Nepal is a spot for the adventurous kind of traveler. Of course, there is the Mount Everest and the Annapurna’s to climb for the true diehard athletes, fortunately, there is plenty to do for those who are less sporty like me. (Hey I’m a chef, I like cooking and eating that’s what I do) There are temples to be worshipped, jungles with tigers you can explore, and medieval cities and sacred sites to be admired. In short, Nepal is Nirvana for backpackers.
Even though 90% percent of the population is Hindu and only about 10 % is Buddhist. Buddhism is still taken very very seriously. Which makes sense because Buddha was born in Lumbini Nepal. Beautiful Buddhist temples can be found all over the country!
There are over 120 etnolinguistic groups in Nepal. It’s The population consists of 30 million people with over 120 ethnolinguistic groups. (How do you manage a country with soooo many languages?). The first language is Nepali which is very similar to the Hindi language which is natively spoken by about 45% of the population. To simplify things English is commonly spoken in government buildings, offices, and businesses.
Things you didn’t know about Nepal:
- The abominable snowman, also known as the Yeti, is a legendary apelike creature that is believed to frequent the high valleys of Nepal.
- Namaste the greeting that begins of ends your yogaclass is the standard “Hello” in Nepal.
- Nepal does not celebrate an independence day because they had never been under any foreign occupation. The nation is the oldest country in South Asia. Nepal became a federal democratic republic in 2008 after having a monarchical form of government until then.
- Unlike the common quadrilateral flags, Nepal is the only country where the flag is of two triangles. The upper triangle has an image of the moon while the lower triangle has that of the sun representing the two major religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the current flag was incepted in 1962, the design is said to be 2000 years old. It is also said to represent the Himalayas.
- Ever worshipped a little girl as a goddess? Yes, you heard it right. If you are in Nepal, you shall witness the living goddess. Also known as ‘Kumari’, literally meaning virgin, pre-pubescent girls are believed to be the earthly manifestations of divine female energy or the incarnations of goddess Taleju, otherwise known as ‘Durga’ in India. They lived in temples and worshipped and driven in chariots during festivals. However, the goddesses retire on puberty or if they fall prey to illness or accidents.
- Sherpas are the ethnic community in the eastern part of Nepalese Himalayan Mountains, who are employed as porters. They are known to be immune to the effects of altitude due to their upbringing and genetics.
The dish is tasty and quick just soak your beans the night before!Read the rest of this entry »
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.Read the rest of this entry »
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.
- 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
- 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)
- 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
- 10 ounces fine round rice noodles
- 6 eggs, boiled for 6 minutes
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- Thinly sliced red onions
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.
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
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.Read the rest of this entry »
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!Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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
- 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
- Chipotle sauce to taste
- Creme fraice
- Flour tortillas to serve
- 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.
- 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.
- Now the tomatoes have released their juice.
- 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.
- Well, some people like to eat this dish very saucy.
- Serve with with jalapenos, creme fraiche, flour tortillas and cilantro. Mix the mayo with the chipotle sauce.
It has been a while I know, but I have been crazy crazy busy with work, and love and friends. But now I am stuck at home for a while there were no more excuses ofcourse and i have all the time in world.
I will split up Mexico in 4 parts, because it is simply impossible to simply choose 1 dish, and Mexican food is one of my favorites.
Soooo First up is the peninsula of Yucatan. The states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo are all found in the peninsula. Northern sections of neighbouring Belize and Guatemala (haven’t been to Mexico but I have been to Guatemala and Belize, best trip I ever made!) also form part of its expanse. Yucatan is a little different from other parts of Mexico, traditionally it’s a Mayan region, and the signs of that are still very visible, for example Chichén Itzá an incredibly well-preserved Mayan center that was once a major spiritual and economic hub, which is listed as one of the seven wonders of the world. Strangely the entire peninsula has no rivers that run above the ground, but there is a complex network of underground rivers which have formed beautiful caves and underwater sinkholes called cenotes. They are a popular place to swim, snorkle and dive.
Things you didn’t now about Yucatan:
- The word “Yucatán” may be the result of a misunderstanding. The origins of the word Yucatán are the subject of debate. According to Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés, the name arose from a confusion. Cortés wrote that a Spanish explorer had asked a native what the area was called. Apparently he responded “Uma’anaatik ka t’ann,” which in Mayan means “I do not understand you.” Misunderstanding his response, the Spanish named it Yucatán.
- The Yucatán is famed for its troubadour music, or trova, which has roots in Cuban and Colombian rhythms. “La Peregrina” (The Pilgrim) is one of the most popular trovassongs. Written by Ricardo Palmerín in 1923, the haunting song was commissioned by the Governor of Yucatán, Felipe Carrillo, for his fiancée, the American journalist Alma Reed. Tragically, the romance was ill-fated. Carrillo was shot dead by a rebel army while Reed was in San Francisco preparing for their wedding.
- The Yucatán Peninsula is the site of the Chicxulub crater, which was created by an asteroid about 6 to 9 miles (10 to 15 kilometers) in diameter. The impact, which struck around 65 million years ago, caused worldwide climate problems and may have triggered the extinction of the dinosaurs.
- Yucatan is the worlds top producer of the super spicy habanero pepper
The food of the Yucatán peninsula is distinct from the rest of the country and is based on Mayan food with influences from Cuba and other Caribbean islands, Europe, Asia and Middle Eastern cultures. In this recipe you can most certainly taste the Mediterranean influences.Read the rest of this entry »
Malta, With 3 times more tourists than inhabitants it is a great example of a mass tourism spot. Malta is the ultimate mediterranean holiday in Europe: sun, beaches and cheap liquor. Malta has a really rich history, and the reason for that is mainly due to it’s strategic placement in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. In the past 7000 years Malta has been a part of many empires and conquered a lot; The Romans, The Arabs, The Knights of St. John, The French, and The British. They all left their mark on the tiny island. The capital of Malta is Valetta a beautiful city that is on the Unesco list and for good reason. On less than 1 km² there are over 300 historical monuments. The most important one is st. Johns Co-Cathedral built by the Knights of St. John, they ruled the island in the 16th century. The Knights of St. John were extremely rich and lived their lives to serve God. The cathedral is covered in gold and it’s all real, none of it paint.
To discover the rest of the island you take the touristy bus ofcourse, but you can also go your own way and hop on one of the local busses. All the public transport busses on the island were imported from Great Britain in 1955.
Malta is also of the best diving spots in Europe. The water is so clear that in some places you can see 30 meters deep, the reefs are beautiful and there a few shipwrecks at the bottom of the see when on a diving tour.
Things you didn’t know about Malta:
- During World War I, Malta was also known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean because a large number of wounded soldiers were accommodated on the island.
- Malta is devoid of forests and rivers. Yes, you would not find any of these across its seven islands. Malta is mainly made up of limestone, and there are no hills in the country that are higher than 300 meters.
- You might be surprised to learn that there are more Maltese people in Melbourne, Australia then there are in Malta.
A perfect little handpie to bring for a picknick (i took them to the beach the next day) . Of course you can also eat them immediately. Yummy and delicious, if you leave out the lardons you can make it a vegetarian dish. Please do add a little extra salt if you leave out the bacon.Read the rest of this entry »
It’s been a while guys I know! So sorry but i have been crazy busy, which is no excuse at all of course. But I hope this epic Chicken Peanut Stew makes it up little 😀
For centuries Mali was a big mighty and rich empire. They used to trade in gold and a lot of the trade routes that traveled through the scorching heat of the Sahara desert led through Mali. At the end of the 19th century, the French colonized Mali, but they barely left any western influences. Since their independence in 1960 is Mali one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. Going to Mali means going back in time, markets with latrines on the side of a road, happy little baby’s running around naked followed by their moms in colorful dresses and hats, potteries with hundreds of pots in different shapes and size for sale, fishermen waiting to make their catch in the Niger river.
Things you didn’t know about Mali:
- The bogolanfini cloth, which is made from handcrafted cloth dyed with mud, is produced only in this part of Africa.
- When Mansa Musa, emperor of the Malian Empire in the early 1300s, made his Mecca pilgrimage, he made Mali famous by bringing with him 12,000 slaves, 60,000 men, 80 camels that each carried between 50 and 30 pounds of gold, and building a mosque every Friday during his journey.
- Mansa Musa left so much gold to the people along his way, he inadvertently caused inflation in the regions he passed.
- Historically a lively African intellectual center, Mali’s literary tradition is passed primarily by word of mouth. “Jalises” recite stories or histories of a community by heart.
- Woman do all the work for the family but they are held in high regard. Women are always consulted, particularly in community decisions, because they symbolize harmony and peace.
This is a good one guys, full of veggies and a lovely rich peanut flavour!!! Plus bonus: a great way to use leftover roast chicken!Read the rest of this entry »