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 

12717787_10156457150960332_1144168986095317926_n

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!

12728915_10156457150785332_367847851670164131_n

Enjoy!

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

 

HAITI

Haitian Proverb: Sonje lapli ki leve mayi ou – Remember the rain that made your corn grow

Haiti is situated directly in the middle of a hurricane belt and experiences frequent natural disasters with catastrophic consequences.  In 2010 Haiti suffered the biggest earthquake seen in the country for over 200 years. Of the population of 10.5 million; between 200,000 to 300,000 people lost their lives, many more injured and over 1 and a half million left homeless.

Five years on Haiti is still recovering from the devastation of the earthquake. In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 310,051 people primarily with health care and access to clean water.

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

Soup Joumou

12443240_10156323939460332_1071067562_n

On the 1st January 1804 Haiti declared independence from the French colonisers. The Haitian Revolution is known to be the only uprising that successfully led to the overthrowing of the slave owners and a republic ruled by the former slaves. Amongst many other things, the slave owners put bans on what Haitians could and couldn’t eat, including pumpkin which the French considered a particular delicacy.

Traditionally eaten on New Years Day, this soup became a symbol of independence and freedom with Haitians no longer having to abide by the dietary restrictions the slave owners had placed on them.

And an unrelated interesting fact: the barbecue originated in Haiti!

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1 large butternut squash or medium sized pumpkin
  • 1 large leek
  • 1 celery stick
  • 2 small potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 scotch bonnet chillis
  • 1 small bunch of parsley
  • 1 handful of fresh sage and thyme
  • Chicken stock
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

Start by cutting butternut squash rubbing with oil, sage, thyme and seasoning then roasting until  caramelised.

In a saucepan sweat chopped leeks, garlic, onion, celery and parsley stalks with the remaining sage and thyme. Once softened add the the chilli (add more than two if you like it spicy!) potatoes and roasted butternut squash to the pan and cover with chicken stock.

Meanwhile make a parsley oil by very finely chopping parsley and mixing with olive oil.

Once the vegetables have all cooked through turn off the heat and blitz everything in a blender. Pass through a sieve for an even smoother consistency. Check seasoning and serve with drizzled parsley oil.

In Haiti Soup Joumou is traditionally served with chunks of braised beef, this is a vegetarian version but the meaty original can be easily made in exactly the same way, remembering to remove the meat before blitzing. It’s also popular to put thin pasta in with it for extra body!

12463647_10156323932640332_951285817_n.jpg

Today on 1 January 2016 I can very proudly say that together we have raised an amazing £560 for Action Against Hunger so far. Let’s match it and more this year!

Here’s to a fantastic 2016 🙂

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

12388262_10156263055270332_1264723988_n

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.

12366915_10156263053725332_613737441_n

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.

12388240_10156263054240332_393241144_n

Enjoy!

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

SIERRA LEONE

Sierra Leonean Proverb: NA LכV MEK TεN PIPUL IT FAZIN AKARA – It’s love that makes ten people eat and share

In 2014 the West Africa Ebola epidemic greatly damaged Sierra Leone’s already limited health infrastructure and economic resources. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) before the outbreak in 2014 there were 136 doctors and just over 1000 nurses to a population of 6.1 million. Many of the people who died during the Ebola crisis did not die from the disease but from lack of medical attention from a severely understaffed and overstretched health service. Quarantines, border shut downs and travel and trade restrictions have also affected an economy already troubled by years of civil war.

Happily, as of November 2015 Sierra Leone has been declared Ebola free by WHO after going over 40 days with no new cases of the virus and the last sick person testing negative from the disease. To celebrate the end of the epidemic, Sierra Leonean rapper Block Jones created ‘Bye Bye Ebola’ which you should definitely watch below!

In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 30,552 people to implement protective measures to stop the spread of Ebola and gain access to clean drinking water.

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

 

Binch Akara Burgers with Scotch Bonnet Mayonnaise

12281571_10156189668835332_908853075_o

Akara, a black eyed pea fritter, is dish originally from the Yoruba people of Nigeria traditionally served at 70th birthday parties . Today there are significant numbers of Yoruba people across Western Africa with a large population in Sierra Leone who brought akara with them.

Binch akara, as it’s known in Sierra Leone, is enjoyed as a snack throughout the day bought fresh and hot dipped in scotch bonnet relish, straight from street vendors all around West Africa. Just like jollof rice and other favourites, this bean fritter transcends country lines in popularity and akara has made it’s mark in West Africa as a staple street food snack.

I’ve decided to adapt this classic snack and make it into a bit more meal  – to do this I’ve turned the akara into a burger. Burgers are not something which would usually be my first choice – especially veggie ones because I find that they’re often quite dry. But as this is a fritter I thought it would be perfect made slightly bigger as a vegetarian burger because it would be much lighter than what you would normally get for a veggie option. I don’t think that just because you are choosing not to eat meat that the texture of meat has to be emulated in the substitute. So it’s basically just the same as a snack akara but larger in a bun and in my opinion a much lighter option for a veggie burger! I chose to make a scotch bonnet mayo instead of using relish for the same reason just to make it a bit lighter. This is a really good, cheap and not too heavy West African inspired alternative to a burger! I would serve with sweet potato fries for a complete meal.

Ingredients

For my previous posts I haven’t been listing measurements – this is because I don’t really cook that way. I prefer to cook instinctively and taste along the way. I’ve had some advice recently saying that it’s good to put measurements in even if you don’t actually use them, so from now on I will (where I can) put numbers in front of words!

  • 2 tins of black eyed peas
  • 1 onion
  • 5 scotch bonnets + other chillies if you have some lying around
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Coconut oil
  • Flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Fresh spinach
  • Burger buns

Method

First of all start by making a scotch bonnet sauce. You can buy chilli sauce in the shop but it’s SO easy to make your own and way way cheaper. It’s also a really good way to use up a bag of chillies that you’ve got in the fridge. I actually made mine a while ago, it keeps in the fridge for ages because of the vinegar and the coconut oil seal.

Put whole scotch bonnets and other chillies in boiling water and cook on a high heat for about ten minutes. When soft, drain and put chillies in a mini chopper with 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons of sugar then blitz into a paste. Transfer into a clean jar leaving a centimetre of space at the top and leave to cool slightly. Fill that centimetre with coconut oil and put in the fridge to set.

Next make the mayonnaise.

Separate 3 eggs keeping the egg yolks (save a small amount of egg white for your fritter). Add a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and begin whisking very strongly. Slowly dribble, or get someone else to dribble vegetable oil while you keep whisking hard. You will get a sore arm but after a little bit the mayonnaise will get lovely and thick. Once it’s at a mayonnaise like consistency season with salt & pepper – most classic recipes call for Dijon mustard at this point but I’ve left it out because instead we add some of the scotch bonnet sauce ‘made earlier’ and mix well!

Now you can move onto the akara which is really the easiest bit!

In a mini chopper or blender add a whole tin of drained black eyed peas and a splash of water. Blend until very smooth and transfer to a mixing bowl. Put the second drained tin in the blender without water and blend until just crushed – you want a thicker paste for a bit of texture. Transfer this to the mixing bowl. Finally put one whole onion into the mini chopper and blend until very smooth then also add to the mixture and season well. Add the white from one egg and enough flour to bind. Drop the mixture into hot oil in burger sized dollops. Your fritter burgers are ready when they’re crisp and golden brown.

To serve, warm some burger buns then spread your scotch bonnet mayo on the bun add the akara and some fresh spinach – make sure you have extra mayonnaise for dipping.

This recipe will make enough for 4 burgers.

12270570_10156189668535332_389576940_n

Enjoy!

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

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

12231529_10156174048960332_2125267190_n

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!

12231111_10156174052990332_1093084603_n

  • 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!

12226737_10156174052345332_1641878751_n

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

12242204_10156168558490332_795520066_n

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

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

12168126_10156101399350332_2100952709_n

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.

12169465_10156101416135332_534390536_o

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.

12167831_10156101399765332_855744039_n

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!

12166311_10156101415815332_244946264_n

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

Enjoy!