Hungary - Goulash
Recipe from https://zserbo.com/soups/hungarian-goulash-soup/
Hungary's national dish of goulash is a fililing dish of beef, potato, pepper, carrots and parsley root, somewhere between a soup and a stew, a "thick soup" according to zserbo.com. Goulash is characteristically flavoured with paprkia, though also contains bay leaf and caraway. This recipe also included "csipetke", which it describes as "pinched noodles". The noodles more closely resemble small gnocchi; little chewy balls of flour, egg and water boiled off in the soup. As with many of these dishes, the goulash very much benefitted from a long cooking time, so the beef was as tender as it could be, before adding the carrot and parsley roots (remarkably similar in flavour to parsnip).
Cuba - Ropa vieja
Recipes from https://hispanickitchen.com/recipes/ropa-vieja/ and https://cookingtheglobe.com/authentic-ropa-vieja-recipe/
Ropa vieja is a heavily spiced and aromatic dish of slow cooked beef in tomato sauce. To achieve the tenderness of beef expected for a good ropa vieja, it is first braised with various aromats. cookingtheglobe.com suggests boiling alongside carrot, red cabbage, spearmint, parsley, garlic, allspice, cloves, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Following a few hours of braising, the meat is shredded and added to a sauted mix of onion and red and green peppers, alongside garlic and tomato. I decided to serve with rice and beans.
Cameroon - Ndole
Cameroon's Ndole was a new set of flavour combinations for me, but one that I would definitely recreate again. Traditionally a mixture of groundnuts (peanuts) and bitterleaf (a leaf slightly akin to spinach, though significantly more bitter), Ndole is made by boiling the peanuts until soft and grinding / blending down with pepper, onion, garlic and ginger, before adding to fish stock with crayfish and bitterleaf, and topping with crevettes and fried onions. I found this particular recipe quite salty, though I think this may just have been down to me being a little too liberal with my addition of stock (the recipe also calls for Maggi crevette stock cubes).
Bulgaria - Shopska Salata
Recipe from https://thebalkanhostess.com/sopska-salata/
Probably the simplest dish I've made yet in my metaphorical travels, Bulgaria's shopska salata is a very light, refreshing side dish of tomato, cucumber, red pepper, shallot and feta or sirene cheese, all brought together with sunflower oil and salt to taste. Simplicity does not always equate to a disappointing meal, however, and the dish was perfect for the heat wave that was raging through the UK at the time of making.
Iran - Chelow Kabab
Kabab recipe from https://persianmama.com/kabob-koobideh-grilled-minced-meat-kabobs/
Iran's Chelow Kabab refers to the two main components of the meal. The chelow is basmati rice part flavoured with saffron, cooked with yoghurt and oil, and intended to form a slight crust at the bottom. This is then traditionally served topped with butter. The kabab, generally kabab koobideh, is a mixture of lamb and beef bound with egg, and flavoured with sumac, onion, garlic and turmeric. I must admit to having difficulty keeping the kebabs on the skeweres as the mixture is quite wet, but it was well worth the effort. I served the kebabs alongside grilled tomato and green pepper, as is traditional.