Updated February 2020
Thepla’s are something in between a chapati and a paratha. The recipe I mention here is not the exact one but comes very close and you won’t need things you can not easily get without a supermarket and full kitchen at your hands. You do need a rolling pin, but I used my thermo cup. Its a lot of work but super delicious.
You need: wheat flour, salt, some yoghurt (I used milk), finely cut cilantro and spinach, finely cut garlic, ginger and chili. Preferable some spices such as turmeric, chili powder and coriander powder. Oil to mix in and to use for shallow frying. Mix this all together, it will be a slight sticky moist ball. Let it rest. Form smaller balls. Flatten them. Use some wheat flour. Place them in a frying pan. While one side is getting ready, place one small spoon on top and spread it out. Then turn the thepla and repeat the small spoon of oil by spreading it gradually over the other side of the thepla. When little blisters appear, it means you are doing it good. Flip back and forth a few times.
Super Filling: heavy on the stomach because of Parmesan, cashews and tuna fish. My own recipe and a recommendation! It’s also quick and easy and one pot is all you need, besides a huge appetite : )
Ingredients: rice, asparagus, champignons, dried tomatoes, cashew nuts, chunks of Parmesan, bit of tomato sauce or a fresh one, herbs of your choice, salt and olive oil. Dry boil the rice together with the dried tomatoes and either start with frying all the ingredients -except the Parmesan- or fry them after the rice has boiled dry. Add the chunks of Parmesan at the end
Life Changing Bread recipe
A very detailed post about baking bread is here to read
Heike Pushbikegirl had an interview with me on ‘Meals on two wheels’. Read here.
In my opinion food is an essential part of life, whether I am on a bicycle or not. Being a cyclist doesn’t mean that food has to be gobbled down, nor that it must be a fleeting, simple meal just to fill the tummy. I will not rapidly exchange extra kilometers for a quick meal. On the contrary: I will stop earlier to cook more elaborate. Yet, most recipes are easy.
Fisherman’s Wife Pasta, from Chile
In a tiny village along the Atacama coastline I bought pasta, capsicum, avocado, and a tin of mussels. Then the lady behind the counter advised me to buy some cilantro as well and make a dish combining those ingredients. It sounded too strange of a combination to me. So she explained it slowly again in Spanish, and when I made it, it was just a taste explosion of a different kind! Yummy : )
You need: pasta, mussels, cilantro (all of it), onion (raw and fried), avocado, tomato paste, tomato, capsicum and garlic.
I am eating a lot of pasta’s these days. Not because I love it so much but it is the only choice of food which is small to pack, with ingredients light to carry. The pasta is usually accompanied by tomatoes or tomato paste from a tin, Parmesan from a block or out of a nasty package, onions, herbs, olives and often tuna fish from a tin. When I can find fresh herbs and veggies (usually carrots, though I love eggplant, or even something so original as red beets) I add them instead of the tuna fish, which is really not that nice. When I need more fat than empty carbohydrates I add fatty meat.
Bread fried in oil or butter, better, fills you up way more than dry bread. I combine it with eggs for a happy, long filled ride.
Ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, butter, water. Optional: an egg.
Knead the flour, salt, yeast and optional egg into a doughy ball. Leave it overnight. Next morning make the amount of balls you like. Flatten it with both hands and fry it slowly in full fat butter. Flatten it some more while frying.
Fried rye or grains, I made this at home
When you have left-over porridge which you have boiled with regular milk or coconut milk -preferable whole grain, so not the broken one- then keep it with you. I guess as a cyclist you won’t throw food anyway, at least I don’t. Now, this is a real nice way to eat porridge in a different way. Cut it in pieces and fry it. I add honey and fruit too.
Recipe for masala chai
One thing I never go without is masala chai. In every country cycling through I produce it, or it is produced for me. I always have my own roasted and pounded spices with me.
Always! Except nowadays in South America: I can not find cardamom, and if I do, it is crazily expensive!
To add some strong flavor to your average tea and turn it into Indian Chai without being too masalafied, here comes a good mixture. The family I stayed with in Pakistan did not like it, my Pakistani friend pretended to like it and his sister found it a pity for the mortar where I grained the spices in. But it’s good. This is what you need:
A tablespoon black pepper
A tablespoon cardamom
A tablespoon cloves
A tablespoon cumin seeds
A tablespoon coriander seeds
Plus a big piece of cinnamon cut into pieces
I often add dried chili’s as well. You can add whatever you desire, like star anise or black cardamom
Put everything in a pan, heat for ten minutes on low fire. Except the nutmeg. Keep it in constant move by a wooden spoon. Being heated gives the spices more flavor and your place will smell delicious indeed. Let it cool down. Then grind it in small portions. When finished mix with the scraped nutmeg and keep it in an airtight container. If you like you can add dried chilli seeds as well.
This is how you make real good masala chai: for one big mug get 60% milk and 40% water, put in a pan together with about 2 teaspoons of granulated tea. Bring to a boil while stirring, put in sugar (or any other sweetener, think honey) if you like and masala spices or only ginger or cardamom seeds. That’s it!
Ingredients: flour tortilla, pecans, sun dried banana’s, honey, home grind masala (for chai, not for food!), yoghurt or quark, or any soft diary like sour cream, Granny Smith apple.
Fry the tortilla’s slowly with everything in between slowly in olive oil. Voila!
The recipes below are easy to prepare on the road, except for the tagine ones. You obviously need… a tagine. When cycling through Morocco and staying in a guest house with it’s own kitchen, ask if they can borrow you a tagine, and there you go. However, if you can’t get your hands on a tagine, it still pays off to prepare them in your own pan. Usually I eat in road stalls but sometimes a change of food does well. Sometimes you just need an extra intake of vegetables.
A French cyclist who accompanied me for a while, noticed how, on the end of the day, I was completely exhausted. He noticed my style of cooking was too time consuming. Sure, the food was good, but it did take all my energy left. Still, I continue this practice, because I think food is the most important fuel for a day long cycling. I am not always preparing this luxurious, but that’s not worth mentioning on this page. Here comes the recipes which are really tasty! Each time I got a good recipe I will note it down on this page.
Note: I never buy or use things listed like vinegar or saffron.
A quick healthy bean meal which goes well with bread, rice or maize.
Ingredients: oil, sliced onion, can of beans (or soak them yourself during the day), diced tomatoes, diced green capsicum, little bit of chili powder, piece of ginger, cilantro, lemon juice, fresh ground pepper.
Heat the oil and fry the onion rings till they’re golden brown. Add beans, tomatoes, capsicum, chili powder, ginger, coriander and salt. Stir well.
Bring to a boil, turn the heat low and have the veggies 15 till 20 minutes softly boiling. Add lemon juice before serving yourself, and perhaps your newly made friends ; )
Indonesian pineapple curry
Make sure to cut everything before you start cooking. This dish is easier made when you cook at someone house so you don’t have to buy all the spices. I made this at my cousin’s house in India.
Ingredients: not surprisingly, a pineapple, teaspoon of cardamom seeds, teaspoon of coriander seeds, teaspoon of cumin seeds, half a teaspoon of cloves, oil, spring onions, cut into pieces of about 2 centimeter, two teaspoons finely cut ginger, handful of any nuts, cut roughly, cup of water, chili pepper, and fresh mint
Cut the pineapple into cubes about 2 cm
Grind all the spices in a mortar (which was not available so I used whole seeds)
Heat the oil and fry the spring onion, ginger, nuts and spices for 3 minutes on low heat
Add water, chili pepper, mint and pineapple and bring it to a boil
Let is slowly simmer for 10 minutes with lid on the pan
Change of Dough: Paratha Pakistani style
Ingredients: wheat flour, salt, preferable ghee or full fat butter
Items needed: something which can function to roll the dough, for example a bottle wrapped in a clean plastic bag
Mix wheat flour with some salt
Add water to it and use your hands to make a nice mixture, spread some wheat flour on a clean surface and in meanwhile let the dough rise a bit.
Roll the dough out into a neat and preferable round shape, use some extra flour if the chapati sticks to the surface, but be careful not too make it too dry either.
Spread enough ghee onto it, if the ghee or butter is too hard, melt it.
Now roll the chapati loosely, use one hand on the end to lengthen it a bit and then let it come together into a loose little tower-alike shape.
Let it rest for some time. Roll the dough out again, make sure it’s a evenly flat pancake and fry this in a pan with quite lot of ghee or butter. Oil will do to but the taste is less good.
Most delicious is to eat a paratha with boiled eggs and preferable (tomato) chutney, but hey…. cycling in Iran, a paratha on it’s own is already a treat!
Easy yet heavy fuel for cooking along the roadside, made along the Belgium road
Take any kind of noodles and vegetables you can find. Here I used carrots, mushrooms and tofu (something not easily available in Africa). The ever accompanying onions, of course, along with pepper and salt. You can add chili’s and Maggi. Just make sure you have enough water and veggies quick to boil. It’s a delicious meal and will make your tummy keeps quiet through the night. I made this soup also in Labé, Guinea. I used pasta instead of noodles.
Okras with Mint, made in The Gambia
Ingredients for 4 people (just buy what you think you can eat): 1 kg of fresh okras, juice of 2 lemons, a few drops of vinegar, 1 cup olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tsp salt, 2 onions, 1 chili, 4 or 5 tomatoes, 1 cup vegetable broth, salt and pepper, 1 tsp sugar, pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 bunch mint. I must admit I could easily make this dish because I was staying in a house of a school compound and had a complete kitchen for own use. Still, try it when you got plenty of time.
Rinse the okras under cold running water. Cut off the stems of the okras in a point to prevent the sliminess leaks out while cooking. Put the okras in a bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice and vinegar. Heat olive oil in a pan and fry the crushed garlic. Peel the onions, and fry them together with the finely chopped chili. Take the skin of the tomatoes, hollowed them and add to the chopped onions. Mix with broth and add the okras. Seasoning with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (and sugar). Close the pan and let boil softly over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes. At the end of boiling time check if any more seasoning need to be done, then add finely chopped mint.
Spaghetti with olives and mozzarella, prepared in Morocco
Again, this dish was not made along the roadside, it’s a dish made in a Moroccan guest house with full facility kitchen. It was a wonderful change of taste though. And very quickly done. You can do this along the roadside, but need to be prepared to buy olives, and cheese. I did not use mozzarella here, but some kind of feta.
500 grams spaghetti, 50 g butter, 2 cloves of garlic, 70 grams olives, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 20 g parsley minced, 150 grams mozzarella into small pieces.
Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water with salt al dente. Drain and put it back in the pan
Melt, while the spaghetti boils, the butter in a small pan until it begins to get a brownish color. Sauté the garlic 1 minute over low heat
Scoop garlic, olives, olive oil, parsley and mozzarella by the spaghetti.
Tagine with egg, made in Morocco
You need parsley, cilantro (coriander), onions, garlic, cumin, paprika powder, cayenne powder, ginger, butter, tomatoes, peppers, eggs, salt.
Melt butter in the pan, add finely chopped tomatoes. Add finely peppers into very small cubes. Add finely chopped parsley and coriander, along with the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, ginger and salt. Bring to a boil, add half a cup of water into the tagine/pan. Simmer 10 minutes. A few minutes before serving add the beaten eggs and stir the tomato sauce. Leave everything in closed pan continue to steam.
Another option is this: leave the cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper, ginger, garlic and replace with pepper and saffron. The eggs can also be hard boiled and added along with slices of almonds. Coriander can also be replaced with parsley.
Tagine with okra, made in Morocco
You need: 70 gram butter, teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon ground ginger (or fresh), saffron (I always skip saffron), 1 onion, tomato, parsley, okras, sufficient salt. Butter can be problematic to find in Africa or where ever you are outside Europe. Besides, temperatures often don’t allow you to carry butter. Use oil instead.
Fry the onion with pepper, ginger, saffron and salt. Take the skin of the tomatoes and cut them into small pieces. Sprinkle the chopped parsley over it and let it cook until it become a sauce. Cut the ends and okras and put them in a pan with boiling water and some salt for 15 to 20 minutes. Just before serving add them to the tomato sauce
Tagine with green beans and tomato, also prepared in Morocco
These recipes are real easy to prepare while you’re on the road. You don’t really need a heavy stone tagine to carry with you, just use whatever pan you have with you. It makes a great present to the Mauritanian inhabitants, if they can share their tagine with you. Uh… keep on dreaming Cindy: there are hardly any veggies in Mauritania. Sorry, forgot that. Well, it’s nice to dream about it while cycling. And you can fulfill this dream once in Morocco. It’s a bit more time consuming than bread and sardines, I agree, but you will definitely feel more happy after eating this!
Oil, paprika, saffron powder, ginger powder (or fresh), tomatoes, beans, juice of 1 lemon, salt.
Leave the tomatoes together with the spice mixture for 10 minutes in a pan to simmer. Add the beans cut into pieces and sprinkle with salt. Add some water and sprinkle lemon juice over it, boil the sauce until it’s got a bit of a thick substance.