Turkmenistan and Yemen

Turkmenistan

Original Word: ?

Nationality: Turkmen

Language: Turkmen

Population: 5,054,828

118th largest country in the world.

Capital: Ashgabat

This was one of the more difficult countries to cook for. However, it was very rewarding. Gutap is a flatbread that is stuffed. Usually a vegetable stuffing but I chose to do meat stuffing because I will be making veggie stuffed dumplings for Nepal next week.

Gyzzyrma Gutap (Meat Stuffed Flatbread)

Dough:

2 cups flour, plus extra for forming

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp oil

1 cup water

Meat Stuffing:

1 lb/500g ground beef

1 onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp ground coriander

1/2 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 lemon, zested

salt and pepper

Saute onions and garlic in a teaspoon of oil until soft over medium heat. Do not burn the veggies. Add ground meat and brown throughly. Add spices. Strain the meat in a mesh strainer until dry. If you pick up the meat with your fingers it should not stick to them. You want your meat as dry as possible so it will not ruin the flatbread. Then lay it on a plate spread out to cool.

While the meat is cooling prep the dough. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. You want a smooth dough. Let it rest for 10 minutes. By this time your meat should be cool and your dough should be ready. Divide the dough into eight equal balls. I kind of graphed the meat on the plate so I would have eight same sized balls of meat.

To form the flatbreads watch this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UyoFiy9Sws This method worked perfectly. I used a cast iron skillet but you could use a saute pan. Over medium high heat cook the flatbreads for 4-5 minutes on both sides until golden brown.

I served this with a store bought tzatziki. You could make a simple yogurt sauce with yogurt and dill. Or just plain yogurt and the lemon juice from the zested fruit would work great. The flatbreads do need some kind of cold sauce because the meat has been dried so well.

I plan on making this again. Many of the different cultures in the Middle East make some kind of variety of this. The original recipe I had for this Turkmen flatbread had no spices just meat and onions. You can do whatever you want with this recipe. Use ground lamb, pork, chicken, or turkey. Use different spice combos. I have a gyro spice mix that would work great. Use whatever you have. I always have flour and ground meat in my freezer and pantry. The possibilities are endless with this one!

Yemen

Original Word: Chandler Bing! (OH MY GOD!)

Nationality: Yemeni

Language: Arabic

Population: 24,771,809

48th largest country in the world.

Capital: Sanaa

I am sure we have all seen the wonderful show Friends. If not, one of the “Friends” Chandler has an on and off girlfriend. Janet is that girl that he just keeps going back. She has this Staten Island accent and laughs like a hyena. Chandler feels guilty for rebounding with Janet and needs to get away from her. So, he makes up this story that his company is sending him to YEMEN! She is devastated. So, she tells him she will bring him to the airport. Pre 9/11 airport, she brings him to the gate. Chandler is forced to get on the plane and head to Yemen for no reason but for his lie. Yemen will forever be paired with Chandler Bing from Friends.

I LOVE CARDAMOM! Forget cinnamon, cardamom has to be the best scent in the whole world. I will always have cardamom! You can put it in cookies, breads, curries, tea, and a whole lot more. I know it can be hard to find but find it and use it! I will be making cardamom cookies in the near future for Iraq. So, stay tuned.

I tried chai tea once and I did not like it. I am pretty sure my mom had me try it once and she loves it. This was of course pre-lactose intolerance (10 years ago) so I have never tried it since. It has cardamom in it so I decided it was time to try it again.

Chai Tea

1 mug full of milk (Almond milk would make a great substitute.)

1 mug full of water (Why dirty a measuring cup I say!)

1 tea bag

2 tsp sugar, or to taste

Whole Spice Recipe

1 cinnamon stick, broken up with hands

3 cardamom pods, crushed seeds removed

5 whole cloves

or

Ground Spice Recipe

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/8 tsp ground clove

Add everything but tea and sugar to a saucepan and cover. When the mixture is almost boiling add tea and sugar. Stir. Boil for 1 minute. Strain. Serve.

What have I been missing! There is a whole world out there of chai flavored desserts and I have been missing out. I would go as far to say that I might prefer it over coffee. To some this may be heresy.

I am a little hesitant to try chai outside of my own home. I just treated myself to the real stuff. Whole spices. Boiled in a pot. None of this powdered stuff. But, I think I am changed for life.

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