine with garlic) was first brought to Goa by the Portuguese some 400 years ago. The original traditional Portuguese dish was made with pork preserved in red wine or red wine vinegar, chili pepper, and stewed with garlic. The Goans modified it by adding plenty of spices. You can make this with chicken or lamb or pork.

I’ve had vindaloo curry before, but this one is soooo good, the spice hits just the right spot! This recipe is one the greats people so pleas please please try to make it!!! Again if you have all the dry spices it’s soooo cheap!

Prawn Vindaloo

Ingredients:

  • Dry red chillies(or fresh) ,6 – 8
  • Black mustard seeds 1tbsp
  • White vinegar 1/2 cup (about 100 ml)
  • Prawns
  • Onions ,2 diced and pureed
  • Ginger paste 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste 1 tbsp
  • Brown sugar 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon powder ½ tsp
  • Cardamom powder ½ tsp
  • Cumin powder 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder ½ tsp
  • Oil 4 tbsp
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Soak mustard seeds and chillies in vinegar for about 2-4 hours (preferably overnight) and grind to a coarse paste.
  2. Marinate the prawns with the vinegar mixture, ginger-garlic paste and the ground spices,
  3. Heat oil in a large wok, add onion puree and sauté well. Add the prawns pieces and mix well till meat appears sealed and glossy.
  4. Take shrimp out, do they don’t overcook
  5. Add ½ cup water, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes so the sauce is reduced Stir occasionally. Add the prawns back in.
  6. Add brown sugar and salt to taste. Serve hot with rice.

75. Georgia: Kharcho

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I am soo sorry, I have been incredibly busy with work in the restaurant, my social life, school! Really it’s been crazy these past few months, but I promise i’m going to try to work more on this project folks.

Is Georgia part of Europe or Asia. Honestly no one knows, so strange. We all know it’s close to Russia and that it used be part of the communist Sovjet Union. But what do we really know about Georgia. (for the people who haven’t realized I’m talking about Georgia the Country not the state.) There is actually quite a lot of debate over exactly what continent Georgia is on, and exactly where Europe is located.

Most people have think that there is a geographic place where Europe ends and Asia begins, but where exactly that is is open to debate.The general consensus seems to be that the divider between Europe and Asia is the Urals–but they don’t reach far enough South to be helpful with determining Georgia’s location.  Geographically, the Caucasus mountains are the Southern border of Europe–in fact, the highest point in Europe is Mt. Elbrus which is right next to Georgia.

This division very helpfully puts PART of Georgia in Europe.  Georgia is not a very big country, so dividing it between two continents seems very silly! As you can see I really made a study of it and tried to find a correct answer, but there is none! So WHERE does Europe END and where begins Asia???? Of there is anyone who knows this please let me know in the comments because I am very confused!

Things you didn’t know about Georgia:

  • Abkhazia. This former province declared itself independent after a bloody war. Since the war the are trying to re-establish the country’s former reputation of being a holiday destination. The rest of the world still considers Abkhazia as part of Georgia not as an independent state.
  • Russian dictator Josef Stalin was born in the tiny village of Gori in Georgia. He is still considered a hero in Gori. There is a Stalin museum and on their website it says. Stalin the greatest politician of the 20th century.
  • Security guards in clubs have guns. So please don’t pick a fight with them
  •  Spoken Georgian is like no other language you are likely to hear. It belongs to its own ancient linguistic group unlike any other language spoken outside the region. It includes rare sounds that many visitors may never have heard before. Georgian has its own 33-letter alphabet thought to be based on the sort of Aramaic spoken in the time of Jesus.
  • A guest is a gift from God, goes the saying in Georgia. So foreign visitors are plied with food and drink – an enjoyable experience, if not always good for the waistline.

You could say this Georgian delicacy is the Balkan version of a risotto. It’s a little more rustic, and the spices are completely different but the rice is cooked the same way.

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57. East Timor: Caril Dos Pescadores

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Welcome letter E! The continents of Asia and Oceania are the home of thousands of some of the most amazing species on earth. Here between these two continents there is an island where this couldn’t be more evident ‘East Timor’. Living it’s first few ages of independence this small territory is located on the far east of southern Asia between Indonesia and Australia, it is the home of an ancient civilization. They are descendents from Malaysian, Polynesian and Papuan people. They have strong believes that everything is connected to the nature in some way. The land changes from high tropical forests to savannah or to the incredible pristine beaches on the coast.

Schermafbeelding 2015-05-26 om 14.41.10Things you didn’t know about East Timor:

  • Over 16 different languages and more than 30 dialects are spoken in East Timor, a lot of them have a strong Portuguese influence.
  • There is a legend among people from East Timor that only a man with a bad soul will get eaten or bitten by a crocodile. This why most people aren’t terrified of crocodiles.
  • There are a least 9 bird (probably more) species that are exclusive to the island.
  • There are places in the mountains where scientists have never been. And it is almost certain that when scientists start researching there new species will be found.
  • During the ice age the islands stayed separated from the Asian continent, so there were nog big animals like tigers or elephants. Only the ones man brought for farming can be found on the island.

This is so good the sweet and sourness of the tamarind is really good!

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43. China part 4: Beijing: Peking Duck Breast with Clementine & Spices

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Aaaah the capital of China, Beijing oh noo wait,… Peking? In fact they are both the same thing. But why does this city have 2 names? Here’s the thing, the Chinese government gets quite cross about English-speakers using the name Peking for their capital city, insisting on the more modern transliteration Beijing. Since Mandarin is the first language in China (Beijing is Mandarin) and Cantonese is the only the second language in China (Peking is Beijing in Cantonese). So both 100% correct and everyone will exactly know what you mean, but you’d better use Beijing.

Beijng

Here are some things you didn’t know about Beijing:

  • If you’re offered a gift, refuse to take it! At least a couple of times. Why? Because it’s considered polite in China. It shows humility and being grateful. Also, refuse compliments – always! Don’t even say, “Thank you” You just end up looking vain.

  • Beijing is the oldest City in the World – Before you discount this fact, here me out…The Peking Man lived in Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District about 230,000-250,000 years ago. This makes it the city with the oldest remains of human habitation.
  • The Asian girl approaching you with a camera wants to take her picture with you. They call this “making hello”. This is not a scam. Caucasians and other non-Orientals are still uncommon enough in most Beijing neighborhoods that the locals are curious.

Last Chinese recipe people!!! This is a fancy one. Since duck breast is pretty expensive. But the rest of the ingredients are quite cheap. Still it isn’t a really complicated recipe! Something to impress your parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, crush and friends 😉

Clementine peking duckbreast

Ingredients: 2 duck breasts, 5 clementines, 1 tbsp. wine vinegar, 3 tbsp. honey, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 anise stars, 3 black peppercorns

Slightly cut the duck breasts skin side with a sharp knife, without cutting the meat.

Place the duck breasts, skin underneath in a cold pan and place over medium heat.

Cook until the excess fat have melted (if needed discard fat during cooking) and the skin is golden brown and crispy.

Turn the duck breasts and cook for 2 minutes on the other side. Keep warm.

Press 4 clementines, get the zest of the fifth and then peel it and separate the wedges.

Deglaze the pan with clementine juice, add the vinegar and spices, clementine wedges and honey. Simmer over low heat until reduces by half, the sauce should not boil.

Serve the meat sliced and topped with the sauce and clementine wedges.