Palau is an archipelago of approximately 250 islands, part of the Micronesia region in the western Pacific Ocean. The total land area of Palau is 189 sq miles. Its most populous islands are Angaur, Babeldaob, Koror and Peleliu. About 70% of the population live on Koror. The population of Palau is approximately 21,000, of whom 70% are native Palauans of mixed Melanesian, and Austronesian descent.
Saltwater crocodiles are indigenous to Palau and occur in varying numbers throughout the various mangroves and parts of the beautiful rock islands. Although the species is generally considered extremely dangerous, there has only been one fatal human attack in Palau within modern history, and that was in the 1960s. The largest crocodile in Palau measured in at 4.5 metres (15 ft) long.
In September 2009, Palau announced that it would create the world’s first shark sanctuary. The sanctuary protects about 600,000 sq km of ocean. Palau is home to 135 endangered or vulnerable shark and ray species.
Several television programmes and films have been shot in Palau, including the reality show ‘Survivor: Palau’ in 2005 and the 1968 film ‘Hell in the Pacific’ starring Lee Marvin.
The cuisine includes local foods such as cassava, taro, yam, potato, fish and pork. A few Palaun recipes I came across include Taro rosti, Fruit bat soup, Tinola (chicken, papaya & ginger soup), Ulkoy (shrimp fritters) and Pichi Pichi (cassava and coconut dessert). I opted to make Tama (crispy sweet croquettes), which were similar to doughnuts.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Crisco oil (for deep frying)
88 ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
In a deep fryer or deep skillet, heat oil to 350 F or until hot
In a large bowl, beat eggs, milk, and vanilla
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl, stir and add to egg mixture
Mix until dry ingredients are moistened and dough is smooth
Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into the hot oil, fry until golden brown and doughnuts rise to the surface
Drain on paper towel lined plates and serve hot, but they are also good cooled down
Bolivia is the largest landlocked country in the Americas with the Andean mountain range taking up one third of its territory. Bolivia is named after Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan military and political leader who played a key role in the independence of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Panama and Bolivia. He was also officially the first president of Bolivia. Bolivia wasn’t always a landlocked country. It lost 420 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline to Chile in the War of the Pacific and it still maintains a standing navy in preparation for the day it reclaims it back.
A few facts:
Bolivia is the main exporter of Brazil nuts, producing 70% of the world’s supply
La Paz, Bolivia, was the first South American city to get an electricity supply and it was powered by llama dung
North Yungas Road, Bolivia, also known as the “Road of Death”, built by Paraguayan prisoners in the 1930s, is often cited as the most dangerous road in the world and has claimed thousands of lives
At 3,650m above sea level, La Paz is unofficially the highest capital city in the world (the official capital is Sucre but the seat of government is in La Paz)
The Guembe Biocenter in Santa Cruz, Bolivia is home to the world’s largest butterfly sanctuary
One of Bolivia’s oldest silver mines Cerro Rico (Rich Hill), has claimed the lives of an estimated 8 million people in the past 500 years. It is known as the “Mountain that eats men” and is still mined with picks and shovels today.
The traditional staples of Bolivian cuisine are corn, potatoes, and beans. These ingredients have been combined with a number of staples brought by the Spanish, such as rice, wheat, beef, pork, and chicken. Some recipes I considered were Picante de pollo (Spicy Chicken), Silpancho (Thin Sliced Breaded Beef), Chanka de Pollo (Incan Chicken Soup), Arroz con Queso (Rice with Cheese), Mondongo (Pork or Beef Stew), Bunuelos (sweet or savoury fried pastry), Pastel de Choclo (Corn Quiche) and Choripan (chorizo sandwich). However I opted for a very popular snack in Bolivia – Salteñas (Baked savoury pastry). It was quite a tricky recipe with a number of steps, and unfortunately the liquid oozed out of the pastry during the cooking which made it rather soggy. Also we found the flavour a little too sweet for our savoury loving palates!
Makes 3 large or 4 medium Salteñas
Prep time: 45 mins + cooling time
Cook time: 15 – 25 minutes
For the filling
150g cooked chicken, chopped
1 small potato
1 spring onion
1/8 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 cup butter
1/2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 packet of gelatin
For the pastry
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
about 1 cup of warm water
Dice the potato and add it to a pot of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, you don’t want the potatoes to be soft or they will fall apart in the broth, they will still cook a bit longer once they are added to the rest of the ingredients. After 5 minutes, drain the potatoes and set aside
Melt the butter in a pan, add the spices (cumin, oregano, salt and pepper) and cook for 5 minutes
Add the onion and spring onion and cook for a few minutes
Add the vinegar, sugar, parsley, potatoes and green peas and mix everything together well, add the chicken and the chicken broth as well and let it cook all together over medium heat for 5 minutes until the mixture is heated throughout
Add the gelatin to the mixture and then transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely in the fridge
Alternatively you can pour 3 individual portions in to plastic bags sat inside ramekins in the freezer, as this will make it easier to place into the pastry. Only remove them from the freezer once fully frozen
To make the pastry
In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl Lightly beat the egg and in a small saucepan melt the butter
Add all this to the flour mix with some warm water (approx 1 cup) and mix well until it forms a dough
Let the dough rest (covered in a towel so that it does not dry out) for about 10 minutes
Afterwards, divide the dough into smaller pieces and roll out, flouring as needed, into approximately 15cm diameter circles around a 1/4 cm thick
Take a frozen mold of saltena filling from the freezer or a large scoop of the gelatine set filling and place it in the middle of the dough
Wet the edges of the pastry and close together sealing the filling inside well, pinching and twisting the edges to ensure a strong seal. This is a very important step as how well you close the saltenas will determine whether or not they open in the oven later when you are baking them
Add the finished salteñas to a parchment lined baking sheet
Preheat your oven to 240C degrees, line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and grease with non stick spray
Once the oven is at its maximum temperature, add the saltenas to the baking sheet, brush with a beaten egg (for shine) and place in the oven until the salteñas are browned (approx 15 minutes) if the tops are browning too quickly, place another sheet of tinfoil overtop and continue cooking. You want to be sure that the filling is completely heated through
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before tucking in
Paraguay is a landlocked country between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. Due to it’s central location, it is sometimes referred to as Corazón de Sudamérica, “Heart of South America”.
Some interesting facts:
In Paraguay, pistol duelling is still legal as long as both parties are registered blood donors
Paraguay is the only country in the world whose national flag has different emblems on each side. The country’s Coat of Arms is on the front and its Treasury Seal is on the back with its motto, ‘Paz y Justica’ (Peace and Justice)
Following the Paraguayan War (1864–1870), the country lost 60-70% of its population through war and disease, and about 140,000 square kilometers (a quarter of its territory), to Argentina and Brazil, including the popular tourist site – Iguazu Falls
Paraguay is home to the world’s largest rodent called the Capybara, which is basically a giant guinea pig
Staple foods in Paraguay are meat, corn, manioc, milk, cheese and fish. Common recipes include Chipa (Paraguayan cheese bread) which are found everywhere, Tapa de cuadril (Rump steak), Mbeju (starch cake), Guiso popó (stew made with chicken, rice, sweet peppers and garlic), Pira caldo (fish broth), Bori Bori (thick soup with dumplings, cheese, cornmeal and sometimes chicken) and Crema (custard dessert). I made Sopa Paraguaya (corn and cheese bread), which was delicious when we first had it and even better for second helpings a day later!
Serves: Makes 6 large slices
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
350 ml cottage cheese
1 cup of mature cheddar or a combination of your favorite kinds of cheese
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/8 cup of oil
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup white maiz flour (I used ‘Pan’ brand)
Preheat the oven to 190C
Combine all the ingredients and pour into a well greased round pan
Bake for 40-45 minutes
Serve warm or room temperature
Slovenia is a mountainous nation state in Central Europe. It is marked with significant biological diversity and is one of the most water-rich countries in Europe. Over half of the territory is covered by forest. Slovenia’s Karst Plateau is a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves, between Ljubljana and the Mediterranean. The best known caves are Postojna Cave and the UNESCO listed Škocjan Caves.
There are 24,000 animal species, among them marmots, Alpine ibex, chamois, deer, roe deer, boar, and hares. It is believed that Slovenia has one of the largest brown bear populations in Europe with around 400 bears. Among the 13 domestic animals native to Slovenia are the Karst Shepherd mountain dog, the Carniolan honeybee, and the Lipizzan horse, which is associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria.
Maribor, Slovenia’s second-largest city, is home to the oldest vine in the world. The grapevine of Žametovka is about 440 years old and still produce 25 litres of wine every year, however the wine is not available for public sale and has been described by the The Daily Telegraph as “virtually undrinkable”.
Ljubljana City Museum is home to the oldest wheel in the world. The Ljubljana Marshes Wheel is approximately 5,150 years old, has a radius of 70cm and is made of ash and oak.
Slovenian cuisine is a mixture of the Central European cuisine (especially Austrian and Hungarian), Mediterranean cuisine and Balkan cuisine. Recipes I came across include Jota (meat and vegetable hot pot), Ričet (Slovenian Barley soup), Idrija Žlikrofi (dumplings), Čompe s skuto (potatoes with cottage cheese), Prekmurska gibanica (layered cake), Potica (nut bread), baked mushroom with cheese and Kranjske Klobasa (sausages). I opted to make Belokranjska pogača (salted cake), which although quite doughy it was really tasty.
Serves: Makes 28 small squares
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
1 tbsp salt
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
7g (1 pack) of dried yeast
Approx 300ml warm water
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C
Mix all the ingredients and form a dough
Leave to rise for 30 minutes
Spread the dough evenly onto a baking tray, slice it into squares and glaze it with the beaten egg
Sprinkled with sea salt and bake for approximately 40 minutes
Let it cool on a rack before cutting
Papua New Guinea is in the southwestern Pacific, encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea and its offshore Islands. The country is situated on the Pacific Ring of Fire, at the point of collision of several tectonic plates. There are a number of active Volcanoes and eruptions are frequent. Earthquakes are relatively common sometimes accompanied by Tsunamis. It is a country of immense cultural and biological diversity. It’s known for its beaches and coral reefs and is one of the world’s least explored countries both culturally and geographically.
Madang on the western coast was once dubbed the prettiest town in the Pacific, surrounded by azure waters sprinkled with picturesque islands. Madang was virtually destroyed during the Japanese occupation and subsequent fighting in world war II, so much of what you see today was built after the war.
Papua New Guinea has more languages than any other country – 852 languages are listed, of which 12 have no known living speakers. The most widely spoken indigenous language is Enga with about 200,000 speakers. English is the language of government and the education system but it is not spoken widely. The country established its sovereignty in 1975, following nearly 60 years of Australian administration. It became a separate Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state and became a member of the Commonwealth of Nations in its own right.
Sport is an important part of Papua New Guinea culture and Rugby League is by far the most popular sport. Other major sports which have a part in the countries sporting landscape are Australian rules Football, Association Football, rugby union and, in Eastern Papua cricket. The capital and largest city Port Moresby hosted the Pacific Games in 2015.
Popular recipes from Papua New Guinea include Kaukau (baked sweet potato) , Chicken and greens in coconut milk , Mumu (roasted pork with root vegetables, greens, fruit and coconut milk) , Chicken pot (chicken stew with coconut milk), Sago (sago palm is the starch used for making bread and puddings), Dia (sago and bananas cooked with coconut cream) and Yam patties. I opted to make Banana cake which was simple and quite tasty, although not overly sweet.
1⁄2 cup margarine or butter
1⁄2 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 large bananas (mashed)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1⁄2 cup of self-raising flour
1/3 cup of milk (enough to give it a wet texture, but not runny)
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees
Beat butter, sugar and vanilla essence until creamy
Gradually beat in eggs and add mashed bananas
Mix milk and bicarbonate of soda and blend into banana mixture with flour (note – the amount of milk will vary depending on the mushiness of the bananas)
Pour the batter into a round greased 20 cm deep-sided cake pan
Bake for 45-50 minutes in a hot oven
Belize, formerly British Honduras, is a country on the eastern coast of Central America. With a population of around 368,000 it has the least population density in Central America. Mayan culture persists despite nearly 500 years of European domination. The area that is now Belize included three distinct Maya territories: Chetumal province, Dzuluinicob province and a southern territory controlled by the Manche Ch’ol Maya. Impressive Mayan archaeological ruins can be found in the forms of “El Castillo” at Xunantunich and “Caana” at Caracol.
Belize has the longest barrier reef system in the Western hemisphere. At 190 miles long it is the second longest in the world and home to 70 hard coral species, 36 soft coral species and 500 species of fish. 60% of Belize’s land surface is covered by forest and 37% of it’s territory falls under some form of official protection. The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is a nature reserve, founded in 1990 as the first wilderness sanctuary for the jaguar.
Popular recipes in Belizean cuisine include Stew chicken, Stewed Rice and Beans, Panades (corn dough stuffed with fish, chicken or beans), Chimole (‘black dinner’ or chicken soup), Sere (fish soup), Shrimp fritters and the rather unpleasantly named Bile up or boil up (boiled eggs, fish and/or pig tail, with cassava, sweet potatoes, plantains and tomato sauce). I opted to make Fry Jacks (deep fried dough) which are a traditional Belize breakfast food. The kids enjoyed them with icing sugar and chocolate spread. I had them with sausages and even though they were sweet, the combination of flavours was really good.
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ – ¾ tsp salt
2 tbsp shortening/butter
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
¾ cup whole milk
Oil for deep-frying
In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add shortening
Then make a well then add milk, knead dough for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to form soft dough
Divide dough into 7-8 equal pieces and set aside for about 10 mins
Place each one piece on a heavily floured board and roll out dough into a rough circle
Divide the circles in half and then cut a slit through the middle of the rolled out dough
In a large saucepan pour vegetable oil, until it is at least 3 inches or use a deep fat fryer and heat until oil is 350 degrees
Fry until golden brown about 3-5 minutes depending on size
Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper napkin. Let them cool
Serve with your choice of spreads. They also go well with sausages and bacon.
The Bahamas is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean consisting of more than 700 islands, cays, and islets. Its capital is Nassau on the island of New Providence. Grand Bahama and Paradise Island, home to many large scale hotels, are among the best known. Scuba diving and snorkelling sites include the massive Andros Barrier Reef, Thunderball Grotto (used in James Bond films) and the black-coral gardens off Bimini.
The Bahamas became a British Crown colony in 1718, when the British clamped down on piracy. After the American War of Independence, the Crown resettled thousands of American Loyalists in the Bahamas and they in turn brought their slaves with them establishing plantations on land grants. The Bahamas became a haven for freed African slaves. The Royal Navy resettled Africans here liberated from illegal slave ships, American slaves and Seminoles escaped here from Florida and the government freed American slaves from US domestic ships that had reached the Bahamas due to weather. Slavery in the Bahamas was abolished in 1834. Today the descendants of slaves and free Africans make up nearly 90% of the population. Issues related to the slavery years are part of society.
The Bahamas relies on tourism to generate most of its economic activity. It accounts for over 60% of the Bahamian GDP. The Bahamas attracted 5.8 million visitors in 2012, more than 70% of which were cruise visitors. A highlight for any visitor surely would be ‘Pig Beach’ on Big Major Cay where you can swim with approximately 20 pigs and piglets.
Popular ingredients in Bahamian cuisine are fish, seafood, pork, peas, potatoes and rice. Traditional recipes include peas and rice, macaroni cheese, conch chowder and rum cake. I made Bahamian Johnny cake which we had for breakfast with butter and jam. We enjoyed it very much.
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
⅔ cup milk
Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
Cut in butter using a pastry cutter or your hands, working the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs
Add milk and combine until you have a soft dough consistency
Knead on a floured surface until smooth
Preheat the oven to 176c
Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then transfer into a greased 9×9-inch tin
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the cake begin to turn a light golden brown
Let it cool on a wire rack before serving
Liechtenstein is a 25km long doubly landlocked principality situated between Austria and Switzerland. It is the smallest German-speaking country and the only German-speaking nation that doesn’t share a border with Germany. Liechtenstein is located in the Upper Rhine valley of the European Alps and the mountain slopes are well suited to winter sports. They have won a total of nine medals at the Winter Olympics, all for alpine skiing, but have never won a medal at the Summer Olympics and is the only country to have won Winter Olympic medals but not Summer Olympics. Liechtenstein has the world’s third highest per capita income behind Qatar and Luxembourg and has one of the world’s lowest unemployment rates at 1.5%. Liechtenstein is the largest producer of false teeth in the world.
Liechtensteiner cuisine has been influenced by the cuisine of nearby countries, particularly Switzerland and Austria. Their diet consists of dairy, potatoes, green vegetables, beef, chicken and pork. Traditional dishes include Käsknöpfle (pasta covered with cheese), Hafaläb (corn bread loaf), Ribel (cornmeal based dish) and Geschnetzelte Schweinsleber (sliced pork liver with green pepper). I decided to make Alperrosti (potato and bacon rosti with fried egg), which we had for breakfast. It was a flavoursome and fulfilling start to the day!
Peel and grate the potatoes. Put them in a tea towel and squeeze all of the moisture out
Fry the bacon until crispy, pour the oil into a cup and reserve
Chop up the bacon into small peices
Mix the potato and bacon together, add salt and pepper and a whisked egg
Add half the butter and some of the bacon frying oil to the frying pan used for the bacon
Add half the potato mixture and flatten into a disk. Fry on a medium heat for about 5 minutes
Flip the rosti and cook for 12-15 mins on a lower heat
Remove the cooked rosti to a warmed plate and repeat with the remaining potato mix
Add grated gruyere to the top of each rosti and slide it onto a tray which can go under the grill
Whilst grilling the rosti, fry 2 eggs and place one on top of each of the rostis
The Kingdom of Tonga is an archipelago of 169 islands in the Pacific Ocean and 36 of the islands are inhabited. Spread over 500 miles from north to south, there are 3 main island groups – Vava’u, Ha’apai, and Tongatapu. 70% of the population living on the main island of Tongatapu. Tonga became a constitutional monarchy in 1875 and remains the only monarchy in the Pacific. King Tupou VI has reigned since 18 March 2012.
Rugby union is the national sport and they are very proud of the national team known as the Sea Eagles. Like New Zealand, Tonga performs a war-like dance before matches called the “Sipi Tau”.
Tourism is the 2nd largest source of Tongan earnings with 45,000 visitors in 2013. Highlights include Ha’amonga ‘a Maui Trilithon (the South Pacific’s stonehenge), St Joseph’s Cathedral, Mapu’a ‘a Vaea Blowholes, Ha’atafu Beach and ‘Anahulu Cave.
Tongan cuisine features taro, yams, bananas, coconuts, and fish baked in leaves. Traditionally they would have eaten one meal at lunchtime each day that had been cooked in an ‘umu’ (earth oven). Nowadays they have adopted a more western meal schedule of breakfast, light lunch and dinner. Some Tongan dishes include Faikakai topai (dumplings in sweet coconut syrup), Lo’I Feke (Octopus in coconut cream) , Lū sipi (taro leaves with lamb), Kapisi Pulu (cabbage and corned beef in coconut cream) , Keke Vai with Banana (Banana Pancakes) and Oka Ita (Tongan ceviche). I opted to make coconut bread which was a little crumbly but quite tasty.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 & ½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp scraped vanilla bean
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Mix flour, baking soda, salt and grated coconut in a bowl
Whisk egg, add sugar, vanilla and coconut milk and mix well
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well
Pour into greased loaf tin
Bake for 1 hour and remove from the tin to a cooling rack
Montenegro – Crna Gora or Black Mountain, allegedly named by the Venetians when they saw the pine forests on Mount Lovćen which were apparently so dense that from far away the mountain looked black. 60 percent of the country is more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) high, with the tallest peak, Zla Kolata, reaching to 2,534 metres (8,314 ft) which is located on the border of Montenegro and Albania. It became an independent nation in 2006, after 55% voted for independence in a referendum.
In Montenegro, ‘Krvna Osveta’ (blood feud) is a law of vendetta which has been practised since medieval times and still occurs today. It is an oath of revenge for vendetta, meaning that a person must take revenge on whoever killed his relative by killing the murderer or one of the murderer’s close relatives.
Montenegro is considered one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations with 1.7 million visitors in 2015. National Geographic Traveler features Montenegro among the “50 Places of a Lifetime”. It has a coastline of 293 km with over 120 beaches and 3 Unesco world heritage sites; the Historical Region of Kotor, Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards and Durmitor National Park.
Traditional Montenegrin cuisine has influences from Italian, Turkey, Serbia and Croatia. Popular dishes include Jagnjeća Supa (Lamb broth), Brav u miljeku (lamb cooked in milk), Čorbast Pasulj (bean stew with smoked ribs), Priganice (fritters or flat doughnuts) and Sac (meat slow roasted in ashes under an iron dome). I opted to cook Balšica tava (Veal in Royal Sauce). Randomly, we had this for breakfast, I’m not entirely sure why we thought it would be a good idea, perhaps because it has eggs in it and some recipes suggested it was like an omelette! Had we walked some of the Montenegrin mountains and worked up an appetite, I think this dish would be a pleasant reward, however the watery texture wasn’t really our cup of tea.
Serves: 1 as a main, 2 as a light snack
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Pre heat the oven to 200°C
Cut the veal into approximately 50g chunks, add to a saucepan along with the vegetables and bayleaf
Cover the contents of the pan with water and add 1/2 tsp salt
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cook for about 15 minutes
Drain through a sieve, then place in a small oven proof pan and drizzle the melted butter over the top
Place in the oven and roast for about 8 minutes
Meanwhile, make the “royal sauce” by whisking together the eggs, milk and cream
Pour over the meat, until completely covered then return to the oven and cook for 7 minutes
Finish it under the grill for a few minutes to give it colour
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve
The state of Libya, formerly an Italian colony until independence in 1951 was an authoritarian socialist state under Muammar Qaddafi from 1969 to 2011. His backing of terrorism led to a US bombing in 1986 and UN sanctions in 1992. In 2003 Libya ended its international isolation and abandoned its weapons programs. Since September 2014 the UN has been working to reconcile the governments and encouraging them to form a national unity government.
Libya’s coastline is the longest of any African country bordering the Mediterranean. The Libyan Desert forms the northern and eastern part of the Sahara Desert and covers 95% of Libyan territory. It is one of the driest, harshest and most remote parts of the greater Sahara and in 1922 the highest temperature (58 °C) on earth was recorded here (however it was disqualified by the World Meteorological Organisation in 2013 as it was found to be invalid).
Libya has many sights including the Roman city of Leptis Magna (originally a Phoenician port), the ancient Greek city of Cyrene, the Saharan Ubari lakes and 12,000 year old rock art at Jebel Acacus. However you’ll have to wait a while as travelling to Libya currently is a total no no.
Libyan cuisine derives much from the traditions of Tunisia and Egypt. There are four main ingredients of traditional Libyan food: olives (and olive oil), dates, grains and milk. Some recipes I came across include Mubatan (fried potato stuffed with meat), Mhalbiya (rice pudding), Bureek (pastries), Bazin (bread dome served with lamb stew and eggs) and Khubs bi’ tun (bread with tuna fish). I made Khubzah bil Ashab (Libyan Herb Bread) which was very flavoursome.
Serves: 6 – 8
Prep time: 25 mins + 1 – 1/2 hours resting time
Cook time: 25 – 35 mins
1 cup warm milk
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
8 level tbsp cornflour
3 1/2 cups plain flour
40ml olive oil
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
Bunch of thyme, chopped
Bunch of parsley, chopped
Green olives, chopped
1 tsp paprika
Add the dried yeast to 1/2 cup of warm water with a tsp of sugar
Measure 2 level tbsp into a cup and then fill to the top with plain flour then sieve into a bowl, repeat this 3 more times
Sieve the flour and cornflour 4 more times, then seive in the salt and baking powder
Add the warm water into the yeast and sugar and stir well
Add the liquid to the sieved flour gradually and bring into together to a soft dough
Stir in the herbs, olives and paprika into the dough
Stir in the olive oil
Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave it somewhere warm for 1 – 1/2 hours
Preheat the oven to 220 C.
Grease a loose base cake tin (about 20cm by 20cm)
Pour the dough and smoothen.
Brush generously with olive oil.
Put in the hot oven and cook for 25 – 30 mins or until golden
Use a skewer to ensure the dough is cooked
Remove from the cake tin and leave to cool on a wire rack
Cut into squares and serve with mint tea
Ingredients for Khubzah bil Ashab (Libyan Herb Bread
The Republic of Honduras, is a mountainous country in Central America discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1502. Honduras was home to Maya culture, famed for their hieroglyphic script. 80% of the country’s territory is mountainous and there are 91 protected national areas. It has 2 Unesco world heritage sites; the Maya site of Copan and Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve.
Copán Ruins Archeological Site is the most studied Maya city in the world. Dating back nearly 2,000 years, the society that lived here was highly stratified, deeply symbolic, and focused on tradition. The site is famous for the stelae and altars that are scattered around the immense plaza, most of which were erected during the years 711 and 736. Other highlights include the Hieroglyphic Stairway, a unique temple, which holds the longest known Mayan text and the Acropolis featuring superb carved reliefs of the 16 kings of Copán.
Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve is one of the few remaining tropical rainforests in Central America, a massive swath of jungle along the Mosquito Coast. It boasts an extraordinary diversity of ecosystems and species including the endangered Mexican Spider Monkey, the endangered Central American Tapir, the near-threatened Guiana Crested Eagle, several species of poisonous snakes and 4 species of marine turtles (loggerhead, leatherback, green turtle and hawksbill turtle).
Honduras has struggled with social and political instability and has the world’s highest murder rate (5,936 murders in 2014). Honduras was declared one of the heavily indebted poor countries by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and became eligible for debt relief in 2005. In 2010, 50% of the population were living below the poverty line. About 83% of the population are literate and even though 94% enrol to primary education, only 40% complete.
Other than the Unesco sites, a major highlight is Islas de la Bahía, three Bay Islands – Roatán, Utila and Guanaja. Their reefs are part of the second largest barrier reef in the world, home to fish, coral, sponges, rays, sea turtles and whale sharks.
The cuisine of Honduras is a fusion of Spanish, Caribbean and African. Some of the dishes I found were Baleadas (flour tortillas with beans & cheese) , Sopa de Mondongo (tripe & vegetable soup) , Carneada (barbecued meat) and Tapado de Pescado (Baked fish with coconut milk and vegetables). Coconut and bananas are plentiful in Honduras, so I opted to make Banana and coconut bread.
It was really delicious.
28g unsalted butter at room temperature
28g light cream cheese at room temperature
190g caster sugar
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
⅛ tsp salt
2 large bananas, mashed
120ml skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g coconut, flaked or desiccated
Preheat oven to 175 degrees.
Rub a loaf tin with butter ensuring its covered and set aside.
Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed in mixer.
While beating add 1 cup sugar and egg.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir until well-blended.
Combine banana, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl until well combined.
Add the flour mixture alternately with banana mixture to the butter and cream cheese mixture, mixing after each addition.
Stir in the coconut.
Pour batter into prepared tin and bake for 60 minutes.
Let it cool before enjoying with or without butter.
I visited Saint Lucia a few years ago and being entirely honest, I wasn’t as amazed as I’d hoped. The hotel was a little tired and we were there during rainy season. However, after doing research for the blog, I’d definitely like to go back and further explore what it has to offer.
Lying in the eastern Caribbean Sea and part of the Lesser Antilles, Saint Lucia is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. It is more mountainous than most Caribbean islands. The French gave Saint Lucia it’s name, after Saint Lucy of Syracuse, as they were the first Europeans to colonise the island. Saint Lucia gained independence from Britain in 1979. It is a Commonwealth realm and Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State.
Along with the picturesque beaches, tourists come to Saint Lucia to see The Pitons, majestic twin peaks called Gros Piton (797m) and Petit Piton (750m) soaring from the sea. They are the only two of its kind in the world and have recently attained world heritage site status. Other highlights include the rain forests, Pigeon Island National Park and the world’s only drive-in volcano at Sulphur Springs (Soufriere). Ranking no.1 on Trip Advisor, ‘the’ place to stay is The Inn On The Bay in Marigot Bay.
The cuisine of Saint Lucia is a blend of French, East Indian and British influences. Dishes include Banana fritters, Green figs and Salt fish (the national dish), Accras (fishcake), Souse (pork broth), Breadfruit (like potato but sweet) and Pouille Dudon (chicken stew with treacle and coconut). I made Hot bakes, which are a little like muffins. The recipe I followed didn’t advise how many I should make, so mine were larger than they should have been, however they went down a treat with the kids at breakfast. We had them with jam, treacle and chocolate spread, but I think they would work equally well with a poached egg.
Makes 12 – 20 (depending on how big you make them!)
Prep time: 20 mins + 1 hour resting time
Cook time: 15 mins
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
oil for frying
1 cup water
Put the flour into a large bowl add sugar, baking powder, melted butter and salt. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and just enough water to make a dough sticky to the touch.
Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. If it becomes too sticky, add a little flour to make it easier to handle.
When you are done kneading the dough, cover it and allow it to rise in a warm place for at least half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 160°C
Heat up a frying pan over low – medium heat and then add enough oil to cover the pan.
Divide the dough into small balls (I made 13 but they were probably too big, so I’d aim for 20).
Flatten the dough balls to about ½ inches thick.
When the oil is hot (not smoking), place the flattened balls of dough in your frying pan until one side turns golden brown, about 3-4 minutes and turn over to the other side for same results. Do them in batches if necessary.
Once their all browned, place them in the oven for 10 minutes.
Serve with preserves or poached egg.
Burundi is a landlocked country in the African Great Lakes region of East Africa. The Twa, Hutu and Tutsi peoples have lived in Burundi for at least 500 years. Burundi has been plagued by ethnic conflict between the majority Hutus and the Tutsis, who tend to dominate the government and army—but are only 14 percent of the population. A 2003 cease-fire and new government offered hope for peace, however this peace came to a shattering end in 2015 when President Nkurunziza decided to run for what many Burundians believed to be a constitution breaking third term in office. Violence broke out before the election, and has escalated since. The entire country is now considered a no go area for travellers.
Burundi is one of the most eroded and deforested countries in all of tropical Africa. The cutting of forests for fuel is uncontrolled despite legislation requiring permits. Only about 5.7% of Burundi’s total land area is protected.
Burundi is one of the world’s poorest countries, owing in part to its landlocked geography, poor legal system, lack of economic freedom, lack of access to education, and the proliferation of HIV/AIDS. The World Happiness Report 2016 update ranked Burundi as the world’s least happy nation.
Bujumbura’s Lake Tanganyika beaches are some of the best urban beaches of any landlocked country in Africa. A small spring at Kasumo, 115km southeast of Bujumbura might be the southernmost source of the River Nile. Drumming is an important part of Burundi’s cultural heritage. The world-famous Royal Drummers of Burundi have performed for over 40 years.
A typical Burundian meal consists of sweet potatoes, corn, and peas. Due to the expense, meat is eaten only a few times per month. Recipes I came across included Marahagwe (bean and vegetable stew), Ibiharage (fried beans) and the somewhat strange pairing of banana with beans. I opted to make date & banana loaf, which although it was a little dry, the flavour was pretty good. Untraditionally, I did however serve it with clotted cream as I felt it was too dry on it’s own.
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
260g butter, melted
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 large or 2 small bananas
1 & 1/2 cup chopped dates
2 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 175c.
Beat 230g of the melted butter with the sugar until well blended.
Add the eggs one at a time mixing well before adding the second one.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix well.
Line a loaf tin with parchment paper.
Spread half of the mix in the bottom of the tin and level the surface with your fingertips.
Add the sliced bananas.
Remove pits from dates, chop coarsely and pout on top of the bananas.
Cover with the remaining cake mix.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown in an oven.
Remove from the oven and brush the top of the cake with the remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
Sprinkle the surface with a mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon.
Benin is a country in West Africa, bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. About 42 African ethnic groups live in Benin, with most people living on its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin. It was formerly called Dahomey, a kingdom that rose to prominence in about 1600 and over the next two and half centuries became a regional power, largely based on its slave trade. Dahomey was also widely known for its corps of female soldiers known as the Dahomey Amazons.
Benin is widely seen as the birthplace of voodoo. They hold an annual Voodoo festival in Ouidah on Voodoo Day (January 10th), which is a public holiday. There is a national Voodoo museum. Voodoo is more than a belief system, it is a complete way of life, including culture, philosophy, language, art, dance, music and medicine.
Oscar nominated Djimon Hounsou (of Gladiator and Blood Diamond) was born in Cotonou, Benin.
It offers the visitor many interesting sights including the Parc National de la Pendjari, which is one of the best wildlife parks in West Africa. Lions, cheetahs, leopards, elephants and hundreds of other species thrive here. Other highlights are Grand Popo (palm fringed beaches), the colonial buildings of Porto Novo (the capital) and Grand Marche de Dantokpa (the large market in Cotonou).
Recipes I came across for Benin include Ago Glain (spicy crab, tomato and onion stew) , Akkra Funfun (white bean fritters) , Talé Talé (deep fried banana fritters). I opted to make Yovo doko (Beninese sweet fritters) which I served for breakfast. The kids enjoyed them with chocolate spread!
Makes about 40 fritters
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
500g plain flour
170g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
Put the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water in a bowl and mix with your fingers until it is well blended.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil to low – medium.
Place spoonfuls of the mixture around the pan and fry for 6 minutes on each side and then 2 minutes again on the first side.
Drain on kitchen towel and serve with a dusting of icing sugar.
Ingredients for yovo doko fritters
Making the batter for yovo doko fritters
Yovo doko batter
Frying the yovo doko fritters
Yovo doko fritters
Malawian Mandasi (doughnuts) and Yovo doko fritters from Benin
Malawi lies landlocked in southeast Africa. It was formerly known as Nyasaland. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is also nicknamed “The Warm Heart of Africa”. Lake Malawi, which takes up a third of Malawi’s area is a huge freshwater lake, lined with excellent beaches and filled with colorful fish, as well as the occasional hippo and crocodile. Lake Malawi was once called “The Lake of the Stars” by the famed Scottish explorer David Livingstone, because lantern lights he saw from the fishermen’s boats resembled the stars at night.
Malawi has been independent from Britain since 1964. President Hastings Kamuzu Banda ruled for more than 25 years until democratic elections in 1994 brought in new leadership.
Apparently Malawi is the only country in the world that has a Carlsberg factory (with the exception, of course, of Denmark) – so Carlsberg beer is sold here at just about 35p!
Highlights for the visitor are aplenty with several wildlife national parks and reserves (Nyika, Nkhotakota, Lilongwe and Majete to name a few), the beaches of Likoma Island, Mt Mulanje and the impressive Manchewe Falls.
Popular cuisine of Malawi includes different types of fish, nsima (ground corn), kachumbari (tomato & onion salad) and kondowole (cassava flour & water). They also enjoy tea & coffee, so I opted to cook a dish called Mandasi (doughnuts) which are generally served with a hot drink. We had some family visiting for the weekend so I served these for breakfast alongside Yovo Doko fritters from Benin and the kids really tucked in!!
Makes 12 doughnuts
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
2 cups plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsps of baking powder
2 tbsps of sugar
1 beaten egg
1 cup of milk
Vegetable oil for frying
Mix the flour, salt, baking power in a bowl. Add the sugar, egg, milk and beat until smooth.
Drop spoonfuls of the batter into a deep fat fryer with hot oil and fry until golden brown, turning once.
Drain on kitchen towel and serve with a dusting of icing sugar.
Ingredients for Mandasi
Frying the Mandasi
Malawian Mandasi (doughnuts)
Malawian Mandasi (doughnuts) and Yovo doko fritters from Benin
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates established in 1971 – Abu Dhabi (the capital), Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwai.
Once a quiet Bedouin backwater, now an astonishing blend of Arabian tradition and economic innovation. The UAE’s oil reserves are the seventh-largest in the world and as such is one of the wealthiest countries in the Middle East.
In 2013, the UAE’s total population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates. Dubai is the most populated Emirate with about 36% of the UAE population.
The climate of the U.A.E is subtropical-arid with hot summers and warm winters. The hottest months are July and August, when average maximum temperatures reach above 45 °C on the coastal plain. In 2004, there was snow in the UAE for the very first time.
According to Lonely Planet there are 186 sights in the UAE. The top picks include Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, Dubai museum, Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain, Deira Souqs and Emirates Palace. The Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, was completed in January 2010 and became the world’s tallest building at 2,716 feet (828 meters) and 160 stories. It contains the world’s fastest elevators and 20.7 acres of glass.
The Telegraph states that the most expensive hotel room in Dubai is the Royal Suite in Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, priced at up to £12,000 per night. This is a snip in comparison to the Royal Penthouse Suite at the President Wilson Hotel in Geneva which would set you back £53,000 per night!!
When it comes to the food, they have adopted most of their foods from other West and South Asian countries including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India and Oman. Seafood is popular along with meat and rice. Alcohol is only allowed to be served in hotel restaurants, bars and nightclubs. Although one may consume alcohol, it is illegal to be intoxicated in public. Recipes I came across include Machboos (spicy stew with rice) , Harees (dumplings) , Shawarma (kebab) , Khanfaroush (cookies) , Chicken Salona (stew) and Chabab (bread). I opted to make Khameer bread, which is traditionally served at breakfast with cottage cheese or fruit, however I served it as a starter with dips. It was a little sweet, but enjoyable none the less.
1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 tbsp instant yeast
1/4 cup milk powder
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp saffron
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
3/4 cup warm water
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Add both flours, yeast, milk powder, saffron, cardamon powder and sugar in a large bowl and whisk well to combine.
Slowly add water and knead to make a soft dough. When the flour holds together as a dough (you may not need to use all the water), place it on a flat surface and knead for 5 minutes to get a smooth dough.
Let the dough rest for 1 hour in a warm place.
Divide the dough into 6-7 portions. Roll each portion into a disc of 4-5 inches.
Heat a non stick fying pan or griddle and when it is medium hot, place one of the rolled out discs into the pan.
It will start to puff up, flip after a minute and cook the other side, spread a tsp of oil on top, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and flip and cook for a few seconds.
Remove it on serving plate and repeat with the other discs.
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.
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.
Guyana situated on the northern mainland of South America is the only English speaking country in the continent. It gained independence in 1966 and officially became a republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations in 1970.
It is a member of the Caribbean community (CARICOM), which has it’s headquarters in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown.
Guyana means “land of many waters”. 80% of the country is made up of rainforest. Kaieteur Falls is the world’s widest single drop waterfall, located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park and is about four times higher than the Niagara Falls.
90% of the population lives in a narrow coastal strip, which makes up approximately 10% of the nation’s total land area.
In 1973, Jim Jones, founder of ’The People’s Temple’, leased some land in the Guyanese jungle and set up the Jonestown compound. Hundreds of People’s Temple members flew to Guyana and moved in to the compound. It was meant to be utopia, but it was overcrowded and cabins were segregated by gender, meaning married couples were forced to live apart. It was run like a prison encircled with armed guards. On Nov 18th 1978, Jim Jones congregated the group and urged them to commit ‘revolutionary’ suicide. Cyanide and valium were mixed with a flavoured powder to make the lethal drink. The Jonestown massacre resulted in the deaths of 912 people, 276 were children. Jones himself died from a single gunshot wound to the head – it is unclear if he did this himself.
The cuisine of Guyana is diverse, taking influence from Africa, Creole, Indian, Portugese and Chinese among others. Popular dishes are curry, cookup rice (rice & peas), Pepperpot (Guyanese spicy stew) and black cake. I decided to make Roti (flatbreads).
As Mum & Dad were joining us for dinner, I served the Rotis alongside the South African sosaties, Lebanese tabbouleh and salad & raita. Overall the meal was rated 9/10.
Makes 6 rotis
Prep time: 10 minutes + 45 minutes standing time for dough
Cook time: 40 minutes
175g self raising flour
350g plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup melted butter
Mix flours, salt and water to form a soft dough. Knead until smooth and let sit for 15 mins.
Roll dough into a rectangular shape about 1/8 inch in thickness.
Place oil and butter together in a bowl. Spread oil and butter mixture liberally over the dough, making sure entire surface of dough is oiled.
Starting from the longer side, roll up the dough tightly.
Slice into six pieces. Scrunch the oily ends of the dough together (like making a pork ball) and then tuck them in so you end up with a round ball.
Place on a tray with the joined side down.
Let them sit for at least half hour.
Place a crepe or omlette pan over a medium heat.
While the pan heats up roll out the dough to a flat, thin circle, one at a time.
Place the dough into the ungreased pan and cook for 1 minute, then flip.
Liberally brush the oil mixture on the roti and after 30 seconds, flip again.
Now brush the other side of the roti with the oil mixture and flip again.
Cook for an additonal minute, then take off the heat and place in a covered bowl.
Shake in covered bowl vigoruously.
This will make the roti fluffy and should reveal the layers.
Continue this process until all the roti is cooked.