I’m not ashamed to tell the world: I attend YouTube International Culinary Academy. It’s tuition-free and convenient. All I have to do is take my laptop into the kitchen.
YouTube is a trove of cooking lessons, especially for folks interested in international cuisine. Experienced chefs and home cooks have established channels that explain techniques and ingredients for dishes from Nigeria to Tanzania and India to Trinidad to Scotland.
I’m sharing three of my favorite channels along with links to recipes and tips about finding unique ingredients or substitutions for them.
Miriam Kinunda says she started posting Tanzanian recipes as a hobby in 2004. Now, she has a website and a YouTube channel with more than 500,000 views.
She promotes a cuisine that has Persian, Indian and Arabic influences, but maintains its uniqueness. Take her video and recipe for East African chapati.
Kinunda’s posters take their chapati quite seriously; many of them pointed out the bread is supposed to be made from flour and water. Maybe in India, Kinunda says, but not in countries like Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia.
“In East Africa, we use oil,” she says in the YouTube video. We borrowed this version of chapati from India and then we changed it.”
I followed Kinunda’s directions with one exception. I combined all-purpose wheat flour and self-rising flour because I’m transitioning to whole grains and wanted to use my bleached flour. I kneaded the dough 100 times and got a nice smooth ball of dough. But the trick is rolling the bread thin and cooking it on a hot, dry surface. Kinunda’s water test works well. When the griddle is hot, the chapati only needs a minute per side to cook.
Although Chris De La Rosa, of Hamilton, Ontario in Canada is not a professional chef, he’s clearly a knowledgeable cook. He launched his YouTube channel, and a companion website, to document and promote the cuisine of his homeland, Trinidad and Tobago.
“I hated the fact that our cuisine is not as documented (cookbooks, etc.) as so many other cultures globally and that most people outside the Caribbean are deprived of the knowledge of hundreds of years of our cooking traditions,” he writes on his site.
This stewed chicken recipe takes about 45 minutes to make. Only a slow, snowy day, it warmed my kitchen and scented my house.
The recipe calls for a roux made of brown sugar instead of flour. I was skeptical at first, but the final result was well worth it.
Most ingredients are readily available, so I made only one substitution. I used recaito, or Puerto Rican green seasoning, instead of Worcestershire sauce, which I don’t care for. Chris also mentions using cilantro because he couldn’t find shado beni or culantro. I’ve found the herb at Asian stores, where it’s called ngo gai.
YouTube’s algorithms brought me this recipe. A written version is available on the companion website allnigerianrecipes.com. Apparently these batter-coated boiled eggs are a popular street snack in Nigeria; requests for recipes dot the web. I could see why: the sweet, spicy coating complements the taste of the boiled egg.
I followed directions on YouTube and on the website, but dough was so wet that I had to add about a half-cup flour when rolling it out. When I tried a second time, I added just enough liquid to make the dry ingredients hang together. Then I kneaded the dough about 100 times, covered it with a piece of foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes. I got a light, manageable dough I could roll out and wrap around the egg.
Once the egg is wrapped, the cooking goes very quickly if you have a deep fryer. If not, it can be tricky to cook the inside without burning the outside. Gauge the temperature with a candy thermometer or this old-fashioned technique. Place a one-inch square of bread in the oil. If it browns in 60 seconds, the oil is ready.
Afi-Odelia E. Scruggs is an independent content creator, and a YouTube junkie, from Cleveland, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @aoscruggs.