Taste The World – Afghanistan

Here begins the grand adventure we have undertaken. Cook a meal from every country in the world. I know this isn’t a new idea, but we are very excited! Let me introduce a special guy…my boyfriend Dan! He is the owner of Black Market Hot Sauce Company as well as a top-notch cook at a cool little local restaurant. We obviously both love food. We’re also both pretty bad at geography. The solution? Cook a meal from every country and learn a little about each country, and hopefully it’s location, in the process! (Don’t tell anyone but, we’re mostly just excited about the whole trying-new-food thing.)

I feel the need to apologize here for the photo quality. Hopefully it will slowly start improving. I learned today that my man has a knack for getting a decent picture in horrible lighting!

Why start with Afghanistan? Uh…’cause we’re so creative that we decided to start alphabetically. Next up – Albania.

The food we made today was amazing! Afghanistan was the perfect country to start with (how convenient). Even after researching recipes, I didn’t really have a good idea of the unique flavors and dishes contained in Afghan cuisine. I know the two dishes we made did not even begin to scratch the surface.

20160105_152331Dumplings, mint, meaty tomato sauce, yogurt, cilantro, sour dried plums, turmeric, spiced chicken, onions, ginger, garlic. On and on. So many flavors contained in two dishes; and everything tasted fantastic together!

It was a little challenging to find good recipes for Afghan dishes. Some were impossible to follow, some were overly vague, others sounded like they could have originated from any middle eastern or Asian country. In the end we decided to take several recipes for one dish and combine them. I’m hoping we didn’t step on any toes in the process. Regardless, the final dish was delicious!

We made chicken korma and mantu (dumplings) as well as attempted to make naan. I say attempted to make naan because ours turned out less like a soft flat bread and more like a crusty round loaf.

Word to the wise – if you decide to make these recipes, you will be dicing a lot of onions.20160105_152635The combination of yogurt, spices, lime juice, plums, and ginger in the korma was unexpected and completely different from any other curry dish I’ve had before. It was slightly spicy as well as tangy, savory, and sweet. This dish was great with our naan bread and it would have been perfect served with a rice dish. You can find our recipe for chicken korma at the bottom of the post.IMG_20160105_185320695The mantu were surprising simple and well worth the extra time it took to put them together. The filling was simply onions and spiced meat. They were served with a meaty tomato sauce and a garlicky yogurt sauce and garnished with mint. The flavor combination of mint, yogurt, tomato and onions was my favorite part of the whole meal! Mantu are generally made for special occasions in Afghanistan because of the extra time they require. We followed this recipe from Lucky Peach. We used a combination rice cooker/slow cooker to steam our dumplings but other cooking methods (including boiling) would work just fine.IMG_20160105_185305570No Afghan meal would be complete without tea. I’m sure I made it incorrectly but I made a simple chai tea with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and green tea. It was very light and aromatic. All in all, our first meal in this experiment was a huge success!

Chicken Korma

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print
Ingredients

  • 10 dried sour plums
  • 1 whole chicken or 3-4 chicken leg quarters, cut into smaller pieces
  • 2-3 T oil or fat, for frying
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1-2 T fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 T fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1-2 Anaheim chilies, thinly sliced
  • 3-5 red jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Soak dried plums in water for about 1 hour.
  2. Heat oil to medium high in a deep frying pan or stock pot.
  3. Brown chicken pieces in hot oil.
  4. Remove chicken when browned and add onions, garlic and ginger.
  5. Saute onion mixture for a few minutes until the color starts to change.
  6. Drain plums and add all remaining ingredients to frying pan, stir to combine.
  7. Return chicken to pan. If needed, add enough water or cream to prevent burning.
  8. Cook on low heat for about an hour or until chicken comes off the bone easily.
  9. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve family style with a garnish of cilantro and lime wedges.

 

I would love to hear from anyone with experience in Afghan cooking and food!

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Challenge Yourself In 2016

2015 was a year of many changes and bumps in the road. I am very thankful for my family this new year. A family that has grown closer and closer as we lean on each other through trouble and heartache as well as joy and laughter. It will be interesting to see what 2016 brings our way. As my mom says, “It’s going to be a good year!”

This year I want to challenge myself in a different way. It’s time to set some goals and have some fun. I might be getting overly ambitious here but, along with some personal goals, I am joining the Reddit 52 Week Cooking Challenge, creating my own reading challenge, and starting to cook my way around the world! (Monday is Afghanistan.)

Today I completed Week 1 of the 52 Week Cooking Challenge by making Lentil Sweet Potato Soup for lunch. I also put together my own reading challenge book list. My personal rules for this challenge are simple. 1) I have to already own or borrow each book I read. 2) I can’t use one book to complete multiple categories. 3) I can’t cheat and make SciFi/fantasy books fit every category. I’d love for you to join me this year as I work on reading a book from each category! Feel free to follow my rules or come up with your own.

Salt For Flavor 2016 Reading Challenge

Read a book that was published the year you were born

Read a book from a theological viewpoint you disagree with

Read a book that has been translated from another language into English

Read a book about a culture you are unfamiliar with

Read a book you should have read in high school

Read a book recommended by a family member

Read a book that intimidates you

Read a book set in your home state

Read a book of short stories

Read a book recommended by your significant other or best friend

Read a book from a best sellers list

Read a book that is at least 100 years older than you

Read a book published this year

Read a memoir

Read a food science book

Read a play

Read a book that you started but never finished

Read a book recommended by someone you just met

Read a book that you already love

Read a trilogy

Read an autobiography

Read a book about ancient history

Read a book from the Harvard Classics

Read a book that has been turned into a movie

*I’ve posted this list separately and will be updating it regularly with the books that I read.

I’m excited to expand my literary and culinary horizons with these challenges. I’m also hoping to post as many of the recipes as I can (pictures may not be included), so check back in!

There are many more great reading challenges available online. Here are three I especially like:

Tim Challies 2016 Reading Challenge

Read more women and writers of color

BBC Book List Challenge

 

What are you doing this year to challenge yourself?

Mission like Jesus

Wow! What?! It’s been how long since I’ve posted? Sorry friends… I’ll try to do better…

One of the things that’s been distracting me is a great book by Tim Chester called  A Meal With Jesus. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be inspired by the way that food and christian fellowship can change lives, as well as  to anyone who wants a little insight into the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

I love the following part of the introduction:

” How would you complete the sentence: “The Son of Man Came…”? The Son of Man came… preaching the Word… to establish the kingdom of God… to die on the cross.

…..There are three ways the New Testament completes the sentence, “The Son of Man came…” “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45); “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10); “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking…” (Luke 7:34).

The first two are statements of purpose. Why did Jesus come? He came to serve, to give his life as a ransom, to seek and save the lost. The third is a statement of method. How did Jesus come? He came eating and drinking.

The Jews of Jesus’ day would have said the Son of Man will come to vindicate the righteous and defeat God’s enemies. They didn’t expect him to come to seek and save the lost. And they would have said the Son of Man will come in glory and power. They would never have said he would come eating and drinking.

….Jesus spent his time eating and drinking – a lot of his time. He was a party animal. His mission strategy was a long meal, stretching into the evening. He did evangelism and discipleship round a table with some grilled fish, a loaf of bread, and a pitcher of wine. “

 

Don’t you love it? I get chills every time! (Maybe I’m just a big food nerd…)

My mission for you is this… Find this book! Read it. Live it.

Car Camping – Farris Style

I am a big fan of camping! Particularly – car camping. (However I recently purchased a backpack and hope to become proficient at the kind of camping where you haul everything up the trail with you in a little bag!) The great thing about car camping is that you can chuck everything into the trunk and backseat of your car in about 15 min for a last minute camping trip and if you bring too much stuff or forget something and have to run to the store – it doesn’t matter! 

If you haven’t figured it out yet – we Farris’ like to eat good food. And if I’m going to be camping I’m going to be cooking over a fire. (None of that bring-your-own-gas-grill stuff for me!) So the challenge is to make good food over a wood fire! Veggies, some kind of meat and some sort of bread seem to be a winning combination!

For dinner there was grilled shrimp on a skewer along with grilled veggies and lightly toasted bread! (Tip: I always bring my own grill grates to lay over the top of the rusty one that may or may not be provided.) I cut up some zucchini (long big strips), quartered some bell peppers and cleaned some mushrooms (leaving them whole). Tossed the whole bunch with some olive oil and salt and pepper and grilled them until just tender! Also sliced up some crusty bread and threw that on the grill. The shrimp we kind of cheated with by buying them pre-skewered from the seafood section of our local grocery store. When grilling shrimp it is important to keep a close eye on them and pull them off almost before you think they are done… Over cooked shrimp is dry and chewy.

Of course… because we waited too long to get all of this going, we were cooking in the dark (no pictures) by the light of one small flashlight and the dimly burning camp fire. It was challenging. All-in-all though – it was a delicious meal!

27th Birthday Blog Party!

It’s my birthday! Twenty-seven years ago today I was born in Portland Oregon to the best parents on earth!

Birthdays are interesting things. When I was younger I always thought I would wake up feeling different somehow… Older maybe. I always felt the same – although I usually felt pretty special 🙂 My family has some great birthday traditions… When I was little we would wake up to a bedroom completely covered in crepe paper! We would have to climb out of it like a spy through laser beams or rip our way through in order to get to the door. As I got older my parents decided that toilet paper was cheaper, so from then on we just got our room “toilet-papered”. One year (when I was either 21 or 22) my dad called up my neighbors/good friends and (easily) talked them into toilet-papering my entire apartment! This year I won’t be waking up to a room strewn with toilet paper. I will instead be waking up at 5:00 am to go to work and cook for 10.5 hours. I’m not complaining. I’m grateful to have a job! I’ll be celebrating my birthday with my sisters on Sunday when we go camping! And next week I’ll be able to see my family and have a little family party…

With my brother at my birthday last year!

Another family tradition that we have is that the birthday person always gets to pick what they want to have for dinner. And when I was little we had “money  cakes” that were just traditional style cakes with coins stuck in them! (Don’t worry, the coins were thoroughly washed.) We always got really excited if we got anything bigger then a penny 🙂

This year I want to start a new tradition! I want to celebrate with all of you by hosting a little blog party/giveaway! I’m going to give away a gift box filled with stuff from a couple of my favorite local shops (spices, teas, possibly chocolate), simply because it’s my birthday! In order to be entered to receive this gift box of foodie goodies you need to leave me a comment telling me what your favorite birthday tradition is!

It would make my day if I got a whole bunch of comments – so spread the word!

June Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

My foodie pen pal this month was Sloane from Florida! It was so fun to come home from an eight day trip and find a package of goodies waiting for me 🙂 I loved the Mango Coconut Water which I slurped down the second these pictures were taken… And the delicious Almond & Sea Salt in Dark Chocolate bar was gone by the end of the night 🙂 (The almonds and sea salt were perfect together!) I have yet to use the Quinoa, Pesto or Risotto but I’m scheming up some delectable dishes for each. Thank you Sloane!

Want to know more about the Foodie Pen Pal program? Want to join? I highly recommend it! Check out the details and sign up here: The Lean Green Bean.

Creamy Onion Coconut Curry Soup

Soup close-upI was inspired today while reading the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallon. This fascinating book takes an in-depth look at good fat (animal fat, nuts, whole dairy, anything from the coconut, etc.) and the positive effect it can have on our weight and health.

 

diced onion

Halfway through page eight the idea for a delicious new soup struck me and I immediately jumped up and rushed off to make it.

Some trial and error later and I landed on the perfect combination of savory mouth-watering richness. If you love spice: add some cayenne pepper or extra chili flakes. Serve on it’s own or with some warm, crusty bread.

This soup is creamy and satisfying – the perfect dish for a rainy day. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Coconut Onion Curry Soup

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients

  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp yellow curry powder
  • 16 oz chicken stock
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2-3 pinches red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Melt the butter and coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Finely dice the onion and add to the saucepan.
  • Cook on medium heat until the onion begins to caramelize (about 8 minutes).
  • Once the onions have caramelized slightly, add the curry powder and salt and stir to combine.
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. (At this point the soup can be pureed if desired – either in a blender or with an immersion blender.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Take soup off the heat and ladle into bowls.
  • Spoon some of the coconut milk into the center of each bowl and lightly swirl in with a spoon.
  • Sprinkle the red chili flakes on top of the soup and serve immediately!

Makes enough for 2 large bowls or 4 appetizers.

Curry Coconut Soup