Black-eyed bean fritters (Burkina Faso)

Posted in Africa, Other main dishes on October 16th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — Be the first to comment!

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa, perhaps best known for its funnily named capital of Ouagadougou (which at least in Finland commonly features in quizzes). It is a former colony of France. About 2/3 of the people are Muslims and 1/4 are Christian, though animist beliefs are also widely incorporated in religious practice. The country is known for its mud buildings – not just simple houses, but e.g. elaborate mosques. Ceramics, theatre and literature (originally based on oral tradition) and more recently cinema, are important forms of culture. Many kinds of sports are popular, but especially football. Despite gold being its main export, Burkina Faso ranks as the third least developed country in the world. HIV prevalence is low, but the life expectancy is still only 50/52.

The Burkinabé cuisine uses many starches, such as millet, sorghum, fonio, corn, yams and rice. As in many West African countries, a popular dish is fufu, a kind of cassava dough, often served with peanut soup. Sumbala is a local fermented condiment paste somewhat similar to miso. Fish, chicken, mutton, goat and yoghurt are eaten, as are carrots, turnips, eggplants, avocados, sweet potatoes, zucchini, beets, leeks, potatoes, okra, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, pumpkin, sorrel and spinach. Most desserts are based on banana, though many other fruits are also eaten a lot. A popular drink is bissap, made from roselle (a type of hibiscus) petals. There are also several kinds of drinks made from millet.

These Burkinabé black-eyed bean cakes were okay, but nothing very exciting. The lack of spices isn’t too bothersome, since they’re meant to be comfort food like anyway, it’s more about the texture, starchy and flour-like mash. Perhaps it was because I forgot to rub off the bean skins?

Black-eyed bean fritters

Black-eyed bean fritters

400 g/0.9 lbs dried black-eyed beans
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
substitute for 1 egg (if using a dry egg replacer like soy flour, don’t add any liquid)
salt and black pepper to taste
flour for coating
peanut or palm oil for frying

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rub them between your fingers to remove the skins. Cook until soft, 45-60 minutes. Drain and let cool for a bit.

Blend all the ingredients together. Form into balls and flatten into discs. Dip them in flour and shallow fry in the oil on medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Serve hot, perhaps with tomato sauce (they’re quite bland by themselves).

Serves 5-6 people.

Borani kadu, or roasted butternut squash with spices and yoghurt (Afghanistan)

Posted in Asia, Starters and appetizers on September 25th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — 2 Comments

Afghanistan is a large landlocked country in Central Asia, unfortunately one that nowadays most would first associate with war or terrorism. Many also know the Afghan hounds, which originated from Afghanistan. It is a dry, mountainous country which gets quite a few earthquakes. The area has been inhabited by humans for up to 50,000 years. Afghanistan is a tribal and nomadic society, almost completely Muslim. The country has large natural resources consisting of e.g. oil, gas and various minerals. Still it is one of the poorest countries in the world, where especially maternal mortality and infant mortality are very high. Despite low literacy rates, poetry has long been an important cultural tradition. Football, cricket and some other sports are popular. Buzkhashi is a traditional sport resembling polo.

The Afghan cuisine could be described as somewhere between Middle Eastern food and Indian food. It tends to be not spicy even though many spices are used, including cilantro, coriander, mint, sumac, saffron and cardamom. The country is known for its fruit, especially pomegranates and grapes (hence also raisins). Fruit and vegetables may be made into pickles. Other important ingredients include e.g. lamb, yogurt, potatoes, nuts, tomato, onion, turnip, eggplant and spinach. Rice dishes are also considered the core of Afghan cuisine, including the national dish qabili palao with meat, raisins and pistachios. Some rice dishes also include fruit. Bulgur wheat is eaten as well and there are several types of dumplings. Food is often served with naan or another bread.

In Finland butternut squash was something exotic, very hard to find and very expensive, so I first tried it only after moving to the Netherlands, where suddenly it was everywhere. It was somewhat of a disappointment, I prefer pumpkin. However, this recipe was quite nice and looks fancy too, the squash slices looking like crescent moons. Despite the fanciness there’s a certain comfort food feel to it, in a good way.

I hate peeling raw squash, I think it works the best here to first slice, then peel the half-moons, but it may depend on the knife you use. The original recipe tells you to make the slices about 1/4 inch thick, but considering I cut them slightly thinner, they took much longer to roast than in the original recipe and they look thicker when finished, I think that’s too thick.

I’m not sure if there is such a thing as commercial vegan Greek yogurt, but you could either strain normal soy yogurt or just do as I did: add a little oil, a little lemon juice (depending on the tartness of the yogurt) and a tiny sprinkle xanthan gum to make the flavor and texture resemble Greek yogurt more.

Borani kadu

Borani kadu

1 medium butternut squash
olive oil for roasting
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 cup/1,75 dl vegan plain Greek yogurt (see notes)
salt to taste
more olive oil
dried mint

Preheat oven to 410F/210C. Halve the butternut squash lengthwise, remove the seeds and the pulpy mass surrounding them, slice the squash into thin half-circle slices of about 1/8-1/6 inch, or 3-4 mm thick, and peel the slices. Toss with enough olive oil to coat and the turmeric, coriander and cumin. Roast for 20-30 minutes in the oven, until soft and starting to brown. Toss with salt and let cool.

Place vegan yogurt on a plate, top with the squash slices, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with dried mint. Serve as an appetizer, cold or in room temperature. Serves at least 6-8 people.

Salsa de albahac, or basil sauce (Bolivia)

Posted in Dips, sauces and condiments, South and Central America on August 31st, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — Be the first to comment!

Bolivia is a large landlocked country in South America, named after Símon Bolívar, an important figure in the independence of several Latin American countries. A former part of the Inca empire, it remains a very multinational country with 37(!) official languages. It is also one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with rainforest, valleys and savanna and enormous altitude variations. There are over 3,000 species of butterflies and over 4,000 types of potatoes are produced in Bolivia! Folk music, dance, football and table football are culturally important. Malnutrition and lack of sanitation remain major problems. Infant mortality and maternal death rate in Bolivia are among the highest in the world.

The cuisine of Bolivia is mostly a mixture of Spanish and indigenous cuisines. The staples of Bolivian cuisine are beans, corn and potatoes. Corn, sometimes purple corn, is also made into a drink called chicha. Rice is eaten regularly, as well. Quinoa is losing popularity, as much of it is now being exported abroad. Many meats are consumed, from iguana to llamas and guinea pigs, as well as more common types like pork and chicken. Meat is often served in skewers. Ají peppers (several related types of chili peppers, most of them hot and quite fruity) are an important spice. Lunch is the main meal in Bolivia, including several courses, dessert and coffee. Bolivians enjoy afternoon tea (té), often in tea salons which also serve baked goods. The tea may be either black tea or yerba maté.

This recipe for a basil sauce comes from Bolivia Bella. I found the original recipe way too acidic, so I halved the amount of vinegar and lemon juice. Otherwise it was quite tasty.

Salsa de albahac

Salsa de albahac

1 cup/2.4 dl plain non-dairy yoghurt (homemade is best, as usual)
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup/1.2 dl fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp green onion tails (or chives)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Mix or blend all ingredients together (if blending, you don’t have to chop the basil or press the garlic, of course). Serve on a veggie burger or similar, I used pizza-flavoured tofu.

Nigvziani badrijani, or eggplant rolls with walnuts and cilantro (Georgia)

Posted in Asia, Europe, Starters and appetizers on July 25th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — 2 Comments

Georgia (not to be confused with the U.S. state with the same name) is located in the Caucasus region of Eurasia, and a former part of the Soviet Union. It also considers Abkhazia and South Ossetia parts of the country. The character of the country is highly defined by the mountainous location. The deepest known cave, the Krubera cave, which is at least 2 km deep, is also located in Georgia. The climate is very diverse. There is a long tradition of wine making and tourism is increasing, attracted by e.g. ski resorts, thousands of mineral springs and thousands of historical monuments. Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Georgia is that the Georgian language has three separate alphabets.

The most distinctive part of Georgian cuisine is supra, a feast featuring tons of different dishes and plenty of wine, which can last for hours. Georgian food has become quite popular in Russia thanks to immigration. Important ingredients include fish, chicken, meat, dairy products, rice, breads, beans, potatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, spinach and other greens. Walnuts are used in almost every dish. Pastries, soups and salads are popular. There is a decent amount of vegetarian and even vegan dishes. Plenty of fresh herbs are used, especially parsley, dill and cilantro. Chili is used too, as well as the local spice blue fenugreek. Food may also be flavored with tart fruits, such as plums and pomegranate. There is a wide variety of desserts and sweets, usually featuring nuts and/or honey.

Easy to veganize, low-carb (which is how I am mostly forced to eat nowadays), with only a few ingredients and healthy ones at that (save for all that oil…)? I had my doubts, but nigvziani badrijani was something I had to try. When I tried the filling by itself, it tasted too much of walnuts and cilantro, as I had expected, since it was, after all, pretty much just walnuts and cilantro. But when the eggplants were filled with it, everything fell into place. The cilantro, the walnut and the greasy eggplant flavour just mingled together to create a really nice dish, and a nice surprise too.

Nigvziani badrijani

Nigvziani badrijani

2 eggplants
olive oil for frying
1 1/2 cups/3.6 dl ground walnuts
1 cup/2.5 dl finely chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
a few tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
salt to taste

Slice the eggplants lengthwise thinly; about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thin. Fry thes slices in some olive oil until slightly browned and set aside to cool. They will soak up a lot of oil. If you soak them in water before frying they will end up slightly less greasy, but then they will splutter more (and you will still need a lot of oil). Take care that the eggplant is tender, it’s one of those vegetables you never want al dente. Place on a kitchen towel to drain out excess oil, flip and drain the other side too (or pat with a kitchen towel).

Mix the walnuts, cilantro, garlic and enough vegan mayo to bind it together. Take about a meatball-sized lump of the filling (depending on the size of the slice – my rolls are a bit too thick), place on one end of an eggplant and roll. Serve as a snack, appetizer or side dish, in room temperature or warmed up. Makes enough for 4-8 people. Because of the nuts they are more filling than they seem.

Peri peri kari, or “shrimp” in a spicy sauce (Mozambique)

Posted in Africa, Protein main dishes on June 20th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — Be the first to comment!

Mozambique is a large country located on the coast of Southeast Africa. For almost 400 years it was a colony of Portugal, which has left major cultural influence on the country. Portuguese remains the official language, even though most people speak a Bantu language as their native tongue. After gaining independence in 1975, Mozambique lapsed into a civil war that lasted until 1992, but since 1994 it has been a multiparty presidential republic. It is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy is heavily based on aluminium. However last year large natural gas reserves were found in Mozambique, so both of these might be subject to change. Football, music and dance are very important and wooden carvings, including elaborate masks, are the most traditional type of visual art.

Portuguese cuisine and imports from other Portuguese colonies, like cassava and cashew nuts from Brazil, have significantly influenced the cuisine of Mozambique. A wide range of spices is in use, such as bay leaves, ginger, saffron, nutmeg, paprika, garlic, fresh coriander and especially fiery peri peri chilies. Peanuts, coconut, onions and tomatoes also lend their flavours to dishes. Chicken, other meats, fish and seafood are all popular, often prepared into spicy sauces. They are usually served with chutneys or relishes like mango chutney. Wine is also used as a seasoning, as in Portugal. Staple starches include potatoes, rice, maize, sorghum and millet. There is a wide variety of fruit, especially citrus fruit, and most desserts are based on fruit.

This recipe made for a relatively tasty dish, spicy of course. The brand of mock shrimp I used (from a Chinese store) turned out to be rubbery and bland, so luckily the sauce was flavorful. I had happened to buy lemon thyme just before making this, too, but it can be quite hard to find (unless you grow it yourself, garden stores often have it and it’s quite lovely).

Peri peri kari

Peri peri kari

10 oz/300 g vegetarian “shrimp” (or cubed tofu)
1 tsp Malawi curry powder
3 tbsp coconut oil or peanut oil
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp peri peri paste (or other very hot chilies)
2 medium-size ripe tomatoes, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon thyme (or scant 1 tsp thyme with a little lemon zest)
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp paprika powder
0.5 cups/120 ml “chicken” broth or vegetable broth
coarse sea salt to taste

Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the garlic and “shrimp”.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and when melted add the onions. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring continually, until the onions soften and begin to brown (about 4 minutes).

Stir-in the peri-peri paste, tomatoes, lemon juice, lemon thyme, parsley, paprika and the broth. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften and the sauce thickens.

Serve hot with rice. Makes about 3 portions.

Crnogorska corba od kopriva, or nettle soup (Montenegro)

Posted in Europe, Stews and soups on May 18th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — 2 Comments

Montenegro is a country in the Balkan, formerly a part of Yugoslavia. It has a fairly low population, only 620,000 people. After dissolution of Yugoslavia it remained in union with Serbia and only gained independence in 2006. Montenegro is perhaps best known for its mountains and mountainous regions. It is also a highly biodiverse area with the highest biodiversity index of all European countries. There is even some rainforest left. Tourism is very important for the country. Besides the mountains and canyons it focuses on the beaches and picturesque coastal towns. The Montenegrins are rather fond of sports, especially team sports from football to the unofficial national sport of water polo, as well as chess and a traditional circle dance called oro.

The Montenegrin cuisine has been influenced by e.g. Italy, Greece and Hungary. The coastal area is more Mediterranean with plenty of seafood, while in other parts more oriental food is served. Homemade bread is served at every meal, bread can be made with rye, wheat, barley or corn. Meat and dairy products are important. Nettles, collard greens, cabbage, beans and mushrooms are commonly used. Most dishes are soups, stews or porridges. They may feature potatoes, rice, cornmeal or noodles. Pastries, pies and salads are common too. Spices aren’t used very much. Pomegranate juice is a popular drink. Dessert is usually just fruit, sweets, often featuring nuts, honey and fruit, are served on their own.

This recipe is hardly very exciting, but I wanted to post more recipes with wild vegetables, especially stinging nettles, which are in season now on the Northern hemisphere. They grow widely, are tasty and not at all bitter like many greens, especially wild greens. They can be used like spinach but are far more nutritious, especially containing huge quantities of iron, calcium and vitamin C, as well as some anti-inflammatory substances. Eating nettles regularly could even help your hayfever. This soup is quite mild and plain as could be expected, some other spices, perhaps nutmeg, would help make it molre flavorful. However, it gets much tastier by the next day, so I’d recommend making it a day in advance.

Crnogorska corba od kopriva

Crnogorska corba od kopriva

1 lbs/450 g young top shoots of nettles, well washed
1 quart/1 litre water
oil for frying
2 potatoes, diced small
1 bunch spring onions, coarsely chopped
50 g short-grain rice, cooked
a little soy cream, cashew butter or similar
salt to taste

Use gloves and scissors or knife to pick the nettles. Use only young plants, or if using a bit taller ones, only pick the tops (but don’t use ones that are already flowering). Don’t pick them near outhouses or other terrains very rich in nitrogen. While still wearing gloves, cut the leaves off and discard the stems. Wash the nettles well. Steam the nettle leaves until just wilted. Puree with half of the water.

Fry the spring onions and potatoes in oil for a few minutes. Add the rest of the water. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the rice, cream, salt and the nettles and continue simmering until the potatoes are tender. Add more water if it seems too thick. Serve hot. Makes 4-5 portions.

Curried baked “beef” with yoghurt and fruit (Kyrgyzstan)

Posted in Asia, Protein main dishes on April 17th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — Be the first to comment!

Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central asia, a former member of the USSR. It is landlocked and farther from a sea than any other country in the world. 80 % of the country is made up by a mountainous area. Historically the Kyrgyz have been mostly semi-nomadic herders living in yurts. Horse riding remains important. Despite plenty of gold resources, the country is very poor and the number of people living in poverty is growing. Football and wrestling are very popular, with ice hockey and bandy also increasing in popularity. Kyrgyzstan is troubled by political and ethnic conflicts, frequently leading to unrest. Some politicians have fled the country, others have been arrested or even assassinated.

The Kyrgyz cuisine is most similar to Kazakh cuisine, with horse meat and mutton being very important. Other meats and fish are eaten too (except for pork, as most people are Muslims). Cabbage, onion and peppers are among the most popular vegetables. Nuts are eaten a lot, one specialty is a sweet preserve made from young walnuts. Food preparation stems from the nomadic history, so focus has been on preservation. Food is often greasy with oil or sheep fat. Both rice and noodles are used. Food in Northern Kyrgyzstan has traditionally been bland, while fresh herbs and other spices are used more in the South. Naan bread with tea is a traditional meal served to guests. There are several popular fermented drinks, made with mare’s milk or grains. Honey is used for sweetening.

This dish originally comes from Celtnet, as many Vegventures recipes. I veganized it by leaving out the eggs. It was okay, but even though I like dried fruit, it felt a bit too sweet.

Curried baked “beef”

Kirgiz baked "beef"

1 lbs/450 g seitan (or other mock meat), cut into 1 cm dice
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup/120 ml plain soy yoghurt
1 tsp corn starch
1 apple, diced
2.5 oz/75 g dried apricots, chopped
1.4 oz/40 g seedless raisins
1.4 oz/40 g dried prunes, pitted and chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170C/340F. Heat the oil on a frying pan. Fry the onion and bell pepper until soft, about 6 minutes. Add the cubed seitan and brown a bit. Turn off the heat and sprinkle in the cornstarch fairly evenly.

Combine all the ingredients in a casserole dish and mix well. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

“Shrimp” with mushrooms and dill (Cayman Islands)

Posted in Caribbean, Protein main dishes on March 21st, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — Be the first to comment!

Cayman Islands are a “British Overseas Territory” consisting of three small islands located in the Caribbean. Columbus originally called them Las Tortugas (tortoises), but soon later they were named after the caiman, a close relative of the alligator. There is no evidence of indigenous inhabitation before the settlers arrived. Nowadays the place is best known as a tax haven, as there are no direct taxes. The population is only a little over 50,000 and there are more registered businesses than people. The Cayman Islands are also a popular tourist destination, especially for scubadiving.

The cuisine of Cayman Islands is quite similar to the rest of the Caribbean, especially to Jamaica, with surprisingly little British influence. It includes plenty of fish, seafood (especially conch), coconut, peppers, plantains, breadfruit and cassava, which is also made into a dessert pudding called heavy cake. Turtle meat is also popular. Both jerk seasoning and curry powder are commonly used to season foods. Traditionally most dishes have been slow-cooked stews of fish/seafood, starchy vegetables and other vegetables, often with coconut milk and chili. Vinegar, tomatoes, onions, lime juice and mango are also used as seasonings. More recently rice and peas (rice, red peas and coconut milk) has gained popularity.

This recipe which I veganized, comes from Wuzzle, originally apparently from Tropical Cookbook. I bought the mock shrimp from Chinatown, frozen with a non-descript label (there are also canned brands). They look eeriely like real peeled shrimp, stripes and all, but the taste was a disappointment. Bland with a somewhat rubbery texture. But there are other vegetarian “shrimp” products which are probably better. The dish was pretty okay – though would have been a lot better with better “shrimp”!

“Shrimp” with mushrooms and dill

Mock shrimp with dill

7 oz/200 g mock shrimp (see notes)
3 tbsp margarine or coconut oil
1 lbs/450 g fresh mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup/0.6 dl flour
2 tbsp dry white wine
1 tbsp brandy
1 1/4 cups/3 dl non-dairy milk
1/4 cup/0.6 dl non-dairy cream
1 tbsp fresh dill or 1 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the mushrooms and garlic in the margarine/oil for 2 minutes. Add the “shrimp” and flour and stir to mix. Gradually whisk in milk, cream, brandy and wine. Cook until mixture becomes very thick. Add remaining ingredients and serve with rice. Makes four servings.

Salad de mangue, or mango and pineapple salad (Niger)

Posted in Africa, Desserts and sweets, Salads on February 23rd, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — 2 Comments

Niger, not to be confused with the neighbouring Nigeria, is a large (almost twice as big as Texas) landlocked country in Central/Western Africa. With just 15 million inhabitants it is much more sparsely populated than Nigeria, which houses 170 million people. It is a very poor country and has the second poorest human development index in the world. A lot of the country consists of the Sahara desert (explaining the low population) and much of the rest is threatened by desertification. Low education and extremely low literacy also cause problems. After a tumultuous recent history, with many coups and military governments, a 2010 coup left Niger lead by a junta again, but the 2011 elections were judged free and fair.

The Nigerien cuisine has some French, Portuguese and British influences and obviously also from North, Central and West Africa. Nigerien meals usually start with a salad of seasonal vegetables. The main dish is starch, usually millet or rice but sometimes couscous, served with a sauce or stew, generally based on greens, other vegetables and legumes because meat (usually goat, mutton, fish or chicken, but also beef) is more expensive. Restaurants usually serve grilled meat, though. Food tends to be hot and spicy and may be seasoned with ginger, nutmeg, cumin, cinnamon, saffron, cloves and lemon juice. Often there’s a lot of peanut oil as well. Tea is a popular drink.

This is a very simple fruit salad recipe, not particularly exotic, but definitely tasty. My picky husband doesn’t usually like mango, because he finds properly ripe mango too sweet, but there’s so much lemon in it that it tones down the sweetness, so he was a big fan. You really need a properly ripe fresh mango, in my experience frozen mango usually isn’t sweet enough. This dish is supposed to be served from lettuce cups, but I wasn’t able to buy lettuce.

Salad de mangue

Salad de mangue

1 ripe mango, cubed
1/4 fresh pineapple, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup/0.6 dl fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup/1.25 dl apricot nectar or orange juice
lettuce leaves
strawberries, to garnish

Combine cubed fruit and the juices. Serve on lettuce cups or bowls, garnished with the strawberries. Makes 3-4 portions.

Mushrooms with caraway (Czech)

Posted in Europe, Side dishes on January 19th, 2013 by Maija Haavisto — 4 Comments

I have some bad news for Vegventures fans. My health has been extremely poor, with about 5-10% of my previous functionality, since 23rd November 2011. I was already ill with an infectious neurological illness before that, but was pretty functional thanks to proper treatment. Unfortunately hypopituitarism, one complication of that illness, gets permanently worse (sometimes much worse) from even short-lived acute stress and my health has been likely permanently sabotaged by other people.

I’ve tried to keep up with Vegventures, but it’s hard when I can hardly cook these days and writing the posts also takes a lot of energy. I have also had to stop working on my vegan cookbook, which I already have a contract for and which was originally supposed to be published almost a year ago (any idea how frustrating this is!). I will have to reduce the posting frequency on this blog from three posts a month to 1-2 a month until further notice, likely permanently. With that change I hope to be able to complete the project – cook a dish from every cuisine (as explained/defined in more detail here).

Anyway, today we’re traveling to the Czech republic, which is in Central Europe (pretty much at the center of it) and until 1993 formed the country Czechoslovakia together with Slovakia. Its geography is very varied, with many low mountains. Czech republic has a rich tradition of music, literature, glass art, theatre, sports and science. It is one of the least religious populations in the world. The main export is cars and car parts, followed by electronic components. Czech is a popular tourist destination, especially the capital Prague (Praha). Future adoption of the Euro will likely increase tourism further. One of the tourist attractions is beer, especially beer festivals, but also national parks, spa towns, puppet festivals and the biggest waterpark in Central Europe.

The Czech cuisine is heavy on meat, more so than before, as well as eggs and dairy, e.g. sour cream. Meals usually start with a soup. Dumplings are a popular dish, filled with e.g. smoked meat, spinach or sour cabbage. Food may be served with potatoes, buckwheat, millet, rice or noodles, braised cabbage is a common side dish. Barley is used too. Bread is made with rye, wheat, or a combination, and usually flavored with spices. Popular vegetables include bell peppers, peas, carrot, celery, turnip, cauliflower, beet, tomatoes, onion, leek, spinach and kale. Mushrooms are a common ingredient, as they grow plentifully in the Czech forests, and they are prepared in many different ways. Desserts include e.g. cakes, pastries (often containing fruit, nuts and/or poppy seeds) and fruit dumplings.

This recipe is very simple, but the caraway adds an unusual taste to it. It is very earthy, complementing the earthiness of the mushrooms. I used a mushroom mix with chestnut mushrooms and two other types of mushrooms. I changed the recipe a bit, as it was quite greasy and you get much better results if you first fry mushrooms without any fat.

Mushrooms with caraway (Czech)

Czech mushrooms

4 tbsp margarine or coconut oil
1/2 cup/1.2 dl finely chopped onion
1 lb/450 g fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp caraway seed
salt and black pepper, to taste

Fry mushrooms on a dry pan (you can add a splash of water if needed) until they have exuded their juices and most of them have evaporated. Remove from the pan. Fry the onions until translucent, 4-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms, caraway seed and salt. Sauté for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot as a side dish.