It’s good to be home. I don’t just mean my physical home in little old England. I mean home as in this here blog. It’s been an unbelievably long time since I’ve posted on here. My excuse? I was out of the country. Why didn’t I blog whilst I was away you might ask. Well I did, just not on here. I also didn’t want to post poor quality pictures and I was only able to upload pics from my phone for the travel blog I wrote. I hope you find these feeble excuses acceptable. I have a million billion things planned for our KB.eats for the New Year, so I will be making up for lost time. I feel like this is gonna end up being a rather lengthy post. I have so much to say to y’all! First off, if you want to read in detail about my trip to Peru, check out my travel blog here. I am obviously going to tell you a bit about it now, but my focus will mainly be on the food. Obvz. For those of you who are friends with me on facebook, there’s a 376 photo album waiting for you to peruse. HA I totally didn’t even to use a pun there. I just use them so much now they come out without me even having to consciously think about it.
Like I said before, there’s gonna be many words and many pictures in yo face in this post. Scroll on down to the bottom if you just want to see the gosh darn recipe 🙂
So, I went to Peru for 5 weeks to do some voluntary work at a special needs school. But of course, having read my travel blog you have caught yourself up on what I did, and you know all this. I’ll skip straight to talking about the food then. Being a vegetarian there is always a chance when I go away that I will eat nothing but the staple carb and maybe a few boiled vegetables for the duration of my stay.
Malaysia and China were not kind in that way. Visiting both those countries resulted in me enjoying more than my fair share of sticky rice and pak choi. Being a person who enjoys her food, you would assume that I would be somewhat disgruntled by such experiences. I am however, surprisingly tolerant. I am well aware that vegetarianism does not have common place in a lot of cultures and therefore if you want to travel, you can’t be fussy. You gotta be prepared to pick out surprise bits of meat that might find their way into your food. The point I am trying to make (whilst blowing my own trumpet about not being one of them annoying, fussy veggies) is that I was prepared for the worst.
I’d been told that potatoes and quinoa feature heavily in Peuvian meals, and boy do they. I was staying with a host family in Cusco so I got to eat whatever the family ate, minus the meat, some times plus the meat. Potatoes, quinoa, rice, cheese and soup based meals were very common. They really like to go all out with the carbs. A couple of times I had pasta with potato in it served with a side of rice! I guess they have a lot of hilly walking to do and at a high altitude…
Did you know that potatoes originate from Peru? There are over 2000 varieties of potatoes in those parts and I tried a few. Not sure how many but there was this one black potato I tried and it was gross. Also, in Latin American Spanish they call potatoes papa but in Spain they call them patatas. Rumour has it, this is because when the Spanish were in Peru (invading, converting, doing their thang) they pointed at the potato crops and asked what they were, the Peruvians thought they meant what were the terraces that the potatoes were growing on were called (patata = terraces). I say rumour has it because I was told this whilst climbing up a mountain on Lake Titicaca and the guide would make us stop every 5 minutes during which time he would tell us a few “facts”. It was a steep climb so there was a lot of stopping and we all started to doubt the authenticity of what he was telling us!Oh and corn I forgot about corn! They have so many different types of corn as well! A lot of the breads and baked goods I tried were made using maize flour. They even make drinks from corn.
There’s just so much that keeps popping in to my head that I should tell you about. I probably shoulda planned this post a little better. Naaaaah. So I had some real good cheese in Peru. I also had some real weird cheese. I am yet to establish what animal the milk came from for the cheese but it didn’t give me eczema so I am going to assume it was not cows milk…Quite a few times I had this fried cheese that tasted like halloumi, which I obviously loved. One thing I noticed was that they don’t keep their cheese in the fridge. It’s just out there in the kitchen or on the street (being sold) so sometimes I’d have a cheese toastie with some real funky tasting queso in it. They don’t really drink much milk there. Any milk they do have with coffee etc is UHT milk from a can.
Whilst we are talking about coffee, I’ll tell you about the tea they drink. They tend to drink a lot of herbal teas. Muña tea was my favourite. It tasted like a mild sort of mint. A quick google has just confirmed that it is from the mint family and the plant is only found in the Andes. It’s used for medicinal purposes and is great for digestion. Kind of want a cup right now. I was gonna bring some bags home with me but it just wasn’t the same as making tea with the fresh leaves.
They also drink a lot of Coca tea, not to be mistaken with cocoa. Chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea helps alleviate the symptoms of altitude sickness. It does not however have the same effect as cocaine. Another quick google search tells me chemicals are required to extract the bits from coca that make cocaine.
Oh gosh the avocado’s. I forgot about them as well! Hey did you hear that we might be facing an avo shortage soon because we’re all a bit too keen for avo’s and demand is outweighing supply by far. Cripes. As you can imagine the avocados in peru were the best. One of my favourite breakfast rolls was smashed avo with this feta like cheese mixed in. I’ll tell you a bit more about my typical meals in a sec. I didn’t eat a lot of fruit in Peru. My host Mum made fresh juice everyday for lunch but for some reason I didn’t purchase any fruit for myself. What a fool. Just look at what was on offer to me. San Pedro market had the most amazing selection of fruits and vegetables. I could’ve spent ages just checking out all the weird exotic fruits and the different types of potatoes. I don’t even know what that yellowy thing in the picture above is. Any ideas?
Ok so what did I eat on a daily basis in Peru? Breakfast would usually consist of a grain based drink and a fried egg roll. The grain based drink was usually made with quinoa but sometimes I had this really delicious milky drink that was like rice pudding but it didn’t have rice in. I never found out what the grain was but man was it delicious. Lunch was usually the heaviest meal, often involving rice and potatoes. One of my favourite lunches was a risotto thing made from, what I thought, was giant cous cous. Dinner was often soup. Sometimes it was a clear broth with spaghetti in (so noodle soup) sometimes it was mushroom soup with giant cous cous in.
I am pretty sure that most of what I ate was the same as what my family was eating, except my portion had the meat picked out of it. Sometimes the meat wasn’t always picked out of it…on two occasions I was straight up given meat. One time it was frankfurters. Host Mum said there’s not even any real meat in them. I don’t doubt that but what exactly is in them then?! Not wanting to offend I subtly picked the bits of hot dog out of my food and wrapped them in my napkin. Isn’t it weird how I was the one worried about being rude even though I was the one who was given meat! The second time (and on the same day as the frankfurter incident) I was given pizza COVERED with ham or whatever it was. I wasn’t so subtle about picking off the meat that time. Just to add insult to injury we were only given two small slices of pizza each for dinner.
Pizza was probably the worst thing I ate in Peru. I ordered it twice whilst out and both times I was left a little heart broken. On both occasions I was treating myself, after a long day of sightseeing and walking, to a cheesey slice (or 10) of ‘za. On both occasions I was served pizza with bright pink, sweet sauce and tasteless cheese. Still need to get myself a Franco Manca’s and grant my stomach that pizza it so desires.
Ok FINALLY, lets talk about this recipe. I almost feel like I have to defend myself with this one. I am not just jumping on the gluten free vegan bandwagon here! I wanted to make something inspired by my travels and what I ate whilst I was away so I chose quinoa. It’s not a health craze for people who shop at Whole Foods Store there. And the vegan bit. I’ve mentioned before that I’m allergic to dairy (when it comes from a cow) right? Well I am. It gives me eczema if I have too much so I try limit my intake. Also the cold weather isn’t doing my skin any favours, so almond milk had to be used. Right, I’m done justifying my choice of ingredients. Pomegrantes are abundent in the Bharti household 1) because they are in season and b) because Rajah, the parrot, likes them. I think they add a bit of razzle dazzle to things. They look like jewels. Sweet, sort of crunchy, jewels. They also taste real good with this here quinoa porridge.
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 25 mins (Including 20 mins quinoa cooking time)
Skill level: It’s inca-redibly easy
large bowl to serve
65g quinoa (thoroughly washed, uncooked)
1 cardamom pod
1 cinnamon stick
2 clementine/satsuma segments
100-130ml milk (whatever you prefer)
1-2tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
handful of pomegranate seeds
½tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp chia seeds (add a bit of crunch)
- Put quinoa, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick in saucepan. Cook the quinoa according to instructions on packet, adding citrus segments half way through cooking.
- Once quinoa is cooked, remove from heat and discard cloves, cinnamon stick and citrus segments.
- Pour in as much milk as you desire (the more milk the runnier the porridge) and return to heat.
- Add the optional ground cinnamon and cook over low heat for 5mins.
- Transfer porridge to serving bowl and top with pomegranate and chia seeds (if using).
- Eat immediately.