Staring into the refrigerator one night, I told Colin I was lacking all inspiration in the kitchen. I wasn’t even really making our staple meals anymore. I was offering my husband and my son a hunk of deli turkey and a banana and calling it dinner. I used to love to cook and make elaborate meals, but as I scrolled on Pinterest and stared at the fridge nothing was making me excited to spend time in the kitchen. I felt like everything I made was just some variation of the same thing. Some casserole or stir fry, or a basic meat and veggies kind of meal. Nothing felt new and different.
We decided to open a random country generator on the internet and cook a meal from the first country that came up. We sat with eager anticipation thinking we’d be making Indian food or maybe something with a latin flare. The first country to come up…Azerbaijan. A little unsure of what we had gotten ourselves into, we consulted the map and then set to work finding a recipe that would represent Azerbaijan
We happened upon Azeri Dolma and it was DELICIOUS! We were so excited to have found a new recipe to add to our repertoire that we decided to do this once a week for an entire year. We’ve always been people to go big. So rather than just think “hey let’s try this again,” we committed to long-haul after one good experience. As I’ve started to tell friends and family about our cooking adventure I am getting a lot of questions about what is on the menu this week. So, having never blogged before in my life, I bring to you a food blog of what we make each week so that you can all be inspired to try new recipes and laugh at our failures.
We made the three sisters version of Azeri Dolma. Each sister being a tomato, an eggplant, and a bell pepper. We made a filling mixture of beef, lamb, spices, and rice. We hollowed out each sister, stuffed the caverns with the filling and then created a bed of green beans in a pan on the stove. We poured in just enough water to cover the bottom but not fully submerge the green beans and then we set all of the sisters on top of the beans, placed the lid on the pan, and let them steam. The result was incredible.
Each sister brought something different to the table. The pepper offered a bit of a snap/crunch with each bite as it didn’t soften as much as the other two. The tomato was warm and fleshy and complimented the filling in every way. The eggplant was spongier and created a different flavor combination. The tomato was by far my favorite but Colin loved them all and couldn’t decide which was best. The recipe we used started here. However, we made a few changes. The biggest change being that we added rice to the meat mixture.
We used some smaller tomatoes fresh from our garden. Bigger isn’t always better. The tomato flavor was more pronounced with the little Campari sized tomatoes. Next time though I think we’ll steam those on their own because they cooked much faster than the peppers and eggplants causing them to turn mushy and lose their structure.
Check out our recipe below! Leave a comment and let me know if you try it out at home.
This may just be my new favorite hobby and the most fun we’ve had in the kitchen in a long time. There was nothing extravagant or incredibly complicated about this meal. I think the fun came in having a renewed desire to cook and explore the world through food. Sometimes all you need is an idea or a push in the right direction to remind yourself of things you are passionate about and the hobbies that bring you joy.
Once the meal was cleaned up and the little guy was in bed, we spun the wheel to get our next random country. Check back next week for El Salvador.