(28) Bulgaria – Kebapcheta and Shopska Salata

Bolata beach along the Black Sea. Source: Eff it I’m on Holiday

Onto our 28th country- Bulgaria! This Balkan country is known for having the second richest natural mineral springs, producing 85% of the world’s rose oil, and bordering the Black Sea. Bulgaria is also one of the oldest European countries estimated to by established in 681 A.D. This country has Greek, Ottoman, Persian, and Slavic influence that definitely impacts their cooking style and flavors.

For Bulgaria I made two smaller dishes that worked well together and are very traditional to the country. The first part of this meal is kebapcheta a minced beef sausage that is well seasoned with paprika, cumin, and a little bit of clove. The name kebapcheta is derived from the word kebab, -che meaning small aka small kebab! Typically they are served as three with a side of chips (fries).

The traditional way to cook these little guys in on a grill, but I decided to put my new air fryer to use! 8 minutes later and some flipping mid way they were done!

The second part of the meal was shopska salata, an easy to assemble salad that is made up of the three colors of the Bulgarian flag (I accidently grabbed an orange pepper, silly me) – red, green, and white! Chopped cucumber, tomatoes, pepper, and onion are the base of the meal. Parsley and a good amount of feta is mixed throughout. Vinaigrettes are great to use as a dressing, but any light dressing will work!

Together it makes a beautiful spread! We thought the meat was well seasoned, the salad was refreshing and crisp, and the fries obviously did not take away from the meal. It was quick and simple so this is another great option for week night cooking. We rated it 7/10.

(22) Guyana – Pepperpot

Kaieteur Falls. Source: Rove.me – Winston Tinubu

We are traveling a lot this week my fellow foodies! We start this week off in South America trying the very traditional pepperpot of Guyana. Guyana is nestled between Suriname, Venezuela, and Brazil; also bordering the Atlantic ocean to the north. The country is influenced by its past English colonization along with the Caribbean. It’s the only English-speaking country of South America and it’s name means “land of many waters.” The name is fitting since it’s home to the world’s largest single drop waterfall, Kaieteur Falls (pictured above) which plummets 822ft and is 328ft wide!

Guyanese food is a wonderful blend of several cultures including African, European, and Chinese to name a few! Pepperpot is a spicy dish full of strong flavors like cinnamon, garlic, and ginger. The exact origin of this dish is not clear, however it is thought to have been created by the Indigenous people of this land. They were also the first to discover how to extract liquid from the toxic cassava root for safe consumption.

This liquid is known today as cassareep. Cassareep reminded me of a molasses and paired well with the other competitive flavors. I was able to get my hands on some from ordering once again on Etsy.

The recipe I used for this fiery meal can be found here. It was easy to follow and I could prep the next elements of the dish while others were cooking. Once the meat was stewing with the spices it filled the apartment with the most wonderful aroma. We could only hope it would taste just as good!

Pepperpot did not disappoint. It had a wonderful heat without being too spicy (I used jalapenos because I can’t stand any hotter). The meat was very tender and each bite had hints of cinnamon, cassareep, and orange. We loved how unique this dish was and rated it 7/10.

Next we head back to Europe for a little more Salmon!

(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!

(12) Uzbekistan – Plov

Urungach Lake. Source: People’s Daily

Welcome to our sixth week cooking every country! I start the week of in the beautiful Uzbekistan (roughly translating to Land of the Free from Turkish/Persian). It is a landlocked country meaning it does not border any oceans or seas. It was the center of the Silk Road which was what connected Europe, China and and the Middle East together. Additionally, Uzbekistan did not become an independent country from Russia until 1991.

The meal I will be recreating from this country is called Plov (or palov osh). It is very similar to rice pilaf and is the national dish of Uzbekistan. The dishes name actually is an acronym for it’s ingredients: P-piyoz (onion),  a – ayoz (carrot),  l – lakhm (meat),  о – olio (fat),  v – vet (salt),  о – ob (water),  sh – shali (rice).

There are various varieties (upwards of 60) which depends on which region of the country you are in. Common ingredients that make up the base of all plovs are rice, mutton/lamb, carrots, and spices. One other meat that can be found as a substitute is kazi or horse meat sausage.

It is so easy to make your own veggie broth!

Plov was first created back in the 10th and 11th centuries for weddings and other big events. At this time only the high class could afford to eat it, but in present day it is adored by all classes and tourists alike. It can be made for weddings, holidays, or on a daily basis which will predict how grand the dish will be.

I used this straight forward recipe for this meal. We loved the new blend of flavors (especially the currants/raisins)! We feel that there could have been more seasoning (I added more after the fact) to let the ingredients come to life. Also after cooking lamb a few times now we have discovered that we aren’t huge fans of the flavor.. in the future we will be substituting the beef equivalent (much cheaper too). We rated this dish 6-6.5/10, it would be higher with beef and more seasoning.

Tomorrow I break out the Instant Pot to make Ropa Vieja from Cuba!

Tamagoyaki (Japan)

Yes I have another bonus recipe for you! The ingredients are minimal, but it does take some finesse to cook.

Tamagoyaki is reminds me of a fruit roll up (00s legendary snack) but made of egg and veggies. It’s name literally translates to “egg cooked over dry heat.” You cook the mixture in steps keeping layers thin.

I used this recipe to help me recreate the dish. Something lovely about this dish is that it can be very classy, served in high-end restaurants to an easy breakfast in your kitchen.

I tried my best folks.. It didn’t stay together like I had hoped, however I did it get to roll up successfully. I think would would have made it better is a little cheese and bell peppers. I think it is a nice change from an omelet and can see myself trying it again in the future!

5 weeks down, infinite to go (literally booked into next year). Tomorrow I will make Plov hailing from Uzbekistan 🐑🧅🥕

Japan Day 4 – Gyudon

If your looking for a quick and easy meal that packs a tasty punch on a Friday night, Gyudon is a great option. In Japan this meal is consider a quick, comfort meal.

Although there are small variations in the recipes I found, there are consistent staple ingredients of thin slices of beef, thin slices of onion, egg, and a savory sauce that sits on top of rice. Although the ingredient list is short and simple this meal is flavorful.

Once considered lower-class budget meal, Gyudon has surged in popularity as a western influence on cuisine has increased in Japan. There was a time when consumption of beef was prohibited in Japan as it clashed with Buddhist philosophy. It has a reputation for filling your belly without breaking the bank and we found this to be true. The thinly sliced onions create bring sweetness to the dish. The simmered meat is tender and delicious.

The recipe I used can be found here. We thought this dish was worth 6-6.5/10 for a rating. It has a delicious fusion of flavor and a great week night meal. Tomorrow one more bonus dish will be made from Japan before heading to Africa.

(9) Denmark – Frikadeller

Nyhvan, Copenhagen Denmark. Source: Moustashie

Denmark is a southern Scandinavian country composed of the Jutland Peninsula and other various islands. Because this region sits in the temperate zone, the area experiences varying weather and well-defined seasons.

Source: Why Did The Viking Age Start? – Life in Norway

Most notoriously known for it’s history of fierce, bearded, axe-wielding Vikings, Denmark is also home to some delicious food! We chose to take a crack at their traditional meatballs known as Frikadellar.

The general consensus is that Frikadellar originated from northern Germany. I found recipes throughout Germany and Scandinavia with small variations of a rather simple combination of veil, pork or beef, onions, eggs, milk, oatmeal, flour, and salt and pepper. Simply combine all the ingredients into a bowl and mix. Allow the mixture to consolidate in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to a day. Once settled you can then form your meatballs and cook them on the stove top in butter or margarine. When sifting through recipes one may notice that these meatballs often appear more like meat patties. It’s said that the today’s hamburgers actually evolved from the frikadellar recipes of Hamburg Germany. So thank your favorite German with a “Danke”, the next time your appreciating a fine burger.

In addition to the meatballs, I made a basic gravy and mashed potatoes for a side, as well as another Danish specialty known as Rødkål- which is a red cabbage concoction that balanced this savory “meat and potatoes” kind of dish with notes of sweet and sour.

Our score for the Danish Meatballs: 7/10.

(8) Niger – Djerma

Happy Tuesday! Today I have prepared the national dish of Niger. Niger is a Western African country that is named after the Niger River that flows through it. This country lies just south of the tropic of cancer making it one of the hottest countries in the world. May is their steamiest month with normal high temperatures ranging from 108-115 degrees!

The Niger River. Source: Niger Travel and Tours

The meal I will be trying today is called djerma, which is a peanut chicken stew served over rice. Peanuts are the biggest cash crop of Niger and can be found in a lot of their cuisine. You know how much I love peanuts and how they elevate dishes for me!

I found yet another recipe on Pinterest which can be found here (what would I do without Pinterest?) This was another meal where the smells rising from the boiling pot made us feel like we were some place warmer. In Niger meat is more scarce, however when meat is available chicken is typically used. Cooking this dish wasn’t too time consuming and was totally worth the multiple step process. The vibrant colors of orange and green lightened the primary mustard color of the dish.

This was another winner in our book- 8/10 ratings all around! The flavors once again were knock out and it had a comfort food vibe. The peanut butter did not come through as much as I thought, however it made the stew a little creamier. Next on the menu is meatballs from Denmark! Talk to you soon 😊

(7) Albania – Byrek

Town in the Albanian Alps. Source: Invest in Albania

Welcome to our 4th week discovering dishes from all around the world! The first meal of this week will be coming from the beautiful country of Albania. Albania is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland and is mostly made up of hills and mountain sides which cities and towns are often built upon. Something I found interesting about Albania was that shaking your head means yes, and nodding you head means no.. confusing!

The wonderful meal I will be making tonight will be the traditional Bryek (pronounced “boo-rek”)- is a puff pastry filled with various fillings such as ricotta, spinach, tomatoes, and minced meat. These baked goods can have various spellings, but the ‘y’ is used in the Albanian spelling. They are thought to be influenced by the Ottoman empire and have origins in Turkish cuisine. Byreks are often enjoyed as an easy and inexpensive breakfast, but can be enjoyed any time of the day. They are almost always triangular in shape and easy to transport making them the perfect on-the-go snack!

I decided to combine a few of the above ingredients and make a vegetarian byrek filled with tomatoes, ricotta, and spinach. When researching these delights I came across this article which I used as reference. I once again did not make my own dough.. trying to save on time. 😅

We collectively rated this heavenly dish 8/10! I would love to play with the variable filling options in the future. Following Albania will be Niger..🥜

Pouding Chômeur à L’érable (Canada)

Here’s my second bonus recipe! I decide to make pouding chômeur à l’érable or poor man’s pudding. It was incredibly simple to make and used few ingredients. It is referred to as poor man’s pudding because most people had the ingredients on hand and they were common staple items. History has it that Canadian women during the great depression came up with this dessert along with sugar cream pie because it’s low expense to make. Originally stale bread was used and placed on top of the hot brown sugar mixture. Over time it began being made with a basic batter and instead of brown sugar a combination of heavy cream and maple syrup was used.

I went by this recipe and made the classic brown sugar syrup. I appreciated the simplicity of the dessert and decided to top it with sliced up strawberries, yum! It reminded us of a strawberry shortcake. I highly recommend the dessert and can see myself making it in the future!

Next week we are traveling through Europe and Africa sampling soups, meat balls, and pastries to complete our first month! I hope you are enjoying this as much as we are 😄