(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 😅

(96) Cape Verde – Canja

Source: responsibletravel.com

Cape Verde brings us to our 96th country, which is an archipelago nation that can be found in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa. It wasn’t inhabited until Portuguese explorers discovered the islands in the 15th century. The country is made up of 5 islets and 10 islands, only 9 of which are inhabited. Charles Darwin made his first stop at the capitol Praia when on his HMS Beagle voyage. The island of Cabo Verde is home to the third largest nesting site for Loggerhead turtles in the world. What makes this country a desirable vacation destination is the year-round warm climate, low rainfall, and ideal conditions for wind surfing.

The cuisine of Cape Verde has a heavy West African influence along with Portuguese and Southwestern Europe. Being an island nation locals rely on natural resources such as fish and produce. A very popular drink called grogue, which is a rum drink made from distilled sugar cane is often enjoyed by locals.

The dish I chose to make doesn’t scream island nation, but definitely was fitting for the time of year. Canja is a chicken soup with rice and veggies that is often made when someone is feeling sick, for special occasions, or when mourning the loss of a loved one. There are alternates to this dish in Portugal and Brazil with the exact origins unclear. To recreate this dish click here.

The cooking process was enjoyable. It was pretty relaxed and with my Crime Junkie Podcast on I was in my element chopping up the veggies. The entire apartment smelt amazing like a warm hug on a winter day -wasn’t that poetic?

This was a hearty, creamy chicken soup that felt like comfort in a bowl. I typically drift towards chicken and rice soups over chicken noodle personally. We felt it could have used more herbs and seasoning than what it called for, but overall was definitely a good, well rounded meal. We we gave an averaged rating of 7.25/10.

(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.

(78) Zimbabwe – “Mama’s” Stewed Chicken

Matobo Foothills. Source: Global Geography

Welcome back to Africa, we are visiting Zimbabwe today. Unlike Liberia, Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern African surrounded by Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa, and Botswana. Zimbabwe is one of the countries that borders the spectacular Victoria Falls which is one of the most popular attractions here. A lesser known attraction is the high concentration of rock paintings from the Stone Age; greater than 1,000 across the country. This country is also the destination for safaris and exploring its mountainous/plateau terrain. Tobacco, gold, ivory, textiles, cotton, and ferro alloys are major exports and source of income.

Zimbabwe cuisine consists of maize and rice for grains, farmed and game meats, and local fruit and vegetables. Some specialties of the country include maize beer (whawha), mopane worms, dovi (peanut butter stew with meat and vegetables), and sadza (maize meal portage eaten with meat or stews). Although controversial popular game consumed here includes ostrich, crocodile, and boar to name a few. Today I prepared “Mama’s Chicken” or stewed chicken with herbs, ginger, spices and vegetables. Do Mama proud and try this dish!

This week night-friendly dish was easy to follow and make. I was unable to obtain Maggie seasoning and instead substituted the seasonings that make up the Maggi cubes and added a chicken bouillon cube. This like the previous dish was not as “saucy” as I would have liked it and suggest adding tomato paste as you go to get the desired consistency. I’m a little too OCD when cooking and would like the recipe’s picture to match my finished concoction.

Zimbabwe you brought us a beautiful blend of savory flavors and very tender chicken. I personally thought it could of used more vegetables to balance out the chicken but overall really loved what I was experiencing on my taste buds! We really loved this dish and rated it 8.625/10 (to be precise).

(77) Liberia – Liberian Chicken Gravy

Hey guys I’m back! Summer time brings a lot of outdoor adventures and less time at the computer and stove to bring you more content. Hope you are also enjoying your summer!

Pygmy hippopotamus, Source: Dinoanimals.com

Before we get to it, lets first learn a little bit about Liberia! Liberia is a West African country that borders the Atlantic Ocean, Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire, and Guinea. English is mostly spoken here, however there are 20 indigenous languages still spoken today. It is the oldest African republic and was the first to gain its independence in 1847; its name literally translating to “land of the free.” This beautiful country is home to incredible surfing, over 700 bird species, the endangered pygmy hippopotamus, and Sapo National Park (which contains a portion of West Africa’s primary rainforest).

Today we make a classic Liberian dish, chicken gravy. This meal consists of not only chicken but shrimp and fish steaks as well. I decided to omit the fried fish and use additional shrimp instead. At the heart of traditional African stews lies tomatoes, garlic, and herbs along with other complementary ingredients to increase the savory and heartiness. Liberian cuisine alike other West African countries include plantains, cassava, rice, yams, and other local fruits and vegetables. Local seafood and fish is the primary meat source of Liberians diet however poultry and other red meat can be eaten on occasion. You can find this recipe here.

Preparation and cooking was simple. This is another good option for a week night meal that can simmer while you cram in a 30 minute work out or finish up a blog post (maybe that’s just me..). I look back now and would have added more tomato paste to thicken up the sauce.

So we had never experienced chicken and shrimp together before and thought it was pretty good! The sauce as I said earlier should have been thicker, however the herbs and ginger really pulled through. It had unique elements, but was an easy meal with common ingredients. We thought it was tasty and rated it 6.5/10.

Next up we head to Zimbabwe for another tender chicken meal!

(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.

(60) Botswana – Seswaa with Cabbage and Carrot Slaw

Hey guys welcome to #60.. Botswana of Southern Africa! This landlocked country can be found bordering Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The country is mostly a desert climate, however it does have deltas and grasslands home to several species of wildlife. It is considered the most densely-populated elephant country in the world and can be found when visiting Chobe National Park. There are various ways to see these elephants in action- safari by jeep, boat, canoe, and by foot. Botswana is also known for its diamond production and is the biggest regarding their value.

A Botswana Safari. Source: Andbeyond.com

Botswana cuisine is like surrounding countries of Southern Africa and contain various meats, grains, nuts, fruit, some vegetables, and tubers. The national dish of Botswana, seswaa, is a boiled or slow-cooked beef that is simply seasoned with salt. Once it is done cooking its pounded with a pestle until its broken into small, thin pieces. Today’s rendition includes a traditional cabbage and vegetable slaw, the recipe I used can be found here.

The meal was easy to make, I am definitely used to the boiling beef method by now. While that was boiling away it gave me plenty of time to prep the vegetables and cook the slaw! I was pleased to see there was a little more seasoning going on with the slaw.

To be honest I didn’t have high hopes for this dish and it didn’t have any elements that excited me. I understand this is traditional Botswanan cuisine, but I prefer my spices and flavor in my food. That being said it was a pretty good meal with a gravy that definitely gave the beef more flavor. The cabbage and carrot slaw was well seasoned. It was better than we had anticipated giving it a rating of 6.25/10.

Next week we visit Vietnam to try some classic dishes and a bonus dessert. Stay tuned my fellow foodies! 😋

(50) Tanzania – Curried Fish with Kachumbari Ya Matango (Cucumber Salad)

WE MADE IT TO 50 COUNTRIES GUYS!! WOOHOO! Nearly 5 months after starting the blog we have reached this milestone. I’m thankful to my followers on all platforms and everyone’s recipes and information I have been able to share. I can’t wait to see what the next 50 bring!

Mount Kilimanjaro and two beautiful giraffes. Source: Pinterest

At #50 is Tanzania, a East African country that is bordered by Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi. Wow that’s a lot of countries! This country is known for the famous Mount Kilimanjaro which stands at 19,341 ft tall making it the tallest mountain of Africa. Nearly every climate system can be found around this magnificent mountain which includes alpine desert, arctic, rain forest, heath, moorland, and cultivated land.

Currently Tanzania is home to 120 ethnic groups which have Asian and European roots. Beans, coconut, and plantains are the three primary staples in their traditional dishes. These ethnic groups influence the food found here including tonights dish.. curried fish. Tonight’s meal consisted of a curried fish stew-like concoction and a side, simple yet delicious side salad.

Both recipes were easy to prepare and paired well together. I used cod as my white fish, but I would have tried catfish if given the chance. It was refreshing to make a meal that consisted of less expensive items, many of which are staples in my home.

We loved how cilantro lightened the buttery curry and the salad was refreshing. This is definitely an easy and healthy weeknight meal. We rated it 7.25/10.

On to the next 50.. 😁

(46) Morocco – Lamb Tagine with Apricots

Tamnougalt, Morocco. Source: blogs.sas.com

Welcome to another day at The Messy Aprons, we are quickly approaching 50 countries! Today we are in Morocco, a Northern African country that is a blend of Arabic, European, and Berber culture which heavily influences the cuisine. Berbers are an ethnic group of Northern Africa that are often farmers in rural areas, but historically were nomadic merchants that brought caravans across the deserts. Fridays are known as “couscous day” which is the holy day of the week in Morocco.

I made a lovely, flavorful dish to represent the beauty of Morocco – Lamb Tagine with Apricots. Tagine is a traditional Berber, slow-cooked stew that is named after the special clay pot that it’s prepared in. These stews are full of several of delicious ingredients including chickpeas, diced tomatoes, and garlic. This dish is also full of spice that makes the dish so warm and comforting. Luckily I found a recipe that I could follow without the special cookware, time to fire up the Instant Pot!

Again, I substituted stewing beef for the lamb but let me know if you decide to make it traditionally! The recipe was straight forward, but it definitely took me longer to make than the 10 minutes of prep time. This aromatic dish had my kitchen full of Arabic smells and left my stomach growling! I decided to add extra ginger, garlic, and dry spices because why not? It did not leave us disappointed!

We LOVED this dish. I loved all of the elements and it left us craving more. I could see myself eating this on the regular. It had that winning combo of tomato and cinnamon that we had discovered in paste dishes. The topping of cilantro brightened the hearty stew. Top marks Morocco- we rate you 10/10.