Vinola Vincent Munyon, Recipe Co-Curator
4
Oct

The Proven Platter—Nepal, November 2021

Momos are quintessentially Nepalese. These flavor-packed, bite-sized dumplings are so popular that they are sold by street food vendors and also feature prominently on menus of upscale restaurants in Nepal. Eaten as a snack, an appetizer, or made a complete meal of along with soup, momos are versatile. Traditionally, momos, like their cousin the gyoza, are steamed and consist of a flour-based wrapper with a minced meat filling that is spiced with aromatics. Chicken, goat, and buffalo meat are most commonly used fillings, however, modern takes on this traditional favorite also use vegetables, greens, and occasionally cheese. Details

9
Aug

The Proven Platter—Sierra Leone, September 2021

Jollof rice is to West African cuisine what barbeque is to the Southern states of the United States of America. Much like the never-ending food wars over Texas barbeque versus Carolina or Kansas barbeque there is much spirited debate and light-hearted cooking wars over Ghanaian Jollof versus Nigerian Jollof versus Sierra Leonean. Jollof is quintessentially West African and a dish that is a great one pot meal of sorts: vegetables, grain, and protein all in one dish (“of sorts” as it definitely takes more than one pot to make but comes together as one dish!). Thus, Jollof seemed like the natural choice to feature for Sierra Leone. Details

3
Jun

The Proven Platter – Cameroon, July 2021

The cuisine of Cameroon has the distinction of being some of the more diverse of the cuisines in the continent. Partly due to the location, at the junction of Western, Northern and Central Africa, and partly due colonial influences from being a German, French, and British colony. July’s featured grantee, Global Pearls, Inc., created recipes for three dishes that showcase the variety in the cuisine. Though the recipes were created by Global Pearls, these are Cameroonian dishes made with locally available ingredients. Details

13
Apr

The Proven Platter—Uganda, May 2021

The food of Uganda melds the food of its forefathers with the food of its colonizers and immigrants to make for an interesting mash-up. Mandazi, the Ugandan doughnut, is an excellent example of this. A popular snack that sometimes stands in for breakfast, this puffy, soft, pillowy, fried dough is nothing like the doughnuts those in the USA are familiar with. They are mildly sweet and never glazed. The flavors of Mandazi have a whiff of Indian and Arabic influences with the addition of cardamom and coconut. Freshly ground cardamom is the key to get that fragrant taste of the spice, but feel free to use the pre-ground variety if that is what is readily available. Some recipes use coconut milk while others use whole milk while still others use a combination of evaporated milk and oil. I’m using whole milk, but I imagine coconut milk will bring the coconut flavor to the forefront. This recipe makes enough for a crowd (about 20 doughnuts) but you might discover that given how tasty and light they feel, it might just be enough for a “crowd” of two! Details

11
Mar

The Proven Platter – April 2021, India

The joke goes that an astronaut getting out of the space shuttle and setting foot on the newly discovered planet gets greeted with chai and samosa by the friendly Indian chaiwallah (tea shopkeeper) who wonders what took the rest of humanity so long to get there. As with most jokes, there’s a kernel of truth there. Setting aside fast-food chains of the kind that offer pizzas or burgers, Indian cuisine is one of the few cuisines that are available no matter which part of the globe you travel to (or universe, apparently). Details

5
Oct

The Proven Platter – Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

The National dish of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Poulet à la Moambé (variously spelled as mwambe or nyembwe) is a rich, hearty chicken stew that seems like the perfect dish for a cold winter night.  While the dish has influences of French cooking techniques in the manner in which it is prepared, it is entirely Central African in the ingredients and flavors used. Details


The Proven Platter – Cambodia, September 2020

Cambodian cuisine, also known as Khmer cuisine, often gets conflated with Thai or Vietnamese cuisine. While it does share similarities with the cuisine of its neighbors, the flavors are different. If one had to choose two ingredients that were definitive of Cambodian cuisine, they would be rice and fish. Rice is so integral to the concept of a meal that the phrase “Niam Bay” which means “eating” actually literally translates to “eating rice” and Cambodians are known to greet one another with “Nyam bai howie nov?”  which translates to “Have you eaten rice yet?” Our Cambodian recipe today is Chha Trob (grilled eggplant with stir fried pork) to be served with rice. Details

3
Jun

The Proven Platter—Liberia, July 2020

The cuisine of Liberia is an interesting mix of West African Coastal cuisine and Creole, a combination that is a reflection of its location and its history. Peppers are aplenty and the food, like the air, is filled with heat. Liberian cuisine is unique among other West African cuisine in the preponderance of baked goods. Baking as a technique is traced back to the freed slaves and freeborn Blacks who moved from the Southern States of the USA. A lot of these baked goods have similarities to baked goods we are familiar with in the USA but with some interesting twists. Pineapple Walnut Bread is one such. A lot like banana bread but less sweet and eaten more as a breakfast bread, with a pat of butter. It uses ingredients that are easy to come by in any kitchen which is essential in these times when we are relying on pantry supplies for cooking. In my research about Liberia, its customs and cuisines I came across Anthony Bourdain’s travels to the country and would highly recommend watching the episode (No Reservations: Liberia, Season 6, Episode 14) with a slice of pineapple walnut bread. Details

8
Apr

The Proven Platter – Nepal, May 2020

Fun fact: a large number of small Indian restaurants in the United States of America are actually run by Nepali immigrant chefs. Several serve Indian food along with (if one were to look at the fine print on the menu) some dishes that are of Nepali or Himalayan origin. But, repeat after me and loudly: Nepali cuisine is not Indian cuisine (our Nepali friends will appreciate us remembering this). Nepal, through its geographical and historical association with India and Tibet, has influences of both in its cuisine. However, the flavor profile is different. Nepali dishes use fewer spices and aromatics and less heat. Also, Nepali cuisine has a preponderance of vegetarian dishes. Second fun fact: “vegetarian” in Nepal can mean different things. It could mean “not meat and eggs” (dairy products such as milk and cheese are consumed, however) but it could also mean “not beef” (but include poultry and mutton). The latter is tied to the sanctity of cows in the Hindu faith.   Details

9
Mar

The Proven Platter – Uganda, April 2020

A recurring theme I find as I research cuisine from different parts of the world is one of interconnectedness and of the different ways in which we are similar. The history of human settlement is a story of migration, a movement not just of people, but also of their food, culture, and customs. It is a story of assimilation and amalgamation and nowhere is this more evident than in the food we eat. Details

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