african cuisine

85. Guinea Bissau: Jollof Rice

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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.

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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.

Traditional Jollof Rice from Guinea Bissau

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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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78. Ghana: Meat Pie

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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.

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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.

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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

For Pastry: 400g (3 1/3 cups) self raising flour,  255g  butter cold, pinch of salt, 60ml (1/4 cup) cold water, 1 egg, whisked
For filling

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.

For Pastry

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.

To assemble

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.

62. Equatorial Guinea: Sea bass with 3 Sauces

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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.

Equatorial Guinea

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.

fish

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

53. Djibouti: Skoudehkaris (Djibouti Rice)

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To be completely honest I hadn’t the slightest idea there was a country called Djibouti let alone where in the world it was situated. After browsing my world map for a while I found a tiny little country next to Somalia right in the horn of Africa called Djibouti,so it’s in East-Africa! Great I haven’t had many East-African countries yet. It’s a quite young country it only declared independence 37 years ago, before that Djibouti was a French colony called French Somaliland. France took advantage of bountiful trade from the nearby Red Sea, Suez Canal and other countries such as Ethiopia, building the Franco-Ethiopian railway in 1897.

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Things you didn’t know about Djibouti

  • Lake Asal: the third-lowest land depression on the planet, this saline lake is also the lowest point in Africa at 155 meters below sea level, and holds 10 times the salt content of any ocean.
  • It is the hottest inhabited in the world. Temperatures pass 45C/120F sometimes with and sometimes without humidity.
  • Space shuttles in need of an emergency landing can use Djibouti in the Grand Bara desert. Next time you are stuck in one and the engine fails, you know where to go. (I can’t prove this but it is a powerful and persistent rumor in Djibouti.)
  • Evaporation is the main activity. It makes the water go out from the famous Lake Assal. Even though the lake is very salty, it gives benefits to the life of the local people in Djibouti. People can use the salt for personal use. Sometimes, people also trade the salt for the commercial purpose.
  • If you want to use taxi, I suggest you to take it before the sunset. When the sunset comes, the fee will be raised 50%.

So this rice this is delicious. I never knew you could get so much flavor into plain rice! This dish did however remind of the first dish I ever cooked for this around the world project for Afghanistan so i you liked that one I can guarantee you will love this one aswell! It’s not refined food, but it’s good old comfort food you want to eat out of a bowl while crying during the Grey’s Anatomy Finale which is exactly what I did!

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Ingredients: 500 g lamb shoulder, diced, 500 g rice, 3 tbsp oil, 500 g fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped, 2 large onions, chopped, salt and black pepper to taste, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom seeds, 1 chopped red chili

Fry the chopped onions in the oil until softened. Add the meat and cook until browned then add the tomatoes and allow to cook for a few minutes. Add all the spices, cover with water and allow to simmer gently for 45 minutes. When the meat is tender add the rice and 500 ml water, bring to the boil reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rice is done. Cook for a few more minutes to dry the mixture immediately and serve immediately.

46. Congo: Kondres

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I know there are 2 Congo’s but to avoid confusion I just did one recipe.

Yes we are officialy there, Congo… the poorest nation on earth. Some of you might know I grew up in Belgium, I was born there, went to school, my parents still live there. Here is what I learned about Congo as a Belgian colony. “Congo is a colony of Belgium in Africa, King Leopold the Second claimed it for himself and then around 1960 Congo gained independence.” And yes I did pay attention in history class since it was my favorite subject in school. I still learned NOTHING about how the Belgians left Congo or how they treated the Congolese. I think this is a disgrace! It’s like Germans never learning about the damage they did with the World Wars. Over 10 million Congolese were slaughtered (that was 50% of the entire population)! And for what,… ivory, gold, diamonds (sooo money???).

Congo

So on the bright side there also some things about Congo you probably don’t know:

  • The great apes, such as the bonobos and the eastern lowland gorillas, can be found only in Congo.
  • You should not take pictures there and local residents will get upset when you shoot them because it is believed that capturing a person’s image will remove his/her spirit.
  • The Congo rives flows through 10 countries
  • Despite being one of the poorest nations on earth the Congolese are a very proud nation. As said on Anthony Bourdain Part’s Unkown, even the poorest people spend most of their income on soap, clothes and their haircut. They take great pride in looking clean, fresh and well taken care off.

This recipe is great for using up leftovers of a sunday roast since you can literally use any meat!

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Ingredients: Any meat you can boil (I used left over roast lamb), 3 unripe green plantains, 1 large onion, 3 large tomatoes, 1/4 cup of parsley, 1/2 cup of basil, 1/4 cup of celery leaves, 2 teaspoons of grated ginger, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 green onions, 1 teaspoon white pepper, 2 teaspoons of curry powder 1 tablespoon of thyme, vegetable oil, 1 stock cube

  1. In Large saucepan boil meat seasoned with salt, and, onions until tender depending on the meat with plenty of water for stock. You can shorten this process in half by using a pressure cooker. Reserve stock
  2. Using a sharp knife cut both ends off the plantain. This will make it easy to grab the skin of the plantains. Slit a shallow line down the long seam of the plantain; peel only as deep as the peel. Remove plantain peel by pulling it back
  3. Cut the plantains into 2-3 pieces depending on size
  4. Chop the tomatoes, onions, green onions and place in a food processor or blender: garlic, basil, parsley, celery with a little bit of water -if using a blender to facilitate blending. Blend until puree.
  5. Heat up a large pot with oil, then add the tomatoes mixture, white pepper, curry, and meat with meat stock, bring to a boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
  6. Then add plantains, Maggi and/or stock / water (enough to cover the plantains)
  7. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let it cook until the plantains is super tender about an hour or more. Add water as necessary to prevent burns.
  8. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  9. Serve warm

45. Comoros Islands: Pilaou

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Scattered across the ocean the Comoros Islands a place you go when you want to escape reality for a little while or if you are fugitive it would also be the perfect place to hide out, since most people haven’t even heard about this mysterious little dot in the ocean. So what kind of people live in the Comoros Islands? The charming inhabitants of Comoros are mixture of Arab traders, Persian sultans, African slaves and Portuguese pirates. Islam, and all its traditions, is recognizable everywhere. Women are expected to show modesty and cover up, and alcohol is an absolute no-go. But if your idea of the perfect holiday is less about drinking rum punch in a bikini at a resort, and more about long, lazy days sipping tea and talking politics with the locals, then a safari in the exotic Comoros will probably be the kind of unpredictable adventure you’ve been craving for.

Yes this is what heaven should look like!
Yes this is what heaven should look like!

Things you didn’t know about Comoros:

  • The Comoros Islands have the nickname ‘Cloud Coup-Coup’ land because of their crazy politics, the three independent islands have experienced almost 20 coups since gaining independence in 1975! In fact, a Comorian president is lucky if there’s time for his official portrait to be taken before armed men are once again knocking on the door.
  • Comoros is the second-largest producer of vanilla in the world! Madgascar is the first.
  • Each island has its own dialect.

This rice tasted so comfy and heartwarming! Yummy for a weeknight meal! Strangely it reminded me a lot of the Afghan dish I did (that was my first recipe!), strange since they are so far away from each other! I mean Comoros is a tiny island in the ocean and Afghanistan is a freaking desert!

Pilaou

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38. Chad: Kachumbari Salad

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You could consider Chad as Africa for the advanced. Chad is no place to travel to for the weak. Chad is as real as it gets. Bribing the police is not the exception but the rule. Added to that, the summer heat is mind-melting, travel costs can be astronomical and the security situation remains unpredictable. So why bother going to Chad right? There are plenty of reasons to go Chad, frankly I don’t even know where to start! There are the sublime oases hidden in the northern dessert, the exquisite wild life in the National Parks, and the unforgettable boat trips on Lake Chad.

oase in chad

So here are some fun facts about Chad:

  • The average Chadian woman gives birth to six children.
  • The flag of Chad has vertical blue, yellow and red stripes. The blue strip symbolizes hope , the yellow stripe symbolizes the sun, the red stripe symbolizes fire and unity.
  • Chad is sometimes referred to as ‘The Death Heart of Africa’ due to the desert climate.
  • Chad it is about the size of Spain, France and Kansas combined
  • Did you know Chad is home to up to 200,000 Sudanese refugees.

It was a real challenge to find a recipe from Chad, they mostly eat tomatoes and onions apparently. So I made a salad. It was good but just so a little too basic for my taste.

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Ingredients: 5 tomatoes (thinly sliced), 2 small onions (thinly sliced), 1 red or green chili (de-seeded and lengthways into fine slivers, handful of coriander (finely chopped), juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp olive oil, black pepper to taste.

Place the tomatoes, sliced onions, chilli and coriander into a large serving bowl. Mix together the limejuice and olive oil and toss this mixture through the salad. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. This is the traditional version, but shredded cabbage or carrot can be added.