(74) Bhutan -Ema Datshi

The Tigers Nest. Source: The Global Grasshopper

Welcome to elevated Bhutan, a peaceful Buddhist-loving country that is high in the clouds. The country borders China and India and nestles in Himalayan Mountains. The name Bhutan actually translates to “land of the thunder dragon” because of the intense thunder storms in the mountainous country. One gorgeous hot spot in the country is The Tiger’s Nest which is a monetary situated on the side of a mountain over 900m up. It is the only country that bans the sale of tobacco products and until 11 years ago banned TV and internet! The world’s the tallest unclimbed mountain can also be found here, Gangkhar Puensum which is a staggering 24,840 feet tall.

Cuisine here is a bit unique compared to its surrounding countries due to its harsh climate and high elevation. Rice is a typical base of most meals which could contain meat, root vegetables, chilis, onions, and beans. The national dish of Bhutan is ema datshi which is the mixture of chilis and a Bhutanese cheese called datshi (which can be substituted with yak cheese). There are different varieties that include meat or other vegetables, however the base is the same. You can find this dish accompanying many meals due to its popularity. You can find the recipe here.

Going into this I knew it might be a little too simple so we decided to add some ground meat to it as well for more sustenance. I used a combination of feta and cheddar to fill in for the traditional cheese- I did search for yak cheese. The great thing about this meal is that it was quick and easy, definitely something you could whip up during the work week!

So we tried this dish with and without the beef to experience it as close to the original as possible.. without the beef we found the dairy elements kept the dish from being too spicy. With the meat we thought it helped complete the meal and overall the cheese mixed well with all the elements. It was simple but good, although I don’t know if I see myself making this again. Ian liked it a little more than me so we give it an averaged rating of 7.5/10.

With the meat..

(70) Laos – Khao Poon

Source: Grasshopper Adventures

Welcome back to Asia where we traveled to our 70th country Laos, the land of a million elephants (name translation). Laos is found in Southeast Asia cozied up next to Vietnam, Thailand, China, Burma, and Cambodia. Although this is a landlocked country you can explore the stunning Luang Prabang Mountain Range or the impressive Khon Phapheng Falls. Laos became independent from the French rule in 1953 so you can find its citizens speaking French of Lao. Laos is known for its Bhuddism, historic temples, and its spicy cuisine!

Laos cuisine often always includes sticky rice, their citizens being the largest consumers in the world averaging 345lbs consumed per person annually! Its cuisine is similar to Indian and Thai food in which their dishes are often full of spicy and rich flavors. The most popular and representative dish of Laos being larb; a salad like meal with ground meat herbs and veg sitting in a lime-fish sauce dressing. Today he make something a little different, but still very true to Laos- khao poon. This dish is a spicy soup with vermicelli, coconut milk, chicken, and several plant-based garnishes. Every khao poon is unique to its cook with several variations out there. You can find the recipe Ian used here.

Galangal is similar to ginger and turmeric and can be found in Southern Asia. I had to go online to find myself some but it was dried! This made for a tricky preparation..

Ian ended up modifying the spice because personally we don’t like our mouths to fry. He added a sweeter Asian sauce to the curry paste to make it spicy and sweet, more Messy Aprons friendly! We had fun plating this meal, the edible flowers bringing the dish to the next level!

Ian and I have been on a streak of above average dishes, this being one of them. We loved the heat and spice that was well balanced by the coconut milk. I appreciated the balance of vegetables to meat; when there is x2-3 more meat to veg most of the time I think it is too much (I know what an unpopular opinion). We rated this one 7.75/10.

(69) The Gambia – West African Peanut Butter Stew

The Gambia River. Source: World Nomads- © Getty Images/Bart Brouwer / EyeEm

Hey fellow foodies, today we are in The Gambia. You can find this country tucked inside Senegal and has a unique shape that surrounds the Gambia River. It is the smallest non-island country and measures 30 miles across at its widest! Although the country is small it has over 500 species of birds and a beautiful 50 miles of coastline. The majority of the country’s income is dependent on its agriculture which consists of sorghum, peanuts, millet, and rice.

The Gambia is apart of West Africa which shares a cuisine consisting of grains, peanuts, local vegetables, and seafood (if bordering the coast). As we know from our previous taste bud travels peanut butter is used often in African cuisine to thicken stews or even potatoes- you can see that dish here. The dish I made tonight is a Western African dish consisting of some of my favorite things. You can find that recipe here.

We’ve got another week night meal folks! It was a breeze to cook and I didn’t have to make any modifications. This dish smelled incredible while it was cooking and I was super excited for the end result (mostly because of the peanut butter).

I LOVED THIS DISH! Peanut butter hell yes! I get so pumped about dishes with that good ole PB and this one did not disappoint! Although I was much more excited than Ian he thought it was another delectable dish that was creamy and savory comfort dish. The ginger and pepper brought a nice mild warmth that just tied it all together. On top of that it was a vegan dish! How incredible. I rated the meal higher than Ian, but it still got the high marks of 9.25/10.

(54) Malaysia – Nasi Lemak

Sorry for my little hiatus we were off camping! With the warmer weather we have also decided to go down to 3 countries a week so we can enjoy the outdoors and get more active! Alright now on to the Malaysia!

Walking the canopy walk in Gunung Mulu National Park. Source: Maps of the World

Malaysia is a southeastern Asian country situated by Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand. It is made up of two regions, West Malaysia (or Peninsular Malaysia) and East Malaysia (or Malaysia Timur). Western Malaysia makes up 40% of the total country and is known for its rainforests, mountains, and sandy beaches along with some of the tallest skyscrapers of the world. Eastern Malaysia is home to many nature reserves, National parks, and rural landscapes. One of these National Parks, Gunung Mulu National Park (pictured above) has incredible bridges you can walk in the canopies of the rainforest, the largest cave chamber in the world, and the pinnacles which are jagged limestone peaks that are as high as 50 meters (164ft).

All special ingredients and foods we haven’t tried before!

Malaysian cuisine consists of many things I have not tried (and will be trying today). It is made up of three ethnic groups: Malays, Chinese, and Indian. The common ingredients you can find throughout Malaysian dishes are chili peppers, Belacan (shrimp paste), coconut, lemongrass, tofu, seafood, soy sauce, tamarind, rice and noodles. The unofficial national dish of Malaysia is called Nasi Lemak and consists of many of the ingredients listed above along with two I did not see myself trying.. dried anchovies and sardines.

Nasi Lemak is made up mostly of a coconut rice that is cooked with pandan leaves, tamarind juice, and sambal ikan bilis (achovy paste made of chilis garlic, shallots, belacan, and small dried anchovies). It has other ingredients that are garnished around the main dish which allows you to get a different experience with every bite. Due to the array textures and flavors it is adored not only in Malaysia, but also neighboring countries and islands.

Although feeling a little uneasy I decided to tackle this new meal with an open mind. I did have to purchase several ingredients through Amazon since I was unable to find them in my local stores. Although it looked daunting, it was not too challenging to make. I still have not found a way to avoid burning the bottom of my coconut rice, but it was still successful. The recipe I used had several elements that together made up the dish (this being the traditional way) and looked quite nice once I plated it up.

I filled a tea bag with the pandan leaves for easy removal

We were pleasantly surprised by the dish, however the spice had us chugging water and milk. The anchovies and sardines were gave a salty flavor to the dish (make sure not to over season with salt). The egg, rice, and cucumber helped soothe my burning tongue after taking a bite of the very spicy sambal ikan bilis. If it wasn’t as spicy it would have taken a higher rating, but due to feeling like my mouth, face, and esophagus was up in flames we rated it 6.5/10.

Let us know what you think of this unique dish and if you handled the heat better 😅

(25) Sri Lanka – Shrimp Kottu Roti/Kothu Roti

Sri Lanka is known by two alternative names “The pearl of he Indian Ocean” and the “tear drop of India”. The first name comes from the beautiful tropical landscape, high levels of biodiversity and the fine gemstones found there. It’s second name can be easily be understood when looking at a map, as the tear drop shaped country appears to be falling from the southern point of India.

Wikipedia

Despite being such a small country, Sri Lanka is one of the world’s largest exporters of cinnamon and tea. Cinnamon is actually native to Sri Lanka. The spice is processed by peeling the inner bark of the native cinnamon trees.

Sri Lankan Tea Country https://travelbible.co/sri-lanka

Tonight’s meal is Kottu Roti which is a famous street food from Sri Lanka. It’s said when walking the streets you can hear the rhythmic scraping and chopping as chefs prepare this meal with their steel hand spatulas. Here and here are the two recipes I referenced.

Lonleyplanet.com

Coconut Roti is a Sri Lankan flatbread that is both spicy and sweet. Below is the Dry ingredients, and the final dough ball once water is mixed and folded in.

The ball is then split into several smaller pieces that are rolled flat and then placed onto the frying pan.

The Final product is a sweet, spicy, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside flat bread!

Separately the shrimp and vegetables are heavily spiced and cooked.

The roti is then chopped and everything is mixed together for the final plating.

This dish is spiced well and is packed full of flavor with multiple layers of mild heat. The shrimp and roti provide a crisp texture, and the coconut infuses the dish with mild sweetness. We loved how the simple ingredients packed such bold flavor.

Final rating 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!