Category Archives: World Eats

K.O. Rasoi: Indian Recipes with East African Roots

kenyaIndia FlagThe history of the Indian community in Eastern Africa is long, and complicated. Countries like Kenya and Uganda have had Indian communities for centuries, but the Indian migration to Africa started at a large scale in the 1800s. We recently stumbled upon a great blog with Indian recipes with East African roots: K.O. Rasoi. The author, Sanjana, is British-born, but with a Gujarati family with roots in East Africa. Sanjana’s recipes are primarily Gujarati and vegetarian in origin, but with East African influences. Check out her recipes for the Mombasa-style Kachri Bateta (potato stew with sour green mangoes) and Mombasa-style Daal Kachori (samosa-like lentil fritters, seen below), and chili-lime cassava. We were also intrigued by her recipe for the popular, creatively-named Ugandan street food – “Rolex.”

kachori

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Pastry Post-Doc: Polish Kolaczki and Hungarian Kiffles

hungaryflagPolandKolaczki are woven into Chicago food culture so deeply that it took me a while to realize that they were indeed a “foreign” cookie. Kolaczki dough is made with cream cheese, and it is traditionally folded (as below) over a filling of fruit – raspberry, plum or apricot usually – or sweetened cream cheese. Originally, the kolaczki is said to be from Poland (though its exact origin is unknown), and are popularly seen around the holidays. They seem to be just as popular in Cleveland, where we learned that they are known as Kiffles in Hungarian. This type of cookie is found throughout Central and Eastern Europe, with several variations, including a circular shape. Even more confusingly, there are many similarly-named desserts, including the Czech kolache, which is more like a yeast roll, and is most popular in Texas (post forthcoming)! Here is a recipe for apricot-filled kolaczki from American Heritage Cooking, another apricot from Cooking the Globe and one for cream cheese from All Recipes.

Photo by Kurman Communications

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Guide to Korean Banchan

koreaThis year, Lunar New Year falls on a Friday! If you will be celebrating Lunar New Year in Korea the festivities are called Seollal, and you can expect a crazy amount of food and festivities. We covered one of the most traditional Seollal dishes previously on ETW, tteokguk (rice cake soup). However, that only scratches the surface. Most large Korean meals come with an assortment of small dishes called Banchan, and the Seollal table is no exception. However, to the uninitiated, the array of banchan presented alongside a meal can be overwhelming. Fortunately, the internet is brimming with banchan guides: Lucky Peach, Crazy Korean Cooking,  Zen Kimchi, Thrillist and HuffPo, to name a few. Personally, my favorite banchan are japchae, radish kimchi and toasted seaweed. I love the concept that every meal comes with an additional portion of delicious, tiny dishes. Do you have a favorite banchan?

Gogi Banchan

Banchan at Gogi in Chicago

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Pink Salt from the Maras Salt Pools / Salineras de Maras

maras

peruThe first stop on everyone’s Peru itinerary is Machu Picchu, and probably rightfully so, but Peru is full of so many other beautiful natural sites. One of the most impressive places we went in Peru was the Maras Salt Pools / Salineras de Maras, nestled into the Andes mountains. The view of 500+ multicolored salt terraces blanketing the mountains over the Urubamba valley is really a site to see. These salt pools date back to even before the Incan Empire, potentially thousands of years. Today, the flats are still in production during the dry season, May to October, and the process hasn’t changed much in the last 500 years. So how is the salt produced? The shallow man-made pools are fed naturally by a mineral and salt-rich stream, and water is cut off from each pool when it is full. When the water evaporates, the salt is harvested, scraped into baskets, and further dried. Each salt pool has a unique color and mineral content, but overall the salt is fine and pink. Maras pink salt is a great complement to Peruvian ceviche (our favorite), but it is extremely versatile. You can buy Maras salt in specialty stores and online, but it is extremely cheap in Peru. Even if you can’t visit Maras, be sure to pick up some pink salt on your trip!
maras2

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Bagna Cauda at Della in Brooklyn

Italy Bagna Calda / Bagna Càuda is a homey Northern Italian dish from Piemonte made primarily with butter, oil, garlic and anchovies. It is a mainstay at our own family celebrations, but we have never seen it on a restaurant menu… until now! We were at Della (1238 Prospect Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11218) in Brooklyn with friends, when we spotted the bagna cauda on the menu, and we just had to order it. Della has a homey Italian-inflected menu of fish, hearty meat dishes, homemade pastas and some unusual appetizers (case in point).  The homemade pasta was delicious, but the bagna cauda was even better. It came served in a small bowl, with endive, radishes and chunks of bread for dipping. We had to ask for more bread to sop everything up- delicious! We encourage you to make bagna calda on your own for your next party – it couldn’t be easier. Even if you don’t normally like anchovies, you can’t help but love the salty, garlicky goodness!

bagnacauda

 

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What is Estonian Kama?

EstoniaOne of our friends is taking a trip through the Baltic countries and put out an open call for recommendations of unique things to do, and foods to try in the area. We must confess that we don’t know that much about Baltic food, but are always eager to learn more. One of the most intriguing and unusual Baltic foods we learned about was Estonian Kama, a flour mixture that is nostalgically revered among Estonians and expats. That’s right – a flour mixture! Kama is made with a mixture of roasted roasted barley, rye, oat and pea flours, and can be eaten as is, since it is pre-cooked. Kama is nonperishable, so it made sense for travel or in lean times. During Soviet rule, Kama was even used in “chocolate” bars as a substitute for the more-expensive cocoa, and this nostalgic candy has actually made a comeback in recent years. Nowadays, kama it is mostly enjoyed as a home-style breakfast, mixed into buttermilk or yogurt and topped with berries. If you can get your hands on some, Nami Nami has a recipe for a dessert mousse using Kama.

640px-Kama

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Syrian Food in Rio de Janeiro (and Brazil)

syriabrazilThere are two athletes from Syria on the Refugee Olympic Team, and two others on the team who currently train in Brazil. However, the connection between Syria and Brazil is not new. When we were in Brazil, we were pleasantly surprised at the number of Middle Eastern restaurants, from high-end fine dining to humble corner shops. We love traditional Brazilian food, but we like to try something different every once in a while, and we often turned to Syrian or Lebanese food for a change of pace. This is not just a cuisine trend in the country, there has been a large Syrian population in Brazil for over 100 years, and they are one of the most deeply established immigrant communities in Brazil. Now, there is a newer wave of immigrants fleeing the current conflict in Syria. One of the ways that this new wave of Syrians is contributing to Brazilian culture is through their food enterprises, such as Ahmad Ryad Hamada’s Syrian snack cart and Anas Rjab’s catering service, Simsim.

Kibbe

Kibbe at Al-Kuwait in Rio

Even before the newest Syrian arrivals, you could find foods that are traditionally Levantine all over Rio de Janeiro, as well as other places in Brazil, especially São Paulo. The first time we had the national food of Syria – kibbeh – was actually in Brazil! You will find kibbe and esfiha (small triangle shaped filled dough) at snack shops throughout Brazil, whether or not they have primarily Middle Eastern menus, showing how much Brazilians have adopted Syrian dishes as their own. Syrian influence can also be seen in that pita-like bread is called Pão Sirio (Syrian Bread) in Brazil. There are tons of great places to get Levantine food and spices in Rio, but here are some of our favorites: Al-Kuwait for Kibbe and Esfiha, Quiosque Arab for ambiance and Casas Pedro for spices and Pão Sirio.

Casas Pedro in Rio

Casas Pedro in Rio

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The National Dish of the DRC: Poulet à la Moambé

DRCFlagWhen researching the national dish of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the countries represented on the Refugee Olympic Team, we found a few dishes vying for the top spot. First up was Fufu/Bukari, an almost ubiquitous cassava mash used to sop up foods. However, Fufu is popular across a wide swath of Africa, so that didn’t seem distinct enough to be a national dish. Another contender was Pondu/Saka-Saka , cassava leaves in palm oil, but it is really more of a side dish. However, after some additional sleuthing, the main course that seemed to be the most widely-accepted national dish of the DRC is Poulet à la Moambé (Chicken Moambe), which is also considered the national dish of Gambia and Angola. We understand why it is widely beloved, we have tried this hearty, peanut-y soup before and it is delicious! Chicken Moambe is made with ingredients you’ll be able to find almost anywhere – bone-in chicken, peanut butter, palm oil and tomatoes – see recipes from African American Kitchen and Chef Bolek. If you want to go the whole nine yards you can accompany it with Fufu and Pondu!

Poulet_à_la_moambe.JPG

 

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Pastry Post-Doc in Rio: Cinematic cakes at Bomboniere Pathe

cinelandiabrazilBack in the day, an area of Central Rio de Janeiro, Cinelândia (pictured above in 2013), as its name suggests, was the home of Rio de Janeiro’s opulent Art Deco movie theaters. At its peak, there were over a dozen, centered on the square called Praça Floriano Peixoto. Only one movie theater still remains, the Odeon (link in Portuguese), whereas the other grand movie palaces have been converted to performing arts centers, churches, bookstores, or adult movie theaters. Bomboniere Pathe (Praça Floriano, 45, Rio de Janeiro) used to be below one such grand cinema – Cinema Pathe (now a church), which opened in 1901 and closed in 1999. 

CakeStoreThough the theater is closed, this tiny corner shop that sells nothing but cake is still chugging along. The store is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-small. But don’t let the humble appearance fool you – the cakes are amazing! There are a dozen or so traditional and exotic flavors available every day, and are worth a special trip. It costs $R 5 for a slice, and $R 65 for an entire cake. With the current exchange rate of the Brazilian Real, that is a pretty reasonable price. The refrigerator case for the cakes is rolled right out into the street, enticing passers-by with scrumptious cakes.

KeyLime

So what kind of cakes can you expect? While we were there we sampled: A tri-color Neapolitan cake, a brigadeiro cake (chocolate condensed milk) with brigadeiro truffles right on top, coconut cake, prestigio cake, a traditional chocolate and coconut layer cake, passion fruit cheesecake, key lime, strawberry, blueberries and whipped cream, Black forest cake, and more! The selection changes daily, so be sure to ask ahead if there is something you have in mind. You can also buy single bite-size Brazilian treats like truffles, brigadeiros / casadinhos / cajuzinhos / beijinhos and small pudins (egg puddings).

Passionfruit

If you order a slice, you are treated to a hearty wedge in a little plastic container. Since this is a take out place, there is no “eating-in.” However, you will see some people gathered around the shop just noshing on their cakes. Another nice touch – for my birthday they even gave me a cake with a candle in it (see below)! We sampled cakes at least once a week and were never disappointed. Located near the business center of Rio, it is a popular choice for businesspeople on a lunch break, and the crowd strictly seemed to be locals. If you are in Central Rio and looking for a sweet, traditional Brazilian dessert, look no further!

ChocoBrithday

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Going for the gold with the National Dish of Kosovo, Flija

KosovoKosovo, which gained independence only in 2008, competed in the Olympics for the first time in Rio, and in their first showing, Majlinda Kelmendi won a gold medal in Judo. In honor of this win, we thought we would delve a little more into the world of Kosovar cuisine. Though it is similar in many ways to its Balkan neighbors in Albania, Serbia and Macedonia, Kosovar cuisine has some unique dishes that set it apart. One of the most iconic is Flija (or Flia), a round layered dough cake/bread, which incorporates yogurt into the batter. Global Table Adventure has a recipe for Flija (pictured below), which leads you through the steps of adding layer after layer to the dish. Though Global Table Adventure has adapted the recipe for the typical kitchen, Flija is traditionally baked outside in a large silver pan known as a “saç.” Flija seems seems complicated, but looks delicious!

Filja

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How to Celebrate Latvian Midsummer – Ligo & Jani

LatviaSummer is finally here! We recently wrote about the Swedish solstice celebration of Midsommar, but they are not the only game in town for Midsummer festivities. In Latvia, the celebration around Midsummer is the biggest holiday of the year. Latvians celebrate both the nights of Midsummer eve, Līgo (Ligo), and the next day, which is known as St. John’s Day or Jāņi (Jani). Like their Swedish counterparts, Latvians spend the day outside to take in the very late sunsets, weaving flower crowns, dancing, eating and drinking. However one major point of difference between the Swedish and Latvian midsummer table is the cheese! In Latvia, one of the signature dishes of Jani is the bright yellow cheese known as Jāņu siers (Jaņi cheese), flavored with caraway seeds. Not only eaten on Jani, this is a dish you will find on any Latvian smorgasbord throughout the year, and you can find a recipe to make your own at Latvian Eats.

Jani

Traditional Jani table in Latvia by Pablo Andres Rivero

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How to Celebrate Midsummer / Midsommar like a Swede

sweden_flagToday is the Summer solstice – the longest day of the year! That means it is also time for Midsummer / Midsommar festivals in Sweden and throughout Scandinavia. While you may not have access to a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång), get outside, put on a flower crown and serve up some delicious treats, and you will be celebrating Midsummer like a Swede (Kitchn called some actual Swedes for their take, and that seems to cover it). Midsommar festivals and meals typically happen outdoors, in order to full enjoy the beauty of summer, and the super-late sunsets. Herring is a popular dish on the Swedish Midsommar table, as are new potatoes, fresh strawberries and a little aperitif like AkavitTasting Table, Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and Saveur have Midsommer menus for your own celebration. I think tonight’s dinner is going to be al fresco.

Raising the Maypole by Joe

Raising the Maypole by Ellsbet.S

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Pamonha (Brazilian tamales) for the Festas Juninas

brazilJune 13th marks the start of the Festas Juninas (June Festivals) in Brazil, a huge celebration in the Northeast of the country that originated as a harvest festival. Food plays a huge role in the Festas Juninas, particularly corn, one of the major crops harvested at this time. One of the most popular corn-centric Junina dishes, and one you can make easily in the US, is the pamonha, a relative of the Mexican tamale. Though both are made from corn and steamed or boiled in corn husks, there are few differences: typical Mexican tamales are made with dried corn and steamed in dried husks, while pamonhas are made with grated fresh corn and cooked in fresh husks. To make pamonha you cut the corn kernels right off the cob, and Flavors of Brazil has a simple recipe for a classic pamonha. Pamonha varieties may be filled with meat, or there are even sweet varieties with coconut or condensed milk. Though strongly associated with the Northeast and Festas Juninas, pamonhas are now sold throughout the year by street vendors around Brazil. Boas festas juninas!

pamonha

Pamonha by Crypto

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The history of Chow Mein in Calcutta

chinaIndia FlagThis fascinating Telegraph India article weaves the long and winding history of Chinese Chow Mein noodles in Calcutta (seen below), which was first popularized in Calcutta’s Chinatown and has now become one of the city’s most iconic and popular street foods. If you don’t have a trip to India in your future, here is a recipe for Indian-style chow mein.

chowmein.jpg

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The History of Patel Brothers

India FlagWhen we lived on the North Side of Chicago one of our favorite specialty grocery stories was Patel Brothers on Devon Avenue (2610 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL). Devon Avenue, one of the most fascinating streets in Chicago, has large concentration of Indian and Pakistani shops and businesses (and at various other stretches is also home to Jewish and Slavic communities). For the Indian and Pakistani community, Patel Brothers served as the anchor grocery store in the neighborhood. You could find anything you wanted there, from frozen ready-made foods to bulk spices to obscure grains to fresh fruit to hundreds of varieties of packaged salty snacks (yum!). When we were in Jackson Heights in Queens several years ago, we came across another Patel Brothers and we realized that it was the same chain! Now in Cleveland, we are near yet another Patel brothers. Turns out that the Patel brothers we frequented in Chicago is the original, opened in 1974, by brothers Mafat and Tulasi Patel, who immigrated from the Indian state of Gujarat in 1968. The grocery store chain has since expanded into an empire of 52 company-owned stores, and into a line of foods that is sold elsewhere, Swad. It is interesting to learn that one of the strongest footholds of Indian food in the US originated in Chicago!

PatelBros

Patel Brothers in Chicago by Steve Browne

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Louis Armstrong: Red Beans and Rice-ly yours

NOLAFlagWe are going to New Orleans at the end of this week, one of our favorite food destinations! To prep for our journey we’ve been doing a lot of of research into what food we want to eat, and what music we want to hear (answer: EVERYTHING). Appropriately, we unearthed a food story at the junction of food and music that involves one of New Orleans’ favorite sons, Louis Armstrong. It turns out that along with being the lauded musicians that he was, Louis Armstrong was a major foodie. In fact, he often signed his letters, “Red Beans and Rice-ly yours,” after his favorite dish. In 1971, Louis Armstrong gave one of his final performances, which was then released as an album, also called Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours  with a booklet of his favorite recipes. The rare album has been recently reissued with recipes intact: red beans and rice and all.

RedBeansandRicelyRed beans and rice have long been an iconic part of New Orleans cuisine, and every cook makes them a different way, though ham hocks and the holy trinity of onion, celery and bell peppers are the traditional flavorings. NPR details Armstrong’s international food adventures, including finding the only Chinese restaurant in Nairobi, and also provides and transcribes his original, personal recipe for red beans and rice, which you can see below. It turns out the Armstrong isn’t the only one musician who loved Red Beans and Rice, other New Orleans musicians and residents have adopted the dish as their favorite meal to share for yearsRedBeansandRice.jpg

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The History of Frybread and Navajo Tacos

Navajo Taco in California by A culinary photo journal

2000px-Navajo_flag.svgFrybread (which is what is sounds like – a delicious fried, savory dough) is now a food associated with Native American culture and celebrations, and it had found its way into a number of popular dishes (especially in the Western US), most notably the “Navajo taco.” The Navajo taco is simply frybread topped with whatever taco toppings you like. You can find Navajo tacos throughout the west, and though they may seem like a novelty, they actually have a sad history. According to the Smithsonian:

Navajo frybread originated 144 years ago, when the United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of frybread.

Navajo tacos and frybread also remain somewhat controversial because although they have become a widely-accepted symbol of Native American pride, they are not particularly healthy (similar to most fried foods). If you are not lucky enough to live near a place that has Navajo tacos on the menu, you can find recipes for making your own with ingredients you probably already have on hand, or a more complex version with Osage hominy salsa.

 

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How to make your own chocolate bar

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner – which means that all things chocolate are now “seasonal.” Whether or not you are into Valentine’s Day, you are probably a fan of chocolate – we certainly are. Really good chocolate is a pleasure year round, and we were fascinated by this video from Eater’s How to Make Everything series about how chocolate is made at a Mexican chocolate farm, starting from growing the cacao pod, through drying, fermenting and roasting the beans. Honestly, it is much more of an involved process than we expected, which makes us appreciate our precious chocolate bars even more!

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Swedish Cake Table for St. Lucia’s Day

sweden_flagWe are pretty fond of the Swedish way of taking coffee, Fika, and we also love their idea of the “cake table” aka kaffebröd or fikabröd which accompanies this traditional Swedish coffee break. A cake table typically includes cakes (obviously), cookies, pastries and other sweet treats. We think that a full fika with cakes and cookies is the perfect way to celebrate St. Lucia’s day, a holiday celebrated in Sweden on December 13th. Here are some top picks that we think would be perfect on any holiday table (or just for fun):

Kladdkaka

Kladdkaka by Andreas Ivarsson

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Discovering the Lulo Fruit

colombiaWhen we were visiting La Unica (1515 W Devon Ave, Chicago, IL) in Chicago we were intrigued by their milkshakes / licuados. They had some pretty exotic flavors: mango, mamey, blackberry, papaya, passion fruit, guanabana, and one we had not seen before – lulo. Turns out lulo is one of the most popular fruits in Colombia and Ecuador (where it is called naranjilla). The outside of the lulo looks like an orange, but the inside is green with seeds like a tomato! The flavor is a bit citrusy with a touch of pineapple, and really tasty. A popular way to have lulo is in a drink with lime and sugar called lulada. We have also since seen a lulo licuado at Brasa Roja (3125 W Montrose Ave, Chicago, IL) in Albany Park. If you see it – definitely give lulo it a try!

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