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

SOUTH SUDAN

South Sudanese Proverb: Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fatted ox where there is hatred 

South Sudan is one of the world’s ‘youngest’ countries having gained independence from Sudan in 2011. Since 2013 South Sudan has faced violent civil conflict within it’s newly established borders leaving over 2 million of it’s population displaced as refugees, many of them in neighbouring countries. With a total population of only 11.56 million, 66% are affected by food scarcity and chronic malnutrition – the highest percentage of any population in the world. In 2014 Action Against Hunger have helped 447,217 people, predominantly in getting access to safe water.

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

Pasipasi kpedekpede na passio

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The food in Sudan is very similar to that of it’s Nile River neighbour Egypt and is heavily influenced by Arabic culture. The food in South Sudan however, more closely reflects the food of it’s neighbours in Kenya and DR Congo. Peanuts feature heavily as do sweet potatoes, yams and sorghum (a type of grain). Here I’ve made one of the most popular South Sudanese dishes – spinach, sweet potato and peanut stew which would normally be served with rice, couscous or sorghum. Due the price of meat, beef would normally only be added on special occasions – I had some left over beef short rib so this is a special occasion Pasipasi kpedekpede na passio.

Ingredients

Pasipasi kpedekpede na passio

  • Rice
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sweet potato
  • Garlic
  • Fresh tomato
  • Spinach
  • Tomato puree
  • Stock cubes – Maggi brand is the famous stock cube used in Africa – it’s very salty so it works as seasoning too!
  • Peanut butter
  • Palm oil
  • Peanuts
  • Beef (optional)

Tomato Salad with Peanut and Lime Dressing

  • Fresh Tomatoes
  • Parsley
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Chilli
  • Pepper
  • Peanut butter
  • Lime
  • Olive oil

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Method

Pasipasi kpedekpede na passio

  1. First put on some rice – heat some vegetable oil in a pan and boil the kettle. Add uncooked rice and salt to the oil and fry until the rice toasts and becomes white, once all the rice is equally toasted add boiled water to up to  cm and half above the top of the rice, cover and low the heat completely.
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into chunks and add to a pan with palm oil, fry on all sides then add chopped garlic.
  3. In a bowl add boiled water to Maggi stock cubes to dissolve – add the whole thing to the pan with some fresh chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and let the mixture cook and the sweet potato braise.
  4. At this stage I added the meat from some left over beef short ribs and added a bone to the pan for flavour – if you don’t have cooked meat, brown some beef at the beginning before adding the other ingredients then just cook as before, alternatively don’t put any meat in at all!
  5. Turn off the rice but don’t remove the lid, the steam will finish the last bit of cooking.
  6. The liquid should now have reduced a little and have good flavour! Stir in quite a bit of peanut butter so that the sauce thickens.
  7. Once the sauce is a good consistency pop a pile of spinach on top – the steam from the stew will cook it down and you’ll be able to mix it in after about 30 seconds.
  8. Crush some peanuts and serve on top of your stew with rice.

Tomato Salad with Peanut and Lime Dressing

  1. Chop fresh tomatoes roughly and finely chop fresh parsley, mix together in a bowl an sprinkle a little sugar to bring out the flavour. – This also helps to release the juice from the tomato so it literally creates it’s own dressing anyway!
  2. In a separate bowl squeeze a lime and add a tablespoon of peanut butter to the juice with olive oil, finely chopped chilli, salt and pepper.
  3. When you’re ready to serve spoon some dressing over the salad.

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Enjoy!

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