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varadero2014 010Hola!

Not all of us can legally visit Cuba and enjoy its white sandy beaches. But all of you can still visit in a culinary way and enjoy its food!  If you aren’t familiar with Cuba it is a large island in the Caribbean with a population of about 11 million people. It’s a communist country but its people have a happy demeanor and are extraordinarily friendly, diverse racially,  and gifted in music and dance. Cuba also has free medical care for all of its citizens and lends its doctors to other countries. The country as a state is protective of the values of its revolution but it is experimenting with small scale capitalist ventures. The largest source of foreign currency right now is probably the tourist industry. The cuisine of the island is largely Spanish influenced, but also from its African and immigrant populations. Cuban meals are not usually served in courses instead most dishes are served at once. During my stay in Varadero at the Melia Marina Resort the all inclusive food was quite good but a little on the plain side. I enjoy some spiciness. One day I was late for breakfast and went to the snack bar by the pool instead for something to eat. I ordered Cuban Rice and I got the best meal of my trip there. I will share my variation on this tasty meal suitable for any time of the day here. When it comes to quantities of ingredients use more or less depending on your tastes.

To make my version of this recipe you will need

Ground Beef 1lb   Choose grass fed beef whenever you can get access to it and afford it. Grass fed beef will be healthier and have more nutrients in it. It’s important to me that the animals be ethically raised and have a decent life while they are alive. http://authoritynutrition.com/grass-fed-vs-grain-fed-beef/

Chopped Garlic

Chopped Onion

Chili Powder

Salt and Pepper

A couple of Tomatoes organic if possible because they taste much better

A cup of Brown Rice or so   Preferably organic brown rice. Brown rice retains more nutrients and fibre and organic foods have less pesticides in them

1-2 eggs per person. Preferably from chickens raised on a traditional farm that you can visit to observe their living conditions. If you can’t do this then buy free range organic eggs. Free Rang eeggs usually cook much better and don’t have as much stress hormones as factory farmed ones usually do

1 chopped banana per person. If you like buy them organic but bananas are ok conventionally grown because the thick skin prevents pesticides from being absorbed

2 tablespoons of soya sauce. Try to find one that does not contain sodium benzoate on the ingredient list if possible. I don’t like what I have read about the possibility of it breaking down into Benzene which is a known carcinogen

Vegetable Oil or Coconut Oil   Coconut oil is the healthiest of the two. Olive oil is great when you don’t heat it , but if you do the healthiness decreases to some extent

Optionally    To taste cayenne, celery seed, pepper sauce, cumin, coriander, turmeric, mustard powder or whatever other spices and veggies like corn or peas you want to use

Preparation

Start by getting your water boiling and heating oil in a frying pan. While you are waiting for the water to boil you can start preparing your beef.

Get the oil hot in a frying pan and saute your garlic and onion until the onions are translucent. Add the beef and when it  it browns add the tomatoes, soya sauce, and spices you want to use. You can reduce the heat when you are sure the beef is cooked. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add other vegetables like corn or green peppers. Go for the Tex Mex taste. Lots of cumin is good but you have to balance the other spices with it. A good chef is tasting his own food often.

As the water boils add in your rice and let it boil. Water should be a quantity that covers the rice but not much more. Brown rice will take longer to cook than white but after 15 minutes or so in a rolling boil you can check if it’s starting to soften up. When it has cooked to a satisfactory degree you can remove the pot from the heat and cover until the rest of the water is absorbed.

When the beef and tomato mixture has cooked you can remove it from the pan and put it in a bowl or Tupperware container. If you don’t eat all of it at this meal then you can use for other things like tacos later.

We are almost done now.

Fry the eggs and the bananas in about 1/3 each of your frying pan. When almost done add some beef int he remaining 1/3 of the pan to heat it up.

To serve put some rice in a bowl, pack it in, then flip over the bowl on a plate to create a reverse bowl of rice. Not too hard though. We don’t want to smash plates. Plastic bowl might be a good idea! Put some fried bananas on top of the rice, followed by the fried eggs. Put some of your spicy beef on the side and enjoy it with a coffee and fresh juice.

If you like this be sure to share it with your friends.

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Here you can see everything has it’s neat third to cook in.

 

 

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You can also see my Cuban trip pictures here

http://s36.photobucket.com/user/TariqHossenbux/library/Varadero%20Havana%202014?sort=3&page=1

Hope you enjoy it ,

Tariq Hossenbux

 

 

 

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