Republic of the Congo

Republic of the Congo, not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of the Congo is situated in Central Africa.  Sadly neither country have ‘the Conga’ as their national dance (which originated in Cuba!).  The capital, Brazzaville, is located on the Congo River, in the south of the country, immediately across from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  This is the only place in the world where 2 capital cities are situated on the opposite banks of a river within sight of each other.
The current president, Denis Sassou Nguesso, has ruled for 26 of the past 36 years.  He first became president in 1979 after the previous incumbent was forced from power.  Sassou aligned the country with the Eastern Bloc and signed a twenty-year friendship pact with the Soviet Union.  Pascal Lissouba became Congo’s first elected president from 1992 to 1997.  In mid 1997, civil war broke out and Lissouba and Sassou fought for power.  During the 4 month conflict much of Brazzaville was destroyed or damaged and it caused tens of thousands of civilian deaths.  In October 1997 the Lissouba government fell and soon thereafter, Sassou declared himself president once again.  In 2015 a referendum to change the constitution was approved, allowing Sassou to run for a third consecutive term in office.  The opposition claimed the government’s ‘approval’ statistics were false.
Tourism is still relatively in its infancy in the Republic of Congo despite it’s diversity.  It boasts beautiful landscapes characterised by undulating virgin rainforest, waterfalls, lagoons, river rapids and swamps.  The highlights include Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park (home to elephants, apes, gorillas, chimpanzees and bongo forest antelopes), Basilique St. Anne in Brazzaville, Conkouati-Douli National Park and The Gorges of Diosso, spectacular cliffs formed by the erosion of the sea.
Congolese cuisine incorporates French, Asian and Arabic influences into more starchy, traditional African fare.  Some of the specialities include Mwamba (stew of chicken, beef or lamb), Chickpea salad and Muamba Nsusu (chicken soup).  I opted to cook Mbisi Ye Kalou (fish stew) which I served with little roasted potatoes (not very Congolese I know, but my lovely Irish husband wouldn’t be too keen on fufu or cassava).
Rating: 6/10.  Even though it had chilli, it was quite bland in flavour.
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
4 firm white fish fillets
1 large onion, sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
4-6 tablespoons butter or oil
1 red chilli or 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes
250g baby spinach
1 cup water
In a medium saucepan, fry the onion and green pepper in 2 tbsps of the oil or butter.
Add chilies, spinach and water. Cover it and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add 2-4 tbsps of oil or butter and the fish.
Continue to simmer, covered for about 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Cape Verde

Situated off the west coast of Africa, Cape Verde is made up of 10 volcanic islands and 5 islets.  It was discovered by the Portuguese mariners in 1456.  Half of the population live on the largest island, Santiago.  The combined area of all the islands is 1,557 square miles.  It forms part of the Macronesia group of islands, which also includes the Canaries and the Azores.  Cape Verde’s best beaches are found on the islands of Boa Vista and Sal.  Although Sao Pedro on São Vicente is also worth a visit.

Cape Verde is home to the Mediterranean monk seal, the northern bald ibis, the green sea turtle, and the hawksbill turtle, all of which sadly, are endangered.

Mussolini the Italian dictator bought the rights to build an airport on Sal, Cape Verde as he needed to refuel his aircraft on the flights between Europe and South America. Portugal bought the airport back off him in 1945.

Corn is the staple food of Cape Verde. The national dish, cachupa, is a stew of hominy, beans, and whatever meat or vegetables may be available.  Other recipes I came across were Buzio (fish stew), Bol de cus-cus (corn & sugar cake) , Cado de Peixe ou Caiderado (vegetables cooked with fish) and Canjo (soup). I decided to cook Gufong (fried pastry) and served them with a chocolate sauce.

Rating: 6/10

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup semolina flour
1 cup plain flour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of baking powder
Vegetable oil for frying

In a saucepan combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil.
Once it is boiling add in the semolina flour until it is well mixed then add the plain flour.
Add a dash of salt and baking powder and continue mixing until everything is well combined.
Let the mixture cool.
Once the mixture is cool, take a small piece of the dough and roll them into small finger sized logs on a floured surface.
Heat up your oil in a frying pan or you can use a deep fryer
Cook until golden brown.
Drain on a paper towel
Serve warm with coffee or tea and if you would like drizzle some chocolate syrup and powdered sugar to taste.


Eritrea is bordered by Sudan to the north and west, the Red Sea to the north and east with Ethiopia and Djibouti to the south.  Eritrea literally means “red”, and gets its name from the Red Sea.  Much of the country is mountainous. It’s narrow Red Sea coastal plain is one of the hottest and driest places in Africa. The cooler central highlands have fertile valleys that support agriculture.The Dahlak Islands, within the Red sea contain untouched sea reefs.


Eritrea only has one political party: People’s Front for Democracy and Justice. Isaias Afewerki is the first and the current President of Eritrea. He assumed office on May 24, 1993 after declaration of independence from Ethiopia.  After independence, Eritrea entered into a war over Red Sea islands with Yemen and then a more devastating border war with Ethiopia in 1998, causing an estimated 100,000 casualties. A peace agreement in 2000 established a UN-patrolled buffer zone along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border.


Eritrea were subject to a social media hoax earlier this year regarding supposed new marriage laws – “Due to the recent troubles in our country, we are experiencing a serious shortage of men, and an abundance of woman. Men are now legally required to take at least two wives, and any that fail to do so will face strict punishment.”  When the hoax went viral the Government took to twitter to dispel the rumour – “the media frenzy to parrot this ludicrous, fabricated and trite story… on mandatory polygamy is appalling”.


Some Eritrean recipes I came across were: Zigini (spicy beef stew) with injera (flatbread),   Gored gored (raw beef dish), Fata (spicy tomato bread salad with yoghurt).  I opted to cook Tsebhi Dorho (spicy chicken) which involved making Berbere (a spice blend) and Tegelese Tesmi (herbed butter).
Rating: 8/10
Serves 4-5 with rice & bread on the side
Prep time: 1 hour + 30 mins marinating time

Cook time: 30 mins for the Tegelese Tesmi & 1 hr 15 mins for the Tesbhi Dorho


For the Tesbhi Dorho:
3 medium onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp Berbere spice – see below
3 tbsp Tegelese Tesmi (herbed butter) – see below
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp garlic, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500g chicken breast or thigh meat, cut into serving pieces
Salt & black pepper to taste
Hard boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
For the Berbere spice mix:
1 tsp (level) crushed chillies
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground onion powder
1/4 tsp fenugreek
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch garlic powder (not salt)
2 small cloves ground in pestle
Pinch ground cinnamon
Pinch ground allspice

For the Tegelese Tesmi:
100g unsalted butter
50ml water
1 small onion very finely chopped
1 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely grated

For the Tegelese Tesmi:
Put the butter and the water in a frying-pan and heat them until the butter has melted.
Add the other ingredients and simmer the mixture on a low fire for 30 minutes, until the mixture stops skimming and the butter is clear.
Do NOT stir the mixture.
Sieve the butter and allow to cool down in a well closed jam jar.

For the Berbere spice blend:
Mix all the spices together and put in a closed jar until you need to use them.

For the Tesbhi Dorho:
Sprinkle chicken with lemon juice and salt and allow to marinate for about thirty minutes.
In a skillet, sauté onions in a small amount of water.
Add Berbere spice and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add Tegelese Tesmi and cook an additional 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, ginger and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add chicken and 1/2 cup water and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and fully cooked.
If you are using eggs, add them and cook for a couple of minutes.
Serve with cooked basmati rice and plain nan.


South Africa

The Republic of South Africa is Africa’s largest and most developed economy.  It’s main exports are gold, diamonds, metals, minerals, cars & machinery.  It is an extremely diverse nation, home to hippos, penguins, zebras, dolphins and of course ‘the big five’ (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard, and White/Black rhinoceros).  It hosts four of the seven fastest mammals in the world, namely the wildebeest, the African lion, the springbok and the cheetah.
A turbulent political history, dominated by apartheid from 1948 to 1994.  Racial segregation had been in place for centuries but a new policy, started in 1948 made it stricter and more systematic.  The people of South Africa were divided by their race and were forced by law to live apart from each other.  In 1990 President Frederik Willem de Klerk began negotiations to end apartheid.  The multi-racial democratic elections in 1994 were won by the African National Congress, led by Nelson Mandela and he became the first President of South Africa and also the first black president.   Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership of anti-apartheid activism in 1993.  The apartheid system was banned in 1994.
There are many inviting tourist highlights for visitors to South Africa; The Cape of Good Hope, Table Mountain, Kruger National Park, The Garden Route, Cape Town, Johannesburg to name a few!
South Africa’s Garden Route is the longest stretching wine route in the world.  Route 62 is 850 km long from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.  There are over 560 wineries in the Cape area.
It also has the highest commercial bungee jumping bridge in the world at Bloukrans, which is 216 metres long.  It’ll set you back £39.50 for the privilege.
When it comes to the food, again it is very diverse with influences from the Dutch, French, Indians and Malaysians.  Some of the recipes I came across were
Bobotie (meatloaf with egg based topping), Chicken Curry Potjie, Buttermilk pudding and Koeksisters (sweet twisted pastries).  I decided to cook Sosaties (grilled lamb kebabs).
Rating: 8/10.
Prep time: 40 minutes + 24 hours marinating time
Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes
500g trimmed lamb leg cut into chunks
200g dried apricots
8 metal or wooden skewers
Sosatie Marinade:
1 tbsp apricot jam
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp crushed garlic
6 cloves
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp malt vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp fresh ginger
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup water
Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix well together.
Add the lamb to the marinade and mix well.
Cover and leave in the fridge for 24 hours (or more). Stir the lamb 3 or 4 times during the marinating process.
If using wooden skewers, soak in water for a couple of hours before using.
Soak the apricots in warm water until they plump up.
Remove the lamb from the bowl and thread it on to the skewers alternating pieces of lamb and apricots.
Reserve the marinade.
Preheat the grill or BBQ and cook the sosaties for 10 – 15 minutes, turning regularly so they don’t burn.
Meanwhile pour the marinade into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling.
When serving pour the hot marinade over the sosaties and serve.
Sosatie ingredients
Lamb marinating in sosatie marinade
Marinated lamb in sosatie marinade
Lamb Sosaties
The Cape of Good Hope
Cape Town


Lesotho (pronounced le-soo-too) is a mountainous country surrounded by South Africa.  Originally called Basutoland, it was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho upon independence from the UK in 1966.  “Lesotho” roughly translates to “the land of the people who speak Sesotho”.

80% of the country is greater than 1,800 m above sea level.

It’s principal exports are manufactures (clothing, footwear, road vehicles) wool & mohair.  Water is Lesotho’s major natural resource. Completion of a large hydropower plant in 1998 helps the economy expand through the sale of water to South Africa.
Some of the top things to do in Lesotho, according to trip advisor, include the AfriSki Ski and Mountain Resort in Buthe Buthe, Katse Dam in Maseru and the Maletsunyane Falls in Semonkong.
I struggled to find recipes that appealed to me, as I’m not a fan of porridge and ‘mealie pap’, a maize porridge is a very common dish in Lesotho.
They also have stews (oxtail) and curries.  However I came across a bread that they cook in the mountain regions of Lesotho called Borotho.  They cook it over a coal fire in a cast iron pot.  I opted to cook it in a copper pot in the oven.
Rating: 4/10.
The bottom of the buns were a bit too crunchy for our liking and the dough was quite dense.  Perhaps they’d be lighter if I’d used just strong white flour rather than a mix.
Prep time: 30 minutes + 1hr 30 minutes proving time
Cook time: 35 minutes
Makes: 12 buns
15g dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 pt tepid water
225g strong white flour
225g wholemeal bread flour
1 tsp salt
veg oil

Add the yeast & sugar to the water, stir and leave it to stand for 5 minutes.
Sift the flour & salt on to a clean worksurface or bowl.
Make a well in middle and add most of the liquid.
Gradually stir the flour into the liquid so you start forming a gluey paste and then a dough.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes and then place in a bowl with a tea towel over the top and put it in a warm place for at least 1 hour.
Remove the dough on to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead it for a couple of minutes.
Put it back in the bowl, covered with a tea towel and leave it to prove again for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 c.
Put a tbsp of veg oil in a lidded oven proof dish (ideally copper or cast iron) and put in the oven to heat for 5 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl and make 12 round buns with your hands, placing them in a circle around the edge of the dish with a couple in the middle.  Leave a little bit of space around each one.
Put the lid on the dish and cook for 35 minutes.
Serve for breakfast with butter & jam or your preferred spread.

Côte d’Ivoire

The Ivory Coast or Côte d’Ivoire is considered the cultural hub of West Africa.  It has two official capitals. Yamoussoukro is the political and administrative capital, while Abidjan serves as the economic capital of the country. Abidjan is often called the “Paris of West Africa,” and much of its beauty derives from its setting on the rim of a lagoon at the edge of the ocean.
A few interesting facts …
Ivory Coast is one of the largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro is the largest church building in the world with an area covering 323,000 sq ft.
The trade in ivory which gave the country its name had almost died out by the 18th century.
The Ivory Coast national football team is nicknamed “Les Eléphants” (the elephants).
Côte d’Ivoire (which is the country’s preferred name for itself) is an anagram of “erotic video”.
According to Lonely Planet some of the highlights include surfing at Assinie beach, the rainforest of Parc National de Taï and hiking to the summit of Mt Tonkoui for a view of 3 countries.
Some recipes I came across for Côte d’Ivoire – Maafe (meat in peanut sauce), Attiéké (grated cassava) and poulet bicyclette (guinea fowl).  I opted to cook Kedjenou (slow cooked chicken) with rice.  It was very simple and pleasantly tasty.
Rating 7/10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1.5 hours
Serves 2-3
4 chicken drumsticks & 2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion
1 spring onion
1/2 fresh red or green pepper
1 can of tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon bouillon (1 maggi cube)
1/2 tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 tablespoon garlic puree
1 fresh sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 habenero chilli pepper
Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 170.

Remove the skin from the drumsticks and trim off excess fat, pat the chicken dry with a kitchen towel and sprinkle with salt.
Slice the onion, spring onion and pepper.
Add all the ingredients to an oven proof casserole dish with lid and stir until everything is mixed together.
Seal the dish with aluminum foil and then cover it with the lid.
Place in the oven and shake the pot once or twice during cooking without removing the lid.
Cook for 1 & half hours.
Let it stand for 5 minutes, then remove the chicken from the bones and serve with rice.


Situated in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea, covering an area of 92,100 square miles.  Home to the largest man made lake in the world – Lake Volta. The word Ghana is known to mean Warrior King, Ghana’s former name was “Gold Coast” after the large amount of gold that colonizers found in the country.  It’s biggest exports are cocoa (the world’s second largest producer) and gold.

Top of the things to see and do would include: searching for elephants in Mole National Park, strolling along the beach at Princess town and overlooking the Atlantic from the 18th Century castle of Elmina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The travel operator, Viator, has a plethora of different tours to explore Ghana.  You can take an 3 day private tropical forest hike in Togo & Ghana from £277 or a 12 day wildlife & cultural tour of Northern Ghana from £1,400 (without flights).

Ghanaian cuisine highlights include; Fufu (pounded cassava), Groundnut stew, Omo tuo (rice balls served in fish or meat soup).  I opted to cook a couple of popular dishes – Jollof rice and Kyinkyinga (Pronounced chinchinga), a Ghanaian version of kebab.  Jamie Oliver cooked a Jollof rice recipe in Jun 2014, sparking reactions of outrage on social media from West Africans, who were not happy with his interpretation – #jollofgate!
Rating: 5/10.  Both dishes are quite dry and therefore I shouldn’t have served them together .. you live & learn.  The rice is very spicy!  We thought the kyinkyinga would’ve been better in a pitta bread with salad & mayo .. if we so dare to suggest.
Jollof rice
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
3/4 cups basmati rice
2.5 tbsp olive oil
1/2 heaped tbsp tomato puree
1/2 onion chopped
1 medium sized onion
2 medium tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
A small piece of ginger
1 scotch bonnet chilies (reduce if you don’t like it spicy)
1 tsp chicken or vegetable stock powder
Dried mixed herbs
1 small bay leaf
Salt to tasteBlend the ginger, garlic, chilli, tomatoes and two onions and set aside for later.
Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chopped onions till soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes, then add the tomato puree and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Add the blended tomato and onion mixture from earlier and leave to cook through till the tomato mixture has lost its raw taste and the oil is visible at the top.
Add the stock powder, bay leaf and a sprinkle of the mixed herbs. Leave to simmer for about 3 minutes while you rinse the rice to remove excess starch.
When rice is rinsed, add to the sauce stirring it to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Now add 1/2 cup of water to the rice and sauce mix and stir, add salt to taste and cook till the water is almost evaporated.
Then cover and simmer on a low heat till rice is fully cooked, stir occasionally to prevent it sticking an add a dash of water if necessary .

Kyinkyinga (chicken kebab)
Prep time: 20 mins + 1 hour marinating time
Cook time: 15-20 mins

250g chicken thigh fillet, cut into cubes
2 tbsp olive oil
2 fat cloves of garlic
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 small onion
1 heaped tsp chicken stock powder
1 red pepper cut in cubes
1 red onion cut in cubes

Suya spice
mix 1/4 cup grounded roasted peanuts (milled into powder with excess oil taken out so that it is very dry)
8g chili powder
8g cup paprika
8g cup of garlic salt
8g cup Onion powder
8g cup dried mixed herbs
1 tsp chicken stock powder
Salt to taste

Blend the ginger, garlic, onion, stock cube seasoning with the oil to form a smooth paste.
Add the paste to the chicken and marinate for about an hour.
Skewer the marinated chicken pieces alternating with the peppers and onions and set aside.
Combine all the ingredients for the suya seasoning and mix together.
Sprinkle some of the suya spice on the skewered chicken and grill till it is cooked and browned both sides.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle a bit more of the suya powder on it, then serve.
Jollof rice ingredients
Kyinkyinga ingredients
Kyinkyinga kebabs
Cooking the jollof rice
Kyinkyinga & Jollof rice
Fishermen in Ghana
Castle of Elmina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ghanaian children enjoying the beach


Madagascar lies in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa opposite Mozambique.  It is the fourth largest island in the world.
A stunning diversity of plant and animal species evolved after the island broke away from the African continent millions of years ago.  Over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth.  From 1999 to 2010, scientists discovered 615 new species in Madagascar, including 41 mammals and 61 reptiles.  To help secure the future of lemurs, WWF and Malagasy conservationists are working together to establish and manage parks and protected areas in Madagascar.  Through the WWF you can adopt a ring tailed lemur for $25 – $100.

In 2012, the population of Madagascar was approximately 22 million people, 90% of them live on less than $2 per day.
Madagascar produces about two-thirds of the world’s vanilla. The vanilla bean (or pod) is the only edible fruit-bearing orchid. Each flower opens only one day a year and must be hand-pollinated to produce a pod, which is very labor intensive.

Recipes I came across include Saosisy sy Tsaramaso (beans & sausage) , Ro-mangazafy (beef broth) Ron-akoho (chicken and ginger broth).  I opted to cook the popular Mofo Gasy (Malagasy bread), which is actually more like a pancake.
Rating: 9/10

Makes 15
Prep time: 10 mins + 2-4 hours resting for batter
Cook time: 10 mins

1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp ground rice
1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1.5 tsp condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Vegetable oil

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, ground rice, yeast, 1 tsp sugar and water.
Mix well, cover the bowl and set aside to rise for 2-4 hours.
Stir in the remaining sugar, condensed milk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine.
Cover and set aside until the mixture gets frothy, about 30~45 minutes.
Heat an aebleskiver pan on medium heat.
Put 1/4 tsp oil and pour about 1 tbsp batter in each well.
Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the bottoms get golden brown.
Using chopsticks, flip them over and cook on the other side until golden and the inside is cooked through.
Serve hot for breakfast.


The Seychelles has been on my personal bucket list for quite some time.  Being a fan of relaxing in the sun and watching beautiful sunsets, the islands of the Seychelles look idyllic.  However, it has a lot more to offer visitors, than just beach paradise.  There are 115 islands, most of which are not permanently inhabited.  Almost half of the landmass of the country is made up of national parks and reserves.
Bird Island is home to the heaviest land tortoise living in the wild – Esmerelda, who weighs in at a whopping 670 pounds (47.8 stone).  A few of the more popular islands to visit include Mahe, La Digue, Fregate & Praslin.  One of Mahe’s highlights is Morne Seychellois National Park which contains coastal mangrove forests as well as the country’s highest peak, the Morne Seychellois (905m).
Seychelles is the right place to visit if you want to see unique endemic species. These include the paradise flycatcher, the warbler, the jelly fish tree and the female Coco de Mer, which is the world’s heaviest nut.
Until the opening of the international airport on Mahé in 1971, the Seychelles Islands were entirely dependent on the sea for their links with the rest of the world.  By 2004, there were 15 airports.  In 2013, 230,000 tourists visited the Seychelles, 12,500 came from the UK.
Seychellois cuisine has been influenced by African, British, French, Indian and Chinese cuisines.  Fish & seafood are very popular and spices play an integral part in flavouring dishes.
A big thanks to Rakesh Shah, who shared an authentic recipe from his uncle for Red Snapper.
Rating: 7/10
Red Snapper Seychelles style!

450g red snapper, cut into serving size pieces – 3/4″ thick
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 clove garlic
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
2 medium tomatoes, sliced

Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick vegetable cooking spray. Arrange snapper skin-down in dish. Set aside.
Combine shallots, garlic and oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet. Cook over medium for 3 to 4 minutes, or until shallots are tender-crisp, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in juice, parsley, paprika, cumin and pepper. Pour shallot mixture over snapper.
Arrange tomato slices evenly over snapper.
Cover dish with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fish is firm and opaque and just begins to flake.
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main.



Cameroon has been described as “Africa in miniature” because it exhibits all major climates and vegetation of the continent: coast, desert, mountains, rainforest, and savanna.  Cameroon is one of the wettest lands on the earth with annual rainfall of about 1,028cm.

The people are as diverse as its terrain; including ancient tribal kingdoms, forest-dwelling pygmies and Muslim pastoralists, making it one of the most culturally diverse countries on the African continent. One third of the population lives below the poverty line.

Mount Cameroon, an active volcano that last erupted in 2000,  is the highest mountain in West Africa at 4,085m. Cameroon is the first African country to have reached the quarter-final in the Football world cup.

Cuisine varies by region, but a large, one-course, evening meal is common throughout the country. A typical dish is based on cocoyams, maize, cassava, millet, plantains, potatoes, rice, or yams, often pounded into dough-like fufu (cous-cous).  I did also come across several recipes for Poulet DG (Poulet Directeur Général), which is served in up market Cameroon restaurants.

In honour of Shrove Tuesday coming up, I opted to go for Cameroon pancakes which the kids had for breakfast, and we saved for our dessert.

Pancakes have always been my nemesis, but this recipe seemed to be much easier to cook – Happy Pancake day!

Rating: 7/10

2 cups flour
1½ cup milk
⅔ cup sugar
6 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
¼- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
½ cup oil for frying

Sift together flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat eggs and milk together with a mixer or by hand.
Mix in flour mixture until everything has been incoporated.
Finally stir in melted butter. Let the batter rest for about an hour or more in the refrigerator (overnight is fine)
Heat a skillet or a non stick frying pan then lightly coat the hot pan with vegetable oil, cooking spray, or clarified butter.
Then pour about a ½ cup of batter depending on your fry pan or skillet.
Tilt pan so the batter spreads across the bottom of the pan.
Cook the pancake for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Lift with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.
Serve hot sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, powder sugar or syrup
(You only need to oil the pan for the first pancake)


Botswana is located in southern Africa. It is mainly flat and almost 80% is made up of the Kalahari Desert. Botswana is bordered by South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. It also meets Zambia at a single point but there is no border. The official language of Botswana is English although Setswana is the most spoken.

Botswana is the world’s largest producer of diamonds. Most Botswanan diamonds are mined by the Desbwana company – 50% owned by DeBeers and 50% owned by the government of Botswana. Diamond revenues enables every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13. The Jwaneng Diamond Mine in southern Botswana is the world’s richest diamond mine.

It is home to the Okavango Delta (the largest inland delta in the world), which became the 1000th inscribed site on the World Heritage List of Unesco in 2014. Chobe National Park has one of the most concentrated population of African elephants and was Botswana’s first national park in 1968. Almost 40% of it’s land is under some form of Wildlife protection. Botswana has been chosen by Lonely Planet as the top country to visit in 2016.

Botswana’s national dish is Seswaa, a salted stewed beef which is usually served with Morogo (a leafy green). One of the more unusual dishes is mophane worms. These are worms similar to caterpillars, that are picked off the mophane tree during summer. They are dried and can be eaten as a snack or rehydrated and cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. However, not being partial to eating worms, I decided to cook Phaphatas (flat dumplings). We had them for breakfast with bacon. Rating: 9/10 (Ellis rated them a 10!)

500g bread flour
8g dried yeast
2 tsps sugar
Half a teaspoon salt
About a cup or so of lukewarm water
Extra flour for kneading

Sift the flour and yeast into a bowl. Add the sugar and salt
Gradually add water and combine with your hands to form a dough. Only add enough water to form the dough.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes till it’s soft and pliable.
Put aside in a bowl covered with a damp cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about half an inch thickness.
Using a round object like a plastic cup or cookie cutter, cut the dough into circles.
Dust the phaphathas liberally on both sides and place in a flat pan on medium heat with enough space between them to allow for rising.
The heat should not be too high or the phaphatha will burn before it fully cooks on the inside.
The phaphatha should rise while cooking. Keep an eye on them and when they’ve turned brown on the bottom, turn over to cook on the other side.  It took about 40 minutes in total.
Remove from heat when cooked through and enjoy while warm.


São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe, is Africa’s second smallest country in terms of population c. 194,000, after The Seychelles.  It is formed of 2 islands in the Gulf of Guinea, close to the equator and they are part of an extinct volcanic range featuring striking rock, coral formations, rainforests and beaches.  It is home to much wildlife including five species of turtle.
It is the smallest Portuguese speaking nation in the world, “Leve leve” (Easy, easy) it a mellow ‘hello’ and the motto of Sao Tome.
Cocoa is the main crop and it represents 95% of the country’s export.
It was on the island of Principe where the first experimental verification of Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity happened in an experiment by Arthur Stanley Eddington in 1919.
The cuisine is based on tropical root crops, plantains, and bananas, with fish as the most common source of protein. The vegetables that are eaten consist of gathered indigenous greens that are cooked in red palm oil.  They have a famous TV chef – João Carlos Silva, who presents “Na Roça com os Tachos” – In the Roça with the Pots.
Some recipes I came across include Fish Calulu (stew) , Chicken with coffee sauce and Rancho de terra (beans & rice).  I opted for Sonhos de Bananas (banana doughnuts) served with chocolate sauce.

Rating: 8/10

4 bananas, peeled
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
Sugar & 1/2 tsp cinnamon mix
Oil for frying

Mash the bananas with a fork and mix with the sugar and flour. Whisk together milk and egg then stir in the banana mixture to form a batter. Heat oil in a deep fryer or saucepan to 350 F. Pour batter a tablespoon at a time into hot oil and fry for about 5 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until the doughnuts are golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve dusted with the cinnamon sugar & chocolate sauce.

Central African Republic

Some facts about this landlocked country:
“Balao” is Hello in Sango. 
The minimum monthly wage for an office worker is $28. 
Basketball is the country’s most popular sport. 
Bananas are the second major food crop 
Diamonds are the largest Central African commodity export, sold either for jewelry (35%), or natural abrasives (35%). 
My light hearted cooking challenge is nothing when you consider that nearly half the population of the Central African Republic are now facing hunger, double the figure from a year ago.
Some traditional recipes include Kanda ti Nyma (Meatballs in Peanut Sauce) and Muamba de Galinha (chicken with palm oil and okra).  I cooked Benne Wafers (sesame biscuits).
Rating: 7/10
For 30 biscuits:
1 cup sesame seeds, toasted
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
Heat the oven to 190 degrees.
Meanwhile, toast your sesame seeds in a dry pan  over a med – low heat, stirring constantly until they start to turn a light shade of brown. Remove them from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.
Now mix all the rest of the ingredients together and add the sesame seeds.
Grease a baking sheet. Drop the mixture by half-teaspoons onto the sheet, making sure to keep some distance between each wafer. When baking, the wafers will spread out until they’re pretty much flat, so they need a lot of space.
Bake for 5-6 minutes, or until the edges of each wafer start to brown.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool (if you wait much longer they will start to stick to the pan).


My knowledge of Guinea before I started this challenge, I could have written on my smallest toenail!  I now know that its on the west coast of Africa and it’s capital is Conakry.   Guinea’s National Park of Upper Niger is inhabited by many species but most notably the Giant Pangolin, a scaly anteater, the meat of which is controversially consumed as a delicacy in China & Vietnam.  I also discovered that there are 30 restaurants in Guinea, according to Trip advisor, 7 of which serve pizza!!  My recipe research presented me with Kansiye (stew), Sauce feuille (spinach stew) and Soupou Gertö (chicken sauce with sweet potatoes), the latter is the recipe I decided to cook.
My rating: 5/10 – mainly because it was a little bit too spicy for me to enjoy it.  It might have been improved if we’d had rice with it.

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This is how I made it:
Ingredients for 2 people
600g chicken pieces (I used thighs & breast, skin on)
1 & 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt, black pepper & chilli powder (according to taste)
1 & 1/2 cups water
2 small cloves of garlic
1 fresh tomato, roughly chopped
1 med onion, roughly chopped
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 chicken stock cube
250g sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
150g butternut squash, peeled & cubed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
1/3 scotch bonnet chilli pepper (optional) – I used a whole green jalapeno pepper as I couldn’t find a scotch bonnet
Vegetable oil
Place the chicken pieces in a bowl with the lemon juice, salt, pepper and chilli powder and let it marinate for 1 hour or more.
Place the spring onions, onions and garlic in a food processor with the tomatoes, crumbled stock cube, 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper and blend.
Heat the oil in a stock pot and cook the chicken pieces until browned on all sides.
Once the chicken is browned, add all the other ingredients to the pot and simmer over a medium heat for 25 minutes or until the squash and sweet potatoes are soft, serve either on its own or with rice.