The cuisine of Liberia is an interesting mix of West African Coastal cuisine and Creole, a combination that is a reflection of its location and its history. Peppers are aplenty and the food, like the air, is filled with heat. Liberian cuisine is unique among other West African cuisine in the preponderance of baked goods. Baking as a technique is traced back to the freed slaves and freeborn Blacks who moved from the Southern States of the USA. A lot of these baked goods have similarities to baked goods we are familiar with in the USA but with some interesting twists. Pineapple Walnut Bread is one such. A lot like banana bread but less sweet and eaten more as a breakfast bread, with a pat of butter. It uses ingredients that are easy to come by in any kitchen which is essential in these times when we are relying on pantry supplies for cooking. In my research about Liberia, its customs and cuisines I came across Anthony Bourdain’s travels to the country and would highly recommend watching the episode (No Reservations: Liberia, Season 6, Episode 14) with a slice of pineapple walnut bread. Details
Rice cooked with meat and vegetables is eaten all around the world. Pilaf, or rice cooked in broth, is believed to have originated in Persia around 500 BC. By the time it reached Africa, it had become a blend of rice, warm African spices with various meats mixed in. In Kenya it became Pilau, a rice and meat dish with a familiar spice blend. Details
Fun fact: a large number of small Indian restaurants in the United States of America are actually run by Nepali immigrant chefs. Several serve Indian food along with (if one were to look at the fine print on the menu) some dishes that are of Nepali or Himalayan origin. But, repeat after me and loudly: Nepali cuisine is not Indian cuisine (our Nepali friends will appreciate us remembering this). Nepal, through its geographical and historical association with India and Tibet, has influences of both in its cuisine. However, the flavor profile is different. Nepali dishes use fewer spices and aromatics and less heat. Also, Nepali cuisine has a preponderance of vegetarian dishes. Second fun fact: “vegetarian” in Nepal can mean different things. It could mean “not meat and eggs” (dairy products such as milk and cheese are consumed, however) but it could also mean “not beef” (but include poultry and mutton). The latter is tied to the sanctity of cows in the Hindu faith. Details
A recurring theme I find as I research cuisine from different parts of the world is one of interconnectedness and of the different ways in which we are similar. The history of human settlement is a story of migration, a movement not just of people, but also of their food, culture, and customs. It is a story of assimilation and amalgamation and nowhere is this more evident than in the food we eat. Details
This month we are celebrating Malawi which is in southeastern Africa. Although Malawi is landlocked, a third of its territory is covered by Lake Malawi. Lake Malawi National park is a UNESCO World Heritage site for being of “global importance for biodiversity conservation due particularly to its fish diversity.” The cuisine of Malawi is reflective of the abundance of fish in the area as well as the fruit and vegetables grown there. Details
While working on the recipe for this month’s Featured Grantee’s country, I took a moment to reflect on how much I have enjoyed being on the recipe team at Dining for Women. It has sparked the return of a world map to the wall of my kitchen, so I know where each country is geographically. It has also deepened my appreciation for the women of the world who manage to prepare delicious, nutritious meals for their loved ones no matter how scarce the resources at hand. Details
We travel back to the eastern part of Africa this month – to Kenya, the country of origin of December’s featured grantee. Jacaranda Health offers Kenya’s first nurse mentor training center, which trains top nurses from Kenya’s public hospitals to mentor hundreds of peer nurses and sustainably improve maternal outcomes for mothers and babies. That sounds like a cause to celebrate! So, this month I tried to think of a recipe that could accompany celebrations of all kinds, including the holidays. Guess what it is? Details
In doing research about Swaziland, the country of origin of Young Heroes Foundation, November’s featured grantee, I learned about a dish called sidvudvu. It’s a thick, nutritious porridge made of mashed cornmeal and pumpkin. In other words, corn and winter squash. That particular combination of ingredients seems not unlike something that could be served at a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. So I had those ideas in mind as I tried to come up with a recipe for this month’s Proven Platter. Details
The craft of preserving foods by pickling them is such an important technique in so many of the world’s food cultures. In Nepal, the country of origin of October’s featured grantee, Street Child US, pickles are called achaar. They’re often served alongside the dal and rice dishes of Nepal, in order to provide flavor and texture contrast to all of those warming, earthy, savory flavors. Details
September’s featured grantee, Edu-Girls, Inc., is located in India, a vast country with so many distinct culinary regions. If I spent the rest of my life cooking only the foods of India, I’d still have a lot to learn about the foods of India. One thing I definitely know is that cooking and eating the flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes of India have a positive impact on my taste buds, my food budget, and my health. Details
The country of Uganda is where this month’s featured grantee, Brick by Brick Partners, is located. There are lots of fabulous Ugandan recipes on the Dining for Women website. A peek there will yield all kinds of mouthwatering dishes that represent the wonderful cuisine of East Africa. I highly recommend making some of them. Yum! Details
Pakistan is the home to this month’s featured grantee, Irqa Fund. Just imagine the culinary possibilities of a country that’s bordered by China, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Wow! From a cooking perspective, the recipe options seem so exciting, so full of creative possibilities. Truthfully, it would be entirely possible for me to go totally overboard. Details
“Meat ‘n’ three.” That’s the colloquial expression used to describe a particular type of restaurant in the South. The concept is easy enough: choose a meat from what’s available on a particular day, and then load up on all the sides – a couple of vegetables, some rice or potatoes, a biscuit or corn muffin, etc. Details
It is impossible to think of Afghanistan and not think of war – multiple decades of war. It’s also impossible to think of the shape-shifting role the United States has played during the last 40 years of Afghanistan’s continuous conflict and not consider how impossibly complex the world is. What’s painfully easy to understand? That such protracted political and economic instability has drastically impacted the lives of Afghanistan’s women and girls. Thank goodness for Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, May’s featured grantee. Details
We travel back to the western part of Africa this month: to Mauritania, south of Algeria and Morocco, with miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
I absolutely love the name of April’s featured grantee: Mindleaps! It makes me think of exactly what my mind was doing – all while developing a recipe that was inspired by thieboudienne, the national dish of Mauritania. Here’s what I mean: Lots of sources indicate thieboudienne is a “coastal dish of fish and rice, usually made with tomatoes.” Seems easy enough. But, even a simple-sounding, tomato-based dish of seafood and rice can send my thoughts bouncing around like they’re in a sort of competitive-recipe ping-pong match. Details
It’s such wonderful serendipity that the countries of origin for March’s featured grantee (Her Future Coalition, in India) and sustained grantee (African People and Wildlife, in Tanzania) are inexorably linked by geography and ancient trade routes—and, by extension, food. Details
It just dawned on me: The very first thing I consult when I think about the cuisine of a country other than the one I’m from isn’t a cookbook – it’s a map! The country of origin of this month’s featured grantee is Tanzania. One brief peek at the tattered world atlas that’s taped to the back of a door in my home office is all it took to set my culinary imagination about this East African country on fire. The mouthwatering geographical cues? The mainland of Tanzania has miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean and is home to Zanzibar – the entry point to East Africa used by spice traders and merchants as early as the 8th century. Not surprisingly, the flavors of India and the Arabian Peninsula are especially prominent in the dishes of this part of Africa. Details
Happy New Year!
Starting this month, we’ll not only share recipes from the country of origin of our featured grantee, but also from our designated sustained grantee. The potential culinary mashups in 2019 at Dining for Women meetings are certainly very exciting! Details
Kenya calls us to come for a visit this month! And since it’s November, it’s definitely time to think about a warming beef stew, epic comfort food at this time of year. Kenyan Beef Stew is not all that different from our American version. It contains meat, potatoes, and carrots. I find that the difference is in the spices used and the inclusion of tomatoes and plantains. Details
Dining for Women started with a meal. Even as the organization has grown, food has retained a special place at the center of the giving circle. Sharing a meal means sharing time, conversation, and a bit of ourselves. Linda McElroy has helped spur that connection by encouraging creativity in the kitchen and a fresh look at international cuisine during her time as DFW’s Recipe Curator.
McElroy is stepping down after five years of service in that position, but she remains committed to DFW and its programs. She first learned of DFW after a segment about it aired on NBC News.
“My husband and I were watching and he said, ‘You have to do that,’ and I said, ‘I know,’” McElroy said. “I applied for a chapter right after that.”
McElroy is now a Seattle-area Mentor, and she enjoys visiting a variety of chapters. She said the specificity of the help provided by DFW to its grantees has been meaningful to her.
“When you look at the materials and read about the people you’re helping, I find it fascinating that this money will help 250 girls,” she said. “It’s not vague. I am actually helping girls in a village in Kenya. It feels more personal.”
McElroy saw a DFW call for a Recipe Curator and knew it was a good fit. “I immediately got excited about it,” she said. “I was recently retired. My husband and I owned a restaurant for 25 years.”
The role has been an opportunity for McElroy to experiment and learn about new foods, while providing an enormous benefit to DFW.
“I love researching recipes,” she said. “There was this whole world of different foods that I was ready to explore. I had never done anything like this before. This group trusted me to go for it. That first year, I was finding my way. I’ve just loved doing it.”
This month we are traveling to Afghanistan. Naan, a type of flatbread, is the most widely consumed bread in Afghanistan. But for something more interesting I discovered the Afghan “bolani,” or filled turnover. The most common filling includes mashed potatoes and lots and lots of green onions. For a very earthy flavor, try a Swiss chard filling. Fried or baked, cut into wedges, they make a delicious appetizer. Details
Dining for Women started with a meal.
Even as the organization has grown, food has retained a special place at the center of our chapters. Sharing a meal means sharing time, conversation, and a bit of ourselves. DFW member Linda McElroy has helped spur that connection by encouraging creativity in the kitchen and a fresh look at international cuisine during her time as DFW’s Recipe Curator. Details
This month our good works take us to Malawi. I think we’ve been there a few times before! I picked up one of my go-to African cookbooks, “Zainabu’s African Cookbook,” for inspiration this month. I found a recipe for Beef with Butternut Squash that sounded promising. When I read the recipe, I realized it is very similar to something I’ve made in the past that I’ve really enjoyed. Details
This month we are arm chair traveling to El Salvador. Right off the bat I knew what I wanted to make—Pupusas! I’ve had them many times from the local pupuseria, but I’ve never made them myself. I got busy doing some research on how to make them and also found a great tutorial on YouTube to share with you. Details
It’s July, and we’re visiting Kenya this month! Usually when I think of Kenyan food, it’s some kind of stew, but it is summertime and I wanted something to serve that is light and refreshing. I came up with a twist on a traditional Kenyan corn and bean stew called “Githeri” by turning it into a salad. Details
We’re going to Haiti this month. Can you say “pork griot” (gree-oh)? It is one of the most popular dishes you will find there. Chunks of pork are marinated, then simmered until tender and succulent, then fried until caramelized and crispy. You’ll always find it accompanied by “pikliz” (pik-lees), a spicy, vinegared cabbage and carrot relish. The spicy relish makes the perfect complement to the rich and fatty pork. Details
This month we are traveling to Benin (Beh-NEEN). It is just a tiny slip of a country in West Africa. It runs the long way south to north, and it is surrounded by Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. The official language is French; however, many indigenous languages are still spoken.
Peanut- and tomato-based sauces are commonly prepared and served over couscous, rice and beans. Yams are a main staple in the north; meats such as beef and pork are used sparingly. In the south, the most common ingredient used is corn, with fish and chicken being the most commonly consumed meats. Details
My choice for the Proven Platter recipe this month has a very fancy name: Rolex – but it’s not what you think. Although it’s called a “rolex” we know we wouldn’t eat a watch. Of course not! In Uganda, a rolex refers to a rolled breakfast omelet. 🙂 Details
I am pretty excited about what I’ve got planned for you this month. The country of Guatemala is on the docket. We’ll start out with some guacamole and chips, Guatemalan style, just to whet our appetites. Then it’s on to the main course, Fiambre Rojo. Think of an enormous Italian antipasto platter and you’ll get the idea of what fiambre is all about. And for dessert, how about some dark chocolate crepes filled with a dreamy dulce de leche filling? Yes, please! Details
Peruvian-style pollo a la brasa, or rotisserie chicken, is perhaps one of the most well-known Peruvian dishes here in the U.S. due to the many take-out joints around the country (depending on where you live!). It is also one of the most consumed dishes in Peru. A whole chicken is marinated overnight in a combination of garlic, herbs, soy and vinegar, and then roasted whole on a spit, often over a charcoal fire. The chicken is always served with creamy, mayonnaise-type sauces, typically bright with aji amarillo chile pepper. Very often it is accompanied by French fries and salad with ranch dressing. My kind of yum! Details
We’re visiting India this month. We’ve been there many times and sampled the cuisine of many different areas of India. This time we’ll be focused on Uttar Pradesh in the northern part of India. Details
It’s that time of year again. Everyone is busy with the holidays, and hoping they’ll be able to fit everything in that needs to be accomplished and stay sane. Let’s hope you will find the time to attend your chapter meeting of Dining for Women this month! Details
This month we are traveling to a place we haven’t visited yet, The Gambia. You might wonder, why I’ve referred to it as The Gambia, instead of just Gambia. Well, the official name is the Republic of The Gambia, and it is referred to as The Gambia for short. It is just a tiny slip of a country, completely surrounded by Senegal, except for the coastline on the Atlantic Ocean at the western end. Details
Afghanistan is the faraway land calling to us to come visit this month!
I’m really excited about the menu I’ve prepared and tested for you. We’ll start with Afghan “Nachos,” for a quick and easy appetizer, followed by the most delicious lamb dish ever, Lamb Kebab with Cinnamon, accompanied by Afghan Flat Bread. Ridiculously easy Afghan Butter Cookies round out the meal. Details
We’re visiting Myanmar this month, formerly known as Burma, and I’ve got a delicious curry for you to try. Details
Wow, we are visiting a totally new country this month: Bhutan. Did you know that Bhutan was recently named the happiest country on earth? Their government actually measures the happiness quotient of their people using a metric called the Gross National Happiness (GNH). I’d love to know what the questions are! Details
Our armchair travels take us to Kenya this month! If you stopped in unexpectedly to visit your Kenyan neighbor just as they were sitting down to lunch, they would insist that you stay and partake of the meal with them. This is a fine example of an everyday Kenyan dish that they might be serving.
Our dining destination this month is the country of Guatemala. I always get pretty excited when we are visiting Latin American countries, as their cuisine is one of my favorites, a close second to Italian! Details
We are traveling to Mali this month. I think we were just there! For this month’s Proven Platter recipe, I decided to see what was already on the site, and choose a recipe to put through my testing process. The result is that I’ve revamped and replaced the recipe for West African Peanut Soup (Tigua Dege Ne). Details
We may not be physically traveling to Mali this month, but we are still able to taste and participate in the local cuisine right here at our own dining tables.
Here is a wonderful recipe that is representative of a typical meal. My husband stood at the stove, eating right out of the pot, and was already telling me that I had to make this again! This dish should please anyone with dietary requirements, as it is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Details
This month we’ll be paying a visit to Cambodia and cooking up some breakfast. Breakfast for dinner, you ask? What is Linda thinking? Well, I’m thinking that Bai Sach Chrouk (grilled pork served with pickled vegetables and rice) sounds like a mighty fine dinner to me. Although, in Cambodia, this is a very popular breakfast, served up on the streets of the capital, and it’s hard to find this dish past 9 o’clock in the morning. Details
The Republic of Chad, located in northern Central Africa, is the subject of our focus and our dining destination this month.
Okra is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables there. It is used both to thicken sauces and as a vegetable used in preparation of soups and stews. I suppose you either love okra or hate it, but as it happens, I love it! And since I’ve yet to post a recipe calling for okra, I think okra’s time in the spotlight has come. Details
I’ve got lots of good recipes coming your way this month. I thought I’d share with you a tradition that we have started with my group. Every year in either November or December, depending on what month we are meeting, we plan what we call our “holiday appetizer party.” Initially the idea was to bring a favorite appetizer, or bring an appetizer that you were thinking of trying out for the holidays. There is no better audience for feedback than our enthusiastic DFW members!
It has proved to be really successful and fun. There’s less emphasis on planning a meal and the meeting is a little more casual. We pretty much snack and talk and discuss the whole evening.
Of course, you can bring any type of appetizer you like. But I thought it would be fun, and in keeping with our world mission to plan an “Around the World Appetizer Party!” Details
We are off to Mali this month, located in West Africa, in support of the Tandana Foundation. Their Women LEAP program provides literacy and numeracy training, as well as democratic governance and leadership skills.
Often, the program we are supporting will send us recipes that are rooted in their culture. This month we received a very detailed recipe called “Recipe for Toh, (Oro Dja), Traditional Food of the Dogon People,” by Jemima Tembiné. She started learning to cook when she was about 10 years old and has been preparing Toh since she was 15 years old. Near as I can tell, Toh is a dish of millet dough that has been pounded, and served along with different sauces made out of various leaves, dried fish and dried vegetables. Details
This month we get to travel somewhere new, Cochabamba, Bolivia. And we are making one of Bolivia’s most beloved dishes, “Pique Macho.”
Bolivians consider Pique Macho the world’s greatest expression of meat and potatoes!
The dish is a sultry combination of perfectly seasoned beef cubes and sliced hotdogs. It is served over a bed of crispy potato fries and finished with julienned vegetables and multiple garnishes. Hot sauce is an integral part of this dish. Bolivians use a fiery hot sauce that they make from their local locoto peppers, but you can use your own favorite hot sauce. Details
We are going to Uganda this month in support of DIG, Development in Gardening. DIG provides experiential training in sustainable agriculture, nutrition and improved cooking practices, along with developing 400 women-led home gardens.
It is July, it’s hot, and I’m hoping that you’ll be able to do some grilling. I’ve got Beef Skewers in Green Masala on the menu, although you could certainly use chicken or pork if you prefer. A Cabbage Salad with Pineapple presents a fresh new take on coleslaw with an African twist. And for dessert, we have a stunning Mango Coulis with Tapioca. Details
Hola Amigas (y Amigos)!
I didn’t have to think too hard this month to decide which recipes that I wanted to share with you. Although I owned an Italian restaurant in Seattle for 25 years, my entire kitchen staff is from the state of Michoacán, Mexico, and the food of their country is the one that we have made over and over again for restaurant family meals and celebrations. As you may have guessed from the photo accompanying this post, what you are looking at is our end-of-the-shift family meal. These tried-and-true dishes are at the heart and soul of my repertoire. I hereby bring you “McElroy Family Favorites!” Details
We’re off to Tanzania this month. “Prawns in Coconut Sauce” and “Pilau Masala” are headlining the menu. These recipes have been graciously shared with us by Miriam Kinunda, the author of the blog “Taste of Tanzania.” I’ve tested both recipes and I give them the thumbs up. You’ll find many other recipes to choose from on her site, as well as some very good ones on our own Dining for Women recipe site.
We are off to Kathmandu this month. I’ve always wanted to go there. Since I’m stuck in Seattle in front of my computer though, I will have to find another way to experience Nepal. That’s one of the great benefits about being a Dining for Women member: armchair travel, through our monthly grantees and exploring the cuisine of different countries feels like I’m there – almost. So let’s go! Details
Let’s try something new this month! Yuca (pronounced YOO-ka) is also known as manioc or cassava. Although you will often see this plant referred to in the US as “yucca,” that is incorrect. Yucca is a totally unrelated desert plant in the agave family. Details
This month our culinary journey takes us to India, specifically the Maharashtra state in Western India. I got a little ambitious this month though, and rather than present you with one “proven platter” dish, I constructed an entire thali platter just for you! I had a lot of fun working on this project, and even more fun eating the leftovers for days!
Our culinary travel this month of December finds us in the Himalayas, specifically Nepal.
Originally, I had it in mind to come up with an interesting twist on the “momo”, a Nepalese steamed dumpling with a meat or vegetable filling, wildly popular and sold on the streets. What about a sweet dumpling filling and call it dessert? My first attempt at this idea was a complete failure, but I still liked the idea and decided I’d work on this for the next time we visit Nepal in April 2016. So I’ve got time to get this right!
This month we visit the small West African country of Togo. Sandwiched between Ghana on the west and Benin on the east, the southern end of Togo sits at the Gulf of Guinea, where plenty of access to fresh fish helps to round out the cuisine. While fish is an important source of protein, bush meat is also often consumed. The most well-liked bush meat is the giant rat. I think we’ll skip that and make a delicious beef stew instead!
We get to explore a new cuisine this month, Peruvian food! My sister-in-law, Maria Chisholm, grew up in Lima, Peru, and she was only too happy to share with me her food memories and the things she still likes to cook. I’m really excited to share them with you. Here’s what she had to say.
We are visiting Uganda this month and I have a fresh new take on a Cucumber and Mango Salad for you.
Persian traders introduced mangoes to Uganda way back in the 10th century! The spices in this dish are reflective of that cuisine as well. This would be a refreshing side dish to go along with any braised meat dish.
This month we travel to Guatemala. Oh how I love the food of Central America! While Guatemala does not seem to have a national dish, tamales are very popular. I hesitate to share a recipe with you because they’re pretty labor intensive. Instead, how about something simple, refreshing and different, like a Cabbage and Beet Tostada?
With our featured program in Rwanda this month, recipe maven Linda McElroy decided to go old school and pull some different entries from our own Dining for Women Cookbook. The Better-Than-Sex Cake is actually the only one of the collection that Linda didn’t make. So you could call this an un-Proven Platter. You tell us how it works out! Details
Don’t fritter away your time in the kitchen, knock out this scrumptious Banana Nut Strudel made with a Malawi staple. Details
This month, we’re all about dessert so check out this Haitian sweet — and pretty — “white dish”. Details
A major recipe cleanup is underway on our website. Recipe favorites may go missing. Here’s why. Details
This recipe marinates in onions and lemon juice overnight and then grills up and is finished in a sweet-tart sauce. Dig into this Senegalese recipe. Details
Recipe Curator Linda McElroy whips up a Rwandan menu that reflects the simplicity of the cuisine but is tasty and textured. Details
This month is all about small plates, a common style of dining in Jordan. It’s called mezze. Details
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is authentic Ugandan – chicken steamed in banana leaves (with a simple substitution if you can’t find the leaves).
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a mash-up of traditional Rwandan ingredients – cornmeal and pineapple – that creates a decidedly non-traditional dessert. Details
The October 2014 Proven Platter recipe is Chicken and Green Bean Salad (Lawar) – one of Bali’s most famous dishes. It’s also a major effort so be prepared for a lot of work. But it’s worth the effort! Details
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a mash-up of sweet potatoes, beans, and peanuts that Ugandans call ‘Bufuke’.”
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Kebab. Recruit friends to bring along the rest of the recipes for a complete meal. Details
This month’s Proven Platter recipe is a Tomato and White Bean Stew, called Togola in Niger. Try it with bread baked in a Dutch oven! Details
Each month, recipe curator Linda McElroy will take a recipe from the featured program’s country and put it through its paces in her own kitchen. She will test it, tweak it and fine-tune it and you will benefit from her insights. This month it is a Mango and Coconut Tart, adapted from a traditional Tanzanian recipe. Mmmmmmm. Details