Barbados

Barbados is situated in the Lesser Antilles. The west coast has white sandy beaches and calm waters and the east coast faces the Atlantic. Its location in the south east of the Caribbean region puts the country just outside the principal hurricane strike zone. On average, a major hurricane strikes about once every 26 years. The last significant hurricane to cause severe damage to Barbados was Hurricane Janet in 1955.

The Portuguese visited the island in 1536, but they left it unclaimed, with their only remnants being an introduction of wild hogs for a good supply of meat whenever the island was visited. Barbadians are extremely fond of pork.

Barbados has produced many great cricketers including Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Clyde Walcott. Also, Rihanna, the eight time Grammy Award winner was born here and in 2009 she was appointed as an Honorary Ambassador of youth and culture for Barbados by the late Prime Minister, David Thompson.

Barbados welcomes more than a million tourists including land based and cruise ship visitors annually. Highlights include Accra Beach, Barbados Wildlife reserve, Hunte’s Gardens, Harrison’s Cave and Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, a Unesco world heritage site since 2011.

Popular dishes from Bajan cuisine include Pudding and Souse (pickled pork with spiced sweet potatoes) , the national dish of fried flying fish served with cou-cou (cornmeal and okra), Bajan black cake , Black Eye Peas and Rice and Samosas often made with Conch. I opted to cook a favourite of mine, Macaroni cheese, which they refer to as Macaroni pie. Whilst it had a good flavour, it was a little dry.

Rating: 6/10

Serves: 4 as a starter
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins

150g macaroni
1 and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 onion, sliced
pinch black pepper
2 tbsp double cream
Grated cheese for top

Bring some salted water to the boil, add macaroni and the onion to the boiling water and cook until the pasta is al dente
Preheat oven to 180c
Drain macaroni and onion quickly and put straight back into the pan, add 1 cup of cheese and put the lid on for 2 mins
Then add the evaporated milk, mustard, ketchup, pepper and cream and stir well to blend everything together
Transfer to 4 buttered ramekins and top each one with grated cheese
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown

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Ingredients for Barbados Macaroni pie
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Barbados Macaroni pie
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Barbados Macaroni pie
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Barbados Macaroni pie
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Barbados Macaroni pie
Barbados beach
Barbados beach
Bridgetown, Barbados
Bridgetown, Barbados
Barbados waterfall
Barbados waterfall
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Azerbaijan

South of Russia, Azerbaijan is on the west coast of the Caspian Sea with the Caucasus Mountains in the northwestern border of this republic. The oil rich capital is Baku, with a population of c. 2m. Marco Polo visited Baku in 1264 and witnessed the oil being collected, he said “there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance”. Azerbaijan gets its name from Atropates, a Persian nobleman. He ruled over the present-day Azerbaijan. His name evolved over a millennia, and in modern Persian translates to “The Treasury” and “The Treasurer” of fire or “The Land of the Fire”.
Azerbaijan is home to the first known fireplace, discovered in Azikh Cave, the largest cave in Azerbaijan, and also one of the ancient proto-human habitations in human history, that dates back to 700,000 – 500,000 years ago.
In 1879, the Nobel brothers, founders of Nobel Prize, set up their oil company in Azerbaijan; The Nobel Brothers Petroleum country. The Nobel brothers from Sweden acquired much of their wealth from Azerbaijan’s oil industry.
The former world chess champion Garry Kasparov hails from Baku.
Tea is the most popular drink in Azerbaijan. Traditionally served in a pear shaped glass, the drink is often consumed through lumps of sugar or jam, held in the mouth.
A few of the popular dishes in Azerbaijan cuisine include Plov (saffron covered rice), Dolma (minced and spiced lamb wrapped in vine leaves), and Dyushbara (meat dumplings). Also very popular are kebabs, which is what I opted to cook – Lyulya (lamb kebab). There is an Azerbaijan restaurant near Ravencourt Park, where they serve ‘Lulle’ kebab for £9.49.
Rating: 8/10

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Serves 2 as a large starter

220g lamb neck fillet
20g suet
1/2 onion chopped
Salt & pepper

Blend the lamb, suet and onions in food processor. Add salt, pepper and then leave it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Rinse your hands in salted water, mould into 6 sausages and skewer.
Preheat the grill and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning so they are brown on all sides.
Serve with flatbread and chutneys.