(4) Kuwait- Machboos

Photo credit: Cruisemapper.com

Kuwait is a small middle eastern county roughly the size of Hawaii. Its western border abuts Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The dry, hot desert climate is somewhat lessened by its eastern border along the Persian Gulf. The country is largely urban and its capital Kuwait City is home to some very unique and modern architecture. Alcohol is illegal in Kuwait, so nightlife is largely based on food… delicious food! If there is one dish to check all the boxes and has the power to transport your pallet to the middle east, it must be Machboos!

Although time-consuming to make, this dish has been our unanimous favorite since the start of this blog. The spice blend of Baharat packed an aromatic punch and had a profile of earthy, spicy, and sweet notes which paired nicely with the hotness of the pepper.

The slow simmering preparation, left the chicken falling from the bone and extremely tender. The jasmine rice absorbed the flavor-packed broth perfectly and transformed the meal from soup to a consistency that could be successfully served on a plate or in a bowl.

This had all the feelings of comfort food but didn’t leave us feeling groggy, bloated, or regretful. The spices are known to be chocked full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Here is the recipe. Do yourself a favor and just make it! Final score 9/10.

(3) Lesotho – Lekhotloane and Morongo Potatoes

Maletsunyana Falls – U.S Department of State

Lesotho, a small but mighty country is surrounded by South Africa and is full of ancient ruins. You can find many mountains here, the highest being 3,482 meters or 11,424 feet above sea level! It is also known as the highest country in the world. Located in the Qacha’s Nek District, nestled in the Maloti Mountains, you can find the gorgeous Sehlabathebe National Park. Are you getting that urge to travel yet? Me too..

The traditional dish I made to represent this country consists of bashed beef, also known as lekhotloane, and morongo which refers to locally grown spinach of Southern Africa. The morongo is added to potatoes and boiled along with a few other ingredients -yum! Beef is more expensive in this region of Africa and not eaten on a regular basis.. When a prize cow is slaughtered this dish is often made.

The potatoes were pretty straight forward to make, the beef on the other hand just took FOREVER to cook. I feel it was because I strayed from the recipe using a different kind of roast meat, oh well. The recipe I used can be found here. All in all it was a delicious, simple meal which was quite a 180 from yesterdays more seasoned meal. We rate this dish 7/10 (I ended up rating it higher than Ian because peanut butter makes just about everything taste good in my opinion). Next up is Kuwait!

(2) Guatemala – Pepián de Pollo

Hello- or should I say hola! Today I bring you to Guatemala, the land of many trees (actual translation). Did you know there are 25 spoken languages used today in Guatemala? There are many indigenous Mayan communities that make up the country, most of which speak their own language. The national dish in this beautiful country is called pepián. This meal consists of pollo (chicken) covered in recado (a thick, flavorful sauce). When researching I found the sauce can be made thinner and served as a stew with additional vegetables. Traditionally this dish is made for special occasions and holidays, but I think we can all appreciate a special meal right about now?

Antigua, Guatemala © SL Photography / Getty Images

Pepián is a wonderful fusion of the new and old world, full of flavor and attitude. It is said to date way back before European settlers arrived. The natives would often make this dish during political, religious, or special rituals. Over time this dish was adapted by all and embraced as the national dish. Over time the meal has grown with Spanish influence.

Yes that is an English muffin.. I improvised. I also substituted dehydrated ancho poblano peppers

I had fun preparing this meal and enjoyed putting new flavors together that I would have never thought of before. I can honestly say neither one of us has had something like this! The recipe I used can be found here along with a cool video of a Guatemalan making the dish while teaching the bloggers of The Uncornered Market. I made the recommended rice pilaf to go with the pepián.

We appreciated the balance of spice, smoky, and almost bitter flavors that evolved overtime on our taste buds. Some bites you could taste the cinnamon more and others the chili or pumpkin seeds. Ian thought the sauce would taste nice on meat balls (if we try this I’ll let you know how it goes! We rated this dish 6.5/10. What I would change if I made it again would be thinning the sauce by adding more broth. Coming up next we travel West to Lesotho!

Pikelets (Australia)

For a little bonus I bring you the pikelet. Hailing originally from Wales, these little guys can be served with jams, fruit, syrups, and powdered sugar (similar to the American pancake). You can also find Brits and Kiwis enjoying them at breakfast or tea time.

Back to the origins, “bara-picklet” translates roughly to “bread-cake.” Bara often refers to a bread or bun being cooked in a griddle or hot plate versus an oven. In the beginning yeast was used to give these little cakes their rise, but nowadays that’s what the good ole baking powder is for. Time to get to it!

The recipe I used can be found here. I ate mine with a little strawberry jam and syrup- yum, yum, yum! These baby pancakes are delicious and quite adorable. I did make mine a little on the thicker side so I would suggest for the best results using slightly less batter or spreading the little dough blobs out for even cooking.

This tops off Australia week I hope you enjoyed the journey, maybe you pet a kangaroo or wrestled a croc or two -crikey! Next up is Guatemala. Stay tuned my fellow foodies.

Steve Irwin the legend Google/Australia Zoo

Australia Day 4 – The Aussie Burger

Crikey, it’s our last Australian dish! What makes this burger authentic to Australia is the beetroot, pineapple, and egg combination. This bad boy is thicc and you may find yourself intimidated to commit to the first bite!

The unique toppings balance each other nicely with the saltiness from the burger patty balanced with savoriness from the egg, and sweetness from the pineapple and beetroot. Combining all this with your standard burger toppings will have you asking for round two! Final rating- 8.5/10.

Source: Days to Come

Australia Day 3 – Prawns not on the Barbie..

G-day mate! The third dish I will be preparing is prawns on the barbie. Unfortunately, it being winter in Maine, I will be unable to use my grill. Grilling is a preferred way in Australia to prepare meals, especially when the weather is warm. In Maine we too love to grill, but with an apartment set up grilling in the winter doesn’t work out. I will try my best to bring a grill essence to the meal.

But first a little vocabulary..

Barbie is Australian slang for grill and prawn is referring to shrimp. Prawns are popular around Christmas time, however Americans on average eat more than Aussies!

Fun fact: The phrase “put another shrimp on the barbie” originally came from a commercial made by the Australian Tourism Commission in 1984. Paul Hogan starred in this ad and first said this line. Come to find out the phrase isn’t all that accurate as you now know shrimp is referred to as prawns!

Source: News.com.au

Also a little side note- you all need Camp Mix in your life. I put it on EVERYTHING, it’s very versatile! I used it for my salt & pepper seasoning for this dish. It can be found occasionally at Reny’s, but if not you can find it here.

I sautéed the veggies and shrimp to give them a grilled vibe for this dish. I saved the marinade to cook the veggies in to bring it all together. We thought it was a nice, refreshing dish that I could see Ian BBQing in the near future. Another good rating of 7/10..

The last meal we will be bringing to you this week is the Aussie Burger🍔 I hope you are ready for a hefty burger with everything, but the kitchen sink.

Australia Day 2 – Chicken Parma

Next up for Australia week is Chicken Parmigiana, or “Parma”. You might be thinking – wait I thought that was Italian. You’re right, however this dish has become a popular pub food in Australia since the mid to late 1900s. Here you won’t see eggplant being used like it’s Italian ancestor, but often breaded chicken with melted cheese a top (or beside) chips. “Parma and pot” nights are common in pubs across the country which are accompanied by a beer. When first made in Australia veal was thought to be used, but at this time breaded chicken is what can be found on the menu.

I am a lover of the Italian version involving the breaded delights atop a mound of pasta (drools), but I was excited to try it the Aussie way. The recipe I referenced can be found here. I ended up making my own potato wedge fries which I seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika. One modification I made was I had to double the amount of bread crumbs used to get the best results.

The final verdict? Another 7/10 rating. A delicious classic with a twist.

(1) Australia Day 1 – Meat Pie

For the first country I will be bringing you down under to the Australian Outback! We will be trying four different traditional dishes and to kick things off I give you the traditional Aussie Meat Pie. These pies are often hand-sized and filled traditionally with ground or minced meat, gravy, and topped with tomato sauce and/or mashed potatoes (how could it not taste good?). These yummy delights can be found in supermarkets, restaurants and pie stalls throughout Australia.

Minus one tomato sauce and add egg.. oops
A little back story on the meat pie..

Although England is thought to be the creator of these personal pies, the origins trace back to ancient Greece and Egypt. Because there were no baking dishes at the time, the purpose of the pastry was meant to be a container for the meat which left the exterior inedible and tough (don’t worry this pie crust is totally edible). In the Medieval times, England sold these small pies on the streets making them affordable even for the poor. The rich and royal often added many more spices and used a large variety of meats such as boar and venison to fill their pies. Meat pies became a celebratory staple in the 1800s for citizens of all classes.

Once settlers first arrived to Australia in the early 1800s they solely relied on what was brought over with them from overseas. Over the next 6 years steam mills started to pop up over Sydney making wheat flour. At this time, the meat pies were being adapted to the Australian culture. From pie carts in the mid 1800s and big meat pie businesses eventually came the frozen pies for the modern microwave era.

Now onto the recipe!

I used this recipe for my pie although I did a few tweaks. I substituted a gravy packet instead of the beef bouillon cubes. I also made a simple sauce combining canned tomato sauce and herbs at medium heat in a sauce pan. This was then drizzled over the top of each pie slice like so (see below). As you can see I tried to make a little kangaroo on top to be a little extra.. Can I just say this was the only way to start off this blog? WOW do the Australians know how to make pie! We appreciated the savory and rich flavors of the gravy with the ground meat and spices. The nice crispy crust of the puff pastry was a nice contrast. Even the little bit of nutmeg made a wonderful influence on this dish. Ian and I rated this meal 7/10 and we can’t wait to try the next recipe! Talk to you all soon 😊