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For Lent, some flavors from around the world; Meals: In celebration of Lent, Catholic Relief Services offers a calendar with recipes from far-flung places


Whether it's midmorning, late afternoon or evening, most people don't think twice about indulging in a quick snack to quell their hunger pangs. Candy bars, chips, ice cream -- pretty much anything will do the trick.

What happens, though, when you live in a country like India, where, according to Catholic Relief Services, 52.5 percent of the population lives in poverty and only 63 percent has access to potable water? Instead of reaching for ice cream or a candy bar, people there rely on staples, such as spinach, lentils and naan, an unleavened bread, to quell their hunger.

For Lent -- the 40-day period of fasting and penitence before Easter that begins today, Ash Wednesday -- Catholic Relief Services has put together a calendar that features recipes from around the world, such as Main Dish Bean Dip from Sudan and Peanut Soup from Kenya.

"They're very simple recipes and show how people have a simple way of eating," said Kerry Hodges, a CRS spokeswoman. "They illustrate how families in other parts of the world are living their day-to-day lives."

The recipes, which include such dishes as Pupusas and Spinach and Lentils, were tested by CRS personnel.

"Most people, including the group that tried them, are really surprised and actually get a lot of enjoyment from the simplicity of these meals," said Corynne Deliberto, coordinator of CRS's Lenten program, Operation Rice Bowl.

CRS, an international relief and development agency, started Operation Rice Bowl 24 years ago to raise money to feed impoverished people and create awareness of hunger. Hodges said the name is symbolic because more than half the world lives on less than half a bowl of rice a day.

The theme of this year's Lenten program is "Act Justly, Love Tenderly and Walk Humbly." To learn more about Operation Rice Bowl or to obtain a free calendar, call Mary D'Ambrogi, CRS diocesan director, at 410-547-5548.

Guatemala: Refried Beans

Serves 4-6

3 cups cooked black, red or pinto beans with liquid

1/3 cup onion, chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon oil

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Puree beans with liquid, onion, garlic and green pepper in blender. Heat oil in frying pan. Add pureed beans, salt and cumin. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until beans thicken, 10 to 15 minutes. Form into loaf on serving plate. Serve with rice and tortillas.

Sudan: Main Dish Bean Dip

Serves 2-4

1 cup dried fava, kidney or pinto beans

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt, divided

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon tahini (sesame seed paste) or 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Any combination of the following:

1-2 eggs, hard boiled and finely chopped

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 tomato, diced

3-4 falafels, crumbled

1 medium onion, chopped

pita bread

Soak beans in water overnight. Cook beans in saucepan with water and 1/2 teaspoon salt until beans are soft. Drain off excess water, leaving about 1/2 cup water. Stir in cumin, remaining salt and tahini. Remove from heat and add any combination of the following: eggs, feta cheese, tomato, falafels and onion. Stir lightly to mix. Put warm bean mixture in serving dish. Break off pieces of pita bread and dip into bean mixture, using bread as a utensil.

Kenya: Peanut Soup

Serves 4-6

1 quart vegetable stock

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large leek with 2 inches of top, chopped

2 medium carrots, sliced

1/2 cup uncooked rice

1-inch piece of dried hot red chili pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, optional

Combine in heavy 2-3 quart saucepan: vegetable stock, onion, leek and carrots. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and puree until smooth. Return soup to saucepan and add rice, chili pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, 15-20 minutes until rice is tender. In small bowl, mix until blended: 1/2 cup of soup and peanut butter. Stir peanut mixture into soup (along with Tabasco sauce, if using). Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove dried chili. Thin with water if too thick. Add additional salt if needed.

Pub Date: 02/17/99

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