To be completely honest I hadn’t the slightest idea there was a country called Djibouti let alone where in the world it was situated. After browsing my world map for a while I found a tiny little country next to Somalia right in the horn of Africa called Djibouti,so it’s in East-Africa! Great I haven’t had many East-African countries yet. It’s a quite young country it only declared independence 37 years ago, before that Djibouti was a French colony called French Somaliland. France took advantage of bountiful trade from the nearby Red Sea, Suez Canal and other countries such as Ethiopia, building the Franco-Ethiopian railway in 1897.
Things you didn’t know about Djibouti:
- Lake Asal: the third-lowest land depression on the planet, this saline lake is also the lowest point in Africa at 155 meters below sea level, and holds 10 times the salt content of any ocean.
- It is the hottest inhabited in the world. Temperatures pass 45C/120F sometimes with and sometimes without humidity.
- Space shuttles in need of an emergency landing can use Djibouti in the Grand Bara desert. Next time you are stuck in one and the engine fails, you know where to go. (I can’t prove this but it is a powerful and persistent rumor in Djibouti.)
- Evaporation is the main activity. It makes the water go out from the famous Lake Assal. Even though the lake is very salty, it gives benefits to the life of the local people in Djibouti. People can use the salt for personal use. Sometimes, people also trade the salt for the commercial purpose.
- If you want to use taxi, I suggest you to take it before the sunset. When the sunset comes, the fee will be raised 50%.
So this rice this is delicious. I never knew you could get so much flavor into plain rice! This dish did however remind of the first dish I ever cooked for this around the world project for Afghanistan so i you liked that one I can guarantee you will love this one aswell! It’s not refined food, but it’s good old comfort food you want to eat out of a bowl while crying during the Grey’s Anatomy Finale which is exactly what I did!
Ok you guys I am basically not a big burger fan, but this one rocked my world. It’s the kind of burger you would not feel ripped off after paying €20 for it. I have thing for lamb meat anything from lamb chops to lambmince to lambstew,… I am always happy when there is lamb in my food! To me it tastes like spring, and since spring began this weekend I am gladly sharing this amazing recipe with you.
My mother bought plain lamb/beef burgers for me and my sister. Because she was heading out for gala party with my dad. I decided to make the absolute best lamb burger I could possibly make with the stuff we had in the store cupboard and fridge. It didn’t take long to decide to make my my burger a little Greek. Since I love the freshness of feta and tzaziki. Yes this burger is an absolute winner and I will definitely make it again very soon!
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???).
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!
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
- 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
- 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
- Cut the plantains into 2-3 pieces depending on size
- 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.
- 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.
- Then add plantains, Maggi and/or stock / water (enough to cover the plantains)
- 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.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Serve warm
Bosnia Herzegovina a country plagued by so many wars, but still going strong. I remember when I was really small, seeing the horrifying images on television. I think it’s one of the first big new events that I remember. It all seemed so far away back then, but now I realize it wasn’t that far at all. Only a 3 hour flight away! Bosnia & Herzegovina are to parts, the Bosnian region is mostly covered by thick dark forests and the Herzegovina part is flat farmland.
So here we go fun stuff about Bosnia
- It has the last remaining jungle in Europe at Perućica: It may not be huge being some 6 kilometres long and 1–3 kilometres wide, but with an area of 1,400 hectares, the Perućica forest has many trees that are 300 years old, and the forest’s vintage is stated to be 20,000 years. You don’t need to go to some far away exotic destination to have your own jungle expedition!
- People drink hard liquor to start the day: brandy to be specific (well that’s what I call a breakfast of champions)
- Bribing cops is the rule not the exeception
- Births and Weddings are still celebrated with “celebratory gunfire”.
- The Eurovision Songcontest is really big in Eastern Europe, also in Bosnia.
Here is the recipe for this week, it was a really really good one! Quick, easy and tasty!
Ingredients Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: 1 jar roasted red bell peppers, 1 medium eggplant, 5 teaspoons freshly minced garlic (about 5 medium cloves), 1/4 cup sunflower or olive oil, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste, Freshly ground black pepper to taste and a teaspoon of sugar.
Ingredients Cevapi: 350 gr ground beef, 350 gr ground lamb, 1 finely minced shallot, 3 cloves of garlic finely minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, salt to taste, pepper to taste
Several toppings I used garlic sauce, cucumber and cilantro
In a medium bowl, mix together beef, lamb, onion, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper, and baking soda by hand until thoroughly combined. Form meat mixture into finger-length sausages 3/4-inch in diameter. Bake the sausages on the BBQ or in a griddle pan.
Place eggplant on cool side of grill. Cover and cook until skin darkens and wrinkles and eggplant is uniformly soft when pressed with tongs, about 30 minutes, turning halfway through for even cooking. Remove eggplant from grill and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Trim top off eggplant and split lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out flesh of eggplant; discard skin, Place roasted red peppers, eggplant pulp, and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until roughly chopped. Add in oil, vinegar, and salt and pulse until incorporated and peppers are finely chopped.Transfer sauce to a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature then use immediately or transfer to an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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!
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.
My last country that starts with an A! 1 letter done 25 to go! Azerbaijan also referred to as “The Land of Fire” mostly because their old religion used to consider fire as a holy element and also because of The Burning Mountain a rare natural wonder in the Absheron peninsula. It burns all year round due to natural gas escaping from the ground. And with burn I mean flames! It should be spectacular sight!
- There are 8,350 rivers in Azerbaijan, and all of them drain into the Caspian Sea
- There main income is oils, they have a LOT of oil
- SELFIE UTOPIA! Azeri people love taking pictures of themselves and love when you take pictures of them, especially men! But if you would like to take a picture of for instance an oilfield of a police officer of even his car that’s big NO GO!
- Azerbaijan is a country of watermelons. But there is something very specific about they way you eat watermelon there. Always with a white cheese and bread. And no this is not a typo
Over to the recipe. This week I made a lamb stew with chestnuts and dried fruit. It was really really good! Real comfort food. Tis recipe is for 4. The onions and the apricots make this dish really sweet. So best not to combine with a sweet wine to overcome it being too sweet.
Ingredients: 500g of lamb meat (lamb shoulder of the bone), 4 big white onions, 1 large tablespoon of all spice a handful of canned chestnuts, a handful of dried apricots, a handful of raisins, a few threads of safran, 1 spoon of turmeric, salt/pepper/, juice of 1 lemon, butter or any cooking oil other than olive oil
Put a few threads of saffron in a cup and add boiling water. Cover and leave to infuse. Chop the lamb into bite-sized chunks. Place in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Remove the foam that forms on top, then add the all spice. When the meat is soft, remove from the water. Keep the water you cooked the meat in! Pour boiling water onto the dried fruit and let is soak for 3-4 minutes and drain. Brown the softened meat in melted butter of oil (anything but olive oil) Cut the the onions in rings and fry them in butter. Add the meat and stir. Add the chestnuts, dried fruit, turmeric, and salt and peper to the meat and fry for 3-4. Add a ladle of the bouillon from the meat, the saffron infusion and the lemon juice. Let it simmer for about an hour. Serve with rice
1. Afghanistan: Rice Pilav with Lamb, Carrots, Raisins and Chicken kebabs with Cilanto Garlic Yoghurt Sauce
The first country mentioned in my book is Afghanistan. To be honest I don’t really know anything about Afghanistan except for the obvious things that show up on the news.
- So I looked up some fun facts about Afghanistan!
- Poetry is a big part of Afghans’culture and it has been for centuries. In the city of Herat, women, men and children gather on Thursday night to share verses from old and new poetry.
- Afghanistan’s national sport is Buzkashi (no idea how it is pronounced), or in other words, goat-grabbing. It’s a sport where the players in two teams try to catch a goat while riding on a horse. They have been playing it for centuries. Nowadays there even are sponsors involved.
- The main income of the local people in Afghanistan is from the agricultural sector. Many people plant their farm with rice, fruit, veggies and nuts. Some of their crops are exported too.
I had no idea what the Afghan kitchen entailed. My starting point was Google (obviously). It quickly became clear that Pilaf is their national dish but that everyone makes it in their own way, so I tried to combine all of them. I was at my parents house when I made this, and my family loved this dish. When I told them that I was going to cook Afghan food they were a little worried. But fortunately they were pleasantly surprised when this came to the table! If anyone has any suggestions, opinions, critisisms or maybe you make this dish in a different way (or maybe i’m doing it completly wrong) please let me know, because I want to learn how to do it the right way! I found all the recipes on!
Rice Pilaf with Lamb Carrots and Raisins (for 7 people) Ingredients:3 cups of basmati rice, 1 medium onion, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 5 cups of water, 2 large carrots, 1 1/2 pounds of boneless lamb shank cut into thumb size pieces, raisins to taste. Wash rice in several changes of cold water until the water becomes almost clear. Soak the rice in cold water for 1 hour, then drain well in a sieve. While the rice soaks, fry un onion in oil in a large casserole pan. Pat the lamb dry and sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of salt. Add to the onion and brown on all sides about 8 minutes total. Add 1 cup of water and bring to simmer. Cover pot and reduce heat to ,ow, then braise lamb stirring occasionally, until meat is tender about. 15 minutes. Stir in the drained rice, carrots, raisins and 2 teaspoons of salt. Add enough water to cover the mixture by 1 inch and bing to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat, until rice is tender and liquid about 20 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and transfer pilaf to a large platter. Chicken Kebabs Ingredients: 1/4 cup of greek yoghurt, 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 6 garlic cloves minced, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 3 chickenbreasts. Equipment: Metal skewers Whisk together yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, turmeric and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, then add the chicken, stirring to coat. Marinate, covered and chilled at least 4 hours ( the recipe said 8, but I didn’t have the time, so I marinated them as long as possible). Thread pieces onto the skewers. and put them on BBQ or grill pan. Cilantro Garlic Yoghurt Sauce (for the chicken kebabs) Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups of greek yoghurt, 3/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, 4 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped garlic, 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne. Stir together all ingredients with 1 teaspoon of salt, then chill, covered at leaf 30 minutes (for flavors to blend)
Great movie about Afghanistan: The Kiterunner (2007)