Want to know a way to instantly endear yourself to anyone you happen to meet in Jordan? Just mention Mansaf, the country’s official National Dish.
Our guide, Ali Abudayeh, had been tantalizing our taste buds for the better part of a week with tales of this traditional Jordanian food. Mary and I love lamb, so the combination of lamb, rice, almonds and fermented yogurt sounded incredibly appetizing.
We finally got a chance to try it the day after our visit to Petra, when Ali and our driver, Rami Remawi, took us for a special lunch at Al Qantarah Restaurant. The look of anticipatory delight in their eyes indicated we were in for a serious treat, and the dish did not disappoint. Rami seemed to take great pleasure in pouring the fermented yogurt over the platter (we even drank some from wine glasses afterwards!), and showed us the method of eating it by rolling pieces of lamb and rice into a gooey ball, then gobbling it down.
Ali was gracious enough to share this traditional recipe, which has been passed down for generations:
(The following Turkish recipe is a guest post by Dalene Heck of Hecktic Travels. You can follow her and her photographer husband Pete on Twitter at @HeckticTravels. If you’re a travel writer interested in submitting an idea for a future guest post, please email Editor In Chief Bret Love at GreenGlobalTravel@gmail.com.)
Mantı (pronounced Man-tuh) came to Turkey via residents who migrated across Central Asia. The dumpling-like pasta can be dried and then quickly added to boiling water to be prepared, and is typically stuffed with minced meat, onions and spices. The most popular variety is called Kayseri Mantı, which are very tiny. The mantı is typically served in a garlic yogurt sauce, with a red pepper oil or butter sauce poured on top of that and dried mint and other spices for garnish. Making mantı from scratch takes a bit of effort, but, if you’re pressed for time, you can buy the dried stuff from the local market.
Dough- 3 cups flour • 1 egg yolk • 1 whole egg • 1/2 tsp. salt • 1 cup water
Cooking- 2 Tbsp. melted margarine • 6 cups beef or chicken stock
Filling- 200 gr. minced meat (ground beef) • 2 medium sized onions, grated • Salt and pepper
Topping- 2 1/2 cups Greek-style yogurt • 3 cloves roasted garlic • 1 Tbsp. crushed red or chili pepper • 1 tbsp dried mint • 1 tbsp dried dill (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Sift 2 1/2 cups of flour and make a hollow well in the middle. • Put 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tbsp salt and water into the well. • Mix well and knead the mixture to make a smooth dough. • Cover it with a wet cloth and leave for 1 hour. • In a bowl, combine the meat, onions, salt and pepper and mix well, then set aside. • Sprinkle table top with remaining flour and place the dough in the middle. • Sprinkle a little flour on top and roll out with a rolling pin, trying to make the dough as thin as possible. • Cut out 6 cm squares and put 1 tsp. of filling into each one. • Bring the four corners of the dough together by squeezing them with your fingers. • Arrange them in an oven-pan and brush with melted margarine, then bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until they’re lightly browned. • Pour meat stock over them and cover, continuing to cook until the moisture is completely absorbed by the mantı. • While this is cooking, combine yogurt and garlic. • Melt margarine in a separate saucepan and stir in the crushed red or chili pepper, then let it simmer for 5 minutes. • Remove the mantı from the oven and divide into 6 portions. • Spoon over the yogurt mixture, drizzle the margarine pepper sauce on top, and garnish with dried mint and dill. • Serve immediately and enjoy! –by Dalene Heck; photos by Pete Heck
I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is Paula Deen doing being interviewed on Green Global Travel?!
We debated whether this story was a good fit for us, but the fact is that GGT has always been dedicated to exploring indigenous cultures around the world, and Deen’s traditional Southern cooking is the food I grew up eating as a Georgia boy. Fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, shrimp and grits, cornbread… it’s definitely not the healthiest food on the planet, but eating it occasionally as part of a well-balanced diet always reminds me of family and home.
A conversation with Paula Deen is like a visit to The Lady & Sons, her restaurant in Savannah’s historic district: Lively, comforting and steeped in Southern charm. Her distinctive drawl drips with sweetness– she calls me “Honey” repeatedly– but never feels disingenuous.
Deen’s positive spirit is rooted in overcoming a lifetime of obstacles: Her parents died young, she got married at 18, suffered panic attacks and agoraphobia in her 20s, and got divorced at 42. To pay the bills, she launched a catering service called The Bag Lady, with sons Bobby and Jamie delivering the classic Southern meals she prepared in her kitchen. Now, she’s battling back from criticisms of her cooking after it was revealed that she’s battling Type 2 diabetes, and has pledged to create healthier versions of her recipes in the future.
We recently spoke with Deen from her Savannah home to talk about old memories, the new book, and what makes traditional Southern cuisine so utterly timeless.
It’s often said that food is intrinsically connected with our memories. What are your earliest memories of food from your childhood?
Food played such a big part in my childhood. We lived in my grandmother and granddaddy’s business, which was a motel/swimming pool/skating rink/restaurant. It was like a mini-Disney World back in the ‘50s. I spent much of my life in that kitchen. My first memory of food was with my aunt, who was only three years older than me. She sat me on the counter and got out a big bottle of vanilla flavoring. She said, “Smell this, Paula!” and I said, “Oh, yum!” She poured a big tablespoon and gave it to me and it nearly choked me to death. (Laughs) I couldn’t understand how something that smelled so good could taste so nasty! I was probably three years old.
Who were the biggest influences on your Southern style of cooking?
My grandmother. My mother and daddy died very young, but her parents were in the food and lodging business their whole lives. My grandmother was the one that I spent time in the kitchen with. She had a garden every year until she was in her late 80s and couldn’t work it anymore, and she’s the one who taught me canning. My daddy’s favorite meal was chicken and dumplings. I was 19 when he died, and it was important to me that I be able to make his favorite dish. The first request I remember of my grandmother was to teach me how to make chicken and dumplings.
You grew up in Albany, Georgia. What led you to make your home in Savannah?
When I was 40 yrs old I was battling agoraphobia, and my husband at the time came home and told me he’d gotten a job in Savannah. I was devastated. I went to bed and cried for two months, and got up every day feeling hopelessness. Finally, one day it was like I flipped the light switch [in my mind]. The Serenity Prayer went through my head, and it was like I heard it for the first time. That morning, I accepted my mother’s death, my daddy’s death, my death, my children’s death… I realized that I could live the rest of my life in fear, but it wasn’t going to change things. It all became clear. I got out of bed and I fell in love with Savannah, Georgia.
Why do you think traditional Southern cooking remain so popular?
It will never go out of style! I wouldn’t even consider doing anything trendy: Trends come and go, but mama’s cooking will never go out of style.
When you started The Bag Lady in 1989, did you ever imagine it would lead you where it has?
No way. I didn’t have that good of an imagination! But if you didn’t want to talk to me about my little business, then I had nothing to say to you. I was all consumed with survival. I knew that this was my last chance– my first and probably my only chance– to do something great, because I was 42 years old. I was ready to get out of my marriage of 27 years. I had no education, and I had two sons that I wanted to give a better life. I would not let anything deter me. I even put my relationship with my children on the line, because I felt like if I could make this little business succeed it would make their life better. Of course, they were young and they didn’t see it that way. They told me daily, “Look, this is your dream, not ours!” But they hung in with me, and a wonderful thing happened… they grew up! My goal when I first started my little business was for us to be able to buy groceries on a Wednesday when payday wasn’t until Friday. When I tell my story, or even pick up something and read my story, it’s hard for me to believe!
How is Southern Cooking Bible different from your previous cookbooks?
When I married at age 18, I was given one cookbook at my shower– the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook in the checked loose-leaf. I adored that book, and it still sits proudly displayed in my kitchen today. When I couldn’t get in touch with my family members, I would sit down and read that cookbook. I loved it because it had pictures and it showed me how to carve a ham, how to set a table… everything was in that one book. When I wrote my very first book, The Lady & Sons Savannah Cookbook, somewhere in my soul I said I wanted a book that would mean as much to people as that book meant to me. That’s what I tried to accomplish.
Are there still any major goals you’ve yet to accomplish in your life?
Absolutely! Retirement is not a part of my vocabulary. I did everything ass-backwards. I retired until I was 42, then I took total responsibility for my own life and made a commitment to do whatever it took to be able to say that my mother and father produced a winner. Like I said, I retired early and now I work ‘til I drop! –Bret Love
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Our family loves berries of all kinds. According to a research study published in the Annals of Neurology on April 26, women who eat blueberries and strawberries are more likely to maintain cognitive memory as they age. Not every woman’s memory declines with age but, of those who did, the ones who ate ½ cup of blueberries or 1 cup of strawberries per week declined less. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter if the berries are frozen, regular or organic: They all work equally well. Here are 3 great berry recipes from around the world to keep your memory juices flowing!
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BERRY BASIL SANGRIA
INGREDIENTS: 1 cup sliced berries • 1 apple diced into ¼” pieces • 1 ounce fresh whole basil leaves, scored • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio, chilled • ½ cup sugar or Splenda • 1 cup club soda • 1 cup white grape juice
DIRECTIONS: In a large pitcher, layer the fruit, sugar/Splenda and basil and let rest for 10 minutes. • After 10 minutes, you should see it turn slightly red indicating that the sugar/Splenda has absorbed the juices from the basil and the fruit. • Add the club soda first and then the grape juice and Pinot Grigio. • Stir well and enjoy!
• • • • •
INGREDIENTS: 1 ½ cup all purpose flour • 1/3 cup sugar or Splenda • ½ tsp salt • 3 tsp baking powder • 1 tbsp lemon zest • 3oz chilled unsalted butter • ½ heaping cup blueberries • ½ cup cream • 1 egg yolk
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. • Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and add lemon zest. • In a separate bowl, beat egg yolk and cream. • Slice butter into 1” pieces, and use a fork to cut butter into the dry ingredients until they’re the size of a pea. • Delicately fold in the chilled blueberries. • Sprinkle egg and cream mixture into the butter mixture. • Using your hand, gently form the dough into a ball. • Be careful not to over mix or crush the blueberries- the dough will be crumbly, making it easier to handle. • Roll out the dough onto a well-floured surface. • Shape into a disk about 1” tall. • Cut into 8 wedges. • Brush the tops of each wedge with egg wash made by stirring an egg yolk with half tablespoon of water. • Sprinkle with granulated sugar or Splenda. • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
• • • • •
INGREDIENTS: 1½ cups bulgar wheat • 2 cups boiling water • 1 tsp salt • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice • 2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley • ¾ cups finely chopped fresh mint • 4 cups chopped strawberries • 1 cup toasted pecan pieces
DIRECTIONS: In large bowl, combine bulgur and salt. • Add boiling water, cover and let sit for 30 minutes. • Remove cover and use fork to fluff. • Stir in oil and lemon. • Add mint, parsley and strawberries. • Cover and refrigerate. •Add toasted pecans just before serving. –Mary Gabbett
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Ceviche is arguably among the most popular dishes in South America, with different cultures offering their own interpretation of the fish/citrus/spice culinary theme. We had some of the best ceviche I’ve ever tried on our recent trip to the Peruvian Amazon with International Expeditions, which was kind enough to share this recipe from naturalist guide Jorge Salas. Jorge says he may vary this recipe by adding artichokes, mushrooms and capers, but insists that a true Peruvian shrimp ceviche recipe will NEVER include tomatoes or avocado. For a side dish, he suggests cooking sweet potatoes in orange juice with sugar, clove and cinnamon, then glazing the sweet potato on the reduction of the remains.
INGREDIENTS: 200 gr. fish (shrimp, Sole, fresh tuna, salmon, or whatever you prefer) • 1/3 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger • 1/3 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red hot pepper (seeds and veins completely removed) • 1 Red Onion, cut in long, thin Julianne • Lime • Salt, Pepper & Soy Sauce to taste
DIRECTIONS: Wash, dry and cut the fish in ½ inch cubes. • Refrigerate the cubes for 5 to 10 minutes. • Put fish cubes in a mixing bowl, and sprinkle the chopped garlic and ginger on top. • Put the chopped red hot pepper on a side of the bowl and press it with a spoon against the side of the bowl to extract the hot pepper’s juices and oils. • Add just a bit of the onion (around 1/4 of a small onion). • Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. • Add 3 drops (no more) of soy sauce. • Place a strainer over the bowl and squeeze limes until you get enough juice to cover 2/3 of the solids. • Mix all the ingredients carefully (you don’t want to create a fish puree). • Add one or two ice cubes to the mixture, mix one more time and remove and discard the ice. Serve immediately.
SERVING SUGGESTION: Place a crunchy lettuce leaf on a cold dish. • Place the Ceviche solids over the lettuce. • Spoon a good amount of the juice over the solids. • Decorate with sweet potatoes and corn all around. Enjoy!
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