IRAQI KURDISTAN

Kurdish Proverb: A zikê birçî tune guhên – A hungry stomach has no ears  

Kurdistan is located in the North of Iraq and was officially formed in 1970 after years of ethnic violence between the Kurdish people and the Arab Iraqi government. Peace did not last and since mid 1970 Kurds have faced continuous attack from the dominant government. Genocides ordered by Saddam Hussein during both the Iran-Iraq war and in 1991 devastated the Kurdish population. Since the death of Saddam Hussein and the withdrawal of US troops, tensions between the Kurds and Arabs have remained. More recently Kurdistan has seen an influx of more than 2 million displaced Iraqi and Syrian refugees fleeing war and settling in the region.

In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 297,082 with access to clean water and  providing women and children with mental health support.

Donate here to support their work: https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

Fasolia and Rice 

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As with many of the dishes from the Middle Eastern region, this dish really reminds me of the food I ate growing up. Kurdistan actually lies in between Iraq and Iran and the food in differs depending on the proximity to those two countries. Iraqi Kurdish food is very similar to the cuisines found in the gulf and this white bean stew is no exception. Dishes are usually served with vermicelli rice and various side salads.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 70g concentrated tomato paste
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin berlotti beans
  • 1 tin butter beans
  • 2 tsps cumin
  • 3 tbls ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 portion vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1/2 cup of vermicelli
  • Salt & pepper

Method

In a pestle and mortar crush garlic with a little salt until smooth. Add crushed garlic to hot 1 tablespoon of hot ghee or oil and cook gently for 1 minute. Once golden add tomato paste and stir then add 3 cups of boiled water. Cook gently for 10 minutes before adding chopped tomatoes, stock and cumin then leave to simmer for 20 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, make rice. Fry vermicelli in one tablespoon of hot ghee or oil until brown then add rice and a pinch of salt. Once the rice has become white cover until a centimetre above with boiling water. Turn down the heat as far as possible, cover and leave to cook for 15 minutes. Once cooked, turn off the heat and leave the lid on –  the steam will keep the rice warm and prevent it from going claggy.

Your sauce should have reduced by now. Add the tinned beans (you can use soaked dried beans of course!) and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Serve with rice and fresh chopped parsley. I also had some pickled chillis and fresh radish on the side which is great!

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Enjoy!

Remember to donate to Action Against Hunger by following this link:  https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

 

SPAIN

Spanish Proverb: Al hambre de siete dias, no hay pan duro – For a good appetite there is no hard bread

Action Against Hunger operates from 5 host countries; one of which is Spain. The charity works to tackle child malnutrition and provide access to safe water.

Donate here to support their work: https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

Baked Cod with Chickpeas and Saffron 

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Like all countries Spain’s cuisine differs greatly from region to region. Arabic influence is particularly prevalent in the south of the country with ingredients such as saffron and chickpeas brought over in the middle ages.

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 2 fillets of cod (or any other sustainably sourced firm white fish)
  • 3 handfuls of baby plum tomatoes
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 shallots
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Start by finely slicing shallots and adding to a pan with oil, cook till caramelised. Add sliced garlic, fresh rosemary and the baby plum tomatoes and cook down.
  2. Soak a pinch of saffron in hot water with a tiny bit of chicken stock.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, chickpeas, sugar and seasoning to the pan and cook down before adding the saffron stock.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly and tastes good – add more seasoning if it needs it.
  5. Pour a little sauce into the bottom of an oven proof dish followed by the fish fillets and the rest of the sauce.
  6. Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes and serve with salad and warm bread.

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Enjoy!

Remember to donate to Action Against Hunger by following this link:  https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

PAKISTAN

Pakistani Proverb: بھوکے کو سوکھی بھی چپڑی کے برابر – Nothing comes amiss to a hungry man

Alongside continuing internal conflict and political instability, Pakistan suffers frequently from natural disasters which affect vast numbers of it’s huge 199 million strong population.

In 2010 monsoon flooding led to 20 million people needing immediate humanitarian assistance. The affect of this and subsequent monsoons are ongoing. According to the World Food Programme almost 40% of Pakistanis live below the poverty line and spend more than 60% of their income on food.

In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 728,150 people through their food security, nutrition and water sanitation programmes.

Donate here to support their work: https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

Nihari

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As with most country cuisines, Pakistani food differs from region to region. Often mistaken for Indian cuisine which features far less (or no) meat than it’s northern neighbour, Pakistani food is arguably among the most popular in the world. Rich, spicy and aromatic influenced by South Asian, Central Asian and Middle Eastern flavours, there’s hardly any chance that your mouth won’t start watering at the thought of an aloo gosht, korma or biriyani. The Pakistani love of meat and external influences of the cuisine are particularity recognisable in the national dish of rich slow cooked beef curry, Nihari.

The word Nihari comes from the Arabic ‘Nahar’ meaning day – and this dish is named so because traditionally the curry is made with beef shanks, slowly cooked all night and ready to eat at breakfast following the dawn prayers the next day (or Nahar). Nowadays Nihari is enjoyed at all times of day, though the best most deeply flavoursome variations are of course the ones left to cook for long periods of time.

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Ingredients 

Serves 4

  • 500g beef brisket (This is what I had but it would be even more delicious with short ribs or shanks)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large piece of ginger
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of each of the following: coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of fenugreek powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 3 teaspoons of chilli powder (or how ever hot you like it!)
  • 3 tablespoons of ghee
  • 2 cups of basmati rice

Method

Start by heating a pan up and toasting the whole spices until fragrant. Remove from heat and pound into a powder in a pestle and mortar, mixing in the other powder spices.

In a mini chopper blitz the onion, and add to a large pan with warm ghee and half a teaspoon of salt on a low heat. In the same chopper puree the ginger and garlic. When the onion has softened but not browned add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes taking care not to let the garlic colour.

When the pot starts smelling good add the meat and brown on all sides then add the tomato paste and ground spices and keep frying on a low heat until the spices become fragrant.

Pour in water until just above the meat and add the chopped stalks of a whole bunch of coriander. Cover and cook on a very low heat for at least 5 hours or until the meat is tender and falling apart. The sauce will reduce quite a bit – if it reduces too much just add a little more water. Right towards the end add three quarters of the bunch of coriander leaves.

To make perfect rice every time follow this method:

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add rice making sure that you have boiled water already prepared. Fry the uncooked rice until white and then pour boiling water up to a centimetre above. Place a lid on for 10 minutes and turn right down- when you remove the lid the rice should be perfectly cooked and lovely and fluffy!

Top with fresh coriander and ginger and serve with cucumber raita and a tomato salad.

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Enjoy!

Remember to donate to Action Against Hunger by following this link:  https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

Below is a list of the countries whose national dishes I will attempt to create in order to raise money for Action Against Hunger. Keep checking back – for every country that I complete I’ll cross it off the list and add a new blog post!

World-food

Africa

Burkina Faso

Central African Republic

Chad

Cote D’Ivore

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Djibouti

Ethiopia

Guinea

Kenya

Liberia

Madagascar

Mali

Mauritania

Niger

Nigeria

Senegal

Sierra Leone

Somalia

South Sudan

Uganda

Zimbabwe

Asia

Afghanistan

Bangladesh

Cambodia

India

Indonesia

Myanmar

Mongolia

Nepal

Pakistan

Philippines

Europe & Middle East

Georgia

Iraqi Kurdistan

Jordan

Lebanon

Palestine

Syria

Yemen

North & South America

Bolivia

Colombia

Guatemala

Haiti

Peru

Action Against Hunger Host Countries

Canada

France

Spain

UK

USA

Hello World!

I’ve decided to undertake a personal fundraising project for Action Against Hunger – a humanitarian organisation committed to ending child hunger: to do this I will attempt to cook the national dishes of the 47 countries currently supported by the charity.

WHAT

795 million people in the world to not have access to enough food to lead a healthy life. That is 1 in 9 people in the world that suffer from malnutrition. The UN World Hunger Programme says; “There is enough food in the world to feed everyone and no scientific breakthroughs are needed. Today’s knowledge, tools and policies, combined with political will, can solve the problem.”  https://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats

WHY

Those of you who know me, know how much I love to cook. I literally cook ALL the time. I’ve been thinking for a while now of ways that I can make my hobby into something more. I, like so many, (particularly living in London) have almost unrestricted access to pretty much all of the world’s ingredients and produce that you can imagine. I came up with idea that since I’m already always challenging myself to cook different cuisines I could carry on doing that while raising money for charity.

Through this project I hope to raise at least £1000 to support the recipients of the charitable activities of Action Against Hunger alongside campaigning to eradicate world hunger. Find out where the money goes here: http://www.actionagainsthunger.org.uk/who-are-we/how-we-spend-your-money.

HOW

So I plan to do this in two and a half ways:

1. For every national dish/es that I cook from the list I will donate 30% of the cost of the ingredients through this fundrasing page. This will include all practice gos at the dish.

2. I will invite people to my  home to come and eat these dishes! For every person that comes to eat I will ask that they make a minimum donation of £10 towards my fundraiser.

2 1/2. For those who can’t come and eat or if you just like the look of my food, donate anyway!

https://www.justgiving.com/Sophia-Vassie

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