INDIA

Happy Diwali!

अंधेरे पर प्रकाश की विजय – The triumph of light over dark

As the second most populated country in the world, India has the largest number of children suffering from malnutrition than any other country in the world (8 million).

India has had spates of internal ethnic tensions, during and since British colonial rule. Today, despite being the worlds largest democracy there is widespread corruption and poverty.

In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 49,867 people by working with local health authorities to provide access to acutely malnourished children.

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

Samosa – Pakora – Gobi – Chaat

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Diwali, the Festival of Light observed by Hindus, Sikh and Jains, commemorates the triumph of light over dark, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance. People celebrate by putting thousands of lights around their homes, release sky lanterns, set off fireworks and feast with friends and family.

Not too many words today, just light!

For lots more amazing Indian recipes: Veg Recipes of India

Ingredients and Methods

Samosa

  • 1 packet of spring roll pastry – From any Asian shop or make your own for a flaky pastry version
  • 3 potatoes
  • 2 carrot
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 5 birds eye chilli
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) – From any Asian shop or just use vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons of fenugreek powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoons of celery salt
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Boil potatoes until just cooked then crush – Don’t mash till smooth, you want texture!
  2. Cut carrots into small cubes and cook so that they still have a little bite, towards the end add peas then drain and mix with the potato.
  3. Dice onion and chilli very finely and add to a pan with ghee.
  4. In a hot dry pan toast cumin, coriander, mustard and poppy seeds until fragrant. Remove from heat then pound in a pestle and mortar.
  5. Add the pounded spices along with the extra garam masala, turmeric and fenugreek to the pan with the onion.
  6. Once sweated down add the onions and spices to the potato and mix well and leave to cool completely – If you can leave it over night for the flavour to develop
  7. Fold your samosas – Use this tutorial on how to fold a samosa It’s what I used! 
  8. When you’ve finished folding fry in hot oil until golden. Serve with tamarind sauce or coriander raita.

Coriander Raita

  • Half a bunch of coriander
  • 2 green chillis
  • 1 medium knob of ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 500g of plain yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  1. In a mini chopper blend everything except the yoghut.
  2. Add everything to the yoghurt and mix well.

Onion Pakora

  • 1 white onions
  • Half a cup of milk
  • 3 red chillis
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped ginger
  • Half a cup of gram flour – Made from chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Slice onions and add to milk – This helps to remove acidity from the onions and makes them sweet when cooked
  2. In a separate bowl mix gram powder with sliced chilli and ginger, garam masala, whole coriander seeds and celery salt, then make a batter by adding water.
  3. Once the onions have soaked in the milk for about an hour, remove and add to the batter.
  4. Fry in hot oil until golden. Serve with coriander raita!

Pan Roasted Chaat

I only made this dish because I had half a tin of chickpeas left over – it’s a recipe from my head, I can’t claim any authenticity!

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  • Half a tin of chickpeas
  • 4 green chilli
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli flakes
  • Sea salt
  1. Heat a pan without adding oil.
  2. Add all the ingredients above until fragrant then remove from the pan and sprinkle with sea salt.

Fried Gobi

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 2 eggs
  • Half a cup of gram flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Tandoori spice mix
  • 1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of celery salt
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Chop the cauliflower into little florets.
  2. In a bowl mix all the ingredients apart from the oil and eggs. Coat the the cauliflower with the flour mixture.
  3. Heat vegetable oil.
  4. Dip the coated cauliflower in the egg and then back into the flour then deep fry.
  5. Serve with… tamarind sauce or coriander raita!

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

Enjoy!

NIGERIA

Nigerian Proverb: Fine words do not produce food

With over 170 million people, Nigeria is the post populated country in Africa – that’s nearly 2.5% of the world’s population. It is estimated that there are up to 500 ethnic groups in Nigeria, with the three main groups being Igbo, Hausa and Yuroba.

From the late 1960’s to 2000 Nigeria saw a number of civil wars and military coups, greatly affecting security and economy in the country. Now the economy is one of the fastest emerging in the world and GDP is ranked 30th in the world. Since 2000, Nigerians have taken part in democratic elections with the March 2015 election largely hailed as the fairest yet.

For over a decade terrorist group Boko Haram have been operating in Nigeria killing over 12,000 people, and committing large scale atrocities; including the mass kidnapping of 276 school girls  in 2014. Despite Nigeria having the second largest economy in Africa, malnutrition and poverty are strife. Action Against Hunger estimates that 1 in 4 Nigerian children suffer from acute malnutrition.

In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 2,807,302 people through their Child Development Grant Programme.

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

Jollof Rice

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Jollof rice is probably the epitome of West African cuisine. Both Nigeria and Ghana claim it as their own and variations are found throughout the region. The name Jollof originally comes from the Wollof people of Senegal, whose version of this dish is known as Ceebu Jen (see my blog post on Senegal!), the dish spread throughout with travelling tribes and quickly secured it’s place as a favourite across the region.

Jollof rice is the ultimate party food – big, hearty sharing food. Here’s my version:

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 4 cups of Egyptian rice (or any short grain rice)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 3 scotch bonnets
  • 2 Maggi stockcubes
  • 4 tablespoons of palm oil

Method

  1. Blitz a whole onion, a couple of small carrots, scotch bonnets (as many as you like) and garlic in a mini chopper.
  2. Add the chicken to hot palm to brown then remove and add the onion, chilli, carrot and garlic mixture. Turn the heat right down to sweat.
  3. Once softened add tomato puree and cook slightly then add rice and cook for five minutes to ten minutes or once the grains become white.
  4. Return the chicken to the pan.
  5. Add chopped tomatoes and mix thoroughly. Crumble in 4 small cubes of maggi – seriously don’t skimp it’s traditional!
  6. Once mixed through top with boiled water to just above the rice and chicken.
  7. Simmer until chicken has cooked through and the rice has a little bite.
  8. Serve with extra hot sauce!

Enjoy!

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

PALESTINE

Palestinian Proverb: الجاهل عدو نفسه – The ignorant is his own enemy

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of news about increasing violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Unfortunately this is not ‘new’ news. For this post I have chosen to concentrate on one issue which places great restrictions on the freedom and development of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).

al- Khalil, or Hebron is the second largest city in the oPt and is home to more than 250,000 Palestinians. There are also over 500 illegal settlers, many of whom have come from America. Upwards of 1000 IDF soldiers are stationed to protect these settlers and impose curfews and strict restrictions on Palestinian movement. Hebron is divided into two territories, H1 which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and H2 which is under Israeli control. The Palestinian population in the area of Hebron which falls under H2 has been greatly reduced by the imposition of restrictions and IDF presence as well as settler harassment.

Frequent assaults on Palestinians by the settlers include throwing stones, eggs and glass, as well as verbal and increasingly violent attacks. The complacency, and often involvement of the IDF, who mostly ignore incidents of aggression towards Palestinians and international aid workers has come under great scrutiny, yet perpetrators are rarely apprehended for their actions. In most cases, it is the victims of the attacks who face the repercussions. Settlers in Hebron are more and more frequently entering Palestinian homes and refusing to leave, relying on the protection of the IDF to facilitate their illegal actions.

As the Israeli government continues to pose trade restrictions on the Palestinians, huge numbers of the population rely on foreign aid to survive. In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 543,468 people by providing support to local farmers and traders.

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

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The Wall

Three years ago I spent three months living and working in a part of East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah. I was lucky enough to make many friends and had the opportunity to travel. Here is one of the memories I wrote down while I was there:

In Bethlehem I met Yusef; an Arabic teacher and taxi driver. His wife, a teacher of Arabic and Islamic religion, also had two jobs alongside being ‘the greatest cook in the world’. Yusef offered to take us to the Shepherd’s Field – on learning that I speak Arabic and have a cousin called Yusef, he quickly refused any payment for the lift.

After a short drive we stopped at the gate to the Shepherd’s Field. Yusef explained that he would have to wait outside as he was not an official tour guide and would likely get in trouble with the police. I asked him if he couldn’t just walk with us as a friend; we had not expected him to act as a guide, but he was adamant that he could not enter. Luckily, a group sat outside a café opposite the gates informed us that the police had packed up for the day. And so he came with us and as we walked together down the path to the ancient church Yusef began telling us a story;

‘A friend of mine in al-Khalil (Hebron) has a small house with a tiny shop attached to it. The house has only two rooms and is poorly maintained with bad electricity and water supplies, and no access to rubbish collection. This house is very close to the Ibrahimi Mosque [which is known in Judaism as the Cave of Patriarchy]. One day a Jewish settler came and knocked on my friend’s door. He says to my friend, “I will pay you $60,000 for your house.” Of course my friend refused, his house has been in his family for many generations and even though it is very modest, he feels lucky to have been able to hold on to it for this long. A few weeks pass and the settler returns. He asks my friend again if he can buy his home, but this time he offers $200,000. Of course my friend refuses even though this money would help him and his family greatly. Months pass and the settler returns for a third time, this time he has a contract with him. He says to my friend, “I will give you $1.6 million for this house, with this money you can go to America and start a new, better life with your family.” My friend looks at the settler and at the contract and at his tiny house surrounded by rubbish in the street. He turns to the settler and says, “Brother, why do you want to pay this money for my home?” The settler with tears in his eyes replies, “because this home is close to the Cave of Patriarchs and Abraham is my grandfather.” A few minutes pass and my friend hands back the contract to the settler and once again refuses his offer. The settler surprised, asks my friend “will you not take this opportunity to provide for your family?” My friend picks up a stone outside his home and shows it to the settler, “I would not accept this money for one stone that makes my home.” The settler asks why, and my friend smiling replies, “because Ibrahim is my grandfather too.”’

Before we left, Yusef happily told me that the previous day (Friday during Ramadan) he had been able to pray at al-Aqsa. For the first time in five years he had been allowed to cross the checkpoint into East Jerusalem. As I left to get the bus back I felt the shadow of the Wall follow me, knowing that Yusef would never be sure when his next visit to the Mosque would be.

Kunafa Nabulsi

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Kunafa is a traditional Arabic dessert found across North Africa and the Levant. Made with filo pastry and a smattering of pistachios and rose water, it vaguely resembles another Arabic/Turkish favourite – baklava. It is said that that the idea of Kunafa was originally brought to the region by the Ottomans. Palestinians in the city of Nablus added cheese between the layers of pastry and created what is now an internationally recognised and loved dessert.

Ingredients

Serves 10

  • 1 pack of Kunafa pastry – buy this from any middle eastern shop
  • 250g Ghee or butter
  • 250g Mascarpone
  • 300g mixed nuts and sultanas
  • 100g Dessicated coconut
  • 50g Pistachio
  • A sprinkle of rose petals
  • Water
  • 2 tbls Rosewater
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 250g Sugar

Method

  1. Make a syrup by adding sugar and a cup of water to a pan. Bring to the boil without stirring. When the sugar has dissolved squeeze in the juice of one lemon and add rose water. Take down to a simmer, never stirring, until the syrup has become thick and shiny.
  2. Set the syrup aside to cool.
  3. In a bowl toss the kunafa pastry in ghee or melted butter until covered – Kunafa pastry is just shredded filo pastry!
  4. Layer the kunafa pastry in a pan and pack down tightly.
  5. Add a layer of mascarpone and top with crushed nuts, dessicated coconut and sutanas then add a second layer of kunafa and pack down tightly.
  6. Place in a hot oven and cook until golden.
  7. Remove from oven and pour over syrup immediately.
  8. Leave to cool – when cooled tip upside down and sprinkle crushed pistachios and rose petals.
  9. Serve with fresh mint tea!

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

Enjoy!

MYANMAR

Burmese Proverb: t utaee nham aamyoe a nwalko raynan lote mai mahote – One sesame seed won’t make oil

For almost half a century Myanmar, formally known as Burma, had been almost totally isolated from the rest of the world. In 2011 the military junta which had been controlling Myanmar for 49 years was dismantled and an ambitious governmental reform strategy has been in motion ever since. Myanmar is geographically the largest country in mainland South East Asia and has one of the most diversely ethnic (over 130 ethnic groups) and religious populations in the region. This diversity has been a critical factor for the long running local sectarian conflicts within the country, notably in the state of Rakhine between the Muslim minority, who are classed as stateless with no voting rights, and the hard-line Buddhists.

Despite having vast natural resources Myanmar ranks 149 out of 187 in the 2012 UNDP Human Development Index making it one of the least developed countries in the world. The World Food Programme indicates that 35% of children under five have stunted growth and malnutrition due to extremely poor access to food and a virtually non existent health system.

Since 2014 Action Against Hunger has helped 66,086 people by working towards improving access to treatment for acute malnutrition.

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

Mohinga with Baya Kyaw

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This dish will be the 8th that I have made for my fundraising challenge. I started this challenge thinking that I knew quite a lot about food, and was looking forward to learning a lot more about it and celebrate the beauty that it represents for different cultures around the world. After only 8 countries and with 39 more to go, I’ve already learnt so much that I didn’t know before. I’ve learnt that you can count on two hands the ingredients found in pretty much every cuisine in the world. I’ve learnt that the most delicious food a country can offer, so delicious that it becomes a national dish, can be made up of such a small amount of ingredients cooked in a certain way on opposite sides of the world, to make it recognisably a country’s own.

For the majority of the countries on this list most of the food that is consumed is grown by subsistence farming on peoples own land. In the UK we shop in supermarkets which present us with huge amounts of food that could never be eaten quickly enough. We buy vegetables which come packaged in bulk and use a fraction of what we’ve bought before getting bored, forgetting about it an moving on to something else. It’s not such a bad thing getting bored of eating the same thing more than once, especially when there is so much on offer. But we can eat lots of different things and still use the same ingredients as these national dishes show!

Over the last year I have been working on a separate blog idea called Left Over Lunches – I try to create lots of different dishes with the same ingredients to minimise on food waste. Thankfully I haven’t had to try hard to keep that up for this challenge as I have been able to easily reuse ingredients from dish to dish.

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Mohinga, traditionally served at breakfast, but routinely eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack times is the epitome of  an all day breakfast, and is widely acknowledged as the Myanmar’s national dish. As with many other national dishes, there are many regional adaptations of this well loved dish – soupier versions found in the south and more liberal use of fish sauce in the North. Aside from the regional differences, the composition of the dish means that there is a huge scope for creativity particularly with garnish so after creating the base flavour you can pretty much add or take out anything you like.

Unlike the cuisine of it’s neighbours India and Thailand, Burmese food is still relatively unknown in comparison. In fact the food of Myanmar can be described as a delicate union of the two, and this soup is a showcase of this. Indian style Lentil fritters are served alongside a beautiful fragrant lemongrassy soup to add density and protein to the dish. I love coriander and ginger so I added lots of those and I kept out the commonly used ground rice and gram flour as I prefer a broth over a thick soup.

Although the ingredient list for this is quite big, if you love Asian food like me then most of the ingredients are store cupboard staples that you can use again and again.

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Mohinga with Baya Kyaw

Fish Noodle Soup with Yellow Split Pea Fritters

Serves 4

Ingredients

Mohinga

  • 2 fillets of river cobbler/catfish – sustainable and authentic!
  • 70g prawns – I had some that needed using
  • 10g dried shrimps
  • 1 knob of fresh turmeric
  • 2 sticks of lemongrass
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 knobs of galangal or ginger or even better both
  • 1 pack of rice noodles
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 shallots
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander – stalks included
  • 6 fresh chillis – reduce/increase with preference
  • 50g palm sugar
  • 2 limes
  • 1 portion fish stock
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Sesame oil
  • Vegetable oil

Baya Kyaw

  • 100g soaked yellow split pea lentils
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander
  • 4 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 knob of ginger
  • 1 tbls dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 egg
  • 150g gram Flour
  • Salt

Garnish

  • 4 hard boiled eggs
  • 20g monkey nuts
  • 1 tbls dried chilli flakes
  • 5g fried shrimp
  • 10g sugar
  • 5 shallots
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 50g gram flour
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 spring onions
  • 3 fresh chilli
  • Handful fresh coriander
  • 1/2 knob fresh ginger
  • 1 lime

Method

  1. Start by making a simple paste of dried turmeric, sesame oil and lime juice – smear onto the fish and leave to marinate in the fridge.
  2. Slice shallots into rings and cover with milk – This helps to bring out the natural sweetness and cancel out the acid you get with onions.
  3. Move onto the soup base – e ther in a pestle and mortar or a mini chopper make a paste out of shallots, ginger, galangal, fresh turmeric, garlic, coriander stalks, fresh chilli, sugar and lime juice. – You’ve got to be really careful with the fresh turmeric, I’ve completely stained my fingers!
  4. In a heavy bottom saucepan add a stick of lemongrass broken in half to hot oil and cook gently until fragrance is released. Add the paste and cook on a medium heat making sure not to burn. Once heated add a quarter cup of water and simmer gently.
  5. Gently poach the fish in the liquid until just cooked then remove from pot and set aside. To the pot add dried shrimps, fish stock, lime juice and fish sauce. Turn the heat right down and leave to simmer for at least an hour.
  6. While this is simmering you can make the lentil fritters – blitz the soaked lentils with a very generous handful of coriander (with stalks), shallots, ginger and garlic. Transfer to the bowl, season and add gram flour and egg. Form into bowls and put in the fridge to chill.
  7. Next heat a pan with no oil and dry roast shelled monkey nuts with dried shrimp dried chilli flakes. Once roasted season with sugar and rock salt.
  8. Take your shallots that have been soaking in milk and drain. Add gram flour to a bowl and season.
  9. Coat your shallot rings in gram flour then deep fry. Rest on kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
  10. Prepare the rest of your garnish by chopping everything and laying on a plate with the halved hard boiled eggs, peanuts, crispy shallot rings for people to pick and mix.
  11. In bowls add uncooked rice noodles and a selection of all the garnishes. – The noodles will cook when the soup is spooned over them.
  12. Bring your lentil balls out of the fridge, roll in the gram flour you used for the shallot rings then deep fry. Once cooked rest on kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
  13. While your fritters are frying, return your fish to the broth and add whatever other seafood you have to use up.
  14. Once the fritters have cooked, spoon hot broth over the rice noodles immediately. Add extra of what ever you like the most to your bowl!

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

Enjoy!

WORLD FOOD DAY 2015

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Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty

This is a special post because today is World Food Day. Established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation UN (FAO) in 1979, World Food Day is held every year on the 16th October the anniversary of date of the founding of the FAO in 1945. This year FAO is celebrating it’s 70th birthday and the UN Secretary General and others are hosting a ceremony at Expo Milano 2015. Every year a different theme is chosen for World Food Day; this year the theme for World Food Day 2015, is “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”. Member countries will discuss initiatives to develop sustainability in agriculture to work towards eradicating hunger and poverty.

The World Health Organisation says ‘Empowering women farmers could reduce hunger by about 150 million people’.

The objectives of World Food Day are to:

  • encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;
  • encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;
  • encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;
  • heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;
  • promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and
  • strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

Risotto alla Milanese

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Rice is the third most cultivated agricultural crop in the word and the most important staple grain. As is the staple food for more than 50% of the world’s population. It provides more than one fifth of the calorie intake for humans worldwide and 20% of daily dietary energy. Although rice is grown across the world, 95% of rice produced for export is produced by smallholding subsistence farms in developing countries with Asia collectively responsible for 87% of global rice production. Post harvest losses due to poor infrastructure such as poor roads and storage facilities, has contributed to farmers loosing notable amounts of income and raising concerns relating to food security.

I’ve chosen to make a recipe from the host city for this year’s FAO ceremony so as not to detract the importance of any of the individual countries on the list.

Legend goes that a young Milanese stained glass window artist sprinkled saffron into the risotto at the wedding of his master’s daughter, the risotto became golden yellow and was instantly a timeless hit. In fact risotto with saffron was first described in writing during the first decade of the 1800s but officially established as ‘Risotto alla Milanese’ by celebrated Milanese chef Felice Lurasci in his 1829 book ‘Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico’. Many associate the addition of saffron and it’s golden hue as a symbol of the wealth of Milan; not only is the yellow reminiscent of the precious metal but because saffron is pound for pound actually more expensive than gold. The best thing is that this recipe is such a good excuse to use the saffron I was so kindly donated by Mojgan all the way from Iran!

Ingredients

Risotto alla Milanese

  • Carnaroli rice
  • Saffron
  • Onion
  • Thyme
  • Beef stock
  • Butter
  • Parmesan
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  1. Soak saffron in a bowl of boiling water. In another bowl prepare stock ready to make your risotto.
  2. For the parmesan crisps, grate parmsan and press down in circles onto baking paper. Place in hot oven and bake until golden the remove and let cool.
  3. Add very finely chopped onion to a pan with melted butter and fresh thyme. Cook slowly till translucent – make sure not to let the onion go brown.
  4. Once softened, add the rice, season with salt & pepper and stir for a few minutes.
  5. Add stock and saffron intermittently to the pan slowly and continuously while stirring the whole time until the risotto is a silky consistency but the rice still has a little bite.
  6. Serve with paremsan crips, fresh thyme and cracked black pepper.

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Enjoy!

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

COTE D’IVOIRE

Ivorian Proverb: Deux saveurs confondent le palais – Two flavours confuse the palate

Following its independence from France in 1960, Cote D’Ivoire experienced some years of relative political stability and economic prosperity under Felix Houphouët-Boigny. During his rule, as well as being a forerunner in rubber, cashew nuts and palm oil production, the country became the world leader of cocoa export which it remains today. In 1999, some years after Houphouët-Boigny’s death, a military coup took place and in 2002, then again in 2010 the country was in civil war. Now at least 40% of the population of Cote D’Ivoire live below the poverty line.

Action Against Hunger’s main focus in Cote D’Ivoire is treating malnourished children. In 2014 the charity helped 1,937 people.

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

Cocoa

At least 60% of the export revenue in Cote D’Ivoir comes from the cocoa bean industry. Alongside other West African countries including Ghana it supplies almost two thirds of the world’s cocoa beans for chocolate production. In addition to Ivorian children sent by parents to contribute to the family income, it is estimated that nearly 2 million children from neighbouring countries have been trafficked, or kidnapped, into slavery to labour on cocoa farms. These children work more than 100 hours a week and receive no wage, no schooling, are regularly beaten and are extremely malnourished.

It is so so important to check your chocolate is Fairtrade to ensure that you are not contributing to the continuation of child slavery; please follow this link to find out which chocolate manufactures commit to Fairtrade: http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/buying-fairtrade/chocolate

You can also engage in activism by signing this petition calling for an end to child slavery:
Campaign to End Child Slavery in Cocoa Production

Dark Chocolate Tart with Pineapple and Ginger Frozen Yoghurt

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It’s UK Chocolate Week this week and as Cote D’Ivoire is the leading producer of cocoa, I’ve decided to do a chocolate recipe instead of a national dish. Actually it’s so far removed from being a national dish that I’ve even contradicted the proverb! Still the main ingredients are all products of Cote D’Ivoire.

Despite producing the most cocoa in the world Ivorians don’t eat chocolate! Instead the cocoa beans are farmed exclusively for export to be made into chocolate and consumed by people in the West. Cote D’Ivoire used to also be a leader in pineapple export but trade decreased following the 2002 Civil War. Pineapples are still enjoyed widely in Cote D’Ivoire and are eat fresh alongside mangoes and melon in fruit salad. Ginger was introduced to West Africa by the Portuguese in the mid 1500s and is used extensively in food and drinks.

I am personally not a huge fan of chocolate – I can cope with dark chocolate on special occasions but I didn’t really know much about the production or origins. Recently at work I took a group of people to attend a fantastic chocolate tasting workshop at the Chocolate Museum in Brixton. Until then, I hadn’t been aware that Cote D’Ivoire was the primary source of cocoa, or of the extent of child labour that goes in to making something that we all know and consume. Although I rarely buy chocolate I have been inspired by what I’ve learnt to rigorously check for Fairtrade approved products.

Ingredients

Dark Chocolate Tart

  • Shortcrust pastry
  • Double cream
  • 70% Fairtrade chocolate
  • Rice

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Pineapple and Ginger Frozen Yoghurt

  • Pineapple
  • Ginger
  • Lime juice
  • Sugar
  • Greek Yoghurt
  • Teeny bit of double cream

Method

Dark Chocolate Tart

  1. Roll out the shortcrust pastry and fit into greased tart cases.
  2. Place baking paper on top of the pastry and put uncooked rice on top to blind bake.
  3. Bake in a hot oven checking after 10-15 minutes till the edges are golden. Remove from oven and dispose of the rice and paper then put back in the oven to bake the middle. When golden throughout take out and set aside to cool.
  4. Fill a saucepan with boiling water and put a glass mixing bowl on top. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.
  5. Break chocolate into the bowl, when it begins to melt add double cream and stir until it’s all mixed through and shiny and smooth.
  6. Immediately spoon the chocolate into the cooled tart cases and leave the chocolate to set for at least three hours.
  7. To serve garnish with grated chocolate, lime zest or shredded ginger.

Pineapple and Ginger Frozen Yoghurt

  1. Prepare a fresh pineapple by cutting off the top and bottom, cutting in quarters then removing the core and skin.
  2. Chop the fruit into rough squares and add to a saucepan with plenty of sugar, lime juice and splash of water. Cook until the pineapple becomes syrupy and delicious. Take off the heat and blitz in a blender with a generous knob of fresh ginger.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and put in the fridge to chill.
  4. Once chilled, in a separate bowl fold together a pot of Greek yoghurt with a couple of tablespoons of double cream and then add the blended pineapple.
  5. When thoroughly mixed transfer to a container and put in the freezer. After every half an hour, for an hour, take it out and mix the frozen bits with the unset mixture, then leave to set for an hour – If you have an ice cream maker use it, it’s much easier!
  6. Once set cover and leave in the freezer – take it out at least 20 minutes before eating for a creamy scoop.

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

Enjoy!

KENYA

Kenyan Proverb: Hakuna Matata – No Worries

Despite being one of the strongest economies in East Africa there is a huge divide between rich and poor and more than half of the 45 million Kenyans live under the poverty line and are chronically malnourished. Around 80% of Kenyans live in rural areas and their livelihoods depend on subsistence and pastoral farming. Although Kenya is diverse ecologically and has good ground for farming in some regions; unpredictable weather, droughts and flooding all contribute to poverty particularly for subsistence farmers in the northern territories bordering South Sudan. Grossly unequal distribution of wealth, corruption, a fast rising population and large numbers of refugees from Somalia and South Sudan all add to high poverty in the country. In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 300,612 people through food security and nutritional support programmes.

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Samaki wa Kupaka – Mchuzi wa Mbaazi – Kachumbari

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As with all nations, Kenya’s cuisine is very regional with a few dishes being attributed to the country as a whole. This includes kachumbari which actually has identical ingredients with Latin America’s pico de gallo. My chosen main is from the Indian Ocean coastal region where fish is number one! Similarly the coconut milk in the bean stew is an addition by the coastal region to a countrywide dish.

Ingredients 

Samaki wa Kupaka

Grilled Fish with Tamarind

  • Fish – I used seabass because that’s what I had in the freezer. Traditionally Tilapia is used and it’s cooked as a whole fish instead of fillets.
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Chilli
  • Coconut milk
  • Lime juice
  • Tamarind paste
  • Coriander
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt

Mchuzi wa Mbaazi

Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk

  • Kidney beans
  • Coconut milk
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Chilli
  • Cumin seeds
  • Stock cube
  • Coconut oil

Kachumbari

Tomato and Onion Salad

  • Tomatoes
  • Spring onion – I HATE raw onion so I substituted red onion for spring onion
  • Coriander
  • Lime juice
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt & Pepper

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Method

Samaki wa Kupaka

Grilled Fish with Tamarind

  1. In a pestle and mortar make a paste of chilli, garlic and ginger – Putting a little salt in will make a smoother paste
  2. Slash the skin of the fish (on both sides if using a whole fish) and rub the the paste all over the fish and inside the the incisions. Cover the fish and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 1 hour.
  3. Just before cooking heat some coconut oil in a pan. Scrape excess paste from the fish and add to the oil, then once lightly fried pour over a small amount of coconut milk then stir in tamarind paste. the result should be a thick, slightly sticky consistency kind of like BBQ sauce.
  4. Add coconut oil to a hot grill pan, paste both sides of the fish with the tamarind sauce and immediately place skin side down in the very hot grill pan.
  5. Serve with rice, fresh coriander and a dollop of the tamarind sauce.

Mchuzi wa Mbaazi

Kidney Beans in Coconut Milk

  1. In a mini chopper whiz up a couple of shallots, garlic and chilli.
  2. Toast cumin seeds in coconut oil then add the shallot, garlic and chilli. Once cooked slightly add a tin of coconut milk and simmer at an low temperature.
  3. When the sauce is reduced slightly crumble in a stock cube, add a healthy amount of fresh coriander and a tin of kidney beans.
  4. Keep cooking on a low heat until you have a fragrant stew.

Kachumbari

Tomato and Onion Salad

  1. Roughly chop tomatoes, thinly slice spring onion and mix with coriander, a pinch of sugar, salt & pepper, olive oil and lime juice.

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

Enjoy!