Eating Around the Globe: Sri Lanka


“Traveling without a book is like cooking curry without spices”
Tell them I said so.

With Oliver Twist as my travel companion, I am taking the U-bahn to Vino’s student residence in ‘Margarethenhöhe’, a lovely neighbourhood in Essen. Lots of trees and an early 19th century architecture make it a very picturesque district.

I am so exciteIMG_1057d! He is going to show me how to cook chicken curry, one of my favourite dishes of all time.

Vino knows how to make people smile, whether it is by telling an anecdote from his endless list of crazy party stories or by taking care of his friends.
In the chaotic cosiness of his room, every object is in some way typical of his personality. A short list of items, just to give you an idea:

A massive Black Tea bag, which is actually a shopping bag with wheels.

An untuned guitar.

An impressive painting of two books playing chess. This was a birthday gift from a russian friend with whom he used to play. He couldn’t defeat Vino and therefore painted this in honour of his chess skills.


IMG_1108Lots of candles!

And finally, ‘la pièce de résistence’: a fork, rendered completely unusable, because Vino and his flatmates use it to open their doors when they forget their keys inside…



Vino was born and raised in Sri Lanka. Six years ago he came to Germany and is now studying biomedicine at the university of Duisburg-Essen.
His mother tongue is ‘Tamil’, a language belonging to the Dravidian family, mainly spoken by people from Sri Lanka, Singapore and the southern part of India. It has a fascinating script in which a consonant is always accompanied by a vowel in order to form a character. “The vowels are the soul of the character,” Vino says, “whereas the consonants represent the body. Without vowels, the consonants are dead.”

I guess it’s high time to begin cooking, because I can hear your stomach growling from all the way overhere 😉
Grab all spices you can find in your cupbord, let’s get started!

What you will need for 4 persons:


– 2 onions
– 3 cloves of garlic
– a little piece of ginger
– 1 red pepper (paprika)
– 1 big tomato
– approximately 1 kilo of chicken meat
– coconut milk
– Rice
– the spices:
mustard grains
cumin grains
clove buds (2)
Madras curry powder
Chili powder
cinnamon powder
coriander powder
– aromatic spices to cook with the rice:
clove buds (2)
black cardamom (1)

This is how you prepare it:

Fry the spices in a little bit of coconut oil. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and paprika and give it a stir.
IMG_1090When this has all combined together into a nice curry paste, you can add in the chicken and fry until the skin has a nice golden brown colour. Then put in the tomatoes.
When these have become soft you can pour in the coconut milk.
While that is simmering away, you cook the rice together with the aromas in another pan.
Make sure the chicken is well cooked through, before you serve it.

Enjoy your savoury, lip-smacking curry!

நல்லா சாப்பிடுங்கோ. Nallah Saappidungo!




A Collection of Impressions

The light was dim in the dining room and nobody spoke a word.
A serene melancholy hung as a murky haze over the group of people
who were gathered together.
Time seemed to go unrealistically slow.

Most of the food – a leftover from the weekend –
lay cold and unappetizing on the large table.
It spread a nasty smell in the house.

Although the silence was full of unexpressed thoughts,
nobody seemed willing to renew the discussion;
it felt like a wordless conversation and provided a welcome respite after the frightening chaos of the last days.

There were no words needed to understand each other.

Together they brought the dirty glasses to the kitchen.
Together they did the dishes, threw away the rotten food,
washed the red wine stains out of the table cloth.

As the evening proceeded, the air became clear again.

Fresh words were found in all languages.

Finally, a neat, white table cloth covered the table again.
A candle was lit.IMG_1173

Eating Around the Globe: Turkey

It’s Sunday morning and that means time for a rich breakfast!

Fatma hIMG_0805as invited me to her apartment to have a traditional Turkish breakfast together.
She lives in the same student dorm and on the same floor as I am, so I don’t even have to put on shoes to go there ^^

She is an Erasmus student from the university of Ankara, where she studies sociology. She has a very sweet, warm and open character and I feel particularly comfortable talking with her. It’s funny how our conversations always flow towards cultural and linguistic topics. “Do you believe that once, all people in the world spoke the same language?”

We are cooking menemen, a Turkish speciality which includes fried tomatoes, eggs and onions. There are many possible varieties of this dish: you can add other vegetables and season it the way you likIMG_0813e. I have to admit: in contrast to this attractive plate, our common Belgian breakfast -consisting of bread with cheese or jam- seems quite boring. The average Belgian never cooks in the morning. Eggs for breakfast? Only on very special occasions and holidays (quite sad, isn’t it? 🙂 ) She explains to me that she doesn’t cook every morning, but in her family they like to do it on Sunday mornings, when they have the time. A quick breakfast on other days consists of bread with some cheese, olives or sucuk, a spicy kind of sausage.

And of course, no Turkish breakfast without tea!
Whereas we, Belgians, love our ‘kopje koffie’ 🙂 (=cup of coffee), they prefer a nice hot cup of black tea to start their day. Did you know that the Turkish word for ‘breakfast’ kahvaltı literally means ‘before coffee’?IMG_0820

This is the recipe for menemen (2 persons). It’s really easy to make and so delicious!

YouIMG_0810IMG_0811 will need:

1 small onion
2 tomatoes
3 green peppers (you can buy them in a Turkish supermarket)
1/2 red pepper (paprika)
2 eggs
sunflower oil
spicy paprika/chili mix

IMG_0818This is how you make it:

Chop up all the vegetables.
Put some sunflower oil in your saucepan and fry the onions, green and red peppers together.
Add the tomatoes.
When the tomatoes have become soft and juicy, add in the eggs and stir.
Season with a pinch of salt and the spicy mix.

Or you can add more of the spicy mix and the salt if you like it very tasty, like Fatma 🙂
“I always add too much of it!” she says, laughing, “I think it’s so delicious!”

And there you have it! A lovely and easy authentic Turkish dish.


Or in Turkish: Afiyet olsun!

-Lien & Fatma

The International Dinner Table

Hello there!
Welcome to my virtual housewarming party 🙂

Since this is my very first international blog post, I think it deserves to be celebrated!
Feel free to take off your shoes and put your chair around my table, let’s make it warm and cosy!

My name is Lien, I’m a Belgian student on Erasmus in Essen, Germany.
I have been living here now for approximately one month and I felt like sharing some of the many interesting moments I am experiencing.
Residing in a city with such a name (Essen= the German word for ‘eating’ and ‘food’ ^^) I couldn’t find a more suitable image for my Erasmus adventure than a large dinner table filled with juicy conversations and exotic accents.
It describes what this experience is all about: Just like the dinner table at home, Erasmus is about sharing an important part of your life with a multi-coloured family.

Feeling hungry yet?
Do drop by whenever you feel like it and join the Erasmus atmosphere.
My door is always open!