I'm often put off by recipes from far off lands collected by intrepid travellers, as they tend to involve long lists of unpronounceable ingredients which can only be sourced from obscure specialist suppliers. And of course these travellers insist that you simply must use every single one of these or else the dish won't be absolutely authentic.
So I was very pleasantly surprised indeed to leaf through World Food Café: Quick and Easy Recipes from a Vegetarian Journey - a beautifully illustrated book by Chris and Carolyn Caldicott published by Frances Lincoln.
The chapters span a fascinating collection of countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Chile, Cuba, Japan, Laos, Helsinki & Lapland, Namibia, Syria and Vietnam, and feature beautiful photography alongside excellent introductions to each country and its vegetarian cuisine. The recipes really are both quick and easy, and I haven't come across an ingredient yet that you wouldn't find at your local supermarket.
If you're looking for some new inspiration for weeknight suppers or really different dinner party fayre, I really can recommend this as one of the most interesting veggie cookbooks I've read in a while.
Here's a really lovely recipe from Namibia to tempt your tastebuds, with thanks to the authors for their permission to reproduce it here.
I substituted butternut squash for the pumpkin and didn't have any kale so used spinach instead - it was still delicious, but the kale would add even more texture. Make sure you use hot chillis - this is good with some spice!
Namibian Spicy Peanut & Chickpea Soup
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves crushed
- thumb-sized piece of ginger root peeled and grated
- 2 hot red chillis finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 medium potato peeled and cubed
- 400 g pumpkin peeled and deseeded, cut into chunks
- 1 large green pepper diced
- 175 g kale thinly sliced
- 1.2 l vegetable stock
- 400 g tin chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 60 ml smooth peanut butter
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. When hot, add the onion, garlic, ginger and chilli, sauté until soft and then stir in the cinnamon and pepper.
- Add the potato, pumpkin and pepper, and cook until the vegetables start to soften. Add the kale, stock and chickpeas, cover the pan and gently simmer until the vegetables are soft.
- Dissolve the peanut butter in a little boiling water and stir it into the soup.
- Season to taste and gently simmer for a further couple of minutes. Serve with buttered rye bread.