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Costa Rican Tacos with Gallo Pinto, Lizano Salsa, Chicarrones and Chilera.

Went a little bit nuts with this dish, so much food but worth it.

Costa Rican Tacos are tortillas filled, rolled and deep fried, then covered in cabbage, salsa and mayonnaise. Chicarrones are deep fried pork skin with spices basically puffy crackling.

Gallo Pinto is pretty much the national dish of Costa Rica, black beans and rice. Gallo Pinto is eaten with almost every meal including breakfast.

Lastly Lizano is a hot sauce used like tomato sauce, and Chilera are spicy pickled vegetables. I used Habanero chillis in the Chilera so it had a tonne of kick.

Next up: Croatia.

Liboke de poisson (Fish in Banana Leaves), Fumbwa and Fufu

If you have never cooked in banana leaves you should give it a go. It imparts an amazing taste to whatever is in it. In Congo they usually use freshwater fish for this dish but I used saltwater.

Fumbwa is a Congoese wild spinach stew. After a lot of research I discovered it is almost the same as Red Sorrel so that is what I used.

Fufu is a starchy porridge, made from various starchy ingredients. Cassava, Yams, Maize, Plantains are all used to make it. Basically Fufu to Africa is what mashed potatoes is to us. To eat your meal you are supposed to break off bits of the Fufu, flatten it out and use it to pick up your stew instead of using cutlery.

Entree: Langouste à la Vanille (Grilled lobster in vanilla sauce)

Main: M’Tsolola and Mkatra Foutra bread.

Comoros is a tiny island nation between East Africa and Madagascar. When I started researching Comoros, its cuisine seemed very culturally confused. It is an Islamic country which has been influenced by Persia, Oman, India, Portugal, France and the East African mainland.

At first its recipes didn’t make a lot of sense to me. Coffee and yeast in flatbread? Coffee in beef and chicken stew, coconut in absolutely everything and finally vanilla on seafood. But after trying these recipes Comoros cuisine is one of the best surprises we have had so far. It ranks right up there with Cambodian cuisine in flavour combinations.

The entree, Langouste à la Vanille, was grilled lobster in a cream, butter, onion and vanilla sauce. Simply divine. Vanilla on shellfish is something everyone has to try. The M’Tsoloa is a fish and green banana stew, in a spicy spinach and coconut sauce. And finally the accompanying Mkatra Foutra bread – I followed the recipe, thought I got it wrong as it was way too wet for a leavened bread, but it turned out great. I learnt so much preparing this meal.

Next Up: Congo-Brazzaville (not to be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo).

Tonight’s meal is Ajiaco Colombiano (Colombian Chicken and Potato Soup) with Aji and fresh Sour Dough

I woke up to a rainy day and decided to go for some comfort food for dinner. Ajiaco totally fitted the bill. It is a thick potato and chicken soup, with whole corn, garnished with sour cream, avocados, capers and a salsa called Aji.

The soup also relies on a special ingredient: Gacuas or quickweed. I was suprised to find some in my spice drawers as I have a habit of buying every herb and spice I have never seen before and then forgetting that I have it. So I must have bought it a while ago.

Gacaus imparts a taste different to anything I have ever tasted before. The taste of this soup is amazing and so very unique. If you can find Gacaus give it a go or maybe have a bowl next time you are in Bogota.

Also decided to test out the new sour dough starter I am making. Thought it was ready and it worked a treat. Perfect partner for the soup.

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