Egypt- An ancient bread, kofta and pistachio dukkah

EGYPT –

Aish Baladi, Lamb Kofta and Pistachio Dukkah.

Ah Egypt! Who has not heard of this most fabled land? – cradle of civilization and still a place of mystery and wonder.  A tourist destination for centuries, even the ancient Greeks and imperial Romans marveled at its monuments and it has lost none of its amazing allure today.

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Ras Mohammed N.Park

From the seething ancient/modern cities of Cairo and Alexandria, the famed Great Pyramids of Giza and  the Valley of Kings, the magnificent ruins of Karnak, Abydos and Luxor. The Suez canal, the medieval Ottoman  town of Al-Qasr, cruising the picturesque Nile itself, palm fringed oasis where you can bathe in natural hot springs in Cleopatra’s Bath  and the stark beauty of the White Desert National Park, Sahra al-Beida….the Aladdin’s Cave of Cairo’s teeming markets, and everywhere you go in Egypt is stepping back in time into myth and legend.

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Dunes in Western Egypt

 

The Food

How extraordinary to make food that was eaten by ancient Egyptian workers building the pyramids! In fact the pyramid builders were paid with bread and onions!

Making any kind of bread I always think is a very atavistic process, there is something so elemental and satisfying about making bread, especially yeast risen breads,  which is a little bit of alchemy – a mysterious magic trick. The food of Egypt is based around breads, most commonly the pita bread aish baladi, whose very name means life or sustenance. Made from emmer wheat (hulled, as is the now popular spelt wheat )  it’s baked at very high temperatures so the bread puffs up to form a pocket, which is then used as a utensil to scoop up dips and vegetables and wrap around chunks of food like  kebab, dolma and falafel.

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Egyptian Spices & Dry Goods

The other great staple of the Egyptian diet is beans and lentils, in particular ful (fava beans or broad beans)  and brown lentils, these are some of the oldest known foods and have been found in Egyptian tombs. Still popular after centuries are such vegetables as eggplant, onions and garlic(used extensively) celery and squashes and leafy greens like lettuces, mallow and jute. A wide range of grains are the starchy staples, millet which is easily grown in dry conditions, barley also used to make the ubiquitous beer which together with bread and spring onions (scallions)  formed the basic diet.

Traditionally beef, lamb and goat was supplied from domestic animals along with game such as pigeon, duck and rabbit. Especially prized is brains and liver. Fish both fresh water and ocean and a wide range of seafood is very popular. The culinary heritage has been influenced by the robust Moroccan cuisine and of course the cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean. Most noticeable in desserts which are very sweet and feature nuts, fruits like figs, dates, and melons, with honey, filo pastry and spices such as cinnamon.

Ancient Foods

Serving food on Temple 

Recently dukkah has been very popular (here in Aussie at least) and has found its way onto many trendy menus, especially on eggs, vegetable salads, and flat breads and in many different varieties including hazelnut and pistachio as well as the more common almond. My favourite brunch dish at the moment is a poached egg on sour-dough toast with avocado, diced tomato, showered with my own spicy dukkah. I really recommend this delicious condiment and it’s super easy to make with a spice grinder or food processor, if you try it, you’ll fall in love with it too!

The Recipes

Egyptian Flatbread – Aish Baladi

This recipe was taken from http://www.saveur.com and changed a little to suit home cooking better.When I made it, for some reason I cooked it in a fry pan on the stove top – which didn’t work very well! I suggest you follow the recipe and bake it in a very hot oven on a hot oven tray.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
    1 tsp sugar
    1¼ cups warm water
    2½ cups wholemeal flour, plus extra for dusting, or can use wheat germ/bran
    1 tsp salt
    1 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
Method
  1. Dissolve sugar in water, in bowl of mixer if you have one. Mix in yeast and let stand until foamy, 10 minutes.
  2. Add rest of ingredients and mix with dough hook or by hand, knead 10 minutes, cover and let stand for 30 minutes.
  3. Let stand until doubled in size, about 1 12 hours.
  4. Place a baking stone on a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 500° for 30 minutes, or use a heavy oven tray and heat 15 minutes. Meanwhile, punch the dough down and divide into 8 equal pieces.
  5. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten/roll into a 5-inch circle. Lightly sprinkle the bran or more flour and loosely cover with a kitchen towel.
  6. Let stand until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes
  7. Working in batches, place the dough circles on the hot baking stone, spaced 2 inches apart, and bake until puffed and lightly charred in spots, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool before serving.
Our Egyptian Meal

Egyptian Meal

Lamb Kefta

Ingredients
  •  500 gm lamb mince
  • 1/2 bunch finely chopped parsley
  • 1 finely chopped small onion
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tb chopped oregano
  • 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Mix the onion and garlic with the spices and let it stand for 15 minutes
  2. Add the meat and rest of ingredients to the onion and mix well.  Shape the meat into kofta shapes.(long oval fingers)
  3. Lightly oil large heavy fry pan, heat the pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the koftas and pan fry on all sides.
  4.  Lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook for 5 minutes.  Then uncover the pan and let any liquid evaporate.

These kefteh need some sort of sauce to go with them, some hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, bean dip, a spicy tomato sauce or even greek  yogurt will all work and add moisture to an otherwise dry dish.

dukkah

Pistachio Dukkah

Pistachio Dukkah

Ingredients

  • 40g (1/4 cup) sesame seeds
  • 75g (1/2 cup) pistachio kernels, finely chopped
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Toast the sesame seeds in a small dry pan, stirring until golden. Put aside to cool

  2. Toast pistachios for 1 minutes. Put aside in another bowl, then toast coriander, cumin and pepper for 1 minute or until aromatic. Stir in the salt and set aside to cool. Grind to fine powder

  3. Process nuts until very finely chopped. Mix in nuts and sesame seeds and mix well

  4. Store dukkah in an airtight container or jar, in a cool, dry place for up to 2 months.

This is a delicious sprinkle to add a flavourful punch to lots of things from steamed or roasted vegetables, poached eggs, grilled chicken, fish or dips like hummus. If you try nothing else – do try this – it’ll become your latest favourite thing!

Tasting notes: this meal was very similar to meals we often eat , the bread was a bit heavy – sadly I wasn’t able top get it to puff up to form a proper pocket. The kefteh were ok, we have had better – these were rather plain for our tastes…….but we loved the dukkah which lifted them into something quite special.

Overall Score: 7/10 for the whole meal,  9/10 for the dukkah on its own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bangladesh – curried away

Week 10 – Bangladesh 

BANGLADESH – Gosht Kalia 

My Bangladesh experience – what’s the difference between a bus and an airplane?

 

In Bangladesh – not much! Technically I haven’t been to Bangladesh – although we spent half a day there – inside Shahjalal International Airport in Dacca. Years ago, my husband and I were flying from Thailand to India and Biman Airlines was the cheapest flight. You know how in Asia, all the busses and trains are loaded up with passengers, and any conceivable thing that may need transporting, live pigs, dried fish, fresh durian! huge bags of sponges, firewood or whatever………well when we boarded at Dacca, all the locals carried all that stuff on board the plane!

Huge bags of stuff littered the aisles, there was a live pig in there too I think, or was it chickens? To our total amazement, the cabin crew  just let them bring it on board. But at take-off time, the Captain came out and walked down the aisles, kicking stuff out of the way and declaring loudly ‘that he would NOT take-off’ unless all this stuff was moved or stowed away!’

Like that was going to happen – there was so much luggage and it was so big, no way any of it would fit in the overhead lockers. After a few more kicks and stern warnings, a few things were wedged under seats and we were cleared for takeoff! As we banked steeply, all the large heavy items at the front of the plane slid down the aisle, crashing into seats – Holy Moly! It was unbelievable.

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Don’t be afraid of curry

I’ve read a lot of posts about curry – and I’m amazed at how little people seem to know about it! I read a sad little post on an Indian food blog, asking “where did the curry flavour come from”, since there was no ‘curry powder’ in the recipe? And another post by a chef  advised his readers NOT to try making curry powder/pastes themselves as it was too hard and just to use  bought ones!! OMG This is so NOT  TRUE! To set the record straight – Curry is not hard,  not all curries are hot, all curries aren’t spicy, not all curries have loads of ingredients, you can even have dry curries.

What is curry?

Nothing more than a spiced sauce. The English word curry probably comes from the Tamil word kari meaning a sauce or relish for rice. Honestly don’t be afraid – it’s really easy to make delicious authentic curries from scratch and it doesn’t take much longer than it would, if you opened a jar of the bought stuff. Believe me, no bought curry paste no matter how expensive, will ever taste as good as what you make yourself with fresh ingredients.

Ideally use whole spices and grind them yourself (I use a coffee grinder or a mortar & pestle) but excellent results can be obtained from using bought ground spices and just toasting them a little (in a dry pan) to bring out the flavours and volatile oils. A blender makes short work of grinding slightly larger quantities of whole spices and add wet ingredients such as lemongrass, galangal, chillies, garlic and ginger to form curry pastes or masalas. Add water to make it all whizz together to a smooth paste and you won’t believe the fantastic aroma or flavour! Note: the water won’t affect the finished dish as it will evaporate during cooking process.

If you have always bought curry powder or ready-made pastes, please make your own next time – you won’t believe how easy it is!

Bangladesh

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of background about Bangladesh – where is it?

Ah Bangladesh, literally Land of Bengal, also aptly known as the Land of Rivers. Once it was Bengal and part of India, then it was East Pakistan for a while, then became independent Bangladesh in 1971. Sitting on the world’s largest delta, with over 700 rivers including the three major ones that form the Ganges Delta flowing through it, the country is lush, green, very flat and very watery. It’s incredibly densely populated, Bangladesh has the 8th biggest population in the world. Regularly plagued with floods, famine and other natural disasters.

What to see

Relatively undeveloped means fewer tourists (it’s the least visited country in South Asia) but fewer tourist facilities. For the intrepid traveller, there are great things to see such as The Sundarbans, the world’s largest Mangrove forest and home to the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger, The Pink Palace in the Dhaka, and a boat ride on the muddy Buriganga River from Sadarghat, a colourful chaotic seething mass of humanity afloat.

Also two UNESCO World Heritage sites of Bagerhat, including the fantastic medieval mosque, Shait Gumbad, and the buddhist remains of Somapuri Mahavihara.

Tour tea plantations in the cooler hilly Srimangal region and relax, enjoying a first rate cuppa while in the Chittagong Hill Tracts you can visit Tribal Markets and for the adventurous go on guided Hill Treks through thick jungle to visit some of the minority hill tribes.

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Sadarghat Boat Terminal Dhaka

 

 

Somapuri Mahavihara

More important: What to eat – leave room for sweets!

What not to eat! Bengalis are famous for their warmth and hospitality and love of food! Their sophisticated cuisine is based on rice, dhal (lentils for those who don’t know) , vegetables and curry of infinite variety. From a plethora of recipes for me, stand out dishes are Bengali Matar Kachori – crisp deep fried breads stuffed with spiced lentils, Korma– a mild creamy nutty curry, Shahi Chicken Biryani – the supreme rice dish, Dim Bhuna – Bengali Egg Curry and Balti fish curry.

There is a huge array of breads, Luchi being a favourite, lentil and fish dishes and a particular fondness for pickles (Achar) and unusually for smoked foods like fish but vegetables too.  Many different cooking methods are used including Dum, steaming under pressure and Bhunnuna which is pan or oven roasting.

There is a version of Chinese 5 spice called Panch Phoran – panch is five in Bengali and phoran means spice. This is a mixture of 5 whole spices, in equal proportions of: Cumin, Fennel, Fenugreek, Black Mustard and Nigella or Kalonji Seeds. (Note: NOT to be confused with Black Cumin or Onion seeds).

Bangladesh (then Bengal) is the home of Indian sweet making and sweetmeats, many of them based on a rich creamy milk reduction called Khoya. Hugely popular, every region has it’s favourite speciality. If you have never had Indian sweets before, you really should hunt out a place that makes them, and give yourself a taste sensation. Rich, very sweet, decadently flavoured with almonds, pistachios, saffron and cardamon and often decorated with real edible gold or silver leaf called Vark, lots are fudge like. Or soft and custardy or fried fritters in syrups.

Many are difficult and time-consuming to make, and best left to the professionals. But definitely worth making at home is Payesh/Kheer,  a delicious creamy, spiced rice ‘pudding’ flavoured with saffron, cardamon and topped with nuts and toasted coconut. Totally delicious, I sometimes make it in winter on the weekend as a treat for breakfast.

Bengali Lamb Curry Meal

Mimsey’s Bangladesh Meal

 

Gosht Kalia Bengali Lamb and Potato Curry       Serves 4-5                       Ingredients

  • 2½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 inch cube ginger, finely grated
  • 1-2 tsp g chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 large lamb fore quarter/shoulder chops, about 700gm, cut off the bone, into small cubes
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 3 tb oil, suitable for frying, eg. rice bran, grapeseed, canola
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 tb tomato paste

Method

  1. Dry roast cumin seeds in a small fry-pan until fragrant. then grind to fine powder
  2. Mix 2 tsp of the cumin, yogurt, vinegar, ginger, salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and chilli in a bowl. Mix in lamb. Marinate 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Parboil potato cubes until just tender. Cool, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp turmeric. Panfry with 1 tb oil until golden.
  4. Heat remaining 2 tb oil in frypan, fry rest of cumin, till they pop, Add rest of spices, and onion, fry till golden.
  5. Add garlic and sugar, stir then add meat and brown. Add tomato paste and 1 cup of water, cover and simmer until tender, about 45min. – 1 hour.
  6. Reduce sauce if necessary. Toss in potato cubes and serve with rice.

I took this recipe from a cookbook of mine I use a lot – the food of india published by Murdoch Books. This recipe is very similar to a recipe for Bengali Mutton Curry  found at http://www.khanapakana.com  Unfortunately the night I wanted to make this recipe, we had a massive storm and I had to unplug the internet in case my computer got fried. So I used my own recipe.

With it I served a raita of cucumber, tomato, red onion, mint & chilli, plain steamed rice, lime pickle and mango chutney. We thought this curry was a pleasant every day sort of dish,  a curry you could often make and always enjoy.. Score 7/10

 

A Swiss cheese experiment, two breads and a surprise from Somalia

                   Week 4 Switzerland and Georgia 

SWITZERLAND – CHEESE FONDUE & POTATO ROSTI

‘My daughter was excited to have picked Switzerland as her country this week, and despite the recommendations of both parents, Bunny was eager to make a Cheese Fondue. What is the appeal of fondue? Why do people think it sounds so yummy? An iconic dinner party dish from the 70’s,  I always loved those cute little fondue sets with their wooden fork handles each a different colour. I never bought a set though, because having had cheese fondue once, and disliked it – I never wanted to have one again! And yes, we have had it out at a Swiss restaurant and we still didn’t like it at all.

The Mystery of the Fondue

Let’s face it, you can only be fond of fondue …….if you’re Swiss. It’s the kind of very plain subsistence (one could say peasant) type food that is born out of harsh necessity. Developed during long, cold winters in Switzerland when the food started to run out, cheese fondue is an exemplary example of making a warm and filling dish out of scraps, in this case  – hardened old cheese, stale bread and a splash of wine.

I’m sure fondue is dear to so many Swiss hearts because they grew up with it. And like so many dishes you grow up with,  it’s comfort food. It becomes very nostalgic and isn’t just a dish, but your childhood and all the happy memories associated with it.  For those of us non-Swiss peoples, it remains a culinary  siren,  sounds so alluring but in the end you wish you hadn’t.

Not all Recipes are Created Equal – A Sad Fact but True

Undeterred Bunny went to enormous lengths to obtain the correct cheeses to make her fondue, and used vast quantities of bacon making the accompanying Potato Rosti. Using a recipe from the internet, Bunny spent a very long time making this dish. Now my daughter is only a young teenager, and while she loves cooking, is still only learning. One lesson she finds very hard to accept is that just because a recipe is online or even published in a book, doesn’t mean it’s a good recipe or that it will work! Also being methodical, Bunny likes to follow a recipe to the letter, which is normally good practice –  but she lacks the experience to tell when a recipe is badly written, and needs to be adjusted.

Sadly this was the case in our Swiss experiment, the fondue made with vast amounts of expensive cheese was really ghastly – so strong and so overly cheesy that we could hardly eat it.  I gamely ploughed on eating because she had gone to so much trouble- but Hubby and son gave up quickly. And the Potato & Bacon Rosti, exactly following the recipe,  was really greasy and had way too much bacon – and I love bacon! What a shame! All that hard work, not to mention the cost of the ingredients, wasted on a meal we could hardly eat.

How to Choose Good Recipes

My advice to all you cooks out there, be careful in choosing your recipes. Use well-known cookbooks that have been properly tested, preferably three times. On the Internet, use recipes from sources such as magazine websites, TV shows or food companies where the recipes have been professionally developed and tasted. Use your own common sense, analyse the recipe – does it sound yummy? are the ingredients in proportion? does the method make sense? If in doubt, make small quantities as a test batch. And finally don’t stop experimenting – just be prepared for a few failures!

I found this recipe on another lovely local site – http://www.georgianrecipes.net. One thing about this around the world cooking thing we are doing, is that only a few years ago, before the Internet ( yes there was life before the Internet kids!! Hard as that may be to believe! ) this would have been almost impossible to do. It amazes me that no matter how remote and little known some of these countries are (half the people I asked had never heard of a country called Georgia, or Comoros or knew where Somalia was )  there is a web-site dedicated to the food and culture of these places! OMG the world is getting smaller all the time.

GEORGIA – KUBDARI – MEAT FILLED BREAD                             (Makes 4) 

 

OK, so Georgia. Hands up those who knew it’s part of the former Soviet Union?  Tbilisi is the capital city, and the whole country has had waves of foreign conquerors from the Romans, Persians, Ottomans, Mongols and finally the Russian Empire.  The infamous Joseph Stalin was born in Georgia and it was once called Colchis and Iberia. Colchis is famed as the place at the end of the world where Jason and his Argonauts travelled to steal the Golden Fleece.

Now it’s more well known for the Krubera Cave – the deepest in the world,  over 600 glaciers in the Caucasus Mountains, many hot springs and 4 World Heritage sites including the medieval monastery complex at Gelati. And of course food – Georgians take their food very seriously and have a special traditional Feast called a Supra, which is led by a Toastmaster.

This national dish, Kubdari is a delicious meat-filled pasty, very much like a Cornish Pasty. Ideal to take on picnics, it’s robust enough to stand up to carrying around and I imagine it made a hearty meal for hungry peasants toiling in the fields all day.

Georgia

Ingredients (filling): 500 grams of pork, 500 grams  beef, 1 medium sized onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 third tsp of ground caraway, 1 quarter tsp of finely chopped dill, 1 level tsp of ground coriander, 1/2 tsp of ground fenugreek, 1 tsp of paprika and salt to taste

Ingredients (dough): 900 grams of flour, 400 ml of warm water, 1 level tbs of yeast, 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, 1 egg (optional) and 200 grams of all-purpose flour for dusting and kneading. Butter for glazing.

Preparation (filling): Finely cube the beef and pork and add to a mixing bowl.

Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the mixing bowl, together with 1 third tsp of powdered caraway, 1 quarter tsp of powdered dill, 1 level tsp of dried coriander, 1/2 tsp of blue fenugreek, 1 tsp of red pepper, and salt (amount dependent upon individual preference).

Use your hands to thoroughly mix and squash the ingredients. This helps to ensure that the pasty is juicy and the spices blend with the meat.

Preparation (dough): Kubdari requires a robust pastry.  To make it, add 400 ml of water (heated to 35 C) to a bowl and stir in the yeast.

Add 900 grams of flour to a mixing bowl and make a depression in the flour. Add the yeast water and a raw egg (optional). If you want the pastry to have a golden colour, add 1 tsp of sugar. The dough should be formed into a soft ball.

Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place for 2 hours for the dough to rise. Once the dough has risen, add 150 grams of flour and firmly knead the dough.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Shape into balls and the cover with cling film and leave for 10 minutes.

Roll out each ball  into large round, add 1/4 of the filling. Gather the dough together, pinching the top to seal it

Carefully roll the filled dough into a circular shape that is less than 20 cm diameter. Don’t flatten it too much. Bake on a flour dusted baking tray at 200 C until the dough becomes golden brown. The meat will cook inside in its own juices.

Serving: Brush each Kubdari with butter and serve hot.

With these pasties,  I served Georgian style red cabbage and buttered boiled potatoes with fresh herbs. My family all love pasties and pastries and this savoury stuffed Georgian bread was a hit. Simple but tasty, filling and moreish, definitely would make it again as it was quite easy to do and well worth it.

 

Week 5 Somalia and Belize

I was a little dismayed to have selected Somalia – wasn’t this an arid  war-torn and famine ridden country of little resources? What on earth do they eat in Somalia, that is, when there is any food available to eat? I imagined this could be another one of those countries where there is NO CUISINE just Food (if they’re lucky.)

The capital city is Mogadishu and Somalia is often thought to be the location of the fabled Land of Punt written about by ancient Egyptians. Famed for it’s gold, ebony and ivory, wild animals and the highly prized frankincense and myrrh so treasured by the Egyptians, it had a ‘golden age’ in the Middle Ages.

Map of Somalia

 

SOMALIA – LAMB SURBIYAAN with SOMALI FLATBREAD    (Serves 4)

I was greatly surprised by this traditional dish from Somalia, not that it was so delicious, but that it was so similar to the more familiar Biryani’s or Pilafs from India or the Middle-East. Given where Somalia is located, in the Horn of Africa just across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, I guess that shouldn’t have been unexpected.

The spicing was more subtle than the rich Biryani’s I’m used to, but it was equally delicious. I enjoyed making these Somali dishes, the soft spongy pancake –  like bread, Lahooh,  was fun to make and eat and the shredded vegetables were sort of like a cooked coleslaw. I found all these recipes on a very informative site called http://www.mysomalifood.com.  We ranked this meal highly and put it on our – ‘Would make again’ list.

Ingredients

1/4 cup oil                                                1 onion, sliced,

1/3 cup raisins                                         1 teaspoon saffron threads

1/4 cup boiling water                              2 cups basmati rice

2 1/2 cups water                                       1 kg lamb leg or shoulder steak, cubed

1 small onion, chopped                            2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped                           2 tablespoons coriander/cilantro leaves chopped

2 tsp coriander powder                           2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp paprika                                               1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

5 cardamom pods cracked                       2 cinnamon sticks

2 tablespoons lemon juice                       1 tsp salt, black pepper

Method

  1. Heat 2 tb. oil over medium heat, add the onion and a pinch of salt, fry until golden brown. Add the raisins and cook until they puff up. Drain on kitchen paper.
  2. In a small bowl, soak the saffron in boiling water for 10-15minutes.

  3. Rinse the rice,  place in medium saucepan with the water & pinch salt. Bring to boil & cover, turn down heat & simmer on low 4 minutes till half cooked. Cool.
  4. Heat rest of oil in a large saute pan or frypan, saute the lamb until brown. Add onions saute until brown, then add the spices.  Stir 1 minute.
  5. Add lemon juice, garlic, tomatoes, and coriander. Mix this together then add 1/2 cup of water & cook for 3 minutes until fragrant.  Bring to the boil then let it simmer while covered on a low-medium heat for 15-20 min.
  6. Add the par-boiled rice,  flatten top, pour over the saffron & soaking liquid. Top with the caramelised onion and raisins.
  7. Cover, bring to boil again, reduce heat to low and simmer until  – take care NOT to BURN the bottom as all the liquid will be absorbed.  The rice should be fluffy and the meat tender.
Somalia

Somalia

 

LAHOOH – QUICK SOMALI FLATBREAD

1 cup plain flour                                   1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1/2 cup cornflour                                 2 cups milk

3 tsp baking powder                            1 tb sugar

1 egg                                                        1/2 tsp salt

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth batter, add little water if necessary.
  2. Heat a heavy frypan on medium,  then heat a few drops of oil,  pour in 1/4 cup of batter starting from centre and s spiralling out to evenly cover base.
  3. Cook till golden brown, can cover pancake to set top if you like.
  4. Keep warm on a covered plate while making the rest. Serve warm.

Traditionally these are eaten in Somalia for breakfast with honey, and I can see this would be delicious. They remind me of a Dosa, also a delicious pancake type flatbread.

BELIZE

My daughter Bunny had picked Belize out of the box, another country we knew little about, other than it was in Central America. It’s famous for the Blue Hole – a fantastic natural  wonder made famous by Jacques Cousteau, the second biggest Coral Reef in the world and it’s stunning biodiversity. Over 60% forest, Belize is home to rich array of flora and fauna, including a Jaguar reserve.

Once the epicentre of the Mayan world, it has their spectacular ruins. Formally a British colony, it’s still a Constitutional Monarchy, and English is the state language.

After a bit of research she came up with a typical Belize meal that sounded nice, a stewed chicken, rice and beans dish. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get the Recado or spiced Annatto paste that gives this dish it’s distinctive rich red colour and probably a lot more flavour. So it ended up OK, but nothing to write home about. I think it was a bit bland for us, we all like big strong flavours and this pleasant, mild dish just didn’t do it for us.

Oh well,  onward – next week another country, and another chance to try something new and exciting!

 

 

 

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