A very important part of any trip around the world for me is discovering new foods and people, and getting a glimpse of local traditions. My family discuss the country, what they eat, how they eat. Who their neighbours are, where is the country, what continent. It's a great way to discover the world, even though we don't really go there.
I always find it interesting trying food from countries I know nothing about. I love researching recipes, trying to find something that the people in that country eat.
In Benin they have largely a vegetable diet as meat is quite expensive. Of the meats, chicken and fish is cooked mostly there, however they do also eat beef, pork and goat. They tend to serve there food with either a peanut or tomato based sauce.
The food I have tried has been delicious and my family have loved our visit to Benin.
Spicy Peanut Sauce
Beninese Peanut Soup
1/2-1 Habanero chilli, to taste
2 beef stocks cubes
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups water
1 cup peanut butter
Blend onion and habanero pepper together in a food processor until smooth.
In a frying pan over medium heat, add oil, the onion and chilli, tomato paste, salt, and stock cubes. Fry for about 5 minutes.
Add peanut butter and water to the pan. Mix to combine.
Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, add more water 1/4 cup at a time, if your mixture is too thick. The oils in the peanut butter split, it will come back together with constant stirring.
Serve with pan fried or barbecued meat, roast vegetables, rice, or potatoes.
2 x 270g cans coconut milk
1 small brown onion, diced
4 shallots, diced
1 stick celery, diced
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric
1 sweet potato, diced, you need around 2 cups of it
1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Maggi seasoning
1 ½ tablespoons Berbere spice mix
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
Fresh coriander leaves, chopped, for garnishing
Place the vegetable stock in a 3-4 litre saucepan. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the peanut butter and coriander. Place over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove about 1 cup of the liquid and place it into a small bowl. Add the peanut butter and stir until creamy. Return the mixture to the pot, stir well, add coriander and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Use a stick blender and purée the soup to a smooth consistency. Garnish with chopped coriander before serving.
1/2 white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, diced
1 chilli, optional, I used a jalapeno, finely diced
3 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season, adjust vinegar, if needed, to taste, refrigerate for an hour, before serving.
Attempt 1: Now we didn't love these, I found them dense and they took way too long to fry them. Now maybe I should have deep fried them, but the recipe I used, didn't. These were okay, but not something I would make again.
1 x 7g packet of dry yeast
1 x 10g sachet of vanilla sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 teaspoons (10ml) vegetable oil
500ml of lukewarm water
Vegetable oil, extra, for deep frying
Cover with cling film and a tea towel, and let stand at least 2 hours.
Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sized saucepan or deep frying pan. You need at least 4cm of oil.
Take 2 teaspoons, using one spoon take a dollop of batter, and using the second spoon carefully push the batter into oil, being careful not to overcrowd. Fry until golden on the bottom. Turn over once to brown both sides. The first batch will be your tester to see if your heat setting is right to ensure you get the right oil temperature. If they burn before they cook through, turn down the heat, if they take too long to cook, increase the heat, they should only take 2-3 minutes, depending on their size.
Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon onto layers of paper towels to drain. Repeat until batter is finished. Sprinkle fritters with powdered sugar while still hot.