Trinidad & Tobago


Crab Pilau

Trinidadian braised rice with crab and coconut milk.

Total time: 60 minutes
Servings: 8-10


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cup purple onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 hot chili, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3 uncooked white rice
  • 4 400ml cans coconut milk
  • 2 cups water
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 700g canned crab meat, drained
  • 4 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • lime wedges for garnish


  1. In a large skillet, melt butter over moderate heat until foamy. Add onions, garlic, and chili and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes).
  2. Add curry powder and continue stirring (2-3 minutes). Add uncooked rice and continue stirring until rice is coated with the onion mixture (2-3 minutes).
  3. Stir in coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer undisturbed (15 minutes).
  4. Stir in 1-2 cups water, bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is fully cooked (15-20 minutes).
  5. Stir in crab meat, green onions, and lime juice. Simmer until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and crab is heated through (about 5 minutes).
  6. Serve with lime wedges for garnish.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 3.5/5, very filling!
  • Papa: 4/5, could use less rice and add shrimp
  • Girlie: 3.5/5
  • TW: 4/5
  • McM: 3/5, somewhat heavy so I would recommend substituting half the regular coconut milk for “lite” coconut milk and reducing the amount of rice


Original recipe:

Laos (Part 3)

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Minced chicken in lettuce wraps. Served with sticky rice, a staple in Laotian meals.

Total time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 1/2 cups sticky rice (sushi rice works well)
  • 1/4 cup uncooked medium grain white rice
  • 1kg boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 small red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste (see previous post on this blog)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 10-12 lettuce leaves (one head of butter lettuce works well as the lettuce is flavorful and sturdy enough to make wraps)


  1. Cook sticky rice according to package instructions. We used sushi rice cooked in a rice cooker.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the uncooked white rice onto a baking sheet. Bake the rice in the oven until golden (15 minutes). Once cooled, grind into a fine powder using a spice grinder or coffee grinder. Set aside.
  3. Process the chicken thigh meat in a food processor until finely minced. Set aside.
  4. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chili, and green onions. Cook, stirring, until the garlic softens (3 minutes).
  5. Add the minced chicken and cook, stirring to break up lumps, until the meat is no longer pink (5 minutes) .
  6. Add fish sauce, shrimp paste, and sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the excess liquid has evaporated (5 minutes).
  7. Stir in the ground rice, mint, and lime juice.
  8. Serve on lettuce leaves with sticky rice.


Family Ratings

  • Mama: 5/5, my favorite dish out of all the countries so far!
  • Papa: 4.5/5
  • Girlie: 4.5/5
  • TW: 4.5/5
  • McM: 4.5/5, very interesting and exotic flavor, lettuce wraps make a great light meal!

Original recipe:

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Larb (bottom) served with sticky rice (right), papaya salad (top), and shrimp paste on crackers (left). See other posts on this blog for recipes.

Spain (Part 2)

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Paella is a traditional spicy Spanish dish with a variety of meats and seafood served over rice.

Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 6-8


  • 2 cups uncooked white rice* (see notes below)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1kg chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes* (see notes below)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 lemons, tested
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 500g medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 250g mussels
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Cook rice according to package instructions (we prefer to use a rice cooker).
  2. Cook mussels according to package instructions. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Set aside  in refrigerator to marinate.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and cooked rice. Add parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer while proceeding with the next steps.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate large skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cook until shrimp is pink (5 minutes).
  6. Serve rice in bowls topped with meat and seafood mixture.

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  • The original recipe involves cooking the rice in the skillet. However, we found that it was easier and faster to cook the rice ahead of time using a rice cooker.
  • The original recipe describes the chicken cut into 2 inch pieces but we found that these pieces were too large to eat easily from the bowls. We recommend using thinner strips or 1 inch cubes of chicken.

Family Ratings

  • Mama: 4/5, quite spicy
  • Papa: 4.5/5
  • McM: 4/5
  • TW: 4/5
  • Girlie: 4/5, a little too spicy for my preference

Original recipe:

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Homemade sushi is fun for the whole family with lots of opportunity to customize rolls based on individual preferences for fillings. Leftover rolls are delicious the next day!

Total time: 1 hour
1 cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced


  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • 10 nori (seaweed) sheets
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 1 avocado, halved, stoned, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 170g smoked salmon
  • 2 can tuna
  • 100g crab meat (artificial or canned)
  • 4 tablespoons spicy mayonnaise
  • 1 lettuce leaf, thinly cut
  • soy sauce (to serve)
  • pickled ginger (to serve)
  • wasabi (to serve)


  • bamboo rolling mat
  • chopsticks


  1. Cook the sushi rice according to package instructions. We used a rice cooker which worked well. More tips for cooking sushi rice are available below with the original recipe link.
  2. Shred the crabmeat and stir in mayonnaise to create a thick paste (pepper, wasabi, or sriracha sauce can be added to make a spicier version).
  3. Mix the canned tuna with mayonnaise to create a thick paste (pepper, wasabi, or sriracha can be added as above).
  4. Assemble the sushi rolls. Place a nori seaweed sheet on top of the bamboo mat. Wet your hands and scoop a small amount of cooked sushi rice (approximately 1/4 cup). Gently spread the rice evenly across the nori, leaving a small 1 inch gap without rice on the end you are rolling towards. Add the fillings (below). Folding the bamboo mat on the side closest to you, roll slowly and gently with even pressure to wrap as tightly as possible. Place the rolls in the refrigerator after rolling until they become firm (10 minutes). Use a wet sharp knife to cut rolls into 1 inch pieces.
  5. Some of our favourite flavour combinations included: creamy crab with avocado, smoked salmon with lettuce and avocado, creamy tuna with cucumber, spicy tuna with avocado. Feel free to create whichever combinations you like!
  6. Serve cold with soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 5/5, a delicious meal that was a lot of fun to prepare!

Original recipe:
Sushi rice tips:

Iran (Part 2)

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Uyghur Polo

Beef and rice pilaf, a staple dish among Central Asian countries including Iran. Pictured above (on left) with yogurt spinach dip (on right).

Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 4-6


  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 500g beef (we used tenderloin)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 500g carrots, julienned
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • salt to taste


  1. Cook rice according to package instructions (we used a rice cooker).
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Cook the beef in the oil until evenly browned, stirring occasionally (about 10 min).
  3. Add chopped onion to the pot and cook until translucent (about 10 min).
  4. Add carrots to the pot. (Initially it may look like there are too many carrots in the pot, however they will shrink with cooking and mix well into the recipe).
  5. Pour water into the pot. When the water boils, add the garlic bulb. Let the mixture simmer (5 min).
  6. Remove the garlic bulb and reserve. Add cumin. Allow mixture to simmer on medium-low heat (15-20 min).
  7. Add cooked rice to the mixture and stir.
  8. Replace the garlic bulb and pour raisins on top of the rice. Cover pot and cook on medium low heat (10-15 min).
  9. Remove the garlic bulb.
  10. Serve with naan and yogurt spinach dip as garnish (see recipe on this blog).

Family Ratings

  • McM: 4.5/5, very flavorful!

Original recipe:


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Traditional Afghan mushroom stew with lamb.

Total time: 60 minutes
Servings: 8


  • 3 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2kg lamb chops, diced and bones removed* (see note below)
  • 2 800ml cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 900g mushrooms, rinsed, stems trimmed, thinly sliced


  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Saute the onions until lightly browned (about 3-5 min).
  2. Add chunks of lamb and continue to saute, turning frequently, until lamb turns light brown (about 10-15 min).
  3. Add tomatoes, spices, and salt to taste. Stir and continue cooking until lamb is almost fully cooked (about 15 min).
  4. Add mushrooms, cover, and cook until mushrooms are tender and lamb is done (about 15-20min).
  5. Serve with rice or naan.


  • Some family members do not like lamb so we prepared this recipe using 1kg diced lamb chops and 1kg diced tenderloin (other cuts of beef could be substituted). We used separate skillets for lamb and beef and divided the above ingredients in half for each skillet.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 3/5, very flavorful with tender juicy lamb but very spicy overall and would recommend using half the spices next time.

Original recipe:

Costa Rica

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Baked Tilapia

Traditional Costa Rican style rice dish with pineapple, black beans, and salsa.

Total time: 90 minutes
Servings: 6-8


  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 1kg tilapia fillets
  • 4 cups jarred tomato salsa
  • 2 440ml cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups fresh pineapple, diced
  • 4 limes, thinly sliced
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine the rice and chicken broth in a pot over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid (about 20 minutes). A rice cooker could also be used to prepare the rice.
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare the marinade. In a large bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, sugar, and 4 tablespoons of cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place the tilapia fillets in a large flat pan and coat with marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator, turning fillets occasionally (about 20 minutes).
  5. In a large baking dish, mix together the cooked rice, salsa, beans, pineapple, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cilantro.
  6. Remove the tilapia from the marinade (reserve leftover marinade) and lay the fillets over the rice mixture.
  7. Pour the reserved marinade over the fish. Shingle lime slices over the fish.
  8. Bake in the oven until the fish flakes easily and is opaque (about 25-30 minutes).
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

Family Ratings

  • McM: 2/5, the tilipia was excellent but I found the salsa flavor overpowering in the rice and would recommended using half the salsa next time.

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Original recipe: