Guinea Bissau is one of Africa’s secret most breathtaking little corners. Rich with wildlife, rainforests and decaying towns from the colonial era. So Guinea and Guinea Bissau might be very close to one another but the difference is immense! Guinea Bissau is slowly transforming into a stable country with a stable government. While in Guinea there are still a lot of problems. In Guinea Bissau there has been peace and prosperity since the independence from Portugal in 1980. Guinea Bissau doesn’t just consist of mainland there is also an archipelago that is part of Guinea Bissau, with beautiful, peaceful islands.
Things you didn’t know about Guinea Bissau
- Contrary to what you might expect, residents here are called ‘Bissau-Guineans’, not ‘Guinea-Bissauans’!
- Guinea-Bissau’s flag draws its inspiration from the flag of the Republic of Ghana. It was the struggle of the Ghanaians for freedom that inspired the people of Guinea-Bissau to put up a fight for their very own.
- Former President Vieira and his rival Military Chief Wai were both assassinated in January 2009, though a stable interim government is currently in place.
- In 2003, there were an estimated 8 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there was 1 mobile phone in use for every 1,000 people. In 2003, 15 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.
- Western-style clothing is typical attire for work and daily activities because it is inexpensive and readily available, shipped secondhand from Europe and North America. Adults value cleanliness and modesty. Locally made traditional clothing is more expensive and is reserved for special occasions.
Ingredients: 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs (cut into large pieces), 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil, 1 large onion (halved and sliced), 3 tbsp tomato purée, 1 chicken stock cube, 400g basmati rice, 1 red bell pepper (deseeded and thickly sliced), 1 yellow bellpepper (deseeded and thickly sliced), 100g okra (halved), bunch coriander, (roughly chopped to serve
For ginger chili base: 2 garlic cloves, 2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes, thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, 1 scotch bonnet chilli (deseeded)
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large deep frying pan over a high heat then add the meat and fry for about 5 mins till golden all over. Lift out of the pan onto a plate.
- Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onions until soft but not golden, about 5 mins. While the onions cook, make the ginger and chilli base. Put the garlic, tomatoes, ginger and chilli into a food processor or blender and whizz till smooth.
- Add the tomato purée to the onions, fry for another 2 mins then add the ginger and chilli mix. Crumble in the stock cube, stir then pour in 600ml boiling water. Add the chicken, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
- Put the rice into a large bowl, cover with cold water and use your hands to wash the grains. Tip the water out then repeat twice until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the pan, turn the heat down to a simmer then cover with foil and a lid (so no steam can escape) and cook for 20 mins.
- Take the lid off (the rice won’t be cooked yet) then scatter the peppers and okra over the rice. Re-cover and cook for 10 mins until the veg is softened and the rice tender. Just before serving, mix the veg through and scatter over coriander.
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty. After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!
Ingredients: 2 cup of all-purpose flour,, 1 and ½ cup of warm water, 1 tbsp of dry yeast, ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of finely grated onion (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour on the flour. Mix it really well .
- Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and onion. Cover with a napkin and let it rise for at least 2 hours
- Heat the oil and use your hand or a spoon to drop the mixture in the oil, fry until each side is brown.
- Tips: To get the puff puff right make sure that the batter is not too thick nor too thin. And the also the temperature of the oil is important. The oil should be hot enough but not too hot.
Ghana has existed since medieval times. Its name comes from the former Ghana Empire of West Africa: “Ghana” was the title given to ruling kings. The Portuguese arrived in 1471 to the land they called the Gold Coast (for its abundance of the stuff), and mercantile trade of African products to Europe commenced. Because of geography, Ghana became the center for the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade on land subsequently colonized by the British and the Dutch (of course we had a part in it). Now Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and political stability. It’s considered to be Africa’s success story. The Ghanese are very superstitious they are very firm believers in black magic and witchcraft, when you go to church on Sundays the services will be very loud with a lot of music to drive out the evil spirits.
Things you didn’t know about Ghana:
- The name Ghana means warrior king and dates back to the days of the Ghanian empire during the 9th and 13th centuries.
- The trade in Ghana was built on salt and gold, that’s why British merchants later referred to it as the Gold Coast
- Ghana was ranked as Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index.
- Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence post-colonialism. It gained its independence on March 6, 1957.
- Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts, beads, cloth and sandals to second-hand jeans and clothing, and meats, fruit and vegetables.
- Water is not drank from bottles but from little plastic bags.
Ingredients: 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, 300g minced meat, 1 medium onion, 1/2 teaspoon tomato puree, 2 teaspoon all purpose seasoning, 1 small maggi (stock) cube, salt to taste, 1 large green pepper, chopped in little cubes
Add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat up. Add the mince and onions and cook on medium heat until it browns, stirring in between.
Mix in tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. Stir into mince with all purpose spice, maggi (stock) cube and salt. Remove from heat and leave to cool, then stir in chopped green peppers.
Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add butter to the flour. Rub in using your fingertips. Add all the cold water at once and use your fingers to bring the pastry together.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very lightly.
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Rolling should be be carried out in short, sharp strokes, with light, even pressure in a forward movement only. Turn the pastry as you roll.
Cut circles in the dough and place a quarter cup of mincemeat in the centre of the circle.
Fold dough over making it into a semicircle. Take a pastry brush and dip in water and moisten edges of dough circle then pinch sides together with a fork. Use a fork and poke holes on the top of the meat pies.
Place pies on baking tray.
Brush the tops of meat pies with egg wash and bake in oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.
The Gambia, tiny English speaking country surrounded by French speaking countries. It was the first British colony in Africa. For many, The Gambia is a country with beaches that invite visitors to laze and linger on package tours. But there’s more than sun and surf. Small fishing villages, nature reserves and historic slaving stations are all within easy reach of the clamorous Atlantic resorts. Star-studded eco-lodges and small wildlife parks dot the inland like a green belt around the coast and The Gambia is a bird lovers’ utopia: on a leisurely river cruise, you’ll easily spot more than 100 species.
Things you didn’t know about Gambia:
- Punctuality is not often observed in The Gambia and the business concept of ‘time is money’ is approached in a very relaxed and flexible manner. People can arrive for a meeting up to four hours later than originally scheduled.
- Gambia was the first nation conquered by the British in West Africa. It was 300 years before independence would be granted on Feb. 18, 1965. When it became independent, The Gambia became the 37th sovereign African state.
- Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is slightly smaller than Yorkshire.
- The official title of The Gambian president is Sheikh Professor Doctor President.
- People cast their votes in elections in The Gambia by dropping stones in holes.This vegan stew is a delicious healthy weeknight meal. I can guarantee kids will love it (peanut butter duh)Ingredients: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 onion chopped, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 chili finely diced (seeds in for an extra kick!), pinch of kaloniji black onion seeds (optional), 250ml Maggi vegetable stock, ⅓ jar peanut butter (about 110g), 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g), ½ small butternut squash diced into 1cm cubes, 4 medium mushrooms quartered, 1 red or green pepper deseeded and chopped, 2 small carrots peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, 150g rice, to serve, 1 star anise
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and soften. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Stir in the peanut butter until creamy. Add the chopped tomatoes.
- Add all the vegetables and simmer for 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has reduced to a thicker consistency. Some of the peanut butter oil may rise to the surface; this can be skimmed off if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- While the stew is cooking, boil the rice according to pack instructions. When the rice is al dente, drain the rice with a sieve, saving the water into a separate bowl. Pour the water back into the pan the rice was cooked in (this saves you re-heating more water) and place the sieve over the top. Add the star anise to the sieve of rice and place a lid over the top. Steam for 5 minutes.
- When cooked, spoon the rice into a small, round bowl and tip onto the serving plate to form a ‘rice dome.’ Serve with the cooked peanut stew.
Compared to the rest of Africa Ethiopia is a bit of an exception, because has never been colonized by a European power, except for a small period of time by the Italians. during the Second World War. For 44 years Ethiopia was peacefully ruled by one man Emperor Haile Selassie. He did a lot of good things for the country in terms of modernization and making them part of the UN. Unfortunately border conflicts and famine got the better of him. After the coup Ethiopia was ruled by dictators for 22 years. There are more then 70 different tribes in Ethiopia which makes it very difficult to please them all.
Things you didn’t know about Ethiopia:
- Ethiopia is about 7.5 years behind the United Kingdom. This is because Ethiopia is the only country in the world to have 13 months in a year. Ethiopians also celebrate New Year in September.
- The legendary Ark of the Covenant, the relic said to hold the 10 Commandments, is claimed to be housed in a church in Ethiopia. Only one man, the guardian, is actually allowed to see the ark, so whether or not it is actually there remains a mystery.
- Ever heard Rastafarians talking about Haile Selassie? He was an Ethiopian Emperor, born in 1892 and is worshipped by followers of the Rastafarian movement. He is not to be confused with legendary distance runner Haile Gebre Selassie!
- Clocks are set differently! Many Ethiopians measure time from when the sun rises and count time based on dawn. So when the sun rises, it can already be 12:00. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it pretty quick.
If their is one expert in Ethiopian cuisine, it’s celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, that’s why I chose to make one of his recipes. I knew it would be good because it came from him, but in general I don’t really like lentils, to my surprise I loved these. Perhaps it’s combination of the spices or the bite of edamame beans. But this is an amazing recipe and so quick!
Ingredients :1 c. dried lentils, 3/4 c. frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
2 T. olive oil, 1 1/2 c. red onion, minced, 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, 6 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 T. chopped fresh parsley, 1 T. chopped fresh mint, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. ground cumin, 1/8 t. ground red pepper, 1/8 t. ground cinnamon, Dash of ground cloves
- Place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and set aside.
- Place edamame in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame are tender. Remove from heat; drain well.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring often. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice, and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. Serve with flat bread.
Eritrea, is said to be one of the hidden gems of Africa, but because of their quarrels with it’s sworn enemy Ethiopia, Eritrea remains of the everyday travelers radar. In fact I have never heard of anyone visiting Eritrea. But the capital city is supposed to look like the set of some old Italian movie! Imagine snorkeling or scuba diving in an almost untouched part of The Red Sea. The Lonely Planet classifies Eritrea as Africa’s most peaceful, secure and welcoming destinations, who would have thought?
Things you didn’t know about Eritrea:
- Over the years, this is one country in the world where elections have been regularly scheduled and cancelled but none have actually ever been held.
- This is probably one of the very few countries in the world that has only one political party- People’s Front for Democracy and Justice.
- One of the world’s oldest human fossils was excavated here and many experts believe this country to be the cradle of the earth.
- The port city of Adulis is one of Africa’s most ancient cities. The Greeks founded it in 600.
An amazing beefstew with an amazing spice blend!
Ingredients: 2 lb stewing beef, 1 can of diced tomatoes in juice, not drained, 3 minced scallions, 4 garlic cloves crushed, 4 tablespoons berbere (recipe below), 1 bunch cilantro, 5 tablespoons oil, Salt.
Heat oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sear the beef cubes until browned. Add the onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Add the berbere. Mix well and cook for 2 minutes. Finish by adding the tomatoes and their juice. Season lightly, reduce heat and simmer over low heat for about 2 hours and 30 minutes. Thirty minutes before the end of cooking, add the cilantro. The meat should fall apart easily and the sauce should be smooth.
Recipe Berbere Spiceblend
Ingredients: 1 small onion, chopped, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon allspice, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 8 cardamom seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper, 2 cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg1 pinch ground cinnamon, 1 pinch 4 épices (ginger, black peppper, cloves, nutmeg)
In a pan, roast on low heat for 2 minutes the cardamom, coriander, ginger, fenugreek, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and spices 4. Allow to cool, stirring the mixture occasionally. Add garlic, onion, half the salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix everything. Set aside. In the pan, put chili pepper, white pepper, paprika, allspice and remaining salt. Toast on low heat for 1 minute. Pour the remaining water gradually, stirring constantly. Add the spice mixture, stir thoroughly and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. Put this mixture in a jar. Cool and cover the top with a layer of oil. Keep 10 days in the refrigerator.
Equatorial Guinea does not have the best reputation; failed coups, corruption, poverty. Of course the country does have some problems and I wouldn’t recommend you going there for a peaceful holiday, but despite everything the nature is supposed to stunning in Equatorial Guinea. Rain forests full of endangered primates and shores of nesting sea turtles. On the mainland, white beaches, forest paths and junglescapes await. Just don’t forget to calculate some bribe money in your travel budget, because it is guaranteed you’ll need it.
Things you didn’t know about Equatorial Guinea:
- Spain only had one colony in Africa, Equatorial Guinea. They relinquished control on Oct 12, 1968, which is relatively early by 20th century African independence statistics.
- Although the coffee and cocoa industries are among Equatorial Guinea’s biggest economy boosters, the average resident there generally doesn’t consume these beverages themselves.
- Extended families often live together. When a couple marries, it is traditional for them to move in with the husband’s family.
- Since the discovery, the country has flown into economic stardom, but this country remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world, and it is very common to see officials asking for bribes around the corners of the country.
This recipe is a so much better then you would expect, my first reaction was: fish with peanut sauce that can’t be good? But I was wrong it was delicious although my absolute favorite was the avocado sauce.
Ingredients fish: 4 firm seabass filets, 2 garlic cloves, crushed & finely diced, 1 scotch bonnet, minced or pounded to a paste (or 2 green chillies), 125ml lime juice, 3 tbs coconut oil or palm oil, Salt & pepper to taste, Guinean Peanut Sauce (see below), Guinean Spinach Sauce (see below), Guinean Avocado Sauce (see below)
Ingredients Guinean Peanut Sauce: 500ml chicken stock, ½ onion, diced, Pinch of oregano, 2 garlic cloves, finely diced, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tbs tomato paste, Pinch of cayenne pepper, 200ml peanut butter, ½ habanero chilli, pounded to a paste (or 1 green chilli), 2 bay leaves, Salt & pepper to taste, 3 tbs oil
Ingredients Guinean Spinach Sauce: 300g spinach, de-stemmed and finely chopped, 100g smoked fish, flaked, ½ large onion, chopped, 30ml peanut butter, 350ml warm water, 180ml palm oil (or peanut oil with some turmeric and paprika for colour), 1 scotch bonnet chilli, left whole but scored (or 2 green chillies)
Guinean Avocado Sauce 200ml beef stock, 200ml water, ½ chilli, pounded to a paste, ½ tomato, chopped, 1 tbs lemon juice, 1 large avocado, thinly sliced, 2 tbs peanut butter
- Rinse the fish then drain and pat dry with paper towels. Season the fish liberally with salt & pepper then place in a glass or ceramic baling dish. Add the garlic and chillies, then pour the lime juice over the top. Turn a few times to ensure they’re evenly coated, cover with foil, then place in the fridge to marinate for 1½ hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sauces. To prepare the peanut sauce, fry the onion and garlic in the oil until soft. Pound the tomato and chilli together into a paste and add to the pan. Fry for a few minutes then add all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30 mins or until desired consistency is reached.
- To prepare the spinach sauce, fry the onion in a little of the palm oil until softened. Mix the peanut butter with the water and add to the pot along with the other ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 mins or until well thickened. Add the palm oil, remove the chillies and cook for a further 10 mins.
- To prepare the avocado sauce, bring the stock to a boil and add all the ingredients except the peanut butter. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 mins. Extract 6 tbs of the broth, mix with the peanut butter and return to the pot. Cook for a further 10 mins, and serve warm.
- When ready to cook the fish, heat a grill or barbecue. Drain the fish, pat dry and then brush with the palm oil and season with salt & pepper. Cook for about 4 mins per side, arrange on a plate and serve with the sauces.