New chicken routine: Sri Lankan kothu roti

Regular readers of this blog will know that when we first started this ‘cook around the world’ challenge, we said that if we had a cookbook with a recipe in it that we could use, we would use it instead of trying to find a recipe on the Internet. When we realised that Sri Lanka was the next country on our list, we were therefore excited, as we hadn’t been able to use one of our cookbooks for a while, and we were sure to have a Sri Lankan recipe with which to break that drought.

Well, imagine our surprise when we found that within our 150+ cookbooks, there is not a single Sri Lankan recipe – at least not one that we could lay our hands on. Indian, yes; Cambodian, yes; Bangladeshi, yes – but Sri Lankan was nowhere to be seen. The good news here is that we clearly have a need to buy another cookbook…

Not to be deterred, our next port of call was Miranda’s friend Lucy, who travelled to Sri Lanka last year and, as a fellow foodie, may have had a recipe for us. She didn’t, but she did suggest kothu roti as a dish that ‘everyone eats everywhere’ in Sri Lanka. Having had an average version of this at a local establishment fairly recently, the challenge to better their version seemed like a worthy one, so the kothu roti recipe search began. Continue reading

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Bank holiday burgers: Montenegrin pljeskavica and ajvar

‘Bank holiday’ and ‘beautiful weather’ are two phrases which are rarely found together in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence, but we experienced a happy aberration this weekend, which saw three gloriously sunny days in a row. I think the explanation for this incredible phenomenon is the fact that we weren’t camping: we had initially planned to, but that plan fell through, and you can bet your bottom dollar that if we had been out in the wilderness somewhere, it would have tanked it down the whole time.

What makes all of this even more amazing is the fact that the weather is set to return to its usual gloomy self throughout the rest of this working week (16 degrees and heavy rain, anyone?), making our good fortune on the weekend even more, well, fortunate. So believe us when we say that we did our best to make the most of it! Continue reading

Seven years of frying: Tibetan shapale

Regular readers will have noticed that we tend to follow a rough geographical order when making our international recipes, so would rightly be slightly confused by the fact that we’ve now jumped from Bermuda to Tibet. This is because when we started this project, our list of countries followed a rule whereby each country bordered the countries on either side of it on the list, but there was no way to take this linear approach and also include all the countries – so we have a separate list of ‘leftover’ countries. Now that we’ve reached the Caribbean islands (of which there are a lot, and if the Pacific Islands are anything to go by, they’re all likely to offer up quite similar foods), we thought we’d intersperse them with those leftover countries. So: Tibet. Continue reading

A weekend of surprises: Lithuanian cepelinai

With this weekend somehow nearly over already, here we are reflecting on last weekend, which was very enjoyable, even though much of it didn’t turn out as we expected!

It started on Friday night at a dinner party with friends. We knew that was happening, but what we didn’t know was that we were going to be introduced to the wonder of raclette. We’d seen raclette at Borough Market but never eaten it, and can now happily report that the ensuing cheese coma was totally worth it. An experience to repeat!

Our plans for Saturday were to go to the theatre and then out for dinner in the evening. That sort of happened – Miranda went to the theatre, but Ash had a better offer in the form of tickets to England v France at Twickenham.

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Wonderful wife that she is, Miranda couldn’t deny Ash this opportunity, so off we trotted in our separate directions, both pretty happy, meeting back in the Mash House afterwards for a gourmet supper of avocado on toast. Continue reading

Pork, veg and stuffing: Moldovan sarmale

Five notable foodie experiences of recent times, in order of appearance:

1. ‘Come Dine With Me.’ We have our own version of this reality TV experience happening on a regular basis with four friends, with each round having a different theme. The current theme is Our Countries of Origin and a few weeks ago, we were treated to a wonderful English meal at the home of two of our friends. It’s our turn this weekend and we are determined to try to reach the lofty standard set by their meal!

2. BBC Good Food Show. We were lucky enough to win tickets to this foodie extravaganza at Kensington Olympia and spent the day sampling delicacies and picking up as many freebies as possible. The highlight, however, was the fact that we got to meet Tom Kerridge! We’ve long been fans of his no-nonsense-yet-still-exquisite style of cooking, and a meal at his two-Michelin-starred pub The Hand & Flowers is on our bucket list, so it was a real fangirl/boy moment for us.

3. Fortnum & Mason Christmas hamper. We were very fortunate to win another competition, this time making us the recipients of a fabulous hamper from Fortnum & Mason, filled with lots of Christmassy goodies. It actually arrived on 25th November, so it really was like Christmas a month early! We haven’t eaten any of it yet, but we are very excited about it.

4. Finale of Masterchef Australia 2016. It’s always tricky to watch this show in England, as we’re a few months behind and avoiding spoilers is nearly impossible, but we managed it this year, which meant that the nail-biting finish between Elena and Matt really was nail-biting. A particular proud moment was the fact that both of the finalists hailed from the Sunshine Coast, where Miranda is from!

5. Moldovan sarmale. We struggled to find a Moldovan dish that was actually Moldovan, because just about every ‘traditional’ recipe we found seemed to be of Romanian origin. Eventually we came across a recipe for stuffed cabbage leaves on AllRecipes – a website we tend to avoid because it can be so generic and unregulated, but times were starting to get desperate. Stuffed cabbage leaves seem to be a staple of many Eastern European countries, but this recipe claimed to be Moldovan, and we haven’t actually made any stuffed cabbage leaves yet despite them being so prolific, so we thought it was about time. Continue reading

Porridge as you’ve never seen it before: Armenian harissa and khorvadzed vegetables

This recipe will challenge everything you ever thought you knew about both porridge and harissa. Like most people in this part of the world, porridge for us is a breakfast food (or, admittedly for Miranda, a lazy dinner), with a base of oats and greatly improved by such additions as cinnamon, honey, peanut butter or, for a festive twist, fruit mince (seriously – try it). Likewise, as far as we knew, harissa was a delicious chilli paste used in North African cuisine.

Then we searched for ‘Armenian national dish.’

Armenia lies in the mountains between Asia and Europe, and its cuisine is characterised by fresh ingredients, and wheat in a variety of forms. If its national dish of harissa is anything to go by, simplicity is also key, as this dish really only has two main ingredients: wheat and chicken. We opted for a recipe from SBS because it used pearl barley (which we could easily get hold of) rather than wheat (which we couldn’t). It’s therefore not 100% traditional, but seems to be pretty close. Continue reading

Great Turkmen bake off: Turkmen ichlekli

It’s a very exciting time in the UK at the moment and fans of watching nail-biting competition are all fired up. No, we’re not talking about Team GB’s phenomenal success at the Rio Olympics – it’s the return of the Great British Bake Off!

It therefore seems appropriate (yet entirely coincidental, admittedly) that the dish we chose from Turkmenistan was a pie. The native ichlekli, or ‘shepherd’s pie’, is a simple dish that doesn’t resemble the English shepherd’s pie, yet is no less enjoyable. It was traditionally baked by Turkmen shepherds by burying it in hot sand and embers. We assume that it was a source of protein and carbs for the nomads of Turkmenistan’s desert landscape. Our recipe came from Turkmen Kitchen. Continue reading