TRAVELING WITH FOOD

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The meaning of travel expands its borders to anything that extends one’s realm of experience or expands one’s lexicon of acquired convictions.

It is a moment that comes when we are out of our element and allows us to see, or feel, or think, anew.

Can this happen even if we don’t leave our homes?

Exploring new cultures at the kitchen table can be a pleasant learning experience to share with the whole family and a way to introduce new flavors and stir fantasies of faraway places in your little ones.

 

Here some culinary trips:

MOROCCO

Moroccan cuisine has been influenced by native Berbers, Moors, and Arabic cuisines from the Middle East. Many of the dishes are heavy stews or roasted meats. Popular ingredients are chicken, lamb, olives, apricots, almonds, and semolina. The most popular meat served is lamb. This is usually served in a stew, roasted on spit, or as kebabs. Moroccan lamb is leaner than most lambs served throughout Europe and the Americas. The other popular dish, and widely known around the world, is Couscous; coarse semolina grains. Boiled, steamed, or soaked in water, couscous can be mixed with fruits, nuts, meats, vegetables, or by itself.

Moroccan Chicken

1 cn chickpeas/garbanzos

3 lb chicken pieces

1 t turmeric

1/2 t cumin ground

salt

1/8 t cayenne pepper

2 T oil

1 lg onion, finely chopped

juice of 1 lemon

Dry chicken pieces with paper towels. Combine turmeric and cumin with 1 t salt and the cayenne pepper and rub into the chicken. Let stand for 15 minutes. (I use less chicken when I make this dish, sometimes I also substitute boneless breast or tenders) Heat oil in a frying pan and brown chicken pieces on all sides. Remove to a plate and add onion to pan. Fry gently until soft, add garlic and cook a few seconds. Pour onion mixture into chickpeas and add chicken pieces and 1 Tablespoon of the lemon juice. Cover and simmer gently until chicken and chickpeas are tender and liquid is considerably reduced. About 1/2 hour. Taste and add salt if necessary, and more lemon juice to give a pleasant tang. Remove chicken pieces carefully, place chickpeas and liquid in a deep dish, put the chicken on top and garnish with lemon wedges.

 

INDIA

Indian cuisine for the most part is rich in flavor and diversity. Many cultures and regions in other parts of the world lightly use spices and seasonings on their foods, while much of Indian cooking relies on the heavy use of such things. The variety of ingredients is immense and many are blended together to create a symphony of flavor on your taste buds. Cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cilantro, chiles, curry leaves, and black mustard seed are the most commonly used ingredients with meats and vegetable dishes. Since India is a large country with many different regions and sub-cultures, the foods in these areas can differ from place to place. Wheat is more widely used in the northern areas while rice is more popular in the southeastern areas.

Samosas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 1/4 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

1 hot green chili, minced

1 piece fresh ginger, about 1/2-inch cube, minced

1 medium onion, diced

4 medium red potatoes, cooked, diced

3/4 cup peas

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

8-10 eggroll wrappers

Oil for deep-frying

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and coriander; cook until they are fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the chili and ginger; cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add potatoes, peas and salt; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Filling can be made a day ahead and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before using. Spoon filling onto bottom half of eggroll wrappers, using about 1/3-cup filling for each. Fold over and trim into half-moons. Moisten fingers with water; pinch closed.

 

MALAYSIA

Satay — those little skewers of marinated meat grilled to char-perfection is a very popular dish in Malaysia. Walk down any street in the country and the mouthwatering aroma of Satay exudes from practically every corner you pass: road-side stalls, hawker (street food) centers, night markets, coffee shops, and restaurants. It’s no surprise then that Satay is made with ingredients and spices commonly found in Malaysian cooking (shallots, lemon grass, turmeric powder, and coriander) and calls for the cook’s meat of choice – be it chicken, beef, or lamb – to marinate for many hours or even overnight to lock in the flavor, before grilling them over charcoal fire. The end result is always tantalizing to the taste buds and a sure-fire crowd pleaser.

Chicken Satay

4 chicken leg quarters

4 chicken thighs or

4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts

Spice Paste:

1 teaspoon coriander powder

2 stalks lemon grass

6 shallots, peeled and sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

4 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons turmeric powder

4 teaspoons kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)

1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce

Bamboo skewers

(soaked in water for 2 hours to avoid burning)

1 cucumber, skin peeled and cut into small pieces

Cut the chicken meat into small cubes. Grind all the ingredients in the spice paste in a food processor. Add a little water if the spice paste is too dry. Marinate the chicken pieces with the spice paste for 10-12 hours or overnight. Thread the meat on to bamboo skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until slightly charred. Brush the satay with some oil while grilling. Serve hot with fresh cucumber pieces.

Cook’s Note:

You can purchase the sweet soy sauce (ABC brand from Indonesia is recommended) and oyster sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand from Hong Kong is recommended) at Asian stores.

 

AFRICA

African cuisine has played a large influence, both directly and indirectly, among many countries throughout the world. The Mediterranean rim countries of Northern Africa have spread their influence with such foods as couscous and succulent lamb dishes. Curry and rice dishes that were brought to Africa long ago from India and Arabic countries were further spread to the Americas during colonial times. Each country and region throughout Africa has distinct styles of cuisines that are largely based on long historical traditions. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lamb, goat, rice, root veg¬etables, chile peppers, and a huge amount of spices are quite common in most parts.

Artichoke Salad with Oranges

4 artichokes (about 2 pounds)

1 lemon, halved crosswise

4 oranges

6 radishes, thinly sliced

12 Kalamata olives

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

salt to taste

In a large pan of boiling water, cook the artichokes and half a lemon, covered, until the artichokes are barely tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Pull off the artichoke leaves and cut the fuzzy choke out of each artichoke. Slice the hearts into wedges and set aside. Squeeze the juice of the other lemon half and set aside. Over a large bowl, peel and section the oranges, discarding the seeds and the white pith. To serve, alternate the orange sections and artichoke wedges on individual plates. Garnish with radish slices and olives. Mix the olive oil with the lemon juice. Drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle with paprika and salt.