Pamela O’Cuneen’s favourite worldwide recipes

Recipes from Swaziland

Thembeni’s phuthu

Dry mealie meal – corn meal – eaten like pasta. Delicious!

3 cups boiling water
2½ cups white mealie meal (or maize meal)

Turn stove to medium heat. Add mealie meal to the water bit by bit, stirring continuously. After five minutes lower the heat and allow to simmer, stirring from time to time.

Cooking time is about 15 minutes. Serve with curry, or vegetable relish (below).

Vegetable relish – to be ladled over the phuthu

4 tomatoes
1 onion (or clove of garlic)
Green vegetables or one green pepper
Brinjal (purple egg-plant)
Oil for frying

Fry the onions, or garlic, and add the brinjal, green pepper and tomatoes. Add the water bit by bit. Turn down the heat and simmer to make a sauce.

For extra heat, add a pinch of curry powder.

Serve hot over the phuthu.

Recipe from Portugal

Pasteis de Nata – Portuguese custard tarts

3 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
3/4 cup cream
1/2 cup water
Strip of lemon rind
2 tsp vanilla essence
1 sheet puff pastry (ready-rolled is good)

Preheat oven to hot. Grease a 12-hole muffin pan. Whisk egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in medium saucepan until combined. Gradually whisk in cream and water until smooth.

Add lemon rind, stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Remove pan from heat, remove and discard rind, stir in vanilla essence. Cover surface of custard with plastic wrap and allow to cool.

Cut pastry sheet in half. Stack the two halves on top of each other. Stand for about five minutes or until thawed. Roll the pastry up tightly from the short side, then cut the log into 12 1cm rounds. Lay pastry, cut-side up on a floured surface, roll each round out to about 10cm.

Press rounds into the prepared muffin pans with your fingers. Spoon cooled custard into the pastry cases. Bake in hot oven for 20 minutes or until browned. Leave tarts to stand for five minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Cookery classes in Zimbabwe

Mrs Bakewell’s avgolemono soup

Melt two tbsp of butter, add the rind of four finely grated lemons, and 3oz flour. Cook for around two minutes.

Add three pints of chicken stock, beat and simmer for ten minutes until smooth. Add the juice of two lemons, continue to whisk while on the hob.

Cream four egg yolks and 1/2oz castor sugar until very thick and creamy like custard. Away from the heat, slowly whisk the custard into the soup and serve at once.

Serve with croutons and a big blob of cream.

Mrs Bakewell’s lemon souffle escoffier

(Note: none of Mrs B’s recipes are for slimmers!)

Beat 7oz of three-times sifted icing sugar with five egg yolks until it is so thick and creamy it reaches the top of a large dish or bowl (this will take one and a half hours by hand).

Dissolve one tbsp of gelatine in the juice of three lemons and add rind of one and a half lemons lemons finely grated.

When cool add to the egg mixture and go on beating. Beat half a pint of cream until it holds its shape slightly and add to egg mixture beating all the time. Stop beating and fold in five very stiffly beaten egg whites.

Prepare a large nine-inch soufflé dish with paper collar. Oil the paper collar, not the dish. Pour the soufflé mixture and allow to set up to six hours in the fridge.

Remove the paper collar and garnish with rosettes of sugared whipped cream.

Mrs Bakewell’s délicieuses du fromage

Beat four egg whites very stiffly, then stir in 12oz grated cheddar or Gruyere cheese. Form small balls, roll in flour, beaten egg and very heavily in bread crumbs (press the bread crumbs in). Place back into the beaten egg and back into the breadcrumbs.

Place side by side in a deep frying basket and fry in hot oil for two to three minutes, watching them carefully. Allow them to cool for two to three minutes. Replace in the oil, fry until they are golden and tiny blobs of cheese appear.

Place in a dish and serve at once. They will keep warm for ten minutes if placed in a preheated 250º oven.

Recipe from Angola

Conceição’s Moamba de Frango

Originally this would have been made with fresh tomatoes, and hand-roasted ground peanuts. In modern day Angola short cuts were taken.

For four people allow eight chicken pieces.

Fry two chopped cloves of garlic in a little oil. Chop a small green pepper and fry with the garlic for a few minutes to soften. Add the chicken pieces and allow to brown. Mash a tin of peeled tomatoes and add. Fill the empty tin with water and add. Simmer the chicken in the tomato, garlic and pepper sauce for 30 minutes; then, before serving, stir in two good tablespoons of peanut butter.

Taste to check consistency and adjust seasoning.

The sauce should be thick and creamy. Serve with rice.

Pamela O’Cuneen is married to a diplomat and spent much of her
marriage on posts in Africa, including Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Angola.
Culture Shock and Canapés chronicles her adventures, and includes many more unusual recipes she picked up along the way. You can order your copy on Amazon now.

Pamela O’Cuneen revealed what she loves and hates in her world of travel: The World According to Pamela O’Cuneen | Interviews… More

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Andy Kershaw: No Off Switch Part 2

Andy Kershaw is perhaps best known for his passion for music from around the world, but he is also a highly-respected foreign correspondent. He has found himself at the centre of some of the biggest stories of our generation: the invasion of Kuwait; the genocide in Rwanda; and more recently, the earthquake in Haiti.

The chapter on his experiences in Rwanda in No Off Switch makes particularly harrowing reading.

In your book you say that you wish you were nineteen in 1969 not nine.

The feeling that I wished I’d been ten years older at the end of the sixties dawned on me when I was older – maybe 14 or 15. Not only was I was more aware of the music being made back then in 1968 and 1969, it was the political upheaval going on around the world too.

I was thinking, “Shit, I wish I were old enough to throw rocks at the American embassy in Grosvenor Square and I wish I’d been old enough to see the Stones in the park and I wish I’d been old enough to see Bob Dylan on his electric tour with The Band in ’66.”

Yet, perversely, in the late 80’s you were in the right place, at the right time, at the right age.

Absolutely. I count myself as bloody lucky to be around for punk, although I never adorned myself with safety pins. I was selective. I never took the attitude that all punk was great and everything that had gone before was rubbish. I adored a lot of things that came out of punk but weren’t strictly punk, like Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Ian Dury and the Blockheads and the big one for me of course, The Clash. But at the same time I never stopped listening to my Joni Mitchell records.

When you started working as a foreign correspondent it was when the world was being turned on its head…

The late eighties was like the late sixties, but I was part of it. I’d go off by myself, using my own money, and then phone up the BBC or broadsheet newspaper and say, “Hello, I’m here!”

When you’re in foreign correspondent mode, are you still looking out for new sounds, new bands, undiscovered talent?

Oh yeah, of course! Definitely, that doesn’t stop. But if you’re in the middle of a civil war, the likelihood of your hearing much music is pretty slim. It’s not your priority.

Having said that, there have been moments. I’ll never forget at a road block in Rwanda – an RPS roadblock, the rebels, the good guys who stopped the genocide. I was travelling with the RPS, so when we came up to the roadblock they all piled out. They were exchanging information with the guys manning this barrier and the whole country was still and silent. One of these lads had a ghetto blaster and he started playing Cecile Kayirebwa. It was the spookiest thing I’ve ever heard.

Generally speaking, though, front lines of war zones aren’t over run with guitarists and accordion players.

You’ve been to Haiti over twenty times…

It’s simultaneously one of the most exhilarating and exasperating countries in the world. The Haitians are remarkable.

You were angered by the coverage of the country after the earthquake.

It was the attitude of a lot of foreign reporters there, even some BBC ones. Their attitudes towards Haiti, their presumptions towards Haiti, the mythology of Haiti. It was all about violence, violence, violence and there was none. I slammed it in a double-paged piece in the Independent.

What I saw was an incredible stoicism and resourcefulness and dignity in the face of an appalling tragedy, on top of the suffering they’ve endured for decades. I hate to quote Dylan about it but “If you ain’t got nothing you ain’t got nothing to lose.” The Haitians never had anything and from a zero base they were put back even further.

As I pointed out in the article, the Haitians will do it for themselves if they’re allowed to and they’re given what they needed. But there was a whole industry of aid organisations down there and piling everything up in the airports and not handing it out because of security concerns. It was just awful.

But that’s why I have so much respect for the Haitians. They are the most self contained, imaginative, resourceful and strong people leading lives that must seem, if you’re Haitian, one permanent humiliation.

You visited Angola in 1996. In the book you describe leaning against a crate of BM-21 Katyusha rockets at the Halo Trust HQ flicking through a wallet of CDs and coming across a Warren Zevon one.

What a great moment that was! You couldn’t have scripted that! I was leaning against high explosives, enough, probably, to take out the whole town. When Lawyers, Guns and Money came on I thought “Warren Zevon would have loved this, the in which I was listening to his song.”

I was lucky enough to have Warren play on my very last Radio 1 programme. I told him the story and he thought it was fantastic. To the extent that when he got up at the end, put a twelve string around his neck and said something like “I know you’ve been waiting for this one Andy”.

(Andy hums first bars of song then sings “I went home with a waitress, the way I always do”)

He gets to the line that should have been “I was gambling in Havana, I took a little risk” he changed it there and then, God bless him, to “I was gambling in Angola, I took a little risk, send lawyers, guns and money, hey! Get me out of this.”

It was wonderful. It ended up with me and him sitting in the studio at the end of the recording and saying, “When are you next going to Haiti? I’d like to come with you.’ Phone numbers were swapped, it was all agreed, then the poor bugger got cancer and he was dead within a short space of time.

The work you did with Music Planet took you to some remote corners of the world

That was one of the things that excited me about Music Planet. We generally went to places that even I had never been to before.

A different kind of music as well. Throat singers in Siberia, for example…

I think I’ve had my life’s quota of throat singers now!

How was that? It seemed to be more about going into communities rather than into a bar in Kinshasa.

I was lucky enough on those Music Planet trips to have had the production and research manpower of the powers at Radio 3 who organised these trips a lot more than I organise the solo trips of my own. I just buy an airline ticket, grab my rucksack and just set off. They do something called planning.

Andy Kershaw is a radio DJ and foreign correspondent. His autobiography, No Off Switch, is available now on Amazon.

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” (Ali Farka Touré) presented me with a sheep on the end of a piece of string. We picked it up about half way up in his home town of Niafanke. The sheep was slaughtered fairly early on and the carcass was put in a number of plastic bags. This was a great honour, according to Ali, for me to have this sheep. I wasn’t going to dispute that. I was flattered. But I did have to carry the bugger around for what seemed like weeks.” | Andy Kershaw: No Off Switch Part 1 | Interviews… More