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.
It was my sister’s last week in Alberta before her return to Newfoundland, so, instead of using the random number generator I asked her to pick a number. She picked the number that corresponded to Central African Republic (CAR), a country that I had never heard of before. From some quick research, I learned that CAR is among the poorest countries in the world. It often ranks as the country with the lowest GDP per capita, the lowest Human Development Index score, and the unhealthiest country. They have a life expectancy below 50. Education and healthcare in the country is free, and support is offered by WHO and other countries around the world. This country has suffered through recurring bouts of civil war. Travel to CAR is strongly discouraged, however, no country is void of beauty and potential, so I am pleased to share this article that highlights some of the tourism opportunities within this country:
The national dish of CAR is called Kanda. It is a meatball dish (our first of this challenge) served on plain white rice. We were intrigued by this recipe as it incorporates some interesting ingredients. We went back, again, to our trusty pals at 196Flavors for the recipe:
As we look to make our meal for Central African Republic we do so with a heavy heart and a prayer for peace. I need to remind myself that even with all the tragedy going on there, the people still lovingly share a meal and give thanks for what they have. We make this meal with that in mind.Darlene @ InternationalCuisine.com
We began by preparing our meatballs. What I liked about this dish is that instead of using carb-laden or glutinous fillers such as flour or breadcrumbs, it used ground roasted pumpkin seeds. I used our coffee grinder to make the seeds into a powder very similar to the consistency of flour. We added all the ingredients to a food processor and prepared the meat mixture, which was an amazing idea as the onion and garlic became entirely incorporated, rather than larger chunks as I typically have with meatballs, meatloaf, and homemade burgers. I will be using this method from now on for sure.
We cooked the meatballs according to the recipe, in intervals that increased time and decreased heat. They simmered and stewed in a spicy tomato sauce that I was really excited about. Towards the end of the cooking time, we prepared the rice to package instructions.
Our dish looked and smelled amazing. The meatballs were quite good with a consistent texture and excellent seasoning. If I made this dish again, though, I would probably pop them in the oven on boil for a few minutes to brown them up.
Unfortunately, the sauce was kind of bland. The heat was certainly there, which I appreciated, but it lacked a richness. It wasn’t satisfying or comforting in any way. That said, it was healthy and wholesome. This meal is certainly food for fuel and I would recommend the meatball recipe in an instant– but perhaps beater with some hearty marinara sauce!
Stay tuned for next week’s country!