Tanzania is a large country in East Africa which includes the spice islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia and also contains Africa’s highest point—Kilimanjaro, at 5,895 meters (19,340 feet).
A few facts
Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is home to the world’s densest population of lions, wildebeest, elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, zebra, leopards, and hyenas. There are approximately 25,000 animals in the crater of just 100 square miles
Lake Manyara National Park is home to the world’s only tree-climbing lions
The largest crab in the world – the coconut crab, can be found on Chumbe Island of Zanzibar
The world’s earliest human skull was found in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania by Louis and Mary Leakey
Freddie Mercury was born in Stone Town, Zanzibar
The cuisine of Tanzania has been influenced by Portuguese as well as Indian cuisine. The national dish of Tanzania is the humble Ugali, a simple porridge made with either maize, millet, or sorghum flour. Other dishes include Mandazi (deep-fried doughnut-like cakes), Kashata (coconut bars), Mkate wa kumimina (Zanzibari rice bread), Vitumbua (rice patties), Wali wa Nazi (rice in coconut milk) and coconut bean soup. I opted to cook Mshikaki (marinated meat) which was quite tasty, thanks to the overnight marinating.
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinate meat overnight or for at least 4 hrs in the fridge
Skewer the meat on water soaked wooden skewers
Grill the meat skewers on an open coal BBQ, basting with marinate until cooked
Serve with pitta or wraps and salad leaves
Argentina occupies almost the whole of the southern part of the South American continent, sharing land borders with Chile across the Andes to the west, and extends from Bolivia to Cape Horn. It is the second largest country in South America, after Brazil, and boasts some of the Andes highest mountains. Areas such as San Miguel de Tucuman and Mendoza are subject to earthquakes and violent windstorms. Cerro Aconcagua is the Western Hemisphere’s tallest mountain, while Laguna del Carbon is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.
In 1816, the United Provinces of the Rio Plata declared their independence from Spain. After Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay went their separate ways, the area that remained became Argentina. The country’s population and culture were heavily shaped by immigrants from throughout Europe, with Italy and Spain providing the largest number of newcomers from 1860 to 1930. Up until the mid 20th century, much of Argentina’s history was dominated by periods of internal political conflict between Federalists and Unitarians and between civilian and military factions.
Juan Domingo Peron served as President from 1946-1955. He created a political movement known as Peronism where he nationalised strategic industries and services, improved wages and working conditions, paid the full external debt and achieved nearly full employment. The economy, however, began to decline in 1950 because of over expenditure. His highly popular wife, Eva Peron, played a central political role. She pushed congress to enact women’s suffrage in 1947, and developed an unprecedented social assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of society. However, her declining health did not allow her to run for vice-presidency in 1951, and she died of cancer the following year. Peron went into exile in 1955 for 18 years. In 1973 he won the election with his third wife Isabel as vice-president, he died in July 1974 and was succeeded by his wife.
Buenos Aires is the large cosmopolitan capital, with the Plaza de Mayor being the central area, lined with stately 19th-century buildings including Casa Rosada, the iconic balconied presidential palace. Iguazu National Park covers an area of subtropical rainforest in Argentina’s Misiones province, on the border with Brazil. The renowned Iguazu Falls encompass many separate cascades, including the iconic Garganta del Diablo or “Devils Throat”. The surrounding park features diverse wildlife including coatis, jaguars and toucans, plus trails and viewing platforms.
Tango is possibly Argentina’s greatest contribution to the outside world, a steamy dance that’s been described as making love in the vertical position! Football remains one of the most popular Argentinian sports, around 90% of the population would consider themselves as fans of a club. One of the most famous teams is La Boca whose home ground is in Buenos Aires, but there are several very good teams within the country. Tennis is also quite popular and Argentina has produced some of the best names in the sport – Guillermo Vilas in the 70’s and 80’s, Sabatini in the 90’s and today, the likes of David Nalbandian and Guillermo Coria, nicknamed El Mayo (The Magician in Spanish).
Steak is synonymous with Argentina and they are the fourth largest consumer of meat in the world, after Australia, the US and Israel. Asado is the name for the Argentine BBQ, meaning both the technique and the social event. An asado usually consists of beef alongside various other meats, which are cooked on a grill, called a parrilla, or an open fire. Some popular recipes I came across include Locro (meat, bean and vegetable stew), Choripán (chorizo sandwich), Empanadas (little pies), Sandwiches de miga (thin white bread with filling such as ham and cheese), Dulce de leche (their national spread used to fill cakes and pancakes) and Hojaldre (pastry covered with meringue). I made Asado de tira (BBQ short ribs) with chimichurri sauce, which we cooked on an open BBQ with hot coals. Despite buying the best ribs I could from the butchers, there were parts of the meat that were beautifully flavoured but other parts were a bit gristly.
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp dried oregano
25ml extra-virgin olive oil
12ml cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp chilli flakes
Take the beef ribs out of the fridge and bring them to room temperature
Light the coals on your BBQ (not gas) and leave them until they are covered with grey ash
Season the ribs very liberally all over with salt and freshly ground pepper
Place the ribs directly over coals and cook, turning frequently, until charred on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes total.
Insert a thermometer into thickest part of steak and they’re done when they register 125°F
Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes
Serve with the chimichurri sauce
Place parsley, garlic, and oregano in to a mini food processor and pulse until finely chopped
Transfer to a bowl and whisk in oil, vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes
Namibia, “Land of the Brave” according to the national anthem, is situated in southern Africa between the Namib and the Kalahari deserts. The Namib (meaning “vast place”) coastal desert is one of the oldest in the world, it’s sand dunes are the highest in the world and they are a rich source of diamonds. The Sperrgebiet (meaning “Prohibited Area”) National Park, also known as Diamond Area 1, was created by the Germans in 1908, it was then taken over by the South Africans and De Beers had full ownership until the 1990s when the Namibian government bought a fifty percent stake, forming a partnership called the Namdeb Diamond Corporation. Namibian diamonds are the highest valued in the world and were worth $550 dollars per carat in 2012 vs Russian diamonds (the world’s largest producer) at $82 per carat.
A few other interesting facts:
Namibia is the second least densely populated country in the world after Mongolia
It has the largest number of cheetahs in the world
Namibia is one of only two countries in the world that has desert dwelling elephants
‘Hoba’, the world’s largest intact meteorite landed in Namibia weighing over 60 tonnes
It is the fifth largest producer of uranium in the world and is expected to become the second largest once the Husab mine reaches full production in 2017
Highlights for the tourist include the sand dunes at Sossusvlei, Spitzkoppe (the ‘Matterhorn of Africa’), the Skeleton Coast, Etosha National Park and the Fish River Canyon gorge. In 2010, Lonely Planet named Namibia the 5th best tourist destination in the world in terms of value.
Namibian cuisine varies by region but staple foods include pap (porridge), meat, game and fish. A few dishes I came across were Potjiekos (small pot stew), sheep’s tails, veldt bread and Namibian black eyed peas. However, I decided to have a go at ‘Kapana’ which is simply grilled meat, generally beef. It is a highly popular street food found in the Windhoek Katutura area. It can be served on its own, with spices or with vetkoeks (fat cakes). A special thanks to Chantel from the Namibian Chefs Association who gave me some advice to ensure it’s authenticity. Even though we have a fabulously large gas BBQ, I bought a disposable charcoal BBQ so it had the ‘real’ taste. We thought the vetkoeks were a little sweet and overpowered the meat, but were a very tasty treat for breakfast the next morning!
For the kapana
2 ribeye steaks (choose chunky steaks with a good amount of fat)
coarse sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
hot chilli sauce (optional)
For the vetkoeks (makes 4)
2 cups flour
7g instant dry yeast
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 cup warm water
vegetable oil for deep frying
For the vetkoeks
Sieve flour and combine all the dry ingredients in a big bowl
Add the oil and then water bit by bit until you get the consistency of a soft bread dough. The mixture must still be quite sticky.
Place the dough on a floured surface and gently knead for 5-10 minutes
You may need to add a little more flour to the dough to prevent it sticking to your fingers
Place the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a cloth and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 – 2 hours
Divide the dough into 4 portions and mould into balls
Deep fry a few vetkoek at a time over a medium/low heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes
For the kapana
Light the disposable BBQ 20 minutes before you want to use it
Generously season the steaks and rub a little groundnut oil all over
Grill the steaks on the BBQ for 5 minutes on each side for medium rare steaks and then rest for 2 minutes
Serve with the vetkoeks and hot chilli sauce
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded in 1932 by Ibn Saud, who is known within the Arab world as Abdul Aziz. As King, he presided over the discovery of petroleum in Saudi Arabia in 1938 and the beginning of large scale oil production after WWII. In accordance with the customs of his people, Abdul Aziz headed a polygamous household. He had 22 wives and almost a hundred children. Of his 45 sons, 6 went on to become king.
Saudi Arabia has since become the world’s largest oil producer and exporter, controlling the world’s second largest oil reserves. It relies on the oil industry for almost half of its GDP.
The percentage of Saudi Arabia’s population that is female is one of the lowest in the world. Women are not permitted to drive, open bank accounts, work, travel or go to school without the express permission of a male guardian. In December 2015, women were allowed to vote for the first time, and 979 women ran for office.
Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and home to Islam’s two holiest shrines – Mecca (where the Prophet Muhammad received the word of Allah), and Medina (where Muhammad died in A.D. 632). One of the five pillars of Islam is performing Hajj, by traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, at least once. Approximately two million people a year make the pilgrimage.
The cuisine of Saudi Arabia has been influenced by Turkish, Indian, Persian, and African food. Pork is not allowed due to Islamic dietary laws. Popular dishes include Khouzi (lamb stuffed with chicken that is stuffed with rice, nuts and sultanas), Shawarma (meat kebab), Kabsa (meat and vegetables with rice), Markook or Shrak (flatbread), Saleeg (white rice cooked in broth) and Murtabak (stuffed pancake). I opted to make the simple but tasty Dajaj Mashwi (Arabian grilled chicken) which I served with aioli and a mixed salad.
Quick aioli dip
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground black pepper
Using a mallet, flatten the chicken breasts and place them in a plastic bag
Add all the spice powders to the bag with the lime juice and olive oil
Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for about an hour
Place the chicken breasts in foil and wrap well
Cook them on a hot BBQ for 15 – 20 minutes, then remove from the foil and cook directly over the heat for 5 minutes to give them some colour
Serve hot, with aioli and mixed salad
Quick aioli dip
Mash garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in small bowl until paste forms
Whisk in mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice
Season to taste with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
I visited Kenya for a holiday over 20 years ago and was fortunate to enjoy a 2 day safari in Tsavo East National Park. It was my first experience of seeing elephants, giraffe and lions in their natural habitat and it took my breath away. I remember staying overnight in a little round hut on stilts in the middle of the park, listening to the intriguing sounds of the animals during the night. It was a truly wonderful experience.
Tsavo East is the oldest and largest of Kenya’s national parks, open since 1948. Famous for the Tsavo lions, a population of lions, where adult males often lack manes entirely.
Other highlights of Kenya include the annual migration of wildebeest across the Masai Mara, views of Mount Kenya, sipping a cold Tusker beer watching the sunset, beautiful beaches at Kikambala (where my mum has always wanted to go), Lamu and Watamu.
The Kenyan food staple is ugali (cornmeal paste) usually served with stewed meat and/or vegetables. There are different varieties of cuisine based on the region. In Central Kenya popular ingredients are ngwaci (sweet potatoes), ndũma (taro root, known in Kenya as arrowroot), ikwa (yams), and mianga (cassava). In the western area near Lake Victoria favourites are Gweno (chicken), Aliya (sun dried meat), Onyoso (a type of ant), and Dede (grasshoppers). Other recipes I came across include Ingoho (luhya-style chicken), Githeri (beans and corn), Sukuma Wiki (collard greens or kale) and Mutura (Kenyan sausage). I decided to cook Nyama Choma (grilled meat) which I served with Kachumbari (Tomatoes and Onions) as is tradition. It is a very popular dish across Kenya and it seems there is usually someone in the family who is ’the grill pro’ and is in charge of ensuring it doesn’t burn. We also had some roasted potatoes too. It went down a storm, particularly the Kachumbari, which I had made before for Chad so twice it has scored 10/10!
For the Nyama Choma
2 chicken breasts on the bone, cut in half
4 small chicken thighs on the bone
800g beef short ribs
juice of 1 large lemon – approx 100ml
100ml light soy sauce
150ml olive oil
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 large garlic cloves, bashed
A few fresh rosemary sprigs, roughly chopped
A few fresh thyme sprigs, roughly chopped
For the Kachumbari
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 ripe avocado, sliced
For the Nyama Choma
Add the lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil, fresh ginger, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk until well blended
Put your chicken into a sealable bag and your beef ribs into a separate sealable bag
Divide the marinade equally between the chicken and the beef and place the sealed bags in the fridge for 3 hours
When ready to cook, light your bbq and cook the meat until it is gently charred but not black!! Approximately 5 – 10 minutes
Wrap the beef and chicken pieces in separate pieces of foil along with any marinade mix that’s left and leave them in the foil on the bbq for 25 minutes
Take them out of the foil and place them directly on the heat for a few minutes to give them a good colour
Let the meat rest for 5 minutes and then serve with the Kachumbari and roasted potatoes
For the Kachumbari
Slice the onions thinly and put them in a small bowl of salted water for 15 minutes, then rinse through with cold water
Put the onions into a salad bowl, along with the tomatoes, chilli and coriander
In a jug mix together the lime juice and olive oil with some salt and pepper
When ready to serve, garnish with the slice avocado and pour over the dressing
The Republic of Angola is in Southern Africa on the west coast. The Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão found what was known as the Kingdom of Kongo in 1484. It was a Portuguese colony until independence in 1975 and in the same year civil war broke out until 2002. The war ravaged the country’s political and social institutions and littered the country with land mines. However since the end of the war Angola’s standard of living has overall greatly improved. Life expectancy, which was just 46 years in 2002, reached 51 in 2011.
Angola’s oil and diamonds are its primary sources of income, making up roughly 60% of the country’s economy. The Northern Angolan province of Cabinda is unusual in that it is separated from the rest of the country, sharing borders with the Congo Republic and the DRC. It is best known for it’s oil production and has the nickname “the Kuwait of Africa”. It accounts for more than half of Angola’s oil output.
Despite it’s turbulent history, Angola has many interesting historical highlights including the Parque Nacional da Kissama (home to elephants and water buffalo, thanks to a relief project known as Operation Noah’s Ark), Fortaleza de São Miguel (a fort constructed by the Portuguese in 1576 and is the capital, Luanda’s, oldest surviving building) and the beautiful beaches of Namibe.
The cuisine of Angola is significantly influenced by Portuguese food. Common dishes include Funge (cassava porridge), Caldeirada de peixe (fish stew), Moamba de galinha (chicken stew with palm oil). Some other recipes I came across were Catatos (caterpillar fried with garlic!), Camaro Grelhado (grilled prawns) and Cocada amarela (yellow coconut pudding). I opted to cook Frango piri piri (grilled chicken in hot marinade). Although piri piri is generally associated with Portugal, it’s origins were from Angola and Mozambique. We enjoyed the chicken very much, but found the piri piri sauce too garlicky.
Prep time: 15 mins + 1 hour marinating time
Cook time: 35-40 mins
1 medium chicken
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 lemons, juiced
2 bay leaves, chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
80 ml scotch whisky (or brandy – I used brandy as we’re not big whisky drinkers)
2 tbsp butter, softened
Piri piri sauce
6 small red chillies, finely chopped
pinch of salt
1 lemon, juiced
50 ml olive oil
1 tbsp garlic powder
Trim the chicken of excess fat. Use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to cut the chicken through the breastbone. Open the chicken out, turn over and flatten it by pressing down on the backbone. Make a small cut under each wing to help the chicken flatten further. Make several slashes in the flesh with a sharp knife to allow the flavours of the marinade to get in and the fat to drain out. Prick the chicken all over with a fork.
Combine the garlic, lemon juice, bay leaf powder, paprika, whisky and butter, mixing well. Brush the chicken on both sides with the mixture and sprinkle with rock salt. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Mix the piri piri ingredients into a thickish sauce.
Cook the chicken on a hot charcoal barbecue, turning frequently and basting continuously with the leftover marinade, for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cut the chicken into pieces and serve with the piri piri sauce.
The Republic of Guinea-Bissau on the Atlantic coast of West Africa is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east.
Guinea-Bissau is among the world’s least developed countries, with most people engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing. More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line. It’s history is one of painful wars and coups and since 1974, no president has successfully served a full five-year term.
Tourist attractions include the Former Presidential Palace in the capital of Bissau, Orango Islands National Park (home to rare saltwater hippos) and the beautiful island of Bolama.
The food of Guinea-Bissau is dominated by rice, fruit, vegetables and peanuts. Soups and stews are popular. Recipes I came across include Frango com bagique (chicken with spinach) , Macarra with Citi (Chicken with peanuts and palm oil), Bolinhos de mancarra com peixe (fish and peanut balls). I decided to cook Cafriela de Frango (grilled spicy chicken) which was very simple and really tasty.
Prep time: 10 mins + 3 hours marinating time
Cook time: 45 mins
1 medium chicken, jointed
1 tsp salt
5 hot chilies, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
1 1/2 lemons, juice only
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Place the chicken pieces in a large plastic zipper bag with the garlic, chilies, half the sliced onions and lemon juice. Marinate for 3 hours (or more) in the fridge.
Add the oil to a large skillet and add the marinated ingredients.
Add 3/4 cup of water and cook over a medium heat, covered, for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, adding a little more water if it is drying out.
Preheat the BBQ or grill.
Remove the chicken to a plate leaving the excess liquid in the pan.
BBQ or grill the chicken pieces for 15 minutes or until well browned.
In the meantime heat the liquid adding the rest of the finely sliced onions. Cook over a medium heat for 15 minutes, adding a little more water if necessary.
When the chicken is well-browned, place it onto a serving plate and pour the sauce over it.
The world’s most secretive country is situated in the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Early European visitors to Korea remarked that the country resembled “a sea in a heavy gale” because of the many successive mountain ranges that crisscross the peninsula.
After the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones by the United States and the Soviet Union, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948 two separate governments were formed: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–53). Although the Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, no official peace treaty was ever signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.
North Korea has the highest number of military and paramilitary personnel in the world, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel.
It isn’t impossible to visit North Korea, however it isn’t straightforward. Koryo Group offer group or independent tours to North Korea from China.
You can expect to pay from €1,800 for a 3 night basic tour departing from Beijing, including round-trip tickets to Pyongyang on Air Koryo, accommodation, guide fee, private transport, meals, and entry fees. You cannot travel alone at any time, you must always be accompanied by 2 state employed guides.
A few of the highlights according to Lonely Planet include Paekdu (the country’s highest mountain and an extinct volcano with a vast crater lake at its centre), Pyongyang’s Juche Tower and the Arirang Mass Games annual event in May.
Korea cuisine is based on rice, meat & vegetables. Some of the recipes I came across include Dae Ji Bool Gogi (spicy marinated pork) , Chap Chee or Japchae Noodles (mixed vegetables with noodles) , Bulgogi (Korean grilled meat on skewers) and Naengguk (cold soup). I decided to cook Kalbi (BBQ short ribs). The recipe called for short cooking time, although the beef short ribs I bought stated they should be slow cooked. The marinade was really tasty but our palates would’ve preferred the meat to be slow cooked.
Serves 2 – 3
Prep time: 10 minutes + 3 hours or overnight marinating
Cook time: 25 minutes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
700g beef short ribs
In a bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, garlic, green onions, and sesame oil until the sugar has dissolved.
Place the ribs in a large plastic zipper bag. Pour the marinade over the ribs, squeeze out all the air, and refrigerate the bag for 3 hours to overnight.
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat, and lightly oil the grate.
Remove the ribs from the bag, shake off the excess marinade, and discard the marinade.
Grill the ribs on the preheated grill until the meat is still pink but not bloody nearest the bone about 10 – 12 minutes per side.