Jerk chicken from The Bahamas packs a punch!

WEEK 21- The Bahamas 

Quick – what do you think of when you think of The Bahamas? Sunbathing on superb white sandy beaches, gently lapped by an impossibly blue, blue sea,  lined with palm trees? then you’d be right, The Bahamas is the original tropical island paradise, in fact one of the 700 islands is called Paradise.

Aerial view of Atlantis, AQUAVENTURE, The Cove and The Reef

Aerial view of Atlantis Resort

Where is it and a bit of history

Located in the Atlantic, north of Cuba and east of Florida Cays, The Bahamas is a sprawling group of islands and cays located on a massive coral reef system. The Bahamas was where Christopher Columbus made landfall in the new world in 1492, probably on San Salvador. It became a British colony in 1718, who worked hard to eliminate its unsavoury reputation from piracy on the high seas and such infamous buccaneers as Blackbeard. Later it became a dumping ground for slaves and those descendants make up 90% of the population today.

The Bahamas

The Bahamas

The Bahamas became an independent country in 1973 while still retaining its Commonwealth membership. Tourism and finance are it’s two main sources of income. Nassau the capital is a buzzing bustling place of cruise-ship stopovers, dubious off-shore banking, big-time duty-free shopping and crazy cabs called jitney’s.

What to see and do

The Bahamas is all about that fabulous water, with sun-bathing, swimming and all water sports at the top of the list along with cruising, shopping and partying on with sunset drinks at beach side shacks. There are some gracious pastel Georgian style old government buildings in Nassau and , a couple of really fascinating museums like the pirate museum and is right next door to the incredible Atlantis Paradise resort and water park.

Pirate Museum Nassau

Pirate Museum Nassau

This a huge themed water park spread over 41 acres and features a transparent water slide down through a shark infested tank! Awesome! All the resorts towering high-rise stuck on tiny sandy atolls are a bizarre sight themselves. Top of the list of must see is the  truly spectacular Thunderball Grotto (from the James Bond Film of the same name) the eerie Andros Blue Holes and the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Hole

Andros Islands Blue hole

Bahamian Cuisine

The food of The Bahamas reflects it’s location with an emphasis on its beautiful fresh seafood and coral reef fish, the conch in many different forms such as ceviche (raw seafood or fish ‘cooked in citrus juice) , escabeche (fish cooked lightly first then pickled), fritters, chowder or salads – is the national dish. Typical tropical crops such as coconut, taro, yams and sweet potato are traditionally grown, along with tomatoes and celery. Pidgeon peas, rice and peas are staples.

fruits

Tropical fruits

Popular flavourings obviously include the native chilli, allspice, cinnamon along with  fresh coriander, rum, native limes and garlic. Many varieties of exotic tropical fruits are used in both sweet and savoury dishes as well as many drinks. Mangoes, pineapple, guava, pawpaw, bananas, soursop and sapodilla and native limes.

 

 Chicken, pork and goat are the favoured meats and sometimes iguana!

Rum is king here, including an unusual coconut infused variety, cocktails with tropical fruits are big, a native limeade and locally brewed beer plus a liqueur – Nassau Royale made by Bicardi , a sweet rum base spiced with coconut and vanilla.

 

 JERK CHICKEN                         Serves – 4-6

 

Ingredients

  • I lime, juice & finely grated rind
  • 8 chicken legs or thigh fillets
  • 2 tsp McCormicks Cajun spice mix ( see below)
  • 1 hot red chilli, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp g allspice
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 tb dark brown sugar
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 spring onions /scallions, chopped
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tb fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tb soy sauce
  • 2 tsp chicken stock/bouillon powder
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Pat chicken dry. Rub with lime juice and 2 teaspoons creole spice
  2. Heat oil in a frypan/sauté pan over medium heat, add onion, chilli, & garlic, sauté about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add nutmeg, brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon and continue stirring until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to clump together.
  4. Remove from the heat and let it cool
  5. Place in a food processor or blender, then add rest of ingredients. Pulse for about 30 seconds until well blended
  6. Cover the chicken with jerk marinate, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Use gloves to rub mix into chicken.
  7. Preheat oven to 220°C/ 425°F. Drain chicken, reserve the marinade, place on a wire rack if possible,  over a lined baking tray, or on lined tray in a single layer.
  8. Bake chicken until cooked through and skin is crispy, about 30-50 minutes, turn chicken half way through.
  9. Simmer the remaining marinade for about 7 minutes till thickened. Serve with chicken.

Cajun or creole spice mix, if you can’t find this blend, you can make a simple version of your own –

  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp fresh gr, black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tb + 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt

Mix all together. Will keep well.

Rice n Beans 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup oil
  • 2 garlic clove crushed
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons creole spice
  • 2 cups uncooked long grain/jasmine rice
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 400 ml can  (1¾ cups) coconut milk
  • 400 gm can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock powder/bouillon (optional)
  • 1 whole red chilli (optional)
  • 1 teaspoons paprika

Instructions

  1. Rinse rice three times & drain.
  2. Heat oil in a medium  saucepan, add onions, garlic, thyme, and hot chilli, sauté for a minute.
  3. Stir in rice for 1 minute, add beans, then add rest of ingredients with 1 cup of water.
  4. Bring to a boil reduce heat, and cover. Simmer on low 12 minutes until tender.
  5. Don’t take lid off to check until 12 minutes. surface should be pocked if cooked. If too wet,  leave with lid on 10 minutes to dry out. If too dry and rice still hard, add little bit of extra water, cover and cook 5 more minutes on low.
  6. Stir gently to serve. Can be cooked half an hour ahead and will stay hot covered on stove top.

Jerk Chicken & Rice'n Beans

This tasty rice was yummy enough to enjoy on its own, but with the delicious jerk chicken was really terrific. We all enjoyed this meal, the chicken was particularly good and we would happily have this dish again. In future I’d make sure to marinate extra chicken , be great in a salad, on a sandwich, or tossed with fried rice.  Score 8.5/10

Paprika Chicken with caraway noodles from Croatia

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PAPRIKAS

Oh beautiful Croatia, how I long for thee! Sandwiched between the Balkans and Central Europe, it has been a part of many different empires all leaving their mark on this land of stunning natural beauty. Known as ‘The Land of Regions’ owing to it’s wealth of cultural influences and varied terrains, Croatia is a treasure.

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Pletvice Lakes

Gorgeous beaches, myriad rocky islands, awesome mountains, caves, canyons,  and unbelievably scenic lakes and waterfalls. There are eight impressive National Parks and ten equally scenic Nature parks. To sum it up everywhere you go –  it’s picturesque!

Settled from the early stone age, there is fantastic architecture from many ages, all jumbled together, from Greco-Roman palaces, Viennese and Venetian mansions, Slavic churches and Napoleonic fortresses and medieval walled towns, seven places are listed with UNESCO.

Zagreb Cathedral

A colourful culture with loads of festivals and religious holidays and strong traditions in the arts such as painting, singing, folk dancing, traditional wooden toy making, lace weaving, and baking heart-shaped gingerbread. Many of these crafts are listed as culturally significant. A regional family orientated cuisine where eating and drinking are very important and a big part of any festival or (frequent)  religious days which often feature a special food or dish.

Sites to See

There are too many fantastic things to see in Croatia to mention them all, I’d love to go there myself! Have now put it on my ever growing list of places to see before I die! But some of the enormous range of top spots are: Dubrovnik and its’ impressive medieval walls, Split has a retirement palace built by the emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century,  Zagreb the capital has a laid back charm, Pula features a fantastic Roman amphitheatre (better than in Italy!) in Zadar there’s Roman streets and a forum, there is the UNESCO world Heritage St James cathedral in Siblenik and the basilica in Porec not to mention Trsat Castle.

Amphitheatre at Pula

Spectacular natural beauties include the striking other world weird beauty of Pletvice Lakes and the waterfalls at Krka and limestone rock formations at Paklenica Nature Park, the very popular Zlatni Rat beach, and various scenic islands off the dramatic Adriatic coast.

Croatian Islands

Croatian Islands

Croatian Cuisine

Traditional Croatian Foods

The cuisine of Croatia is hearty peasant food with many distinctive regional styles, it follows the European traditional diets  of protein, dairy, vegetables and grains. An emphasis  on fresh seafood from the sparkling Dalmatian coast where the influence is more Mediterranean, to the interior where the Austro-Hungarian influence is strong, and from the East came the spices, pastries and coffee of the Ottoman empire.

A popular cooking method is in a pekawhich, a wood fired brick oven where all manner of food is cooked to perfection sealed  in a peka, a dish rather like a tagine. Another popular cooking method is spit roasting and grilling meats particularly over an open fire or coals, game is a favourite, and especially cevapcici, like a skinless sausage.

Pasta and dumplings like djoki gnocchi are common, and Croatians are extremely fond of their enormous range of charcuterie.  Wonderful tasty soups are integral to most meals e.g. Zagorska juha with porcini mushrooms, bacon and capsicum. Ajvar is ubiquitous and delicious condiment made from roasted eggplant and capsicum,  and spices like poppy seeds, caraway, and paprika along with citrus and Meditterean herbs such as sage, bay, marjoram and rosemarLet them eat cake!There are many sweet treats ranging from pastries like strudles, pancakes(palacinke) meringues, cheesecakes and doughnuts  and a vast array of complicated cakes, kolači or torta’s many featuring fresh or preserved fruit. Special favourites are cherry, plum and apricot as well as walnuts, almonds and poppy seeds. Custards and cream fillings are popular too.

Drinks

Croatian Beer

Croatian Beer

Huge coffee drinkers, and not surprisingly big beer drinkers too, surrounded by many world class beer brewing countries, Croatia does make some of its own. There are over 300 wine-producing regions and many fruit or nut flavoured spirits are produced.

Paprikas with buttered caraway noodles

  • 500gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tb oil
  • 1 large potato
  • ½ red capsicum/bell pepper
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp gr chilli
  • 200ml white wine
  • 4tb sour cream
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 250ml water
  • 300gm egg noodles/pasta
  • 1 tb butter
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • finely chopped parsley

Paprikas

  1. Cut up chicken into bite sized chunks, chop onion, peel and dice potato and capsicum.
  2. Heat oil in saute pan on medium, cook onion until soft and golden brown. Add chicken and brown well.
  3. Add potato and capsicum, brown lightly, add spices and seasonings, stir 1 minute till fragrant.
  4. Add wine  and bring to boil. Add water and cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes until chicken is tender and potato is cooked. Uncover and reduce to a soupy sauce.
  5. To serve : toss cooked egg noodles in butter and caraway seeds, place in bowls, ladle on Paprikas, garnish with sour cream and parsley.

This recipe came from a Croatian cuisine web site but I looked at so many I can’t remember which one!  Paprika Chicken in one form or another has long been a favourite of our family, so while this dish was no surprise, it was still enjoyed by all, and is particularly nice served with the caraway noodles – although Bunny declared a new found aversion to caraway seeds! Scored 7/10 – pleasant but not memorable.

Bhutan – some like it hot hot hot!

BHUTAN: Kingdom of the Clouds

Bhutan The Last Shangri-la

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Hapai Hantue – Bok Choy & Poppy Seed Buckwheat Dumplings

Week 12

I’ve always dreamed of going to Bhutan, one of the most unspoilt and picturesque countries in the world -alas the cost is so prohibitively high, only the well heeled can afford it. Sadly I know I’ll never make it there. But I have been to Myanmar, which (in 1990) was also one of the most difficult countries to travel to. And that was very special, but still not as entrancing as Bhutan……..

Bhutan  Fact File

The Kingdom of Bhutan has been known as Southland  of the Herbs, the Sandalwood Country and the Land of Happiness. A high altitude land-locked country sandwiched between Tibet to the North and Northern Indian states to the West And South. It’s a land of towering high peaks, fast flowing rivers and deep valleys. Sub-tropical jungle in the south, it becomes Polar and snow-bound in the north, this allows it’s outstanding range of biodiversity. There are five seasons, spring,summer,autumn, winter and monsoon.

Bhutan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tradition

Tradition is very strong in a country which was almost completely isolated from the modern world until the 1960’s and only allowed TV and the Internet in 1999! So it’s rich and unique culture has remained intact, the government decried that all citizens must wear traditional clothing when in public!  Thanks to the hefty mandatory charge of US$250+ per day per tourist, tourism will be limited and it will probably remain so unspoilt.

Sights to see

Palace at Thimpu

 

 

 

Religion is intrinsic to Bhutanese life, predominantly Buddhist with Hinduism practiced in the south. Some of the most spectacular sights are the precariously situated Dzongs (fortress) such as Punakha and Trongsa and the Taktshang Goemba (monastery)  and other historic buildings in the capital Thimpu. Check out fantastic wildlife, go on cycling tours, mountain treks, snow treks, fly fishing or admire spectacular alpine scenery.

The Food

Bhutanese Food

Heavily influenced by the proximity of Chinese culinary traditions and Indian cuisines, Bhutan has come to love the chilli as no other – so much so that they eat it as a vegetable not just a condiment! The national; and ubiquitous dish is a chilli and cheese  dip served with everything, rather like a sambal or pickle, called Ema Datsi.

Dairy mostly cheese and butter is a very important source of protein, from cows, yaks goats and buffalo. Buckwheat and red rice are the main grains along with barley and millet, all cool climate crops, and used to make breads, noodles, dumplings and biriyani style dishes.

Remembering many Bhutanese are vegetarian, beef and pork are commonly eaten and trout from their pristine rivers. Much is made of wild gathered food such as ferns, canes orchids, wild greens like radish and turnip tops, wild berries and especially adored are mushrooms such as Chanterelles. Many fresh herbs like coriander, dill and fennel are used  along with ginger,garlic and shallots. Of course lots of ‘Indian’ spices are used with Szechwan pepper, Perilla and poppy seeds particularly popular.

The food of Bhutan is often blisteringly hot, but as richly varied as this jewel of a country is itself.

Buckwheat Dumplings

Buckwheat Dumplings with Bok Choy & Poppy Seed Filling          Serves 4-6

 This recipe was taken from http://www.asian-recipe.com/bhutan/bh-vegetarian-recipes.html with some slight changes on my part – namely I made a mistake with reading the recipe, and I love Szechwan pepper! I think the combination of buckwheat with poppy seeds and boy choy is so interesting.

Ingredients

  • Filling
    • 1 bunch bok choy, washed, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
    • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese Szechuan peppercorns
    • 2 medium garlic cloves
    • 3 cm cube fresh ginger
    • 1 small red onion
    • 1/2 cup crumbled farmer cheese or Danish Feta
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 60 gm butter, melted to golden brown

    Dough

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup buckwheat flour
    • 1 cup water
    • All-purpose flour, for dusting

 Method

  1. To make the filling, cook the bok choy in a saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.
  2. Grind the poppy seeds and peppercorns with a spice grinder, or in a mortar.
  3. Process the onion, garlic and ginger until finely chopped. Add half the melted butter and the rest of ingredients and pulse briefly until just combined. Leave to cool.
  4. To make the dough, combine the flours in a food processor. With the motor running pour the water and the rest of the melted butter through the feed tube and process until the dough forms a ball. Dust the ball with flour.
  5. Cut the dough into 8 pieces, dust with flour, and cover with plastic wrap to prevent drying out. Roll out the remaining piece with a pasta machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, down to the second lowest setting, dusting with flour occasionally to prevent sticking. Or rollout thinly with a rolling pin. Place the dough sheet between sheets of plastic wrap. Roll out the remaining dough in the same manner.
  6. Cut the sheets, 1 at a time, into 4 by 2 inch [10 by 5cm] rectangles. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each rectangle. Brush the edges lightly with water and fold the rectangles over to make squares, pressing the edges to seal them well.
  7. Cook the dumplings in batches in a saucepan of simmering salted water until they float to the top and are tender. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  8. Serve with Ema Datsi or if you’re pressed for time as I was – Chiu Chow Chilli Oil and garnish with fresh chilli and chopped coriander.

Chilli Chicken & Noodles

Chilli Chicken with Buckwheat Noodles          Serves 4-5

I made this dish with chicken mince not the more traditional pieces, as that was all I had on the night. The flavourings are very Chinese but with a twist, for the buckwheat noodles I used Japanese Soba noodles which are probably more refined than the more homey Bhutanese version.

I kind of combined two recipes, one for noodles from  http://www.peisch.com/photos/bhutan/Recipes and the other for the chilli chicken came from  http://www.chicken.ca/recipes/bhutanese-chili-chicken-with-red-rice

Ingredients

  • 500gm  chicken thigh fillets /breast or mince 
  • 1/4 cup cornflour 
  • 2 tbsp  sesame oil + 1 tsp extra
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • red onion,  sliced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 green chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1/2 bunch spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedge
  • salt and fresh black pepper
  • 270gm packet of soba noodles
  • coriander,  chopped to garnish

Method

  1. Rinse 2/3 packet of noodles under cold running water, bring large pan of water to the boil.
  2. Add noodles and boil for 2 minutes, drain.
  3. Cut the chicken into cubes, season with 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and toss with cornflour making sure all pieces are totally coated. If using mince, sprinkle flour over.
  4. Heat oils over medium heat in a non-stick wok or skillet. Cook chicken until pieces are browned on both sides and slightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  5. Heat other 1 tsp of sesame oil, add sliced onion, minced garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add capsicum, chillies and shallots, cook another 2 minutes. Return chicken to pan, add sliced tomato wedges, season with soy sauce and heat through another minute.
  6. Add the noodles to the pan and toss everything together. Serve garnished with chopped coriander.

My family enjoyed this meal, although making the dumplings was a lot of work, especially on a hot night – better suited for a cold winter night. Hubby isn’t fussed on buckwheat noodles and was fairly unimpressed, but Bunny and I loved these unusually spiced dumplings – I could have eaten a lot more of them for sure! Our Bhutan meal got a combined score of 27/40, the dumplings getting thumbs up from all but hubby.

 

Salmon we love you and a winner from the Seychelles!

Week 8 – Norway and the Seychelles

NORWAY – Salmon Steaks with Dill & Lemon Cream

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A few interesting facts about Norway

It’s spectacularly scenic, I mean take a look at this guys! Lonely Planet says “it’s one of the most beautiful countries on earth.” Also known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun” it’s called Norsk by Norwegians. I would love to visit this country.

Norway is home to the Saami people (or Lapplanders as I grew up calling them) and is a Constitutional Monarchy, the current King is Harald the 5th. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Norway.

Way to go Norway! The hard part this week would be how to choose from such a huge range of delicious options? I settled on salmon as we all love it, and it was a huge hit!

Now Norway is one of those countries up from England that form Scandinavia (along with Denmark) where the Vikings came from.  I always get these countries mixed up, what order they go in, but Norway is the one on the outside. See map.

Modern Norway ranks Number one in the world for quality of life and enjoys an extremely high standard of living. It is a very long wild fractured land, full of glaciers, fjords, jagged coastlines, 1000’s of islands and rugged mountains. It’s considerable length spanning so many latitudes makes it a huge biodiversity hotspot and wild life is abundant, both land and sea.

Some attractions are picturesque medieval towns and fantastical Stave churches, winter sports including dog-sledding, awesome scenery particularly the fjords, a World Heritage listed site, wildlife watching, Northern Lights watching and booming arts and cultural facilities. Not to mention the world’s most beautiful rail trip and ferry trip!

Moose, goose and reindeer

The cuisine has traditionally involved a lot of pickled, cured, smoked and preserved foods for the long cold dark winters obviously. Of course fish especially salmon and herring, but surprisingly not seafood, features heavily as does game such as moose, reindeer, goose and duck. There is a enormous variety of breads, dairy is very important and Norwegians are the second biggest coffee drinkers in the world.

To go with those coffees is a delicious array of cakes and baking. Cardamon, caraway and anise are popular flavours as are dill,  juniper berries and also the native Lingonberries and poetically named Cloudberries. Smorbrod, or open sandwiches as we may incorrectly call them are traditional and an art form in themselves.

Not to forget a wide variety of aquavit, distilled liquor, commonly flavoured with cumin, caraway, anise, citrus and fennel. Uniquely Norwegian Aquavit is often aged and transported in old oak sherry casks, which mellows and intensifies the flavours. Plus beers, mead and ciders.

To make this, I adapted a recipe from  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence

Salmon Steaks with Dill & Lemon Cream sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 4 salmon fillets, boned if possible (I always skin ours as we hate fish skin)
  • salt & fresh black pepper
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 bunch shallots/spring onions/scallions
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup pouring /lite cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream mixed with 1/2 tsp plain flour
  • 1/3 bunch dill
  • 1 lemon, juice and grated rind
  • 1-2 tb horseradish cream
  • pinch chilli/red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. Heat large frypan with oil over medium heat. When hot, add the seasoned fillets, and fry to golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Turn the fish over and cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Steaks should still be a little soft and springy to touch. Remove and keep warm.
  2. Heat butter in a small saucepan, saute onion 1 minute. Deglaze with wine.
  3. In a small bowl whisk together all remaining ingredients, pour into pan and cook until thickened & reduced a little and heated through.
  4. Serve over salmon.

I made red cabbage to go with the salmon, buttered boiled potatoes with chopped fresh herbs and green beans. It was a good dish to have on a cooler night, and felt very Nordic! We all absolutely loved this dish – it was really delicious! Bunny especially loves salmon, so I can see I might get a request on her birthday for this dish . We rated this dish our 2nd highest score, 8/10 ( I think Bunny said 9 or 10!).

Norway

Salmon with Dill & Lemon Sauce

Norwegian Apple Cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling energetic I had also made a Norwegian Apple Cake flavoured with cardamon, but sadly we found this dry and a bit boring. It needed a lot more apples than I had on hand I think. Tasted nice but not great, even with vanilla ice-cream. Sadly disappointing. Ah well, that’s international cooking for you – you never know what you’ll end up with!

 

THE SEYCHELLES ISLANDS – Mandarine Chicken

First a few facts about the Seychelles

Shells and lots of ’em. Yeah sounds like seashells but actually is named after Jean Moreau de Sechelles, Finance Minister to Louis XV in 1750’s. Before that, Admiral Vasco da Gama named them The Admirantes Islands after himself. Colonised by the French and later the British, the Seychelles have the smallest population of any African country.

Location of Seychelles

 

 

 

 

 

This archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 1500km east of Africa, is renowned for fabulous beaches and stunning marine life. Unusually some of the 100 or so islands are made up of the worlds oldest and hardest granite (which makes for ultra clear water and fantastic beaches) the rest being more typical coral islands. Many are covered with luxuriant tropical rainforest and are uninhabited nature reserves.

Seychelles beach with granite boulders

 

 

 

 

 

To be found is strange and wonderful plant and animal life, like the jelly-fish tree, a pre-historic living fossil that, like the Wollemi Pine of Australia, exists in a genus all of it’s own. Not to forget the worlds’ heaviest seed pod, from the rare Coco de Mer Palm. Home to the largest sea-bird colony in the world, and the giant Aldabran Tortoise, the Seychelles are naturally fantastic for diving and snorkelling as well as bird watching. That’s if you can tear yourself away from dream beaches like this one!

Do you fancy Bat Curry? Seychellois cuisine 

As you can imagine fish and fabulous seafood play a huge part in the cuisine, as do tropical island crops such as coconut and breadfruit which along with rice are the staple starch. Using a wide range of fresh fruits and vegetables, like mangos, citrus fruits, papaya, sweet potato, pumpkin and avocado, Seychellois food is rich, hot and spicy. Blending the flavours of not just the French and British but African, Indian and Chinese and marrying them with local produce to make an exciting cuisine.

A couple of local delicacies to ponder on – Bat Curry and Shark chutney! a condiment made by pounding dried shark meat with fried onions, garlic, spices and chilli…… Hmmm! Has anyone been brave enough to try them? Love to hear what they were like, from anyone who is lucky enough to have been to the glorious Seychelles. The closest I’ll ever get (to the Seychelles) is eating the dish my daughter made which was –

Mandarine Chicken                               (Serves 4)

 Ingredients:

  • 600gm chicken thigh fillets
  • 3-4 / 350g fresh mandarin segments
  • 120 ml mandarin juice
  • 120 ml chicken stock/broth
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp Korma/Seychelles curry paste (to make your own, see http://www.celtnet.org.uk)
  • 1/2 tsp g cinnamon
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme/ 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tbsp mango chutney
  • 2 tbsp flaked/sliced almonds
  • salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Method: 

  1. Cut each chicken fillet into 2 -3 pieces, and place in a medium baking dish.
  2. Mix the chicken stock, orange juice, the chutney (chop the mango pieces if large). Add the curry paste, tamarind paste, cinnamon and thyme and pour over the chicken.
  3. Bake in oven at 200°C for 15 minutes. Scatter the mandarin segments and almonds over chicken, baste with the pan juices at this stage and add a little water if it becomes too dry.
  4. Bake for about a further 5 – 10 minutes until chicken is just cooked.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve with rice. 

Once again we used a recipe from the comprehensive site : http://www.celtnet.org.uk and adapted it a little to suit us. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have a photo for this one, but this is how it looked pretty much.

Mandarin Chicken

 

My husband who is not a fan of fruit with meat and my teenage son, thought using mandarin with chicken was a bit weird – but I reminded them of Duck A L’Orange. We found this dish unusual but very nice, the mandarin gave it a lovely freshness and lightness, it would make a good summer dish.  We enjoyed our Seychellois meal and would make this again, so do try it too. It earned a high score 8/10.

 

 

 

 

16 Countries down – 180 to go!

ad_choices_en ad_choices_i   Hello World! My daughter Bunny has posted some info about our cooking round the world experiences so far. I thought I’d add a few extra details of my own.

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.

20079_l

  • 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

Tomato achar

  • 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!

kolduny

Ingredients
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
Directions
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.

Mimsey's Cretan Moussakas

Mimsey’s Cretan Moussakas

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
1 onion
4 large ripe tomatoes
olive oil for frying
salt
pepper
cumin
dash of ground cinnamon
dry breadcrumbsPreparation

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.