Africa

63. Eritrea: Zigni

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Eritrea, is said to be one of the hidden gems of Africa, but because of their quarrels with it’s sworn enemy Ethiopia, Eritrea remains of the everyday travelers radar. In fact I have never heard of anyone visiting Eritrea.

But the capital city is supposed to look like the set of some old Italian movie! Imagine snorkeling or scuba diving in an almost untouched part of The Red Sea.  The Lonely Planet classifies Eritrea as  Africa’s most peaceful, secure and welcoming destinations, who would have thought?

No this is not Rome! Yes this is actually the capital of Eritrea: Asmara!
No this is not Rome! Yes this is actually the capital of Eritrea: Asmara!

Things you didn’t know about Eritrea:

  • Over the years, this is one country in the world where elections have been regularly scheduled and cancelled but none have actually ever been held.
  • This is probably one of the very few countries in the world that has only one political party- People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.
  • One of the world’s oldest human fossils was excavated here and many experts believe this country to be the cradle of the earth.
  • The port city of Adulis is one of Africa’s most ancient cities. The Greeks founded it in 600.

An amazing beefstew with an amazing spice blend!

Eritrea
Eritrean Beefstew

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46. Congo: Kondres

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I know there are 2 Congo’s but to avoid confusion I just did one recipe.

Yes we are officialy there, Congo… the poorest nation on earth. Some of you might know I grew up in Belgium, I was born there, went to school, my parents still live there. Here is what I learned about Congo as a Belgian colony. “Congo is a colony of Belgium in Africa, King Leopold the Second claimed it for himself and then around 1960 Congo gained independence.” And yes I did pay attention in history class since it was my favorite subject in school. I still learned NOTHING about how the Belgians left Congo or how they treated the Congolese. I think this is a disgrace! It’s like Germans never learning about the damage they did with the World Wars. Over 10 million Congolese were slaughtered (that was 50% of the entire population)! And for what,… ivory, gold, diamonds (sooo money???).

Congo

So on the bright side there also some things about Congo you probably don’t know:

  • The great apes, such as the bonobos and the eastern lowland gorillas, can be found only in Congo.
  • You should not take pictures there and local residents will get upset when you shoot them because it is believed that capturing a person’s image will remove his/her spirit.
  • The Congo rives flows through 10 countries
  • Despite being one of the poorest nations on earth the Congolese are a very proud nation. As said on Anthony Bourdain Part’s Unkown, even the poorest people spend most of their income on soap, clothes and their haircut. They take great pride in looking clean, fresh and well taken care off.

This recipe is great for using up leftovers of a sunday roast since you can literally use any meat!

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Ingredients: Any meat you can boil (I used left over roast lamb), 3 unripe green plantains, 1 large onion, 3 large tomatoes, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1/2 cup of basil, 1/4 cup of celery leaves, 2 teaspoons of grated ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 green onions, 1 teaspoon white pepper, 2 teaspoons of curry powder 1 tablespoon of thyme, vegetable oil, 1 stock cube

  1. In Large saucepan boil meat seasoned with salt, and, onions until tender depending on the meat with plenty of water for stock. You can shorten this process in half by using a pressure cooker. Reserve stock
  2. Using a sharp knife cut both ends off the plantain. This will make it easy to grab the skin of the plantains. Slit a shallow line down the long seam of the plantain; peel only as deep as the peel. Remove plantain peel by pulling it back
  3. Cut the plantains into 2-3 pieces depending on size
  4. Chop the tomatoes, onions, green onions and place in a food processor or blender: garlic, basil, parsley, celery with a little bit of water -if using a blender to facilitate blending. Blend until puree.
  5. Heat up a large pot with oil, then add the tomatoes mixture, white pepper, curry, and meat with meat stock, bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Then add plantains, Maggi and/or stock / water (enough to cover the plantains)
  7. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let it cook until the plantains is super tender about an hour or more. Add water as necessary to prevent burns.
  8. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  9. Serve warm

45. Comoros Islands: Pilaou

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Scattered across the ocean the Comoros Islands a place you go when you want to escape reality for a little while or if you are fugitive it would also be the perfect place to hide out, since most people haven’t even heard about this mysterious little dot in the ocean. So what kind of people live in the Comoros Islands? The charming inhabitants of Comoros are mixture of Arab traders, Persian sultans, African slaves and Portuguese pirates. Islam, and all its traditions, is recognizable everywhere. Women are expected to show modesty and cover up, and alcohol is an absolute no-go. But if your idea of the perfect holiday is less about drinking rum punch in a bikini at a resort, and more about long, lazy days sipping tea and talking politics with the locals, then a safari in the exotic Comoros will probably be the kind of unpredictable adventure you’ve been craving for.

Yes this is what heaven should look like!
Yes this is what heaven should look like!

Things you didn’t know about Comoros:

  • The Comoros Islands have the nickname ‘Cloud Coup-Coup’ land because of their crazy politics, the three independent islands have experienced almost 20 coups since gaining independence in 1975! In fact, a Comorian president is lucky if there’s time for his official portrait to be taken before armed men are once again knocking on the door.
  • Comoros is the second-largest producer of vanilla in the world! Madgascar is the first.
  • Each island has its own dialect.

This rice tasted so comfy and heartwarming! Yummy for a weeknight meal! Strangely it reminded me a lot of the Afghan dish I did (that was my first recipe!), strange since they are so far away from each other! I mean Comoros is a tiny island in the ocean and Afghanistan is a freaking desert!

Pilaou

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38. Chad: Kachumbari Salad

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You could consider Chad as Africa for the advanced. Chad is no place to travel to for the weak. Chad is as real as it gets. Bribing the police is not the exception but the rule. Added to that, the summer heat is mind-melting, travel costs can be astronomical and the security situation remains unpredictable. So why bother going to Chad right? There are plenty of reasons to go Chad, frankly I don’t even know where to start! There are the sublime oases hidden in the northern dessert, the exquisite wild life in the National Parks, and the unforgettable boat trips on Lake Chad.

oase in chad

So here are some fun facts about Chad:

  • The average Chadian woman gives birth to six children.
  • The flag of Chad has vertical blue, yellow and red stripes. The blue strip symbolizes hope , the yellow stripe symbolizes the sun, the red stripe symbolizes fire and unity.
  • Chad is sometimes referred to as ‘The Death Heart of Africa’ due to the desert climate.
  • Chad it is about the size of Spain, France and Kansas combined
  • Did you know Chad is home to up to 200,000 Sudanese refugees.

It was a real challenge to find a recipe from Chad, they mostly eat tomatoes and onions apparently. So I made a salad. It was good but just so a little too basic for my taste.

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Ingredients: 5 tomatoes (thinly sliced), 2 small onions (thinly sliced), 1 red or green chili (de-seeded and lengthways into fine slivers, handful of coriander (finely chopped), juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp olive oil, black pepper to taste.

Place the tomatoes, sliced onions, chilli and coriander into a large serving bowl. Mix together the limejuice and olive oil and toss this mixture through the salad. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. This is the traditional version, but shredded cabbage or carrot can be added.

37. Central African Republic: Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

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During my research for the Central African Republic I could find nothing but misery. So I started thinking what do I know about this misery in this miserable country. My answer: next to nothing. The only thing I know is that Kony has a lot of influence there. If you haven’t heard about Kony, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE FEW PAST YEARS?

Despite being full of natural resources like gold, diamonds and uranium it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. Frankly there was not much positive to be found in the Central African Republic, it is a country torn by war. The conflict is way to complicated to explain. So I will just give you the recipe

This recipe is so delicious and healthy! Perfect for a cold winter night! And yes I added a little leftover focaccia bread. Too completely different continents but strange enough it worked!

sweetpotato soup

Ingredients: 1½ tsp olive oil,  2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 yellow onion, diced, 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger, 4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium, 4 cups diced tomatoes ( canned or boxed with juices), 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, ½ cup natural peanut butter, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper¼ tsp cinnamon, chopped fresh cilantro

 Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and stir frequently until the onions are softened (approx. 3 min.). Add 1 cup of water, vegetable broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Let simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (approx. 12 min.) To serve sprinkle over the chopped cilantro

35. Cape Verde: Octopus Stew

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On a tiny dot in the Atlantic Ocean close to the African Continent you can find  a little paradise called Cape Verde. It is the kind of place that pops on your mind when you think about the word vacation or sunny. I once had a friend who had a house in Cape Verde and he came back all time with these amazing stories and pictures! It is really complicated to say to which continent Cape Verde belongs. Geographically you would say Africa, nonetheless, Cape Verde enjoys a per capita income that is higher than that of many continental African nations. It has sought closer economic ties with the US, EU and Portugal (Cape Verde is a former Portuguese colony). Cape Verdes main income is tourism, unfortunately the tourist ain’t doing the rich marine life any good, the population of humpback whales and turtles  had already diminished severely. cape verd So here are some things you probably didn’t know about Cape Verde:

  • There is one goat for every two people on the islands.
  • It is said that after 20 years of continuous drinking of the locally produced grogue, that it could make you blind. (That must be some strong stuff)
  • Each of the islands, from Sal to São Vicente, celebrates the festival of Carnaval.
  • It is illegal to capture turtles between June and February.
  • The beach near Morre Negro is renowned for attracting dolphins and whales who beach themselves. Their remains can be seen along that area of coast. (Please do not take your kids here, they will be traumatized for life not only by the smell, but save yourself a few hours of hysterical crying because there are DEAD DOLPHINS! I can’t think of anything more upsetting to a 4 year old girl!)

So Cape Verde does not have a rich cuisine to say the least I really really had to make an effort to find a suitable recipe! So I hope you like it, I certainly did! I served it with rice and green beans. It is a great quick and tasty weeknight meal!

Octopusstew Ingredients: 2 lbs. octopus or squid or both, 2 bay leaves , 3 tablespoons of oil , 2 tomatoes or l tablespoon of tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic , l onion, 1 small red chili (seeds removed), half a lemon

Wash and cut octopus into small pieces. Place octopus in a pot with two bay leaves and 3 tablespoons of oil. Heat on medium. Allow octopus to cook for approximately 20 minutes. Add tomatoes, cloves of garlic, diced onion and hot pepper. Heat on medium low until stew-like. Stir occasionally. Serve and squeeze lemon over it for an extra touch.

According to the wonder called google this is supposed to be the national Cape Verdian music and dance.

 

33. Cameroon: Afrika Grilled Chicken in Tomato Sauce (Kati Kati)

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Cameroon is Africa’s beating heart, a beautifull country with active volcanoes, white sand beaches, thick rainforest and memorable parched landscapes broken up by the bizarre rock formations of the Sahel. So Cameroon has basically everything you expect Africa to have. There are both French and English regions in Cameroon, btw have I mentioned the rest of the 230 local languages they in Cameroon! In contrast with it’s neighbours Cameroon enjoys stability. The infrastrucuture is great, so traveling in Cameroon is safer and easier then in many other parts of Africa.

Cameroon

Here are some fun facts about Cameroon

  • Masks of people there carrying different messages are a very important part of their culture.
  • Cameroon is the first African country to reach the quarter-final in soccer world cup.
  • Cameroon is home to the second wettest place in the world, Debuncha at the foot of the Cameroon mountains records annual rainfalls of 400 inches (10,000mm), this is about 20 times the annual rainfall recorded in England. (and here I was thinking I lived in a rainy country)
  • The name Cameroon (also Cameroun in French) is derived from Rio de Camarões (the River of Prawns) the name given to River Wouri by Portuguese Explorers in the 15th century due to its abundance of prawns and crayfish.

So this week I made Kati Kati or African Grilled Chicken! It was a delicious weeknight meal and I served it with spinach.

Cameroon

Ingredients: 3-4 pounds of chicken, skin- on cut up into desired pieces, 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 ½ tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon white pepper, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon bouillon powder (you may replace with salt),

Ingredients sauce: 2 fresh tomatoes, , ½ cup water or more as needed, chicken bouillon to taste

 Trim chicken of excess fat and pat dry with a cloth or paper napkin. In a small bowl combine the spices, onions, pepper, garlic, and Maggie. Season chicken with spice rub. Preheat a hot barbecue, grill, griddle or frying pan. Place chicken on the grill coated with cooking spray; grill for about 20~30 minutes, rotating sides or until browned and almost cooked. Blend tomatoes and set aside. Heat up a large saucepan over medium heat –add palm oil to the pan and tomatoes puree. Sauté for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally Transfer the chicken to the saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, spooning the sauce over the chicken to coat. Add about ½-1cup of water cover and cook until the chicken is well flavored by the sauce 4 to 5 minutes and thoroughly cooked through. Adjust for seasonings and oil

Manu Dibango is one of Cameroon’s most renown musicians.

31. Burundi: Curried Spinach with peanut butter

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Burundi, well this one is pretty special to me, since my nephew is a quarter Burundi, I invited him and my sister over for this special dinner. Not my dad, but his other grandfather is from Burundi. Let’s get started! At the beating heart of Africa lies a small country called Burundi. Although Burundi is among the poorest countries in the world it has many attractions worth visiting: it’s legendary lake Tanganyika with a wild variety a birds, it’s mountains and valley’s, large savannah’s and enchanting forests. The people of Burundi have suffered a lot and are still suffering under de consequences of years civil war and hunger.

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Here are some fun facts about Burundi:

  • Drumming is an important part of the Burundian cultural heritage.
  • Kirundi and French are the official languages of Burundi. The country’s motto “Ubumwe, Ibikorwa, Iterambere” in Kirundi means “Unity, Work, Progress”. The motto of the country is also expressed in French – “Unité, Travail, Progrès”
  • Soon after Burundi gained independence from Belgium, the mountainous country enjoyed the distinction of being one of the first black republics in the world.

This recipe is served as a side dish, with rice. It’s deliciously creamy

Burundi

Ingredients: 200 gr chopped spinach, 1 tablespoon peanutbutter, 1 cup of coconut milk, 1 chopped onion, 1 tablespoon of curry powder, 1 peeled and diced tomato, 1/2 dried chili pepper

Wash the spinach, roll leaves together and chop. Pop the tomato in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, peel and chop. Peel and chop the onion. Mix the peanut butter with the coconut milk. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the onion, tomato, salt and curry powder and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the spinach, continue cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add the peanut butter and coconut milk mixture.  Simmer, for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The curried spinach and peanut butter may be served as a side dish or as a full meal with rice

26. Botswana: Vetkoek

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Botswana, the largest natural paradise in Southern Africa. Because of the limited tourism the wilderness is still untouched. With so many beautiful things to see it’s kind of the hidden pearl of Africa. Things like the impressive Victoria Falls you can fly over them with sightseeing flights, or ride an elephant on elephant safari if you are brave enough. Although Botswana’s biggest exportproduct is diamonds, it is still a very poor country, the rich are only getting richer and the poor are only getting poorer.  So yes Botswana is a beautiful and breathtaking country but it still struggles with a lot of problems like poverty and AIDS. So here we go fun things about Botswana:

botswana

  • The Batswana call foreigners “Legoa” this translates as “spat out by the sea”
  • Botswana is Africa’s longest surviving democracy.
  • Botswana has the largest elephant population in Africa.
  • Botswana has the 7th lowest population density of any country in world. Plenty of room for the wildlife!

Here is a Botswana song. He is singing about his friend who betrayed him and then laughed at him when he was in trouble. He basically tells this “friend” of his to stop laughing because what comes around goes around.

This week I made an African version of a sloppy joe with a homemade bun. It is so good! There is this thing about kneading bread that I absolutely love, I am never going to buy a bread making machine simply because I love the feeling of dough becoming stronger and better the longer I work with it! The meat filling of this dish is amazing, the spices are perfect! Seriously this is such an incredible weeknight comfort food meal!vetkoek

Ingredients: 360 g cake flour, 1×10 g sachet yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1tbsp sugar, 3/4 cup water, lukewarm, canola oil, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 chopped onions, cut into thin rings, 1 finely sliced red chilli, 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced, 500g beef mince, 5 tbsp curry powder, 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped, 1 cup beef stock, 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes, 2 tbsp of mango chutney, 3 Tbsp fresh coriander, chopped, Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste, 2 cups frozen peas

To make the dough, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the water, a little at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until a wet dough forms. Knead in the bowl for 5 minutes or until the dough springs back after being pressed with your finger. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and allow the dough to rise for 30–45 minutes or until doubled in size. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onions, red chilli and garlic for 2–3 minutes. Add the mince and Cape Malay curry powder to the pan and cook until browned. Add the chopped tomatoes to the mince. Pour in the beef stock and simmer over a medium heat for 5 minutes, then add the potatoes. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10–15 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. Add the and mango chutney and coriander and season to taste. Add the peas. Once the potatoes are cooked through, adjust the seasoning and remove from the heat. Heat the canola oil for frying the vetkoek in a separate saucepan over a medium heat. Knock the dough back and divide into 16 equal vetkoeks. Gently drop 4 vetkoek into the oil and cover the saucepan with a lid. This allows the vetkoek to partially steam while frying. Cook for 2 minutes, or until golden on one side, then turn and cook the other side. When cooked through and golden, remove the vetkoek from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Cook the remaining vetkoek in the same way. Serve the mini vetkoek with the savoury mince and garnish with fresh coriander.

21. Benin: Mouton à l’Arachide (Lamb with Peanuts)

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Benin, a country with a dark history like no other, it’s last place the slaves saw when the were taken from their homes all around around Africa. Can you imagine them sitting on a boat not knowing where they are going, being so afraid of all the stuff around you that you have never seen before. Strange people yelling at you in a language you can’t understand. They must have been so scared! Luckily that’s history!

Elephants, lions and crocodiles can be seen in more animated form in the northern wildlife parks, notably Pendjari, one of the best in West Africa. Then there are the stilt villages, home to thousands in the southern lagoons. Not only is Benin a richly historical and cultural country, this politically stable nation is one of the easiest parts of West Africa to travel in. So here are some fun facts of Benin:

  • Benin is the birthplace of Voodoo: Benin is the only country that recognizes Voodoo as a religion, almost 2/3 of the population worships Voodoo Gods
  • Languages spoken in Benin: French, Fon, Haussa, Yoruba, Dendi, Bariba and Ge
  • Benin, formerly known as Dahomey, was one of the first countries in the 1990s to successfully effect the change from dictatorship to a pluralistic political system. Today, it is one of the most stable countries in Africa.

So here we go, the recipe! I really liked this one although I had my doubts when I started but it turned out really really well!

lamb stew with peanut sauce

Ingredients: 1.5kg lamb shoulder cubed ,6 tbsp peanut butter, 900ml water, 60ml groundnut oil, 2 onions, chopped 2 garlic cloves, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 tbsp powdered shrimp, 8  small carrots, cut into chunks 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed 1 small cabbage, shredded, salt and black pepper to taste, splash of soy sauce to taste

Add the water to a large pan and bring to a boil. Mix-in the peanut butter and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Cool and remove any fat from the surface. Meanwhile fry the lamb in the groundnut oil until browned then add the onions and cook until golden brown. Add the garlic, thyme and powdered shrimp and season with salt. Stir to mix then add the carrots and cabbage. Fry for a minute then add the peanut butter and water mix. Bring to a boil reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes before adding the sweet potato. Add the soy sauce and do not forget to season well, don’t be shy with the black pepper, you don’t want it to be blend! Cook for a further 40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender then serve with rice.