Afghanistan - Kabuli Palaw
Recipe from https://afghancooks.com/kabuli-pulao-recipe/
Kabuli Palaw is another fairly simple rice and meat based dish, similarly flavoured to quite a few dishes in and around the Middle East. Afghanistan's offering is lamb based, flavoured with char masala, cumin and (slightly different here) sesame oil, topped with shredded carrot and dried fruit. The interesting part of this recipe is that the rice is actually slightly sweet, not particularly common in similar dishes. This is achieved by making a caramel and oil mixture by allowing sugar to darken in vegetable oil, hence the darker shade of brown in the rice. I'm not entirely convinced by this, but it definitely wasn't bad.
New Zealand - Pavlova
I think most people will be familiar with pavlova, essentially a big meringue, served with fruits and cream. I managed to time this one perfectly, actually, as it is commonly served on New Year's Eve (which gives you an idea of quite how far behind I am on this blog). A perfect pavlova is crispy on the outside and marshmallow-y in the center. This marshmallow texture is achieved by adding a little cornflour and vinegar to the egg white and sugar mixture, which both helps stabilise the meringue, allowing it to keep its shape without collapsing.
Kiribati - Palusami
Recipe from https://travelfoodatlas.com/palusami-recipe
I must say, I didn't expect there to be any national dishes to rely on corned beef, but here we are, with two separate dishes highlighting the ingredient (see also Antigua and Barbuda). Kiribati's palusami is a mixture of corned beef, onion and garlic, wrapped up in taro or banana leaves with coconut milk. The dish is popular across Polynesia, notably also in Fiji and Samoa, but is generally not served alone, more commonly prepared as part of a feast.
Solomon Islands - Poi
Recipe from https://www.chefspencil.com/recipe/poi/
The national dish of the Solomon Islands is Poi, and is one of the wackiest dishes I've made yet, one completely out of my comfort zone. It's very simple, essentially just 3 ingredients in fact: taro, fat (coconut oil or lard) and sauerkraut juice. The taro is baked for 2 hours, then the flesh is scooped out, mixed with salt and sauerkraut juice (the sour juice that the cabbage has fermented in) and allowed to ferment for at least 24 hours before blending up with the fat and a little water. As is the nature of fermentation, the longer it is left to ferment, the more sour the mix becomes. Usually a side dish, poi is also a popular food in Hawaii and elsewhere in Oceania, where it is also made with banana and pineapple. I'm not convinced that I enjoyed the poi I made (and I must admit that I found its appearance reminiscent of tubby custard a la tellytubbies), but as it is a dish I am very unfamiliar with, it's very likely that I hadn't seasoned it quite right, so would very happily try some made by someone with more of an understanding than I have!
Bahrain - Chicken Machboos
Bahrain's chicken machboos was an absolute delight. I am a big believer in incorporating sweetness into savoury dishes, and the additions of dates into a dish of lemony rice, carrrots and succulent spiced chicken is just a match made in heaven. The spicing in this dish is what really brings it head and shoulders over other dishes like Kabuli Palaw. The rice is cooked with onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and a mix of dried lime, rose, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, cloves, coriander and nutmeg. Definitely one I'll be making again!