Jamaican Cuisine: Rice and Peas

Jamaicans from all walks of life enjoy the humble rice and peas, sometimes as a meal of its own but mostly as a side dish.  What a Jamaican calls “peas” we call “kidney beans,” and the dish has a lot in common with southern American red beans and rice.  Key Jamaican twists on the dish include cooking the beans in coconut milk (which yields a creamy, slightly sweet flavor) and including a Scotch bonnet pepper in the cooking liquid for a little spice.

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Jamaican Cuisine — Jerk Chicken

Jamaican food over the years has been shaped by the Spanish, British, African, Indian, and Chinese people who have inhabited the island over the last several centuries.  Though Rastafarians are less than one percent of the population, they have added their contributions to the cuisine also, with numerous dishes built around their religious beliefs barring consumption of pork (and for the most devout, meat of any kind).

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Singaporean Cuisine: Black Pepper Crab

As noted in our post on Hainanese chicken rice, Singaporeans love the inexpensive, fresh foods available at their local food courts.  Rice and noodle bowls, soups, fried rice, Indian curries and flatbreads, and savory pastries are very popular quick meals that are widely available.  When a Singaporean wants to sit down somewhere a little nicer to eat, though, stir-fried crab is one of the most popular choices.

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Singaporean Cuisine: Hainanese Chicken Rice

Singapore has a true melting pot culture.  Malays (the “native” Singaporeans), Chinese, Indians, English, Portuguese, Sri Lankans, Thais, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and Arabs have all at one time or another come to Singapore en masse and left their mark on the culture, especially the food.  Food is a national obsession in Singapore, the most common conversational topic, and a matter of great national pride.

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Guamanian Cuisine — Chicken Tinaktak: Ground Chicken in Coconut Milk with Vegetables

A favorite food of many Guamanians is tinaktak, a half stew, half stir fry where ground beef is browned then simmered in coconut milk with vegetables until everything is tender.  Neither of us had ever encountered the dish (or Guamanian food at all, really) until a fateful Spring weekend in 2010.  Chris was invited to help prepare the food for the annual Seattle University Marianas Club Fiesta, a celebration of local Marianas Islander culture.  The event featured traditional dancing and music, several speakers on various Marianas Islands matters, and of course a gigantic feast.

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Final: Cape Verde vs. Tanzania

It was a battle of rustic stews this week on The World Cup of Food, with the Cape Verdean chicken and rice stew canja pitted against Tanzania’s beef and green banana stew ndizi na nyama.  Considering these dishes along with everything else we know about the two nations’ cuisines, which do we think is better and deserves to move on to face Korea in the next round?

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Cape Verdean Cuisine — Canja: Chicken and Rice Soup

When a Cape Verdean cook wants a quick, hearty dinner he or she often looks no further than to canja (recipe follows), the chicken and rice soup that is well-liked not just in the islands, but in Brazil and Portugal as well.  Brought by the Portuguese colonists, canja is incredibly simple.  Whole pieces of chicken are simmered in rice and broth until tender, with some onions and garlic adding flavor.  Many cooks jazz the recipe up by adding peppers, mushrooms, or anything else their imaginations conjure, but the basic version is what most Cape Verdeans abroad miss.

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