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 »
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 »
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!Read the rest of this entry »
The Maldives are a playground for divers, snorkelers and sun worshipers Some of the worlds most picture-perfect beaches can be found with the some of the most exclusive resorts on the planet. Away from the tourist hotspots, the Maldives is known for intriguing Islamic culture and is shaped by centuries of seafaring and trade. However once again there is a downside… The rising sea levels caused by climate change are endangering this paradise-like nation. Since the highest point in the nation is just 2,4 meters above sea level. See the problem if the sea levels continue to rise… they are making preparations though to move the entire population to a new homeland overseas.
Things you didn’t know about the Maldives:
- World’s first underwater cabinet meeting was held here. For an island country like the Maldives, drastic climate change and rising level of oceans is a major threat. A number of islands have already been cleared because of the rising waters in the ocean and their interference in freshwater resources. For drawing attention towards the same, Mohamed Nasheed, The President, transferred the cabinet meeting of October 2009 right to the ocean’s bottom.
- It is an Island that was Formed by an Exiled Indian Prince. Though the exact date is not known, the tentative date was sometime before 269 BC. If legends are to be believed, at that time there was no government. Only a peaceful community who worshiped Sun and Water was living there. It is said that the first real kingdom here was founded by Sri Soorudasaruna Adeettiya, the son of a ruler of Kalinga, a kingdom in India. The king was extremely angry with his son and had sent him away to the Maldives, then called Dheeva Maari. The prince established Adeetta Dynasty in the Maldives.
- While in most of the countries on the globe, the weekend means Saturday and Sunday, it is not so in the Maldives. Weekend here is Friday and Saturday.
- Many people of the Maldives hold on to a strong belief in the supernatural, including black and white magic. In September 2013, a coconut was detained by police after being found loitering and acting suspiciously during the presidential elections. The questionable young coconut was found outside of a polling station and was accused of being placed there to rig the election. Coconuts are supposed to be a frequent ingredient in black magic spells and rituals; the police called in a white magician to examine the coconut for threats and curses. No such curses were found, and the magician deemed the coconut to be an innocent.
- Every element in the Maldives flag is symbolic. The crescent moon stands for Islam, the green section represents palm trees, and the red background symbolizes the blood shed by Maldivian heroes
This curry is spicy, delicious and quick, the perfect weeknight mealRead the rest of this entry »
Macau, if you thought Las Vegas was the gambling capital of the world, your out of luck my friend. Welcome to Macau a place with 5 times the revenue of Vegas. Millions of gamblers come to Macau every year, most of those gamblers are from the Chinese Mainland. Blackjack, poker they have it all, but without a doubt, the most popular game in Macau is a card game called baccarat. Macau is a strange mixture of Portuguese and Chinese, how did this come to pass well let me explain. In the 16th century, the Portuguese claimed Macau as a trading port for spices from all over the world. Which of course left its mark on the culinary scene in Macau, it became one big melting pot of flavors from all over the world.
Things you didn’t know about Macau:
- The old language is Macanese. This is a form of Creole Portuguese. The language is slowly becoming lost to time as the older generations die. Both Cantonese and Portuguese are the official languages.
- It has a fast-aging population. By 2050 there will be 8 non-working residents (including children and elderly) for every 10 active workers
- It is the first and last Asian country to remain a European colony with the Portuguese first arriving in the 16th century and the last Portuguese governor leaving in 1999.
- New hotel rooms were constructed at a rate of 16.4 a day until 2009 to supply Macau’s booming tourism industry.
This might seem strange a curry with olives, but I assure you it’s worth a go! The savoury taste of the olives gives the curry a surprisingly fresh taste.
Lesotho, a tiny tiny tiny country completely surrounded by South-Africa. Lesotho is a very mountainous country, hence it is often called The Mountain Kingdom. The entire country is at least 1000 meters above sea level. Which makes it the highest country in Africa.
And don’t think just because it’s Africa it’s hot. No way!! Up in the mountains, it gets pretty cold, but don’t worry you can buy traditional beanies everywhere! That’s not the only thing you can do up in those mountains. This
might be is very touristy but they have donkey pub crawls!!! Imagine being completely wasted going from pub to pub on a freaking donkey!! That just sounds hilarious and totally something I would do with some friends!
Things you didn’t know about Lesotho:
- Lesotho is ruled by a constitutional monarchy and is one of the 3 remaining kingdoms in Africa. (The other are Morocco and Swaziland). King Letsi III is the reigning king of Lesotho since 1990.
- Not many countries can say that their traditional dress is a blanket. The Basotho blanket is a very common sight in the kingdom of Lesotho, often with colorful patterns. The blanket is not only used to protect the Basotho against the cold but is also worn as a status symbol and cultural identification. Almost entirely made of wool, they protect very well against the harsh cold winter. Another typical feature is the woolen balaclava (which only leaves their eyes free) and the gumboots
- Lesotho is home to the highest altitude pub in Africa in 2874 meters above sea level. It’s located right at the border with South Africa, and the end of the iconic Sani Pass (or the beginning if you come from Lesotho). A cold beer is very welcome when driving this scenic pass starting in South Africa and to top it all off, you’ll have an amazing view from the top (while sipping that cold beer).
- You would not immediately associate Africa with snow, but Lesotho is home to the highest ski resort in Africa. Afriski is situated at 3050 meters above sea level.
Lesotho has 28 airports. Only three of them have properly paved runways. Hold on tight…
Well, this was surprisingly good I never knew putting tangerine in a soup would be so amazing! A great meal for a healthy quick mid-week meal!!!
Laos a country very very high on my list to go to! A sleepy mountainous country of barely over 2 million people, mostly rice farmers. To my surprise, Laos hasn’t always been so peaceful.
Though never truly at war with Laos, the Americans were at war with Vietnam, and they flew more than half a million missions over this tiny country. Dropping more bombs here than on Germany and Japan in all of World War II combined. This is a conflict known nowadays as The Secret War. I don’t want to get into it too much because that is not what this blog is about, but what happened was horrific.
Nowadays Laos is a very popular destination for backpackers because it’s cheap and the crime rate is very low.
Things you didn’t know about Laos:
- Laos may be landlocked – or ‘landlinked’ if you prefer – but that doesn’t mean a beach holiday is completely off the cards. If you head to Si Phan Don (literally “4,000 islands”) in Southern Laos, you’ll find serene sandy shores – and adventure – aplenty.
- Nong Fa Lake – a crater lake high in the mountains of southeastern Laos – is feared and respected by locals, who refuse to swim in it. Legend has it, a man-eating monster lives at the bottom. Nong Fa (which translates to ‘blue lake’ or ‘sky lake’) is quite remote and can be reached by only the most intrepid explorers.
- Lao silk stands apart from that of neighboring countries in that is it 100% hand woven. The exact weaving process differs from family to family as do the patterns, making them truly unique. The average rate of production is around a meter a day – or a few centimeters for an elaborate weave. Handwoven silk has a more ‘natural’, unrefined texture than silk produced on an industrial loom.
- While Laos is more than 50% populated by ethnic Lao (Lao Lum), there are more than 60 – some say more than 100 – different ethnic groups living within its borders. Lao’s people are categorized by altitude: 50 percent are lowland peoples, living around the Mekong; 20 percent live in the Midlands and highlands, and 15 percent live above 1,000 meters. The remaining 15 percent are Thai.
- Laos has the unenviable status of being the most bombed nation in the world. There are estimated to be 270 million unexploded bombs in the country.
This noodle soup has a lot of ingredients but it’s totally worth taking the time to make your own curry paste! It takes a little time but it makes they dish infinitely better! And most of the ingredients I had in my freezer; lemongrass, ginger, and galanga (Thai ginger) I always make sure I have in stock. I make a lot of curries and they keep forever in the freezer!
I’ll be honest… I had never heard of Kiribati! Kiribati is an island nation and consists of 3 island groups: The Gilbert Islands, The Phoenix Islands, The Line Islands. Unfortunately, due to climate change, two small uninhabited islands disappeared underwater in 1999, because of the rising sea levels.
I always try to be positive about countries… but this has got to stop people! The sea level will have risen 50 cm by 2100 and then it won’t be just the uninhabited islands that will disappear in the ocean, most of Kiribati will be largely be submerged! So we really really have to change our lifestyle…Or this vacation paradise won’t be there for long.
Things you didn’t know about Kiribati:
- Kiribati is the only country in the world to straddle all four hemispheres. The islands spread across both the equator and the International Date Line. In 1995, Kiribati changed the date for the easternmost islands, effectively creating an indentation in the dateline. This was done so that it would be the same date and day of the week across the whole country.
- Dancing in Kiribati is more than a form of entertainment. It is used to tell stories and as a demonstration of endurance and skill. Therefore, smiling while dancing is considered vulgar.
- Kiribati is known for a number of traditional martial arts, which were kept a secret within families for many generations. All of them are believed to have been given to humanity by an ancestral spirit. For example, Nabakai was given to a warrior of that name by three female spirits who would manifest in the form of a crab. Another is Tabiang, named after the village in which it originated. It uses speed and accuracy and its principle is “you give me one punch I give you four punches”. The spirit who taught it was called “Teraka”, and legend has it that this spirit also traveled to Asia and taught it to the people there, who gave it a variant of the name – “karate”
This recipe I honestly really went with my gut and sort of made up by myself, I read a lot online about the eating habits in Kiribati and read they use a lot of soy sauce, curry powder, coconut, fish and crabs, and lobsters but really no specific dish. So I heated up my pan and the dish came together, and let me tell you this is one of the best curries I ever made! Since crab is quite expensive (at least where I live) this is more of a weekend thing but it definitely qualifies as comfort food to me! I don’t know what it is about curries but they always have a tendency to make me instantly happy
Kenya, the vibrant beating heart of East Africa! The original ‘sun, sand and safari’ destination. Kenya was always the go to destination if you were going to Africa, until December 2007. In December 2007 there was an election the top candidates were the current president Kibaki and his ex-secretary Odinga. Kibaki won the election but Odinga accused Kibaki of election fraud. A thorough investigation proved Odinga was right, which of course led to rebellions.
These rebellions had massive consequences, for instance, travel agencies stopped sending their clients to Kenya, and canceled the trips that were already booked… Since a lot of Kenyans work in the tourism sector was this a devasting result, which led to even more poverty… Eventually, Odinga and Kibaki made a compromise to let Kibaki stay on as president and Odinga serve as prime minister.
Things you didn’t know about Kenya:
- Scientists have estimated that the Great Rift Valley found in Kenya was formed over 20 million years ago when the Earth’s crust began to split.
- Dowries are still traditional in Kenya. The groom’s parents must pay a dowry to the bride’s family otherwise their son will not be able to wed his bride. Dowries start at 10 cows.
- Coffee is a huge export in Kenya, but it is not consumed in the country. Kenyans believe that all of the coffee they produce should be sold outside of their country, so they drink tea or beer.
- Scientists believe that Kenya may have been the birthplace of human beings. Bones of early ancestors were found in the Turkana Basin.
- It is free for children to attend school in Kenya, but many children do not go, they are too busy helping their families work the land, fetch water and other necessary tasks.
The yogurt gives acidity in this curry which it really needs because of a number of spices, so the freshness of yogurt is a good move! In the original recipe they use okra, but I couldn’t find any at the supermarket, so I just left it out.