WEEK 1 Nepal & Romania
I drew Nepal and Bunny picked Romania out of the box. We have a week to research the cuisine of each selected country and make a dish or dishes that sound interesting and reflect that nation’s food. Now bear in mind that there are lots of countries in the world that while they have national dishes and certain specialities, don’t really have a cuisine as such. They have food and cooking but not a cuisine – there is a difference.
Momos’ are pretty much a national dish of Nepal, (like gyoza or baozi) and very delicious these steamed mince filled dumplings were, served with Tomato Achar, a spicy Indian style relish. Easy to make but involving a few steps, we thought Momos’ were delicious, well worth the effort. We could have eaten a lot more of them – after-all who doesn’t love dumplings? The spicy Achar tomato relish really gave them an extra punch too.
The recipe I used was from taste.com.au and used chicken mince, I wonder if Buffalo would be more authentic? This is what restaurant ones look like, mine weren’t so nicely shaped, or uniform.
- 400g chicken mince
- 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 shallots, ends trimmed, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 300g (2 cups) plain flour
- Pinch of salt
- 125ml (1/2 cup) water
- Olive oil, to grease
- 40g butter
- Olive oil, to grease
- 4 ripe tomatoes
- 2 long fresh red chillies, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- Step 1
To make the tomato achar, preheat oven to 200°C. Brush a baking tray with olive oil to lightly grease. Place the tomatoes on the tray. Roast in oven for 45 minutes or until golden and the skin loosens. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Use your fingers to remove the skins and discard. Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor. Add the chilli and process until smooth.
- Step 2
Heat mustard seed oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add the coriander and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until aromatic. Add the tomato mixture. Reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Step 3
To make the momos, combine the mince, onion, shallot, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger and nutmeg in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
- Step 4
Place the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the water. Use a wooden spoon in a cutting motion to mix until almost combined, adding extra water if necessary. Use your hands to bring the dough together in the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 minutes to rest.
- Step 5
Brush a large baking tray with olive oil to lightly grease. Roll 1 tablespoonful of dough into a ball. Use the palm of your hand to flatten. Use a rolling pin to roll out to an 8cm-diameter disc. Holding the dough disc in the palm of your hand, place 1 tablespoonful of mince mixture in the centre. Bring the dough together to enclose the filling, pleating and pinching the edges to seal. Place on the prepared tray and cover with a damp tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough and mince mixture to make 24 momos.
- Step 6
Add enough water to a wok to reach a depth of 5cm. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Brush a large bamboo steamer with olive oil to lightly grease. Place one-third of the momos in the steamer and cover. Place over the wok and cook, covered, for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Transfer to a large plate. Repeat, in 2 more batches, with remaining momos.
- Step 7
Heat half the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook half the momos for 2 minutes or until bases are crisp. Repeat with remaining butter and momos. Serve with tomato achar.
Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Bunny had to do Romania and chose to make some Stuffed Cabbage Rolls so beloved of Eastern European countries. My husband has always said he loathed cabbage rolls so I have never made them, despite having an old-fashioned fondness for them myself. However they were made in winter, and a hearty tasty meal they made . Served with buttery mashed potato, it was yummy enough to win over my fussy husband who declared they were nicer than he expected. High praise indeed. I will make them again next winter.
I also like stuffed capsicum, anyone else out there like them too? In fact I’m quite fond of most stuffed vegetables, eggplant has to be my favourite – I love eggplant!!
Week 2 Japan & Belarus
I came up with another Asian country, this time Japan, and Bunny came up with Belarus, another Eastern European country. Now I love Asian food, especially the big spicy flavours of South-East Asia such as Thai, Indian, Malaysia and Indonesian. So Japan with it’s limited flavour palette has the least appeal for me. I know that it’s very fashionable, I know the presentation is often exquisite, but mostly that leaves me cold. I don’t want my food to look like someone handled it and fussed over it with a fine-toothed comb and tweezers. I like my food to look natural and less fussy. I always used to say that raw fish and cold rice does nothing for me. And even though I now like sushi and eat it quite often, I still only like the sushi with cooked toppings such as grilled salmon or vegetable tempura.
Chicken Yakitori was surprisingly tasty, served with plain rice and steamed leafy greens., I’d still rather have satay sticks though!
Belorussian Kolduny – Potato Pancakes stuffed with Minced Beef, Bunny made these and I thought the recipe sounded really strange, I was sure the weird potato pancake mix was too watery and would never hold together. But they stayed together and were really interesting. Quite different from anything we’d had before but very nice. This is what cultural eating is all about – discovering new things that you would never normally try and enjoying it! We got this recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com a great multi-cultural eating site we have discovered, check it out guys. Do try to make these too – it’s fun!
2 1/2 ounces ground chicken
2 ounces ground beef
2 ounces yellow onion, cut in small pieces
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
14 ounces fresh potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 round tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 beaten egg
2 ounces vegetable oil
Mix the chicken, beef, onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Form 3 thin patties about 4 1/2 inches in diameter.
Add the potatoes and remaining 1 ounce onions to a grinder and grind everything until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter in a bowl and add the flour, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the egg. Mix everything thoroughly. Form the batter into round thin pancakes.
Heat the oil in a pan. Place a potato pancake in the pan, topped with a meat patty and covered by more potato batter, covering all the meat. Fry the pancake on one side, about 1 minute. Flip it to the other side with a spatula, holding the top of the not-fried side with the fork. Make the fire smaller and cover the pan. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, turning the pancakes over from time to time.
Week 3 Crete & The Comoros
OK so I got Crete, fabled isle of old, think of fabulous Minoan temples, gorgeous frescos, bull-dancing, the minotaur and the Labyrinth supposedly designed by the Daedalus (father of Icarus for those of you who know your Greek mythology) Not to mention the Mycenaeans, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and Ottomans who all coveted this, the biggest island in the Mediterranean. Heraklion the capital city is named after the hero Hercules.
So many appealing dishes to choose from: I chose Cretan Moussaka – and it was totally delicious!
Recipe from a great site: http://www.eatcrete.com which promotes all the lovely food of Crete. Recommend you try this recipe, really yummy. Much nicer than it looks in this photo , but trust me it tasted great! We halved the quantities in the recipe as there are only 4 of us in my family and the two men, (my husband & my 13 year old son) don’t like eggplant.
Don’t be tempted to leave out the cinnamon, it gives the moussaka the real authentic flavour, and a haunting aroma.
|8 servingsIngredients1 kilo ground beef and pork (or beet and lamb)
1 kilo potatoes
1 1/2 kilos eggplant or zucchini
1 cup grated cheese
1 Tbs. butter
4 large ripe tomatoes
olive oil for frying
dash of ground cinnamon
In a deep saucepan place the brown meat and onion in olive oil. Stir in the cinnamon, tomato, salt, cumin, and pepper; let simmer over low heat until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat. Add 1/3 cheese and 3-4 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Stir well. Clean potatoes and trim eggplants. Cut into thin slices (about 1 cm thick) and fry. Drain on kitchen paper. Lightly butter the large baking dish; sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Layer the potatoes on the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with a little grated cheese. Spread meat mixture over potatoes. Layer eggplant slices over meat. Pour the bechamel sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle with a little grated cheese and breadcrumbs, then drizzle with melted butter. Bake moussaka at 180°C for about one hour. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.
Poor Bunny was a bit stuck with Comoros, where the heck are they? she quizzed, having never heard of them! And I wasn’t sure exactly where they were, guessing somewhere near Africa- my geography loving husband scored here. A small group of islands off the coast of East Africa, facing Mozambique. But research came up with a whole bunch of recipes, mostly influenced by Arab traders I’d say, who arrived in the 10th century trading slaves, ivory and other riches out of Africa. See http://www.healthy-life.narod.ru
She lost track what she made, but I think it was a Comoran Chicken Curry served on Island Rice. Or in the local patois of French – Poulet de Comores and Riz de Iles. Sadly we have no photo, but I remember it was a fairly mild curry, pleasant but not really great. You’ll have to make it yourselves to decide.
Got to go, next time, Switzerland, Georgia, Somalia and Belize!
Happy world eating from Mimsey.