The meal of the week- Albanian! I found myself anxiously looking forward to cooking my weekly “cooking the world” challenge. It is exciting trying out new recipes and finding out about different cuisines while also learning a thing or two about the country. I was surprised to find out that Mother Teresa, well known for her humanitarian work in India is actually an Albanian. I did not know this! Also, when an Albanian is saying yes he or she will shake their head and when disagreeing they nod. A bit of a funny confusion huh!
As for their food, it is a Mediterranean cuisine using a lot of aromatic herbs such as oregano, mint, rosemary and basil. The food is diverse and influenced by the great cuisines such as Turkish, Italian, Spanish and Greek. While the menu is rich with such influences from the neighboring countries, Albanian food has its own twists and tastes to it. A lot of great vegetables are used in almost all dishes as a result of their fertile climate and being a coastal country. Slow cooking of meat seems to be one of their favourites as well as smoked and pickled meat.
For the challenge, I chose to cook Tave Kosi as the main meal, which is a slow cooked lamb with rice and yogurt. It is a very popular dish in Albania and something very close to their heart. The main herb used is Oregano which gives it a very Mediterranean taste. The recipe called for the 1/4th cup of oregano which I thought was a lot but once cooked gave it an aromatic taste in just the right amount. It was a tasty dish, especially the baked yogurt topping with the garlicky meat. I also made a Burek which turned out to be really tasty. It is a meat and potato pastry. For dessert, I made Shëndetlie which is a honey and nut bread soaked in sugar syrup. This was tasty as well although I chose not to soak the dish with sugar syrup. Hence a bit dry and dense, but made for a lovely dessert along with a cup of tea. I really enjoyed the cooking process although slow cooking and the baking did take a while. While I am yet to cook an exceptionally tasty meal, I would still call this a success.