(95) Afghanistan – Kabuli Palau/Qabili Palau

Buddhas of Bamiyan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Afghanistan. Source: WorldAtlas.com

Doesn’t Buddas of Bamiyan look like something out of Star Wars? Welcome to Afghanistan, a landlocked country situated between Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China. It holds the title for the most flag changes out of any other country- a total of 26! This country is known for its extreme weather due to its large range of elevation of 23,734ft between its highest and lowest points and contrasting arid and mountainous terrains. The world’s oldest oil paintings have been found in Afghanistan and date back to 650 BC. Lastly did you know Afghans have been asking for their national game buzkashi or goat grabbing to become an Olympic sport? Wouldn’t that be interesting..

The cuisine of Afghanistan has influence from India, Persia, and Central Asia. Rice using usually found at the base of every meal accompanied by meat (lamb and chicken mostly), nuts, fruit, and vegetables. Tea like in many countries is a sign of hospitality and often shared between family and friends. The recipe I decided to make is called Kabuli Palau, also known as Qabili Palau which is Afghanistan’s national dish! This decadent dish was first made by the upper class Afghans, but over time as society became wealthier the dish was made all over the country despite status. The name then changed from Kabuli Palau to Qabili Palau. Its said that the ability of a Afghan woman to make this dish will effect her marriage prospects (dramatic eye roll).. If this dish entices you click here.

To help myself out I decided to cook the carrot, raisin, and almonds the night before so that I wasn’t so crunched on time during the week. The recipe was easy to follow and used basic cooking techniques. The chicken smelled so lovely while it cooked!

What a beautiful dish! I knew from the get go it was going to be delicious. The warmth from the seasoning for the rice and meat is well balanced with the caramelized carrots, almonds, and raisins. Overall it left me feeling completely satisfied! We have already made this meal again since it was originally made, it is now part of my repertoire. We rated it 8.75/10.

(45) Turkey – Almodrote

Cappadocia, Turkey. Source: allthatsinteresting.comRoastad

Hey everyone, we are in Turkey today! Turkey is a Middle Eastern country southeast of Europe and west of Asia.It is bordered by three seas- the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas. It exports 75% of the world’s hazelnuts and is the birthplace of Santa Claus! Above is a picture of Cappadocia, Turkey a truly unique place of unworldly land formations of rock that can shoot over 100ft into the sky. Many of these house-like formations are known as fairy houses.

Turkish cuisine has Ottoman roots and can vary based on the location. It is thought to be a blend of Balkian, Central Asian, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Armenian, and Mediterranean cooking styles and flavors. Vegetables often dominant their dishes.

This dish is traditionally made with eggplant, however this blog uses a zucchini and summer squash combo. I was happy to find another recipe that has been made throughout several generations knowing it was authentic as well as a “keeper.” This dish is full of cheese, eggs, bread crumbs, and squash mostly and is baked until the top layer has become crispy and golden brown.

One thing to note is that you should squeeze out as much liquid as possible prior to combining the ingredients. I had squeeze mine out several times, but noticed it was a little more liquidy than I was have liked. Nevertheless I had made a little cheesy pie/quiche.

I feel my downfall here was too much liquid from the squash which made the texture all wrong. The flavor of the dish was pretty good but unfortunately it was a little bit on the blander side. If I maybe cooked it longer (glass container may have also affected the cooking time) and/or drained more liquid from the squash I would have been successful. We rated it 6/10. I will strive to repeat this dish sometime in the future or try another Turkish dish, let me know what you think I should try!

(44) Iraq – Masgouf

Iraq’s capital Bagdad. Source Britannica .

Growing up in the United States, discussions of Iraq were often about war and conflict. Despite the media’s portrayal, we know this country is full of amazing, kind people and has a very rich history.

Credit- Wikipedia

Iraq has two major rivers – the Tigris and the Euphrates. Seated between these rivers is part of the region known as Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is considered by many as the birthplace of modern civilization and is home to the world’s earliest known forms of writing, mathematics, and the wheel.

Masgouf is Iraq’s national dish. This dish typically involves a large carp fish covered in curry and a well-spiced tomato-based sauce which is traditionally cooked over an open fire. The recipe we used is here. In this recipe, she also recommends baking and finishing with the broil setting which is what I did.

Rub the fish with curry and salt and then begin to prepare the sauce.

Prepare your ingredients and begin by sautéing onion and garlic briefly first.

Add the chopped tomato, parsley, tomato paste, vinegar, lemon juice, water, salt, curry, and cayenne pepper mixing well. Occasionally stir the sauce while it simmers for 5 minutes. Since I didn’t prepare this over an open fire, I added some liquid smoke to bring some of that element into the dish.

Cover the fish with your sauce and top that with slices of tomato and onion. Bake this in the oven for about 30 minutes at 375-degrees. Turn the oven to broil for the last 3-5 minutes to add a char to the dish.

Finally, serve with your favorite rice! The sauce for this dish was delicious and the addition of liquid smoke helped give this dish the authentic flavor. We felt however the dish was missing something.. Final score: 7.5/10. This sauce would pair well with any meat!

(27) Azerbaijan – Khoyagusht

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!


Khinaliq, Azerbaijan the highest village in the Caucasus Mountains. Source: Flickr – Feng Wei

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!

(17) Oman – Omani Shuwa

Greetings from Oman! This old country (one of the oldest inhabited countries in the world dating back over 106,000 years) is home to some of the best ship builders of the world. Oman is also known as one of the more elite Arabian horse breeders. Port Sultan Qaboos (pictured above) is the largest port of Muscat and is the main connection between India and the Far East to Oman.

Port Sultan Qaboos in Muscat. Source: Getty Images The National News

To celebrate one of Oman’s delicacies I made omani shuwa which is a slow cooked lamb dish. As stated in a previous post we are not huge lamb eaters, but I was able to substitute short ribs for lamb shanks. Traditionally, this special occasion meal takes days to prepare. The first day it marinates in Omani spices, then it is wrapped in palm or banana leaves and is places in a sand oven underground slowly cooking for 1-2 days! I was able to follow this recipe for a modified version.

I ended up letting the meat marinade two days and cut slashes in the meat as recommended to allow the flavor to absorb into the meat. Then I slow cooked the ribs in my crockpot for 3ish hours with 1 cup of water and a little extra lime juice. Above is the end result served aside a bed of spinach, turnip fries with middle eastern inspired seasoning, and red peppers for garnish. The meat was so delicious and we loved the punchiness of the lime with the dynamic garlic and ginger duo. Personally we felt the meat choice was a little too fatty, but we would definitely use this marinade and slow cooking method for other cuts of beef or even chicken. We rated this dish 7/10!

Next week we will arrive in Romania for a totally new dish unlike anything I’ve ever had before! Talk to you soon!