SPAIN

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

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

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

Baked Cod with Chickpeas and Saffron 

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

Ingredients

Serves 2

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

Method

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

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Enjoy!

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

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!

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.

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

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!

PERU

Peruvian Proveb: Poco a poco se anda lejos – Little by little one walks far

Economic growth in the last ten years has dramatically increased the country’s GDP and Peru’s capital, Lima, is relatively wealthy. However with a population of 30.8 million there is extreme inequality between the rich and poor particularly in the rural Andes were 40% of people live below the poverty line and 38% are chronically malnourished. Since 2007 Action Against Hunger has helped 18,380 people through it’s nutrition support and water hygiene programmes

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

Ceviche – Papa a la Huancaína – Yucas Fritas

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With a strong, historic fishing culture it is no surprise that the national dish of Peru is Ceviche; fish, usually seabass, ‘cooked’ in lime juice. Dating back nearly 2000 years this simple dish is still the most popular in Peru and has spread across Latin America. Although Ceviche is the national dish, the national ingredient has to be the potato and that is the main ingredient of the second national dish Papa a la Huanciana. Potatoes are indigenous to Peru and were brought to Europe by the Spanish in the 16th century – of the 5000 varieties of potato known today 3800 are found in Peru.

Ingredients

Papa a la Haunciana

  • Potato
  • Feta cheese
  • Evaporated milk
  • Peruvian Aji Amarillo or yellow scotch bonnets or yellow habenero
  • Lime Juice
  • Garlic
  • Eggs
  • Olive

Yuca Fritas

  • Yuca or Cassava
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin

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Peruvian Pickled Onions

  • Red Onion
  • Coriander
  • Malt vinegar
  • Sugar

Ceviche 

  • Freshest Seabass from a fish monger
  • Lime juice
  • Red onion
  • Peruvian Aji Amarillo or yellow scotch bonnet or yellow habenero
  • Red chilli
  • Sweet potato
  • Corn
  • Avocado
  • Coriander
  • Salt

Method

Papa a la Haunciana

  1. Peel potatoes, chop into equalish sizes and put in boiling water.
  2. In a food processor blend together Feta cheese, evaporated milk, chilli and lime juice – It sounds very strange and I was apprehensive but the Peruvians know what they’re doing and it actually tastes really good! 
  3. Boil a couple of eggs – I used quail but any will do! Peel and cut in half.
  4. When cooked through drain the potato leave to cool slightly then put on a plate and pour the sauce over.
  5. Add sliced boiled eggs and a couple of olives.
  6. Finish off with chopped parsley for colour.

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Yuca Fritas

  1. Cut yuca into large chips and par boil.
  2. Drain and cool then deep fry.
  3. Season with salt pepper and cumin and serve with Haunciana sauce.

Peruvian Pickled Onions

  1. Slice red onion thinly and add to a bowl with vinegar, lots of sugar and coriander.
  2. Leave to pickle till you need it!

Ceviche

  1. Make ‘Leche de Tigre’ – juice 6 limes, thinly slice red onion, julienne (thinly slice) both types of chilli and add a pinch of salt.
  2. Take your very fresh fish and either cube or cut into thin slivers. The fishmonger will have already removed all the bones for you. Add the slices to the Leche de Tigre to ‘cook’ – the lime juice will denature the fish and give the appearance of being cooked, however it is still technically raw which is why it is so important to use the freshest fish possible and from a fish monger not a packet.
  3. Cube sweet potato, season and roast in the oven.
  4. Boil corn then remove the kernels from them cob. Dry toast in a pan the put to one side.
  5. Cube avocado and put to one side.
  6. Give your fish a stir, you should notice that is has become white instead of translucent.
  7. Remove sweet potato from oven and set to one side.
  8. Put the marinated fish slivers on a plate and add cubed avocado, sweet potato and toasted corn.
  9. Spoon over some of the Leche de Tiger.
  10. Finish off with coriander leaves and optional edible flowers! – I used pansies which I got at Borough Market and the flowers off my chilli plant at home! 

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Enjoy!

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

SENEGAL

Senegalise Proverb: Sahha kënz lhayaat  – Health is the treasure of life

Senegal has a population of approximately 13.7 million. 47.6% of Senegalese people are failing to meet their basic food needs as a result of devastating natural disasters; including flooding and drought exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Because of this over half of the produce consumed in Senegal is imported which means that prices for basic provisions are severely inflated. In 2014 Action Against Hunger helped 18,443 people in Senegal by providing nutritional support to vulnerable families.

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

Ceebu Jen

Ceebu Jen

Ceebu Jen (rice and fish in the Wolof language) is the national dish of Senegal. Ceebu Jen is also known by it’s French transcription Thieboudienne. It’s widely acknowledged that this dish, and it’s Wolof roots, is the inspiration for the ubiquitous West African dish Jollof rice. Ceebu Jen is a festive, sharing dish centred around a large platter of tomatoey rice topped with fresh fish and vegetables – enjoy with a glass of hibiscus ice tea!

For this recipe I had all the ingredients I needed to create an adaptation of the dish therefore I have donated £5 – 100% of the estimated cost of the ingredients for the Senegalese national dish Ceebu Jen.

Ingredients

Fish Marinade (or stuffing if using a whole fish):

  • Fresh Parsley
  • Lemon or Lime Juice
  • Red Chilli Flakes
  • Minced Garlic
  • Spring Onion
  • Salt and Pepper

Ceebu Jen

  • White Fish
  • Rice
  • Fresh or Tinned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Puree
  • Harissa (cheat addition)
  • Scotch Bonnets
  • Fish or Vegetable Stock
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Pretty much any vegetable you have lying around (especially Cassava)
  • Tamarind Paste or Hibiscus Flowers (optional)
  • Fish Sauce
  • Oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Lemon Wedges

Method

  1. Make a marinade for the fish – in a pestle and mortar make a paste of garlic, fresh parsley, chilli flakes, lemon juice and salt. Rub into fish and put in fridge to infuse.
  2. In a mini food processor (if you don’t have one just chop finely) blitz up onion, red pepper (keep two bits aside), half the parsley and all the parsley stalks. Heat some oil in a large saucepan and add – keep it low and let it ‘sweat’ so the mixture release liquid but doesn’t colour.
  3. In a little bowl with hot water mix two teaspoons of tomato paste and one teaspoon of harissa *I added for additional flavour – not strictly traditional*. Stir till diluted and add to the pan.
  4. I added 3 scotch bonnet chillis, you choose how hot you like it!
  5. In the same bowl with more hot water add fish or veg stock – two cubes, pots whatever you’re using – then add to the pan. The saucepan should be just over a quarter full of liquid.
  6. Some recipes call for tamarind paste, I didn’t have any so I soaked some hibiscus flowers in water and added to the pan. Hibiscus has a slightly bitter, lemony taste like tamarind and is actually native to Senegal where (like in Egypt) it’s drunk as a soft drink both hot and cold.
  7. Let it cook for a little bit while you shop up your vegetables. I only had courgettes so I only put courgettes. If you have carrots, turnips, butternut squash whatever put it in!
  8. Add rice to the liquid in the pan. I used Spanish which is more robust than Basmati and is less likely to go soggy. Turn down as low as possible and put a lid on. Set aside for about ten minutes.
  9. In the mean time I make ‘garnish’. That’s; chopped fresh parsley, small cubes of red pepper, small cubes of tomato or half cherry plum tomatoes and this time because I had courgette – ‘courgette ribbons’. I do this by turning a cheese grater flat on it’s side and using the wide section as though it was a mandolin!
  10. By now the rice should have soaked up most of the water in the pan. Give it a good mix then add the courgettes (and/or whatever veg you have) to the pan and put the lid on. The steam will cook the rest through.
  11. For the fish it’s traditional to steam the fish with the rice – I like different textures so I cooked mine on a griddle pan. Add oil to your marinated fish and get your pan really hot, you don’t need oil in the pan at all. Cook fish for approximately 3 minutes on each side or until you get a nice colour. It’s good to be a bit translucent inside as it will keep cooking when taken off the heat.
  12. Stir most of the parsley into the rice then spoon rice big serving dish – add fish – add garnish. Finish with the last of the chopped parsley and a couple of wedges of lemon.

Enjoy!

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