(129) Ethiopia – Berbere Chicken with Ethiopian Lentils

Here we are, one country over from Somalia! Ethiopia also sits beside Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. Other than its tasty coffee, Ethiopia is known for believing in 13 months are apart of the year, over half of the continents mountains are found here, and vegetarianism is very common.

Blue Nile Falls. Source: matadornetwork.com

Ethiopian cuisine as stated above can often leave have absence of meat. Injera, a fermented pancake-like flatbread is commonly used to scoop up the stews such as wat, a spicy meat stew. When meat is on the menu it is often full of heat that can pack a punch. Due to religious reasons pork and shellfish are less commonly found and consumed here.

The dish we made has a special seasoning called berbere, that is made up of several warming spices. The seasoning’s name comes from the Ethiopian word barbare meaning “hot” or “pepper” and was thought to have originated when Ethiopia controlled the Red Sea route on the Silk Road back in the 5th century. The lentils also share the berbere flavors making the entirety of the meal peppery, heated, and hearty.

I chose to use canned lentils which the original recipe had not called for. I would recommend using dried lentils so they could absorb the flavor and increase the depth of the meal. The food preparation and cooking is pretty simple with equal time of active and passive cooking.

I really enjoyed this dish savoring the heat and subtle sweetness. The chicken was very tender and had a crispy skin which so stinkin good! The flavors overall were unique and the vegetable blend was nice. We rated this one 7/10- Ian is not a lentil fan and would have rated higher if it was paired with rice.. something we will have to try!

(128) Somalia – Bariis Maraq (Somali Beef Stew with Spiced Rice)

A unique aerial view of the Somalin coast. Source: earth.com

Somalia brings us to 128, an East African country positioned in the Horn of Africa. It can be found abutting Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and the Indian Ocean. I didn’t realize this very dry, arid country had such vast coastlines (over 2,000 miles)! Another fact about Somalia is this is where the dromedary camel was domesticated.

Somalia has several specialty dishes including today’s meal and has been influenced by many cultures. The civilizations that helped shape Somali cuisine include Turkish, Arab, Italian, East African, and Indian. As many here practice Islam religion you will not find pork in their cooking. Customary foods of Somalian cuisine include various flatbreads, fava beans, hummus, rice, an array of warming spices, and surprisingly spaghetti! Mutton, beef, chicken, and even camel are proteins used. After eating in a Somali home you will likely experience the burning of incense or frankincense which is common practice.

Bariis Maraq is the national dish of Somalia and like many national dishes is eaten at celebratory events and gatherings. It can be prepared with either chicken, camel, mutton, fish, or less commonly beef and has a distinctive spice blend known as xawaash which translates to “spices” in Somali.

I was able to process the spice mixture with my cute little mortar and pestle set. Spices I was unable to get whole I replaced it with the appropriate converted powdered amount. I always revel in the toasting of spices and how it not only can transport the flavors in a dish, but your kitchen as well! As weird as it may sound cinnamon and tomato are a match made in heaven🌤️ 😇

This beef stew had a unique blend of flavors with a nice intense spice that warmed the palate. The bananas, cilantro, and lime helped tame the heat and the meat was very hearty making the dish feel like a hug in a bowl. We enjoyed this one rating it 8/10.

Bariis Maraq (Somali Beef Stew with Spiced Rice)

This warming stew has a unique blend of spices sure to please a crowd. The leftover spice mixture can be used in various ways to bring your meal to the next level.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African, Somalian
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Xawaash Spice Mix

  • 1/2 cinnamon stick broken into 1/2 pieces
  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric

Stew & Rice

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 6 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 2 sliced red onions divided
  • 6 finely chopped garlic cloves divided
  • 1 lb beef chuck cut into 3/4" pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 7 cups water divided
  • 2 peeled russet potatoes cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 peeled medium carrot cut into 1/4" thick half moons
  • 1 sliced red bell pepper
  • 5 tsp kosher salt divided
  • 1 3" cinnamon stick
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 sliced medium tomato

For Serving

  • 2 sliced bananas
  • 2 limes cut into wedges
  • 1/4 bunch of cilantro roughly chopped
  • green or red Somali hot sauce optional

Instructions
 

Spice Mix

  • Toast spice whole ingredients in skillet at medium heat for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned and aromatic, remove from pan and set aside.
  • Once spices cooled transfer to mortar and pestle or grinder to mix spices well, add in turmeric after and transfer to air tight container.

Stew and Rice

  • Allow rice to soak in large bowl in cold water, set aside.
  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan at medium heat. Add in half the garlic and onion stirring occasionally until just starting to soften and become translucent. Add 1 tbsp of the xawaash spice mix that was just made and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add beef and tomato paste mixing in well then add 3 cups water. Cover to cook until beef is cooked through at a simmer, about 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes add in carrots, potatoes, and peppers for about 15 minutes. Vegetables should be cooked and beef tender. Season with 1 tbsp salt. Thin water if needed.
  • Drain rice and heat up remaining oil (1/4 cup) in large saucepan at medium heat. Add the rest of the onions and cook until starting to become translucent. Add in the rest of the garlic along with aromatic spices cooking until aromatic for 1 minute. Add in tomato for 3 minutes (should start to break down). Add rice and cook for 5 minutes until lightly fried.
  • Bring 4 cups of water to boil in small saucepan then add water to rice along with 2 tbsp of xawaash spice mixture and 2 tsp of salt. Stir well and reduce heat to low to cook covered until rice is done and liquid absorbed (20 minutes.)
  • Remove rice from heat and lightly fluff with fork, divide rice serving stew over. Add in serving ingredients as desired and enjoy!
Keyword Africa, African, Beef, Beef Stew, Somalia

(127) Algeria – M’thouem (Garlic Meatballs in Spicy Red Garlic Sauce)

Source: kayak.com

Algeria is a North African country situated between Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and Alboran Sea. 80% of Algeria is made up by the Sahara desert. The country is known for its artisanship- pottery, carpet weaving, and wooden sculptures.

The cuisine of Algeria is made up of several cultures; Berbers, Romans, French, Spanish, Turks, and Arabs. Common spices used in their cooking includes cumin, caraway, fennel, coriander, and marjoram. A typical Algerian meal will consist of meat (lamb, beef, or poultry), bread, fresh herbs, vegetables, and oil. Couscous is another staple of the Algerian diet. Pork is not consumed due to the majority of the country being Muslim. One would traditionally eat an Algerian meal at a low sitting table using their right thumb, index, and middle fingers.

Mtewem which is Arabic for “with garlic,” is classically prepared in a tajine pot with either a white sauce or spicy red sauce. The meatballs can be made with either ground lamb, chicken, or beef and like the name implies LOTS of garlic!

I found the dish was easy enough to prepare. The meatballs were not perfectly formed and seemed to fall apart a little while cooking. I used canned chickpeas to cut preparation time as well which is usually my go to! I used a mild olive oil as my cooking oil. To add a little more to this meal, all though not traditional we added jasmine rice.

This dish had slight flavors of cumin and lemon which was a nice pairing, the main character however was garlic! It overall felt light and healthy to eat. The almond flavor was mild, but enjoyable. We also discovered meat balls and chickpeas work well together! We just wished the sauce was more abundant. The dish was rated 8/10.

Algerian Hirshon Garlic Meatballs in Spicy Red Garlic Sauce

A flavorful meal of meatballs and chickpeas with subtle flavors of lemon and almonds
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Meatballs

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauce

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 head of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp harissa can use paprika
  • 1 15.5 oz can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup almonds Marcona if you can find them- ground
  • 3 tbsp argan oil or other neutral oil
  • 6 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Extras

  • 1/2 cup parsley chopped
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • bread optional for serving

Instructions
 

  • Start making meatballs by kneading ground beef in bowl with a few tbsp of water. Keep kneading until all water is incorporated- this will increase meat tenderness.
  • Add the remaining meatball ingredients to bowl and mix well. Oil hands with neutral or argan oil and make walnut-sized balls transferring balls to platter.
  • Add meatballs to skillet/large sauce pan with warmed oil at medium heat. Brown on all sides and remove from pan. Add onions and cook until golden. Then add garlic, chickpeas, spices, ground almonds, tomato paste, harissa, and meatballs. Add enough water to cover everything and allow to cook for 20 minutes at medium low heat (until meat is tender).
  • Once meatballs are cooked through remove from pan and reduce sauce for an additional 10 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • To serve return meatballs in sauce and top with fresh parsley and lemon slices. You may also serve with bread to help absorb the sauce.
Keyword Algeria, Chickpeas, Meatballs

(126) Cameroon – Ndolé

Ekom Nkam Waterfall. Source: Wikipedia

Welcome back, for our 126th country we traveled to Cameroon. Cameroon is part of Central Africa and can be found bordering the South Atlantic Ocean, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo. The country is well known for its’ native music, 200+ linguistic groups, and football (soccer) team. Another interesting thing about Cameroon is that the country is actually named after shrimp! The name comes from the Portuguese word camaroes due to the abundance of ghost shrimp in the Wouri River that runs through the country.

Cameroonian cuisine is a mix of several African cultures due to the many countries it borders. You can expect to see an array of fruits and vegetables on the menu along with maize, peanuts, and rice. The country’s cuisine has Portuguese, French, and German influence however it sticks to its roots with honoring cultural traditions. The dish made today features the crustacean the country was named after. You can find the recipe here.

Ndolé is the best known dish of Cameroon and very popular in the country. Shrimp of course is the star of the dish, but it can be made with stewed beef or fish. The ingredient list is relatively simple, however the recipe I had used didn’t have one of the classic ingredients- plantains. Cooking was easy and straight forward.

So we felt this Cameroon dish had a subtle nut flavor in the broth, however the taste in general was more on the bland side. We felt it could have been better with more garlic and ginger. Additionally we thought it could have had more elements to make the dish stand out. We felt underwhelmed and gave it 5/10- Cameroon has been added to the new recipe list!

Next we will share our experience of Algerian cuisine 🍽️

Kenya Day 4 – Garlic Kuku Kienyeji

Our final Kenyan recipe had a lot of promise. A homemade spice blend and a solid ingredient list made for an exciting cooking journey. The recipe can be found here.

Kuku Kienyeji translates to “free range chicken.” Unfortunately my chicken was a Hannaford special 😅, but nonetheless this recipe calls for a whole chicken that you cut into sections for cooking. This more natural chicken traditionally takes longer to prepare thus the boiling is the first step of the cooking process. In some preparation I found people would use other parts of the chicken including gizzards and liver. I did not partake with that!

At the time I had questioned some of the preparation and was sad to see the chicken cook down to the point it fell off the bone. For anyone using store bought whole chicken I think browning the chicken on all sides at a higher heat and cooking over half way through before adding it to the vegetable mixture could give that aesthetic the blog has. Other sources this meal was definitely had more of a stew appearance. It is a lengthy cooking process with a homemade seasoning which if you don’t have a spice grinder could seriously add on time.

To round out our Kenya food tour we were unfortunately underwhelmed once again! The clove was too powerful and made it less appetizing. We found the mix of veggies and chicken was nice and it was spicy without being “too spicy” of course minus the clove.. Also the chicken cooked so long it fell off the bone making the presentation a let down compared the the reference. This one ranked lower at 5/10. It probably is just cook error🙃

Switching gears, we will next visit Norfolk Island!

(115) Kenya Day 1 – Kenyan Beef Curry

Kenya, an African country known for its incredible wildlife -a safari hot spot. Nestled beside Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Indian Ocean, this country is chalk-a-block full with national parks and wildlife reserves. The country is also well known for the world’s fastest runners, the great wildebeest migration, and Kitenge culture.

Source: kuoni.co.uk

Kenya is a big exporter of tea and coffee. Interestingly it is thought that Kenya has no “national dish.” Due to the 40+ native tribes there are several special dishes that are thought to represent these diverse communities. Common staples of the Kenyan diet consist of grain (maize, sorghum, and millet), rice, greens, grilled meats, fish (in coastal regions), and local vegetables. Stews are a very common meal to have on a regular basis along with ugali (maize polenta).

Today I made a traditional Kenyan curry with steak, it can also be made with chicken or goat. Similar to Kenyan stews, tomatoes, onions, and garlic are core ingredients.

I opted out of the the more authentic pairing of ugali because I have had unsuccessful attempts at making polenta/porridge that tasted good and naan bread is 👌Curries and stews traditional pair with ugali which is key to soaking up alllll the goodness! Cooking was a breeze, the slow cooking of the curry allows the flavors the develop.

Our first Kenyan meal was a power house dish full of pleasant spice and refreshing cilantro. The flat bread paired well with the dish and absorbed the curry which had a tomato dominant flavor. And if it couldn’t get better the meat was also very tender, perfect! We rated this one 9.5/10 🔥

Kenyan Beef Curry

Paige
This is comfort in a bowl with just the right about of spice!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 lbs sirloin steak chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tbsp oil for cooking
  • 2 medium red onions diced
  • 1 16oz can tomatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp paprika smoked for more depth of flavor!
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp curry powder or more 🌶️
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 fresh chilis/hot peppers sliced for garnish (I used jalapeno)
  • 1/2 cilantro bunch roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Add the 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Mix in the beef, garlic, and ginger allowing to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove pot from heat and drain liquid, reserve broth for later. Set beef aside as well. Add the pot back to the stove and add cooking oil changing temp to medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add canned tomatoes to onions and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Mix the beef back into the pot along with the remaining spices and tomato paste. Combine ingredients well.
  • Add the broth back into the pot and add any additional water needed to cover the beef completely. Bring mix to boil then turn down to a simmer for 1 hour. Make sure to stir frequently.
  • Once the beef is cooked through you can do your final taste test adding any additional seasoning you find necessary. Garnish with peppers and cilantro. Serve with rice, ugali, or naan bread.
Keyword African, Beef, Beef Curry, Curry, Kenya, Kenyan

(107) Eswatini/Swaziland – African Almond Stew with Ginger Cauliflower Rice

Source: Wep.it

Today we are in Eswatini which was previously known as Swaziland. 50 years after gaining independence the country changed its name to Eswatini which is the original ancient name prior to the British rule. You can find this landlocked, African country situated between South Africa and Mozambique. Like the surrounding countries it is known as a safari hot spot due to having all five of the large “game” animals (lions, buffalos, elephants, leopards, and rhinos).

Eswatini cuisine is centered around vegetables and grains. Meat dishes, also known as inyama is reserved for special occasions which could include goats or chickens. Without access to the sea, fish and other seafood is not common. “Mealie meal” which is a maize grain is a staple to Swazis which can be eaten alone or paired with a stew to soak up the savory flavors.

The meal I chose to represent Eswatini is vegetarian and includes ingredients that may be accessed on a more regular basis. This meal was inspired by someone who had volunteered for several months, a tomato based curry being a regular meal. The writer amped up the base of the meal and added Eswatini staples such as ginger and sweet potato to highlight the cuisine of the country. I also was happy to see I didn’t have to attempt another maize product as they seem to go wrong for me! You can check out the recipe here!

Cauliflower rice is something I am familiar with and is super simple, just makes a mess if you aren’t careful! The preparation and cooking was pretty straight forward. There wasn’t any arugula in the store so I got spinach instead. One way to save you time is get the canned version of the foods- there is no shame in that and it saves you on prep time. I used to always think fresher is better but with the grocery prices too.. this is the way (unless of course you can support a local farm stand!)

This one was really AMAZING- two words: almond butter! This dish had the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, the tomatoes were tangy, and the almonds brought a crisp crunch. We were blown away and plan to add this to our personal recipe collection! We rated it 9.75/10❤️

(98) São Tomé and Príncipe – Matata

Pico Cão Grande. Source: elevation.maplogs.com

Here we are with yet another African Island country, São Tomé and Príncipe. This nation made up of two islands, two atolls that’s found in the Gulf of Guinea near the equator along a volcanic chain. It was another country that was uninhabited until Portuguese explorers discovered it in the 15th century. The main crop of the country is cocoa and at one time of the world’s biggest producer. You can rest easy if you explore the rainforests of the island- the most predatory creature is a mosquito!

Cuisine of São Tomé and Príncipe include seafood and local crops such as bananas, plantains, pineapple, maize, and avocado. Coffee is frequently used not only as a wake me up drink but a seasoning for meals! The main influences of their cuisine is Portuguese and African. For São Tomé and Príncipe I found a recipe called “matata” which is a seafood dish with recipe that involves vegetables and clams cooking in port wine. This dish is also popular in Mozambique. You can find the recipe I used here.

I have to admit the aromas were not desirable compared to past dishes- definitely a strong seafood odor. If I had fresh clams I wonder if the experience would be any different. Prep and cooking was easy, not time consuming at all. I couldn’t buy pumpkin leaves so I substituted spinach.

It was better than what we were expecting- man was it smelly! The flavor was relatively bland, however the flavor of the wine came through. The peanuts did help the texture and surprisingly worked well with the rest of the dish giving an extra dose of saltiness. We weren’t super into it which warranted a rating of 4/10. Side note I am aware the plating is not the greatest- Ian let me know about it after the fact 😅

(94) Seychelles – Creole Prawn Curry

A beautiful Seychelles beach. Source: CNN.com

Doesn’t that look nice? I would love to be sticking my toes in that warm, white sand.. but instead of sand I’m stuck with white snow. Anyways.. welcome to Seychelles! You can find this African country in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar. Seychelles is an archipelago made up of 115 islands with 8 being having the majority of inhabitants. Interestingly there were no inhabitants until the late 1700s when the French discovered the islands. These are the only islands in the world that are formed from granite versus typical volcanic or coral elements. The worlds largest seed, Coco de Mer, can weigh up to 40lbs and can be found on two of the 115 islands making it heavily (pun intended) protected due to its variety.

The cuisine of the island is like many other neighboring islands. Local produce and seafood dominate the main course which includes shark chutneys and fish curries. You can eat the cherished Coco de Mer seeds however due to their size and harvesting rules many do not. Breadfruit is very popular here and according to legend if you eat breadfruit here you will return some day. I used this recipe which was actually created by Chef Daniel Louis on the island of Mahe, Seychelles. The recipe is for traditional shrimp creole curry. Creole cuisine ) is a mix of African, French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences that involve a lot of spice and heat using simple cooking methods.

Cooking and preparation was simple using basic cooking techniques. I liked that this recipe used a whole cinnamon stick to give a deeper flavor. Good thing I still have 50+ from a previous order..🙃

As you know we love shrimp dishes and this one didn’t disappoint! We enjoyed the warmth from the ginger and curry, however it did remind us of some dishes we have made before. The shrimp pairs well with these flavors and the coconut rice is just a given at this point (it is the only way to eat rice with curry flavors). We though it was deserving of a 7.25/10. Side not still not a huge fan of eggplant- think I will pass in the future🍆

(86) Ghana – Red Red (Black-Eyed Peas Stew) with Fried Sweet Plantains

Source: Pinterest

Today we are in Ghana, a West African country that borders the Ivory Coast, Togo, Burkina Faso, and the Gulf of Guinea. In 1957 Ghana became the first African-American country of the sub-Sahara to become independent from colonial rule. It is the second most populated country in this region of Africa with a large variety of ethnic groups. Due to its proximity to the equator the climate is either hot and dry or tropical and wet. Ghana is known for its gold production which is the largest in Africa. Love butterflies? Consider visiting Kakum National Park which is home to over 600 species!

The cuisine of Ghana always includes a starch of some sort, it usually being rice, plantains, maize, or cassava. The starches are often paired with soups or stews that primarily have vegetable bases. Meats and spices are also important to their cuisine. The dish I decided to make for Ghana is called red-red, also known as black eyed peas stew. This stew gets some heat from freshly grated ginger and habanero pepper. You can find this meatless meal here (which can be made vegetarian/vegan if vegetable broth is substituted).

Cooking was simple and allowed for me to multitask as I typically do. We substituted the habanero with jalapeno because we are wimps (sorry not sorry). I was able to find ripe plantains at the store and definitely felt comfortable with their preparation.

This was another unique dish. The plantains with beans was an interesting combination, but we thought it worked. It was actually nice to have the sweetness of the plantains contrast with the other savory elements. I didn’t think the rice was necessary with the peas. Marinated chicken or red meat would have paired well. We rated it 7/10.