Recipes from the Maldives

I wanted to sort of start off easy, so I made only two recipes this time. Both were pretty good and not super time consuming to make, though my husband did walk into the kitchen at one point to complain about the bomb that clearly went off somewhere inside an onion or possibly a jar of turmeric.

Where is the Maldives?

Or is it "Where are the Maldives?" I don't know. Some writer, huh? Based on what I'm finding online, "is" is correct or at least the vast majority of people think it is. If not, then I'm going to spend this entire post sounding dumb.

I made a blog meal

Sometimes I land on someone's blog after a Google search or something and there's this post that says, "Hey everyone I'm back and I promise I'm going to start posting every week!"

Recipes from Malaysia

So yes, shrimp paste. Now, here's a funny thing about shrimp paste, I really, really hate how it smells, and I hate working with it, but it's not actually that bad in stuff.

Where is Malaysia?

My arch nemesis showed up again this week, you remember him, right? That's right, shrimp paste. Shrimp paste is awesome in its smelly disgustingness and it's ability to make my children lose their freaking minds.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Recipes from Mali: Tukasu

Okay so it took me a couple of days to get this one up and it looks like I'll be saving the dessert recipe for tomorrow. Or the next day. That's still better than three years though, right?

This is tukasu, and I just want to begin by saying that it looks better in person, and when you're using natural light and are actually good at taking pictures of food. Honestly, sometimes I think I just want to have my daughter draw pictures of blog food so it will look like it tasted.


This dish is kind of like a cross between chicken and dumplings and a really rich marinara pasta, but without the chicken and without the pasta. Here's how you make it:

Make the dough first. It's a pretty basic dough with just flour, water, yeast, and salt. I just put the ingredients in my bread machine and let it do all the kneading. Note that the amounts listed in the recipe below are less than what the recipe called for (the recipe called for eight cups of flour, which is enough to make two decent sized loaves of bread and I thought that seemed a little excessive).

Anyway, mix up the ingredients, cover with a damp towel and set aside for now. 

Then cut up some onions into thin strips. Here some onions, because even though I haven't done many of these posts in the last few years I never get tired of taking photos of onions (actually I am still absolutely sick of always having to take an onion photo, like every single blog meal, because there's no such thing as a culture that does not use onions. I'm  just trying to put on a brave face).

There are five onions in the ingredient list -- you only need to cut up two of them. The other three you'll just drop whole into the sauce.  

Now on to the tomatoes. The recipe said to just kind of smash the tomatoes to remove the skins, but it's easier to blanch them. To do this, just drop them in a pot of boiling water and then take them out when the skins start to split. Let them cool and the skins will come right off. 

Now cut the meat into largish chunks and chop up the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the meat, the two chopped onions, the tomatoes, and some salt to taste. Let the meat brown.

Next you're going to take all of your sauce ingredients and put them in a blender: water, spices (except the bay leaf), tomato paste, and the whole onions. Puree until smooth. 

Take the resulting liquid and strain so it's a little less watery. Then put it in a separate pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer. 

Time to go back to the dough. You'll want to knead it for a few more minutes, then divide it up into small balls. Cover the balls with a damp towel and let them rise.


Now add four cups of water to the sauce along with the bay leaves. Drop the dough balls into the sauce, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. When they're done they'll look like this:


Turn the heat down to low and let the sauce reduce down until it is the consistency of marinara sauce.
To serve, place a few of the bread balls on the plate and top with sauce. Add the meat and onions and serve.

The verdict: Adults loved it, kids sort of liked it. They were pretty into the dough balls but they didn't go back for seconds or anything. For the record, the sauce was crazily rich -- that's a whole lot of tomato paste for one recipe and it was kind of hard to eat more than a small portion. But eating small portions isn't really a bad thing, is it?

Here's the printable recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 3 lbs beef
  • 1 cup oil
  • 5 large onions
  • 8 tomatoes
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 8 to 10 fresh dates
  • 1 tsp ground anise
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chili powder to taste

Instructions

  1. First make the dough. Add the salt and yeast to the water, then add the flour. Mix until you have a smooth dough. Knead for around 15 minutes. Cover with a damp towel and set aside.
  2. Cut two of the onions into thin strips. Blanch the tomatoes in hot water until the skins start to split, then remove and let cool. Remove the skins and discard.
  3. Cut the meat into largish chunks and chop the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a large pot and add the meat along with salt to taste, the two chopped onions, and the tomatoes. Let brown.
  4. Put the water, all spices except the bay leaf, tomato paste, and the whole onions in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain and then add to a separate pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  5. Knead the dough for another five minutes or so, then divide into small balls. Cover with a damp towel and let rise.
  6. Add four cups of water to the sauce along with the bay leaves. Drop the dough balls into the sauce, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce reduce down until it is the consistency of marinara sauce.
  8. To serve, place a few of the bread balls on the plate and top with sauce. Add the meat and onions and serve.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Recipes from Mali

I just spent the last hour deleting like 200 spammy comments from my blog, and I accidentally deleted a couple of real comments from actual people. So if you left a comment and are actually one of the like three people who came back here more than just the one time, I'm sorry! Please repost and I promise I won't delete you again. 

I had to turn on comment moderation because of the ridiculous number of "escort" ads that kept showing up. "Your posts are great! Also here's a link to an escort site." Eye roll. And Mount Everest trekking company ads, what's that all about? I mean, I support my local Sherpa as much as the next blogger but I don't think Travel by Stove is super popular with the "let's climb Mount Everest" crowd. I could be wrong, though, so if you've ever climbed Mount Everest do leave me a comment. But without a link to your trekking company please.

Mount Hombori, which is definitely not Mount Everest.
Anyway here we are in Mali, where the highest peak is is Mount Hombori, which at 3,782 feet is roughly 25,250 feet below Mount Everest, so I don't expect any Mount Hombori trekking companies to come dropping into these comments. 

I have to say it was tough to find Mali recipes. I was determined not to make jollof again and I was also kind of shying away from stuff with peanuts, since that just seems so typically African and I wanted something that was more specifically Malian. So in the end, I found this recipe for tukasu from faty.mondoblog.org. It's basically dumplings served in a meat and tomato sauce, and it sounds a lot more challenging than it actually is:

And yeah, I recognize that my photography sucks right now. My photography lights are sitting on a shelf covered in dust and one of them is burned out and I really just don't want to.

But the good news is, I saved back a couple of these for the next day and took photos of them in natural light, so theylook a lot nicer than the tukasu does. They're called "fonio cakes" after the ancient grain flour they're made with. The recipe comes from m.afrik-cuisine.com:

I'll have the recipes posted tomorrow. I hope. 




Where is Mali?

On Sunday, my oldest daughter told me she wanted to try sushi. This girl does not eat seafood, so I was like, "What? Okay let's get some before you change your mind." You know, expanding horizons and all that. Of course we're in a pandemic so it's not like we can go get sushi at a proper sushi boat place or anything, so I had to get some from Raley's.

Tirelli, Mopti, Mali. Photo by C. Hugues.

Now, I've never had any problem with the sushi at our local Raley's. It's always fresh. But after eating this particular box of sushi, well, let me just say I was not present at my day job today, and my oldest daughter isn't doing so great either. Instead, I spent my day sitting on the sofa binge watching Worst Cooks in America. And I also redesigned my blog. Sort of. I mean, I uploaded a free template and now the blog looks different. 

Anyway, for this entry we are in Mali, which is actually the eighth largest country in Africa, yet most Americans couldn't find it on a map or probably say anything about how big it is. It's also the world's third largest producer of gold, which means it must be one of the wealthier African nations, right? Nope. Mali is, in fact, one of the world's poorest nations with an average annual income of about $1,500. The fact that Mali is a unitary semi-presidential republic under a military dictatorship might have something to do with that, though I can't say I'm especially educated in the particulars of the Malian economy. 

Because Mali isn't a wealthy nation, they eat a lot of cereals and not very much meat. Rice and millet are usually on the menu, and the Malians make sauces out of peanuts, tomatoes, spinach, or some combination thereof. The also eat fufu in Mali, which, no, and jollof rice, which I didn't make this week mostly because I made a version of it when I did the Gambia like eight years ago and I couldn't possibly make the same basic dish twice in any one decade. 

Instead I chose tukasu. Because I was warned that tukasu was kind of a complicated dish, I selected just one other recipe to make, a dessert called "fonio cakes." How'd it go? I'll let you know in a couple of days.





Sunday, January 24, 2021

Recipes from the Maldives: Aluvi Hiki Riha (Potato Fry)

I'm almost sorry to say, nothing eventful happened during the preparation of this dish. I mean, it's nice to not almost burn the kitchen down like that one time but it makes for kind of boring reading. Sorry. It's just a very straightforward recipe. Here it is.

First, heat a few cups of oil over high heat until bubbles rise around the non-stirring end of a wooden spoon. Fry the potatoes in the hot oil until brown and drain them on paper towels.

Now heat the rest of the oil over a medium-high flame and saute the onions with the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, and mustard seeds. 

Add the fried potatoes, cardamom pods, and habanero pepper. Saute for a minute and then add the remaining spices.

Continue to cook for two minutes, until everything is well-incorporated. Try not to eat to much because they're deep fried and super bad for you.


Here's the printable recipe:

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying
  • 1 lb potatoes diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 2 cup onion diced into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup curry leaves
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat a few cups of oil over high heat until bubbles rise around the non-stirring end of a wooden spoon.
  2. Fry the potatoes in the hot oil until brown. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Heat the rest of the oil over a medium-high flame and saute the onions with the garlic, ginger, curry leaves, and mustard seeds.
  4. Add the fried potatoes, cardamom pods, and habanero pepper. Saute for a minute and then add the remaining spices.
  5. Continue to cook for two minutes, until everything is well-incorporated.

Recipes from the Maldives: Beef Curry


The only thing about this recipe that might trip you up is the curry leaves. You can't buy them in grocery stores. I heard (though I don't know how true it is) that there are restrictions on selling them in the US because of pests of some kind, which doesn't make a lot of sense because I found them easy enough on Amazon.com. I will say that weird ingredients seem easier to come by now than they did like three years ago when I was still doing these meals regularly. 

The leaves I ordered were still fresh when they arrived and they came in a huge bag. When I opened the package I was like, what the hell am I going to do with all these curry leaves. So I kept some for this recipe, froze some, and then dried the rest of them in the oven.

Don't do that. They smell really ... I can't even describe it. I had to boil potpourri on the stove to get rid of the very weird, chemically odor that made my head feel like it was going to explode. 

Anyway, here's how to make the curry. To start, mix the first eight ingredients together until you have a paste.



Now heat the oil over a high flame. Add the beef and cook until brown.

Here's some beef in a bowl, because evidently I forgot to take pictures of it actually cooking.


Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, curry leaves, habanero, cardamom, and spice paste. Return the beef to the pan and add the vingear. Stir until well-coated. Add the tomato paste.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
Uncover the pan and keep cooking for 15 minutes, or until any remaining liquid has been absorbed and the sauce is thick.



Here's the printable recipe:


Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chuck steak, cut into about cubes
  • 1 cup onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup curry leaves
  • 1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp white vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix the first eight ingredients together until you have a paste.
  2. Now heat the oil over a high flame. Add the beef and cook until brown.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, curry leaves, habanero, cardamom, and spice paste.
  4. Return the beef to the pan and add the vingear. Stir until the beef is well-coated. Add the tomato paste.
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
  6. Uncover the pan and keep cooking for 15 minutes, or until any remaining liquid has been absorbed and the sauce is thick.

Recipes from the Maldives

I wanted to sort of start off easy, so I made only two recipes this time. Both were pretty good and not super time consuming to make, though my husband did walk into the kitchen at one point to complain about the bomb that clearly went off somewhere inside an onion or possibly a jar of turmeric.

The first recipe I made was creatively entitled "Beef Curry."



With a side of Aluvi Hiki Riha, or "Potato Fry."


All of which were shot with exceptionally crappy tungsten kitchen lights since I couldn't be bothered to drag out and clean up my photography lights because they have like six inches of dust on them from not being used for four years. So this food looks less delicious than it was and you'll just have to take my word for it.

Where is the Maldives?

Or is it "Where are the Maldives?" I don't know. Some writer, huh? Based on what I'm finding online, "is" is correct or at least the vast majority of people think it is. If not, then I'm going to spend this entire post sounding dumb. 

Anyway, the Maldives is kind of a lesser-known Asian country, in fact it's so small you can't really even see it on a map without actually circling it, and even then it's kind of hard to know if that's the Maldives or if it's just that I need to clean the dust specs off of my monitor. 
Maldives Beach. Photo by Simon_sees.


So yeah, the Maldives is small. In 2020, its population was estimated at about 379,270 which is oddly specific for an estimate, but whatever. For perspective, that's roughly the size of Aurora, Colorado, which actually looks bigger on a map than the Maldives because the Maldives is only like 70 percent as large by landmass. The Maldives is also sort of isolated, given that it's right out in the middle of the Indian Ocean and its closest neighbor (India) is 300 miles away. 

There are around 1,200 islands in the Maldives, and each one of them is basically just the peak of a submerged mountain. Beneath the surface of the ocean lies the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge, which is a huge "submarine" mountain range. The fact that this place exists at all is actually kind of remarkable since the Maldives has also got the somewhat dubious distinction of being the lowest-lying country in the world, with an average elevation of about five feet. So in other words, the mountains are sticking out of the ocean a little bit, but not really a whole lot. That might have been sort of cool at one point in history but now that the oceans are rising I'm betting there are a lot of Maldivians losing sleep over the precariousness of their tiny, isolated nation.

Like half the countries on Planet Earth, the Maldives was once occupied by Great Britain, but by the 1960s the indigenous people of pretty much every British occupied nation were saying "Please go away" and in 1965 the British actually did. So that was cool, but at the time the Maldives was one of the poorest nations in the world so survival wasn't especially easy. 

Today, the Maldives has a thriving tourism industry (well, when there isn't a raging pandemic anyway), and the food is pretty good, too. The cuisines has definitely got Indian influences and it's full of flavor, as you'll see if you stay with me through the next post.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

I made a blog meal

Sometimes I land on someone's blog after a Google search or something and there's this post that says, "Hey everyone I'm back and I promise I'm going to start posting every week!" And then I look at the date and it was like three years ago and I think, "Don't make promises you can't keep."


I'm pretty sure I might have done that myself on this blog once or twice. And I hate not keeping promises even though it was totally not on purpose. So, no promises.


Things are pretty different in my house than they were the last time I posted here. Two of my four kids are in high school. I got a master's degree a couple of years ago, which sucked up a lot of my time. And I got a stupid job. I mean an awesome job! Seriously, I do love my job but someone else owns my time right now and that's kind of a hard pill to swallow when you've been doing nothing but freelancing and stay-at-home-momming for the last decade and a half. Oh yeah and also there's a pandemic. Have you noticed?


Speaking of freelancing you can check out the stuff I've done for Grunge.com and SciShow, you know, in case you're one of the like three people who used to read my blog and are interested in knowing what I've been up to.


Anyway, I cooked a blog meal the other day. It was fun. I've missed it. Stay tuned and I'll tell you how it went.


Also, every post needs a photo so here is a picture of a chicken. 







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