Favourite recipes from afar

I recently wrote an article about a favourite curry recipe brought with us from Pakistan for an excellent blog called Eat Your World. It was one of a handful of local recipes handed to us by our helper Ansa just before we left under difficult circumstances, following the bombing of the Marriott hotel in 2008.

You can read the article here, but in the meantime I have been thinking of other recipes, ideas or food that we have “brought” back with us from various postings.

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One of the best things about travel is, of course (as all us foodies know), trying the local cuisine. It is one of the reasons I love travelling to Thailand and other parts of South East Asia so much – it’s almost impossible to get a bad meal in that part of the world (unless you are pregnant as I discovered: suddenly going off spicy dishes wasn’t a lot of fun in those circumstances).

But when your time in that country is done, whether it be a holiday or a posting, how easy is it to recreate the dishes you have known to love back home?

So far from South Africa we have had some success with bunny chow and my husband still likes to make his own biltong. We also have some great braai recipe books that we dive in to from time-to-time, including for a favourite Namibian meat stew cooked with coca cola and red wine. But braaiing is hard because the weather is generally too cold and wet, plus the price of meat here compared to South Africa makes it more of a treat than an everyday thing. I also have yet to attempt to make a milk tart.

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From Pakistan of course we have Ansa’s recipes, as well as a beautiful book of recipes  which we occasionally get out and attempt one of the simpler dishes. Getting fresh spices here isn’t as easy as it was in Islamabad but nevertheless most things are available if you look hard enough.

My husband was a huge fan of Jamaican food and luckily now there are Caribbean restaurants popping up all over the place (we have yet to try this local one in our town, but it is on my list). You can also buy patties, jerk sauce, even Ting in local supermarkets here. And I have become a dab hand at making banana bread from one of our Jamaican recipe books. But I think we would have to fly back to Kingston to get the red pea soup, jerk chicken with breadfruit, rice and peas, country chicken etc of the quality that we grew used to while we lived there.

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Overall though, I think our lives have been incredibly enriched by the food we have eaten overseas and the recipes we have brought back with us. It is getting easier and easier to try different things here in the UK – the latest meals we are enjoying use fresh recipe kits that give you the sauces and spices you need for curries and other dishes, making it quick and easy to whip up a quick delicious dinner in the evenings.

But there is still nothing like recreating favourites from places you have lived. You might not be able to go back there, but by cooking some of the food you remember and loved so much you can at least pretend you are back there living that life again.

Now if only the sun would stay out long enough, we could get the braai out….

Picture credit (milk tart) – Dimitra Tzanos

Have you got any favourite recipes or dishes that you still make from places you have lived in or travelled to in the past? I would love to hear about them. 

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