Join twowildtides on the country challenge. Each week, we’re going to be heading to a new country (in spirit). Primarily, we’ll be cooking a meal from each country; but we’ll also be watching travel documentaries, reading travel blogs, and listening to music. During the global pandemic, travel is largely inaccessible. We want to reignite our wanderlust, satisfy our travel bug as much as we can, and learn some new things along the way. I have a feeling our bucket list will have a number of items added to it through this experience as well. We created a simple alphabetical spreadsheet with all the countries of the world, and each week we will draw a random number that corresponds with a country on the spreadsheet.
Togo is a small country in West Africa. That’s where our spreadsheet brought us this week. Togo is not known for travel, but it’s got its gems, and it’s become more popular amongst backpackers. `
Togolese cuisine consists of maize, cassava, millet, and beans. Fufu is best known as their unofficial national dish, but when I was researching, Gboma Dessi looked like something I wanted to try a lot more this week. Gboma Dessi is featured on several lists and blogs about Togolese cuisine, including this list by Foodeely, this list by Taste Atlas, this article by Ethnic Foods R Us, and this post by World Travel Guide. Whenever we find a country with little information about their cuisine, 196Flavors always comes in clutch:
The main seasoning in Gboma Dessi is the Gbotemi spice blend, which I could not find to purchase anywhere; so, I decided to make it, following the recipe below. I purchased the ajwain seeds on Amazon and got the cloves, anise, cardamom, and ginger from our local grocery store. It was so easy to make. It looked oddly similar to topsoil, but the aroma was so strong and pleasant.
This recipe has a lot of moving parts. While roasting the spice blend, I also had to pressure cook the beef, boil the spinach, and fry out the onion/tomato sauce mixture. I got a new Instant Pot for Christmas, so I was super excited that a Country Challenge recipe finally involved a pressure cooker. The fragrance through the house was spectacular.
I was honestly worried that this dish might be bland because the Gbotemi spice blend didn’t get added prior to cooking and adding the broth back into the dish seemed to dilute things. I was totally wrong (and probably should have gotten the hint from all of the delicious smells) because this dish was absolutely packed with flavour. We served ours with rice, but it would have been really good with bread or couscous as well. It also made great leftovers!
We watched this video about travel in Togo while we ate:
I can definitely see us making this recipe again. Let us know if you try it!