(60) Botswana – Seswaa with Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

Hey guys welcome to #60.. Botswana of Southern Africa! This landlocked country can be found bordering Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The country is mostly a desert climate, however it does have deltas and grasslands home to several species of wildlife. It is considered the most densely-populated elephant country in the world and can be found when visiting Chobe National Park. There are various ways to see these elephants in action- safari by jeep, boat, canoe, and by foot. Botswana is also known for its diamond production and is the biggest regarding their value.

A Botswana Safari. Source: Andbeyond.com

Botswana cuisine is like surrounding countries of Southern Africa and contain various meats, grains, nuts, fruit, some vegetables, and tubers. The national dish of Botswana, seswaa, is a boiled or slow-cooked beef that is simply seasoned with salt. Once it is done cooking its pounded with a pestle until its broken into small, thin pieces. Today’s rendition includes a traditional cabbage and vegetable slaw, the recipe I used can be found here.

The meal was easy to make, I am definitely used to the boiling beef method by now. While that was boiling away it gave me plenty of time to prep the vegetables and cook the slaw! I was pleased to see there was a little more seasoning going on with the slaw.

To be honest I didn’t have high hopes for this dish and it didn’t have any elements that excited me. I understand this is traditional Botswanan cuisine, but I prefer my spices and flavor in my food. That being said it was a pretty good meal with a gravy that definitely gave the beef more flavor. The cabbage and carrot slaw was well seasoned. It was better than we had anticipated giving it a rating of 6.25/10.

Next week we visit Vietnam to try some classic dishes and a bonus dessert. Stay tuned my fellow foodies! 😋

(57) Togo – Grilled Ginger and Garlic Chicken with Tomato Cornmeal Cakes

The fortress like huts of the Tamberma people in northern Togo. Source: iStock.com

Bringing us to up to 57 countries is a lesser known African country, Togo. Togo is a West African country bordered by Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso along the Gulf of Guinea. This country has a long growing season which fuels their agriculture dominant economy. Cocoa, coffee, and peanuts are some of the important crops grown here. Togo is famous for its white sandy beaches and national parks.

Chicken marinade

Staple foods found in Togolese cuisine include beans, yams, plantains, millet, rice, and maize. The country has a history of rule from Germany and France which does influence their cuisine. Due to this influence it is not uncommon to see Togolese people enjoying German beer and French baguettes. Today’s dish was made up of two components- grilled chicken and tomato corn meal cakes. Cornmeal as you probably know by now is a popular African staple that can be transformed into several sides to accompany the main meal. Chicken is more excessable in Togo and is commonly cooked over a fire similar to grilling.

I chose to marinate chicken drumsticks for 24 hours prior to grilling to get as much flavor as possible (recipe here). Ian being the grill master that he is I had him take charge with the cooking. As for the cornmeal cakes the directions were similar and easy to follow (recipe here). The tomato sauce was a great way to bring the cornmeal to the next level.

The chicken obviously tasted great from being grilled, but I was sad I couldn’t taste the ginger. Like I stated above the cornmeal with the tomato sauce definitely made it tastier than the past cornmeal dishes I have made. Still we were not wowed by the meal and I honestly don’t see myself making the cornmeal sides again (sorry..). We rated it 6.25/10. If the chicken had more ginger flavor it could have been rated higher.

Next we head to Nepal for a vegan dish that packs a little heat🔥

(50) Tanzania – Curried Fish with Kachumbari Ya Matango (Cucumber Salad)

WE MADE IT TO 50 COUNTRIES GUYS!! WOOHOO! Nearly 5 months after starting the blog we have reached this milestone. I’m thankful to my followers on all platforms and everyone’s recipes and information I have been able to share. I can’t wait to see what the next 50 bring!

Mount Kilimanjaro and two beautiful giraffes. Source: Pinterest

At #50 is Tanzania, a East African country that is bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. Wow that’s a lot of countries! This country is known for the famous Mount Kilimanjaro which stands at 19,341 ft tall making it the tallest mountain of Africa. Nearly every climate system can be found around this magnificent mountain which includes alpine desert, arctic, rain forest, heath, moorland, and cultivated land.

Currently Tanzania is home to 120 ethnic groups which have Asian and European roots. Beans, coconut, and plantains are the three primary staples in their traditional dishes. These ethnic groups influence the food found here including tonights dish.. curried fish. Tonight’s meal consisted of a curried fish stew-like concoction and a side, simple yet delicious side salad.

Both recipes were easy to prepare and paired well together. I used cod as my white fish, but I would have tried catfish if given the chance. It was refreshing to make a meal that consisted of less expensive items, many of which are staples in my home.

We loved how cilantro lightened the buttery curry and the salad was refreshing. This is definitely an easy and healthy weeknight meal. We rated it 7.25/10.

On to the next 50.. 😁

(46) Morocco – Lamb Tagine with Apricots

Tamnougalt, Morocco. Source: blogs.sas.com

Welcome to another day at The Messy Aprons, we are quickly approaching 50 countries! Today we are in Morocco, a Northern African country that is a blend of Arabic, European, and Berber culture which heavily influences the cuisine. Berbers are an ethnic group of Northern Africa that are often farmers in rural areas, but historically were nomadic merchants that brought caravans across the deserts. Fridays are known as “couscous day” which is the holy day of the week in Morocco.

I made a lovely, flavorful dish to represent the beauty of Morocco – Lamb Tagine with Apricots. Tagine is a traditional Berber, slow-cooked stew that is named after the special clay pot that it’s prepared in. These stews are full of several of delicious ingredients including chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and garlic. This dish is also full of spice that makes the dish so warm and comforting. Luckily I found a recipe that I could follow without the special cookware, time to fire up the Instant Pot!

Again, I substituted stewing beef for the lamb but let me know if you decide to make it traditionally! The recipe was straight forward, but it definitely took me longer to make than the 10 minutes of prep time. This aromatic dish had my kitchen full of Arabic smells and left my stomach growling! I decided to add extra ginger, garlic, and dry spices because why not? It did not leave us disappointed!

We LOVED this dish. I loved all of the elements and it left us craving more. I could see myself eating this on the regular. It had that winning combo of tomato and cinnamon that we had discovered in paste dishes. The topping of cilantro brightened the hearty stew. Top marks Morocco- we rate you 10/10.

(41) Zambia – N’shima, Fried Rape, and Roasted Beef

We are now over 40 countries, that is crazy! I have a little surprise for you once we hit 50 😉. Today we explore Zambia, a South African country famous for its safaris and the beautiful Victoria falls. It is considered one of the safer countries of Africa and has tons of opportunities for tourists to really explore the country and the protected wildlife by car, boat, foot, or jump.. Yes you can bungee jump off of the Victoria Falls Bridge which is 420 ft high! The wildlife is so crazy here that you can find termite mounds the size of small houses!

Victoria Falls. Source: Telegraph.co.uk Credit- AP/FOTOLIA

The meal I made today is a combination of “grilled” goat (I used beef), fried rape (I used red swiss chard), and n’shima (similar to grits or polenta). N’shima is considered to be the national food of Zambia due to the abundance of maize in the country. You can find n’shima served up with most meals accompanied with a relish, stew, or vegetables.

Rape leaves are a green also found in Zambia and are relatable to swiss chard. I used the suggested substitutions from this recipe. This dish was only seasoned with salt, however I decided to add a little chilli powder and mustard to give it more flavor.

The meat was similar with seasoning, once again only requiring salt. From learning from past dishes that this may not be enough to really allow the dish to shine I added a little cumin, coriander, and pepper after researching common spices in Zambian cooking. The recipe I referenced can be found here.

We thought overall it was a tasty meal thanks to the addition of spices. All of the components tasted good together and there was a mild heat from the chili powder and peppers. It is definitely a healthier dish than some of our other meals we have tried. We rated this dish 6.5/10 averaged between the two of us.

Next up we head to the Caribbean for a curry, pineapple, and coconut fusion😋

(36) Uganda – Sweet Chili Mbuzi Choma Rolex

Mutunda Lake with Virunga volcanoes in the distance. Source: Yellow Zebra Safaris

Hey guys we are back in Africa this week visiting Uganda! Uganda is an Eastern African country that is made up of tall mountains and volcanos, unique wildlife and vast lakes including Lake Victoria at the southern border. This country is one of few that the equator passes through and can be “found” in Kayabwe, Uganda. If your feeling daring you can try fried grasshoppers as they are a delicacy here and are a sign of endearment.

The meal I chose represents multiple countries of Africa, but today it will shine for Uganda. A rolex is not only a watch, but a very tasty chapati wrap that is filled with marinated, grilled meat, omelet, and veggies. Chapati is a type a flatbread similar to a roti that is used is several different countries to hold or mixed in with savory dishes. The name rolex comes from the method the meal is made, rolled up egg “roll-eggs” . It was first created for college students as an affordable and portable meal, but soon became popular to everyone throughout Uganda.

I used a recipe that included a wonderful marinated meat, mbuzi choma, that had the whole apartment smelling amazing! You can find the meat recipe here. I did substitute the goat for pork since that was what I had on hand along with tortillas instead of chapati (sorry guys). I had fun making this dish and liked the minimal prep time needed. This could easily be eaten for any meal of the day or for a snack if desired.

This meal was damn good. It was not complicated by a long list of ingredients and fun to prepare (I have finally mastered making an omelet)! I think any marinated meat (or no meat) would work great here and there is a lot of room for creativity with what vegetables are mixed in. Bell peppers would be a great addition. The spice mixes are important to the dish and what make it Ugandan. Cilantro also shines in this dish giving the wrap a nice freshness.

Do yourself a favor and make yourself a rolex for breakfast, lunch, 3 am… there isn’t a bad time! We will definitely make this again and rated it 8.5/10.

(24) Libya – Mahshee/Mahshi

Welcome back! Today we are in Libya, a North African country known for its desert terrain and oil production. Due to most of the country being made up of this barren landscape they must import the majority of their food. Part of the Sahara desert can be found in this country, the Libyan portion is known for being the harshest and driest; so dry that decades could pass without rain.

Rock arch of Tadrart Acacus. Source: Morad Momo on Pinterest

That description of Libya might have you wondering “what good can come from such a place?” Well let me introduce you to their take on the stuffed bell pepper (mahshee)! I love that this recipe comes from someone who grew up eating this passed down in their family. Although stuffed peppers are not truly unique to this country, the flavors that are packed inside are very traditional.

Mahshee or mahshi are stuffed peppers or squash that originates back in the Ottoman empire. It is popular in the Middle East and each representation maybe very unique to the region it has been made in. That is true for Libya as well, you will find in this recipe several spices and herbs to bring a fresh new perspective on the stuffed pepper.

We absolutely loved this dish! Super easy to make (a little time consuming) and full of flavor! We loved the mild heat of the dish along with flavor that packed a punch! If you are looking to spice up your stuffed pepper this is the meal for you. I was able to share this meal among friends and they all agreed it was a keeper! We rated this dish 8/10 and it creeps up into our list favorites.

To end our week we will land in Sri Lanka to try another authentic dish. We hope you are enjoying our taste bud travels.. until next time!

(16) Mali – Tigua Degué aka Mafé

Welcome back to another day traveling around the globe by your taste buds! I have to admit we had another dish failure this week when trying to recreate Lithuania’s cepelinai. 3 hours and 8lbs of potatoes the recipe we used just did not work. We will return to this country in the future to redeem ourselves!

The Grand Mosquée of Djenne, Source: Wanderlust

Mali is the biggest West African country and is home to the Grand Mosquée which can be found pictured above. This building is made from sun-baked earth bricks, clay, earth based mortar, and plaster to coat the outside and is the largest of it’s kind. It sits on top of a 246ft x 246ft platform and is 52 ft in height.

The meal I made today is called Tigua Degué aka Mafé which is yet another chicken in peanut sauce dish. This one differs from the rest by having several more vegetables involved and has more of a soup like flavor (in my opinion). This is the national dish of Mali and is also prepared similarly in Senegal (referred to as Mafé). I could not find out much information on the dish, but it definitely reminds me of other African dishes we have tried.

I followed this recipe, but unfortunately my sauce split and it was definitely more soup-like. That mishap aside it was successful. It was a good hearty meal filled with several vegetables. I served the chicken/vegetable concoction with white rice as recommended which seems to be the norm in African cuisine. The meal didn’t compare to the previous African dish from DRC, but was still enjoyed by both of us. We rated this meal 6/10.

Lastly we travel to Oman to try something quite a bit different than the previous two dishes. Stay tuned 🥩

(15) (Democratic) Republic of the Congo – Poulet à la Moambé

Hello again! Welcome to the Democratic Republic of the Congo! We decided to make this meal together for Valentines day with some wine (obviously!) Let’s dive back into Africa, we will be here a lot this week!

Source: World Nomads

The second largest country in Africa is home to 250 different languages and 200 unique ethnic groups. DCR’s capital, Kinshasa makes up the second biggest French-speaking country in the world. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is actually named after the Congo river which flows throughout the country. The Congo river is the deepest river in the world reaching depths of 722ft.

The national dish of DCR we prepared is poulet à la moambé or “chicken in palm oil sauce” and it was what we made for a special at home date night for Valentine’s Day. This dish has French cooking influence, but it is dominated by African flavor. There are several variations on this dish, the one we decided on having peanut butter, ginger, tomatoes, and garlic to name a few ingredients. The remainder of the recipe can be found here. We decided to serve the dish with jasmine rice and fried plantains which is fairly common.

This meal was amazing! What a wonderful Valentine’s treat!! We enjoyed this candle lit dinner with traditional African music playing in the background. The ginger really pulled through and tied together the dish. The fried plantains were a great additional and gave a nice crunchy texture. We rated this dish 8/10.

Continuing on this African adventure we head to Mali for another hearty meal!

(14) Sudan – Maschi

The Sudd. Source: Amusing Planet

Sudan was formerly the largest country in Africa. But on July 9, 2011, following decades of civil war, the southern portion seceded and declared its independence. In the south, the Nile and its tributaries form a vast swamp known as the Sudd which is one of the largest wetland areas in the world. Extending up north lies portions of the vast savanna, a border along the Red sea, and blending with the Egyptian deserts.

The Meroe Pyramids Source: Northern Sudan Expedition

The Sudanese cuisine has influences from bordering countries as well as traditional roots stretching far back in the past. This recipe includes a staple ingredient for Sudanese cuisine- tomatoes!

The ingredients and spices used were true to this recipe. I decided to ditch the measurements of the spices and just go by taste. I ended up using quite a bit more of all the spices than what the recipe called for.

The tomatoes were cut and hollowed creating perfect vessels for the ingredients to be piled into. Due to the difficulty of trying to fry the stuffed tomatoes and cook all sides in a skillet, I opted to place them in a baking pan filled with the recipe’s sauce and briefly cook them at 500 degrees in the oven.

This dish was really good! The meat and rice remained tender because of the high moisture content of the tomato. Subtle hints of fresh dill were appreciated. Surprisingly the real highlight of this dish was the combination of cinnamon and tomato in the sauce which complimented each other very well. Final score 7/10.

Next week we will explore more of Africa starting with The Democratic Republic of the Congo.