This month’s dish is samp and beans, which comes from Zimbabwe, a central African country. Zimbabwe is bordered by two rivers which supply fish to eat and water to grow crops in the summer. Most of the crops and fish are dried to last through the dry winters. Common to every culture is a stew started from dried beans and vegetables – what sets them apart are the spices used to flavor them. This dish uses a unique blend of warm African spices that elevate the dried beans and samp into a hearty stew. Details
This month’s recipes are from Bangladesh and were supplied by Sabita Rakshit, a friend of mine who grew up in the southern region close to the coast. With fish being readily available, she said most meals would include a fish and rice dish accompanied by various daals (lentil stew) and vegetables. Breakfast was usually Luchi aloo dum. Luchi is deep fried flat bread and aloo is potato – basically, thick gravy made with potatoes and some green peas added. Details
A one-pot dish of greens and rice, Babenda is a popular dish in many parts of Burkina Faso. Greens such as kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, or dandelion greens can be used in the dish. In our recipe we are using a mix of swiss chard and spinach, but any of the other greens can be used or a mix of greens can be used as well. Details
This month’s featured dish is Lambi, a spicy conch stew that was once considered the national dish of Haiti. It is made with a pepper and herb blend known as epis, which is a common addition to many Haitian dishes. On the side is pikliz, a spicy, cabbage-based vegetable blend fermented in vinegar. Overfishing has threatened conch fisheries and made it a less suitable choice for consumption, so I tried a few vegetarian alternatives. I made a batch with plant-based faux scallops in place of the conch and one with button mushroom tops in place on the conch. Both were delicious options with sustainable products. Details
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
This month’s featured recipe is a delicious filled pastry from Lebanon called Maamoul. These molded cookies feature a rose and orange blossom water flavored dough filled with date and nut blends. Each cookie is formed by hand and pressed into a mold which is then wacked on a table or counter to release the cookie which now has a beautiful design imprinted from the mold. A Maamoul mold has indentations of various shapes, size, and design. Each design signifies a different filling. Details
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
September’s featured grantee, Edu-Girls, Inc., is located in India, a vast country with so many distinct culinary regions. If I spent the rest of my life cooking only the foods of India, I’d still have a lot to learn about the foods of India. One thing I definitely know is that cooking and eating the flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes of India have a positive impact on my taste buds, my food budget, and my health. Details
Pakistan is the home to this month’s featured grantee, Irqa Fund. Just imagine the culinary possibilities of a country that’s bordered by China, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Wow! From a cooking perspective, the recipe options seem so exciting, so full of creative possibilities. Truthfully, it would be entirely possible for me to go totally overboard. Details
This month we are traveling to Benin (Beh-NEEN). It is just a tiny slip of a country in West Africa. It runs the long way south to north, and it is surrounded by Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. The official language is French; however, many indigenous languages are still spoken.
Peanut- and tomato-based sauces are commonly prepared and served over couscous, rice and beans. Yams are a main staple in the north; meats such as beef and pork are used sparingly. In the south, the most common ingredient used is corn, with fish and chicken being the most commonly consumed meats. Details
We are traveling to Mali this month. I think we were just there! For this month’s Proven Platter recipe, I decided to see what was already on the site, and choose a recipe to put through my testing process. The result is that I’ve revamped and replaced the recipe for West African Peanut Soup (Tigua Dege Ne). Details
The Republic of Chad, located in northern Central Africa, is the subject of our focus and our dining destination this month.
Okra is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables there. It is used both to thicken sauces and as a vegetable used in preparation of soups and stews. I suppose you either love okra or hate it, but as it happens, I love it! And since I’ve yet to post a recipe calling for okra, I think okra’s time in the spotlight has come. Details
This month our culinary journey takes us to India, specifically the Maharashtra state in Western India. I got a little ambitious this month though, and rather than present you with one “proven platter” dish, I constructed an entire thali platter just for you! I had a lot of fun working on this project, and even more fun eating the leftovers for days!
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a mash-up of sweet potatoes, beans, and peanuts that Ugandans call ‘Bufuke’.”
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a Tomato and White Bean Stew, called Togola in Niger. Try it with bread baked in a Dutch oven! Details