Getting into a stew

When you travel, you come away with so many memories and for me, traditional foods and meals stick with me forever.

It also not only enlightens your tastebuds but it opens your eyes to ingredients connected with that region, techniques which are still used today as they were centuries ago when family and friends come together to celebrate.

I have gathered a collection of delicious  stews from around the world which will fit in comfortably in our homes.


Photos: Simon Lambert
Photos: Simon Lambert
Greek pork and leeks

This is a typical Greek winter stew which is simple yet rich and full of flavour and mouth-watering textures.


2 Tbsp olive oil
50g butter
1kg pork belly, bones removed and cut into 1 cm pieces
150ml red wine
3 leeks, sliced thinly
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan.

When the butter is melted and bubbling add the pieces of meat and cook them for a few minutes until golden on all sides.

Add the red wine and reduce for a few minutes.

Add the sliced leeks and season. Cover with a lid and cook gently for 45 -1 hour.

You are wanting the leeks to melt down into the sauce and the pork is gelatinous and tender.

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve in small bowls with fresh bread.


Ropa vieja – traditional Cuban beef stew

This dish is traditional to Cuba and is eaten with rice, black beans and fried plantain. I love it, as it spiced up our winter menu and is made with cheaper cuts of beef. This dish is perfect for the slow cooker and will be ready when home from work.


1 Tbsp oil
1kg beef brisket or flank steak
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 green capsicum
1 whole red chilli
1 whole head of garlic, cloves peeled and roughly chopped (10 cloves)
1/2 cup dry white wine
500ml tomato puree
100g tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup green or red olives, sliced
1 Tbsp white vinegar

To serve
1/2  cup chopped fresh coriander
1-2 limes, cut into wedges

Season meat on both sides with salt and cracked black pepper. Heat oil in a heavy fry pan. Brown meat over high heat (3-5 minutes).

Transfer to the slow cooker if using, otherwise put into a deep sided oven dish with a lid and preheat the oven to 150degC.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the carrot, garlic, onions and capsicums.  Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes.

Add the wine and simmer for a minute, scraping the browned bits from the pan.

Add the tomato puree, tomato paste, stock, dried spices and 2 teaspoons salt.

Pour over the meat. Cook on high for 6 hours. After 5 1/2  hours stir in the olives and vinegar.  If using the oven, cook for 3-4 hours or until the meat is very tender and falling apart.

Serve with plenty of coriander and lime and, traditionally, rice and black beans.


Sri Lankan vegetable curry

This  vegetable curry is simple to prepare and can be loaded with all sorts of vegetables such as kumara, pumpkin, potatoes and seasonal cauliflower, broccoli and even Brussels sprouts.


2 Tbsp ghee or oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
3 chillies, red or green, sliced in half lengthways
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1cm piece fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon
8 cloves
8-10 curry leaves
2 Tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 can coconut cream
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 medium-sized golden kumara, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
300g pumpkin, peeled, de-seed, cut into thick slices
1 cup cauliflower and broccoli florets
1 cup Brussels sprouts, cut in half

To serve
handful fresh coriander leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
1/4 cup toasted cashews (optional)

Melt the ghee in a heavy based pot, add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes.

Add the curry powder, turmeric, mustard seeds, chillies, cloves and cinnamon stick, cook for a further 3 minutes or until aromatic.

Add the coconut cream and water and bring to the boil.

Add the pumpkin, kumara and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the remaining vegetables and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.

Season with salt and pepper.

Cook until the sauce has thickened slightly and the vegetables are tender (20 minutes).

Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with plenty of fresh coriander, cashews and steamed rice.


Ghana peanut chicken

This dish is a staple in Ghana and found in all the homes.  It has a sweet, savoury and slightly spicy flavour which is then lifted with the addition of sweet potatoes, peanuts and ginger. You will love it!!


1 whole chicken cut into pieces or you can get an assortment of legs and thighs
2 Tbsp oil
2 onions, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
2 large golden kumara, peeled, cut into 1.5cm cubes
400g can chopped tomatoes
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 litres chicken stock
1 cup peanut butter
salt and cracked pepper to taste
1 generous bunch coriander, roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted peanuts

Season the chicken all over with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large heavy based casserole which is suitable for stove top and oven.

When the oil is very hot add the chicken pieces and brown all over. Remove and set aside.

Lower the temperature and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened.

Return the chicken back to the casserole.

Add the kumara, tomatoes, cayenne and 1 litre of the chicken stock.

With the remaining stock mix through the peanut butter until combined. Pour the peanut mixture into the stew and stew to combine.

Simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender and almost falling from the bone.

Serve with coriander and peanuts.

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