YEMEN

Yemeni Proverb: من يأكل بشكل جيد قادر على مواجهة الجيش – He who eats well is able to face an army

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world, and has been going through violent political instability continuously since the 1970s. Today 90% of people suffer from acute malnutrian and water scarcity is such that it has been reported that the country may be the first to nation to run out of water.

From March 2015 to June 2015, Yemen experienced 100 days of civil war with little to no support from the international community. Action Against Hunger campaigned heavily against this silence, read their article here: After More Than 100 Days We Need To Break The Silence

In 2014 Action Against Hunger 287,113 people gain better access to water and sanitation, as well as treating people with severe malnutrition.

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

Yemenite Chicken Soup

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I know it’s not at all original but when you feel sick and you crave chicken soup right? Recently I had a poorly wisdom tooth and been feeling under the weather, alongside the colder weather this seemed like the perfect recipe to taken on.  I also had fresh turmeric left over from my Mohinga so that was two pretty good excuses to make this dish.

Yesterday marked the start of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. Instead of Latkes which are a tradition for Ashkenazi Jews, I am making this Marak Temani which Yemenite Jews make during special and festive occasions. Although there are few Yemenite Jews left in Yemen their history, culture and traditions are very much evident in the global diaspora where they have brought with them the food of Yemen.

This very traditional Yemeni soup, known in Hebrew as Marak Temani, is the Sabbath staple of the Yemenite Jewish people, who prepare the soup on Friday evening and allow it to slowly cook and infuse with it’s delicious Middle Eastern spices ready to eat on Saturday. Some people believe that this soup is in fact the original ‘Jewish Chicken Soup’, with the European version having developed in to the easily recognisable chicken and dumplings through the absence of the pungent Middle Eastern spices. The addition of spoonful or two of compulsory hot Yemeni chilli relish sahawiq (Arabic) or skhug (Hebrew), this soup will get you right on the way to feeling cosy and better!

Ingredients

 Skhug                                                                  

  • Fresh coriander
  • Fresh chillis
  • Cumin
  • Cardamom
  • Garlic
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil

Hawaij Spice Mix

  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Cloves
  • Coriander seeds
  • Cardamom
  • Salt & Pepper

Chicken Soup

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 onion
  • 7 small potatoes
  • 10 carrots
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Fresh coriander
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

First of all start by making your hawaij by mixing together all the ingredients in their powdered form. If you have whole spices toast them in a hot dry pan until fragrant then tip into a pestle and mortar and pound into a powder. This mix can be used to season meat, add flavour to soups and stews and pretty much season most Yemeni dishes!

In a large pan place a whole chicken, a whole onion, garlic cloves and 5 of the carrots then top with water so that the chicken is fully covered. Add pepper corns and coriander stalks to the broth then leave to simmer for a couple of hours.

Meanwhile make skhug by combining all the ingredients in a mini chopper.

When the chicken is cooked remove from the broth and set aside to cool. Strain the broth into a bowl to seperate the stock vegetables.

Once the chicken has cooled, strip the meat from the bones and return the stock with a little more water to a low heat and add hawaij to flavour the  broth. Peel the potatoes and the rest of the carrots then add to the broth, once cooked add the shredded chicken and a generous portion of coriander.

Serve with a spoonful or two of skhug and extra fresh coriander.

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Enjoy!

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

 

 

 

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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!

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!