3 mins

Pamela O'Cuneen's favourite worldwide recipes

Pamela O'Cuneen has travelled the world as a diplomat's wife; here the author shares a few unusual dishes she's picked up along the way

Portuguese custard tarts (Shutterstock)

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

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