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.
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🔥
Welcome to another day in Greece, today we will be making a refreshingly light soup that is great on a warm summer day or when you need a pick me up. This dish is dominated by the taste of lemon and dill.
This citrusy soup is a lesser known Greek classic and is believed to have made its way there with the Sephardic Jews. This ethnic group originating from the Iberian Peninsula has a cuisine that consists of stuffed vegetables, salads, fruits, nuts, herbs, lentils and chickpeas (to name a few). It was originally made with pomegranate or orange juice, but with the popularization of lemon juice in the 10th century it is now the preferred fruit juice.
Ian felt this recipe was straight forward, however there was a crucial part that you want to pay attention to. It was important to whisk the hot broth and egg/lemon juice mixture constantly to avoid cooking the egg. It is also the same method when adding it back into the remaining soup.
We thought the soup was unique compared to others we have made and enjoyed how the lemon and dill made it lighter and refreshing. We would have liked more rice than what was asked for since a 1/4 cup was not much.
If you prefer fish over chicken, a similar recipe we have cooked in the past called Lohikeitto might be the soup for you!
We did enjoy the Finnish lemon and dill soup a little more than this one. The rating we gave it was 7/10.
Coming in one shy of 50 countries we return to South America to see what Ecuador is all about. Home to the famous Galapagos Islands (a province of Ecuador) and Amazon rainforest you could say this is the place for wildlife lovers. Ecuador as you probably already guessed is named after the equator which runs through the northern part of the country. It borders the Pacific Ocean along with Colombia and Peru. This spicy little country also is known for Cotopaxi, a stratovolcano apart of the Andes Mountains that measures at over a staggering 19,000ft. This baby is considered active and last erupted in 1907.
From previous research we have a good idea what the cuisine might be like here and known plantains will probably serve as a winning side dish. Potatoes, various fish, chicken, yucca, beef, pork and beans are also very commonly used. Today I did two dishes (because we can’t leave out plantains when we have the opportunity!) fritada de gallina and bolon de verde.
Fritada de gallina is chicken that is marinated in chicha (fermented corn drink) and orange juice along with cinnamon, clove, and garlic. The substitute for this particular drink was a cup of white wine which I always have on hand. 😉 It is then cooked for over a couple hours until the liquid is gone and chicken browned. You are left with a flavorful mix of sweet and spice. For best results I recommend letting it marinate for 24 hours.
As for the bolon de verde it is pretty simple- peel, cut and boil 4-5 plantains until fork tender, mash and mix in queso fresco cheese until well combined. Your option here is to either pan fry them to golden crispy perfection or use another favorite kitchen gadget of mine- the air fryer! It took me 10-12 minutes to achieve desired doneness.
And there you have it a plate representing Ecuador. I decided to use homemade salsa as a garnish for the plate, but it also worked well as a sauce since the plantain balls were a little on the dry side. We additionally thought they were slightly on the bland side and would have benefited from salt along with other traditional seasoning. The chicken was delicious and tender, the cinnamon and clove were nice touches to bring a mild warmth. We rated it 6.5/10- a higher rating if the plantain balls were seasoned more and not as dry. Let us know what you think!
Side note guys these chips from Ecuador are AMAZING! I highly recommend. I have only found them at TJ Maxx.
Hello from the isthmus that connects South and Central America- Panama! This country gives you the unique opportunity to watch the sunrise over the Pacific and sunset over the Atlantic. Panama City the capital of Panama (pictured below) is the only city in the world that has a rain forest within city limits. The famous Panama canal generates one third of the countries economy and roughly 14,000 ships travel through each year. The toll each ship pays is dependent on their size, the larger ships paying almost half a million dollars- ouch!
Typical cuisine in Panama is comprised of African, Native American, and Spanish methods. Due to the location of Panama it has access to several varieties of produce, yucca (cassava root) and plantains being the most commonly used.
Today we made a traditional soup filled with various veggies and chicken. Sancocho is a common Latin soup that is full of native flavors and was fairly easy to make. It contained yucca which was a new food for us to try. Yucca is very starchy and has a thick skin that is best peeled off similar to if you were preparing a plantain. Depending on where you are this recipe could vary. It is also said this soup can cure hangovers.. we have not tested this theory, but maybe you could let us know if it is true? 😉
Like most soups once you had the ingredients prepped it just needed time to cook and allow for the flavors to merge together. We loved the use of cilantro in the soup and like many other meals felt it brightened it up. The yucca and plantain were alike in flavor, closely resembling russet potatoes, however yucca had a slight squash-like similarity while the plantain had a mild sweetness. We thought there wasn’t enough balance between the starchy foods and other ingredients and decided to rate it 6.5/10.
Next, we visit a country I have never heard of before over and recently gained its independence in 1999. Tune in tomorrow to find out how it went!
We are back the Caribbean baby! St Lucia is an island situated in the Caribbean Sea south of Martinique and north of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Although a small country it is full of various unique landscapes such as rainforests, coral reefs, mountains, a dormant volcano, and sandy beaches. St Lucia has also been known as Iyonola and Hewanorra which were names given by natives meaning island of the iguanas, but was renamed in the 16th century by the European settlers.
So I already had a hunch I would like this dish since we had made a coconut curry tuna dish for Tuvalu not too long ago. Although this is not the national dish, it is still a good representation of the country with common ingredients. Their cuisine is influenced by British, East Indian, and French cooking styles and flavors which can be seen in this dish.
There is a large variety of spices St Lucians use such as allspice, cinnamon, curry, and cloves and an even large variety of fruits that are native to the island. This dish has the wonderful pineapple which can easily elevate any dish in my opinion, especially when grilled! I used this recipe when preparing dinner.
As expected the dish was a hit and easy to prepare! I had marinated the chicken overnight to get the best flavor possible. The pineapple coconut rice was amazing (honestly what doesn’t coconut milk and pineapple make better)? The chicken was very flavorful and well seasoned. I would have liked to try the marinade on bone-in chicken that I would cook up in the Air Fryer. We rated this dish 8/10.
Hello again! Today we are in Moldova, a small Eastern European country that is well known for its extensive wine collections (Guiness World record actually). Moldova does not get a lot of foreign foot traffic since it is a more impoverished country, however there is more than what meets the eye! There are beautiful old monasteries that can be found throughout the cities and admirable country sides and forests. Moldovans love wine (and other booze) so much that they dedicate two days to wine in October as a National holiday. Sign me up!
I was originally going to make the national dish of Moldova which is mămăligă, but I decided the zeamă would suffice. Zeamă is like a chicken noodle soup with a European twist. This dish is very traditional in this country and served year round, even in hot weather. This soup is a sign of welcoming or celebration the morning before a wedding. It even pairs well with wine.. who would have thought! The recipe I referenced can be found here.
I did make some substitutions since lovage and borsch couldn’t be found in my local grocery store. I used celery salt and lemon juice as replacements and enjoyed the flavors they brought to the dish. I also substituted store bought egg noodles for homemade ones to save myself time.
It was pretty easy to make and took advantage of the perfect opportunity to use some of my dehydrated carrots I made up last year, they taste just as fresh! I also added tons of herbs- more than the suggested to bring out more flavors in the simple broth.
I let a cut jalapeno soak in the soup which did give a very mild heat to the soup which was nice. The lemon and dill combo will always rate high in our book, however I wish there was more flavor. I’m wondering if I had the recommended ingredients if it would have more gusto.
Due to this we rated it a little lower at 6/10 average.. sorry Moldova😔
Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its name translates to water, earned for its density of lakes, rivers and waterfalls. It also contains what is considered Europe’s last remaining rain forest know as the Perućica that houses trees over 300 years old.
The dish I decided to cook is called Kvrgusa. It’s similar to a chicken pot pie, but instead of the crust surrounding the filling, the batter is first laid down and then the filling is added which bakes as more of a single layer. The recipe referenced is here. The process was simple, I started by mixing the few ingredients for the batter until it was a pancake mix consistency.
The recipe called for a small amount of vegeta seasoning. I didn’t have this, but a quick search online gave a common list of ingredients for vegeta such as turmeric, salt and garlic. I used quite a bit more seasoning than what the recipe called for. Chicken was then placed into the batter and then popped into the oven. Off note- the traditional recipes often call for a whole chicken being parted or at least bone-in chicken. We had boneless chicken breasts so this is what I used. You need to be careful not to overcook the chicken when substituting boneless pieces.
After the dish had cooked to a browned crust an additional layer of sour cream and milk is added and the dish is then returned to the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
The verdict: Even with the additional milk and sour cream the dish was dense and lacked the creaminess of the chicken pot pies I’ve grown up with. This may have been due to the pan not being big enough, resulting in a thicker pie. Despite adding more seasoning than what the recipe called for I still found the dish rather bland.
We are finally circling back to South America to Suriname. Suriname is found in the Northern part of the country bordered by Guyana, French Guinea, and Brazil. 80% of the country is made up of rainforests and is home to 467 species. One of these being the world’s deadliest poison dart frog which can only be found in these forests. Suriname is a large exporter of gold making up 67% of South America total exports.
Today I made a dish known as Pom which is a very well known dish in Suriname. It has Jewish and Creole origins and was introduced by the Jewish-Portuguese plantain owners in the 17th century as a potato oven dish. The dish was adapted to the Surinamese culture by substituting potatoes that were difficult to grow in this region with the root of pomtajer which is a native root vegetable.
Pom is made up of three main ingredients: citrus juices (commonly orange with lemon or lime), chicken, and pomtajer (or potato). The use of citrus juice when cooking chicken is how Jewish cooks “cleansed chicken of their smell.”
I had also read with my research on this dish that how a woman prepares this dish for the first time is a rite of passage into the Surinamese culture and a wife’s success can be measured on how well she can make pom. No pressure.. 😅
I found the recipe relatively straight forward, but was glad I made it on my day off as it was a time consuming process. I did use a combination of chicken breast and chicken apple sausage (Creole version).
We thought the orange juice was the stand out of this dish and definitely dominated our palettes. I would taste some of the other flavors like the sweetness of the chicken sausage or mild spice of the relish, but orange was the one that dominated the others. I feel like after my research that I should have had a thicker potato crust and slightly less juice so I could have experienced a nice crisp top layer.
We ended up rating the dish 6.75/10, Ian rating it higher than myself for above reasons. Let us know what you think if you try to recreate the Suriname sensation!
Welcome to our 11th week of traveling by taste bud! Today we travel to Azerbaijan “the land of fire.” I had never heard of this country until last week! This region of the Middle East has it all- the dramatic mountains, mud volcanos, and beautiful beaches on the Caspian Sea. It has bustling cities and quaint villages up in the clouds. It is even home to a city that is completely supported by stilts!
Today I will be making a dish that pertains to a special group of individuals that live high up in the mountains in a town called Gyrmyzy Gasaba. “The Mountain Jews” are the world’s last surviving pre-Holocaust Jewish village also known as shtetl and see themselves as a separate Jewish ethnic group.
This khoyagusht recipe is one a blogger was able to write down when visiting this community. She was fortunate enough to experience authentic Mountain Jew cooking in action! Khoyagusht is a dish that is made up of chestnuts, meat, and egg. Other elements such as onions and potatoes might be added. Spices such as turmeric and paprika give a flavorful kick to this omelet dish.
I was skeptical at first when I tried a chestnut for the first time and was thrown off by its texture, but alas the finished meal proved me wrong. The chestnuts brought a nice sweetness to the dish which was well paired with the spices and onion. The chicken and its’ broth brought a familiarity to the plate. All in all it was a pleasant surprise.
We rated this dish 6.25/10 making it just above average ranking. These dishes have been becoming more of a challenge to rate as they are starting to blur together! Next we will go to Europe to visit Bulgaria!
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!
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 🥩