Tag Archives: lime

Horchata – Mexican Rice and Almond Drink

Mexico has a great tradition of sweet refreshing drinks. My favorites are horchata, tamarindo, and jamaica “ha-mike-ah”. This was my first time making horchata and it turned out well. I’ll probably do it again, but I might cut back on the almonds because they’re hard to get and this recipe takes a lot of them. I also really didn’t enjoy blanching and peeling almonds by hand. Definitely buy blanched almonds if you have the option.

There’s a wide variety of horchata recipes, but you can find the one I used at the Homesick Texan blog. I liked this recipe because it doesn’t use powdered cinnamon or milk. Powdered cinnamon tends to float on top of liquids and adding milk to horchata just doesn’t seem authentic.

Hummus and Pita Bread

Hummus is something I’ve been making since college. It’s so much cheaper (and not much more difficult) to make it yourself instead of buying it. The following hummus recipe is based on one from a roommate’s mom, who is Greek I believe.
I didn’t try making my own pitas until I moved to Laos, where there aren’t any. I found that making pitas takes about as much skill as making any other bread, but the baking part takes longer because they take up a lot of room spread out in the oven. I was amazed that pita bread makes its own pocket if it’s rolled out right and baked at the right temperature. About 1/3 of mine usually end up without a pocket, but that’s okay because they’re mostly for dipping in hummus anyway. Here’s the pita recipe that I use.

Chana Masala – Indian Garbanzo Beans

Now this dish isn’t the most local because the beans come from India, but I really like it anyway. We can’t get garbanzos in town, but if you want them, you can find them at the Indian grocery store in Vientiane. You can also get the spices for this recipe there. I got this Chana Masala recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

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Iced Hibiscus Tea – Agua de Flor de Jamaica

I first encountered this drink in the Yucatan province of Mexico. It was called “Jamaica” and I loved how refreshing it was on a hot day. It was available at almost every restaurant and I drank it at every chance. Although it’s a tea, it tastes more like a juice. Jamaica is pronounced “Ha-mike-ah”  and the name of the drink comes from the Spanish word for hibiscus, Flor de Jamaica (flower of Jamaica).

I was so excited come across this drink again in Laos. We were eating lunch at the Vang Vieng Organic Farm and they served us some of this juice. Since then, we’ve discovered that one of James’ co-workers grows this flower on her small farm. So now we have access to an unlimited supply! The Lao name for this drink is “nam som podee” – which means “sour juice, just right”. Some people also call it “nam krajiab” which is the Thai name. Continue reading

Cambodian Black Pepper Dip

Cambodia produces some of the best black peppercorns in the world – Kampot Pepper. It tastes like other black pepper, except that it’s stronger and more fragrant. A few times while we were in Cambodia, we were served a sauce made of ground black pepper, lime juice, salt, and sugar. This sauce is primarily used as a meat dip, but we like to eat it with rice and vegetables too.

Stir together:

  • 2 t freshly ground black pepper (this takes a lot of grinding, but don’t skimp on the pepper)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t sugar
  • 2 t lime juice

The Garden

James has been doing a lot of work in the garden over the past month and the results are starting to show. It’s the end of the rainy season, so it’s a great time to start planting vegetables that would have drowned if you planted them 2 months ago (like lettuce, cilantro, dark leafy greens, green onions . . .)

So far the most exciting part of our garden is the okra – “tua lek” in Lao. It’s kind of funny that there’s a word for it in Lao because most people have never seen it or heard of it.

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Lao Lao Mojito

I adapted the Cuban mojito so that it can be made in Laos.  I haven’t seen rum since I got here – I don’t know why because they do import other Western hard alcohol.  Lao Lao is probably the most consumed alcohol in Laos.  It’s made from rice and a lot of people make it in their homes.  I don’t know how it compares to sake, but you could try substituting sake and see how it goes.  Rum is the most authentic option though, if you have it. Continue reading