Cultural Cooking: Bamia from Montenegro

September 16th, 2014

Recipe Title: Bamia (Meat and Okra Stew) from Ulcinj Cuisine

Submitted by: Edina H. Cobaj

PTPI Affiliation: Podgorica, Montenegro Community Chapter







Recipe Description: This dish is usually made in the south of Montenegro and it is a specialty of Ulcinj cuisine. It is served during spring and summer, but our chefs and moms typically save some bamia in freezers, so that they can serve it at big occasions and family dinners. It’s almost always served when a foreigner comes as a guest.

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour


Note: Remember to pay attention to the unit of measurement used. Check conversions online or click here for a quick guide to U.S. and metric conversions. 

250 – 300 grams veal

1-2 onions

100 milliliter water

Some tomatoes

A lot of chopped parsley

1 kilogram bamija (okra)

salt, black pepper, and red pepper to taste

Recipe Steps:

1. 250 – 300 grams of veal will serve about 4 portions. Choose a leg or shoulder joint and cut into smaller pieces.

2. Cut onions into small pieces and braise with the meat.

3. Add salt as needed, as well as ground pepper, and a little of red pepper.

4. Pour water over it and let it cook slowly; add some tomatoes, diced, and a lot of chopped parsley. Cook for around 30 minutes.

5. Prepare bamijas (okra) in the meantime. Wash them and fry to add some color.

6. When bamijas are almost tender remove them from heat.

7. Put meat into a ceramic pot with bamijas and cook for 30 or more minutes in the oven at 200 degrees C. Serve warm.

If you would like to contribute to our series, Cultural Cooking, please complete the recipe submission form and email photographs to

To learn more about People to People International, visit or check out our Facebook Page.

Discussion Questions for The Invention of Wings

September 10th, 2014

Questions prepared by Rosanne Rosen, Senior Vice President of Operations

Here are questions and thoughts to consider about The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd:

Quote 2

1.  Which character did you admire most — Handful or Sarah?  What were their similarities and their differences?  Which quality did you admire most? 

2. Once she is told she cannot pursue following her dream to become a lawyer, Sarah remarks that the Graveyard of Failed Hopes is “an all-female establishment.” What makes her say so?

3. How does Sarah struggle against the norms of her time — her family, society and religion?  Have you ever had to break away from what was ‘expected’ of you to do what you wanted to do?  What sort of risk and courage does this call for?

4. Racism in American has its roots in slavery.  How is the story relevant today? 

5. Did you know about Sarah and Angelina Grimke and their role in abolition and women’s rights before you read the book?  What kind of courage do you think it takes to go against your societal norms? 

6. Handful and Sarah had completely different relationships with their mothers.  How do you think those relationships molded them into the woman they became?  Did the relationship help or hinder them? 

7. What did you learn about slavery you did not know before reading this novel?  Did it help you have a better understanding? 

8. Sarah is faced with a decision about whether to choose a vocation or marriage. What do you think of her decision?  What has changed for women today or are they still facing those same decisions? 

9. Had you heard of Denmark Vesey prior to reading this novel?  Did you know anything before reading this about slaves resisting or why some slaves might have had allegiance to their owners? 

10. Are there ways in which Kidd’s novel can help us see our own lives differently?

11. Several of the characters in the book were considered ‘revolutionaries” for their time.  They were so committed to their cause; they were willing to give up their life or the pursuit of personal happiness because they believed so strongly in their convictions.  Are there other people in history you have admired because they believed so strongly in their cause?

12. What was your favorite quote in the book and why?

People to People International’s Global Book Club is a way to connect with your global community. Global Book Club members communicate about valuable, international topics and gain unique insight and understanding of various cultural views in relation to those topics. For more information on People to People International, visit or PTPI’s Facebook Page. #globalbookclub

The opinions expressed by PTPI staff and other book club members are entirely their own and are not necessarily the views of  PTPI or its Officers, Board of Directors and Board of Trustees.

Cultural Cooking: Thiebou Djenne from Senegal

September 4th, 2014

Recipe Title: Thiebou Djenne

Submitted by: Djigo Bineta

PTPI Affiliation: Dakar, Senegal Community Chapter

Thiebou Djenne

Thiebou Djenne

Recipe Description: Thiebou djenne is often called the national dish of Senegal. It is traditionally eaten from a communal platter. The hostess divides the fish and vegetables onto a portion of rice for each person. In Senegal, the cook would most likely use whatever fresh whole fish was available, so any 1-pound (12-inch-long) white-fleshed fish you can find will do. If you like funkier flavors, look for dried fish such as stockfish to add as well. It lends an authentic smokiness to the meal.

Servings: 5

Preparation Time: 15-30 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours


Note: Remember to pay attention to the unit of measurement used. Check conversions online or click here for a quick guide to U.S. and metric conversions. 

2  1/8 cups chopped onion (from 3 medium)

1 1/4 cups peanut oil

5 large garlic cloves (2 cloves finely chopped and 3 cloves chopped)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (28 fl oz)

1 1/2 pound fresh cassava (also called yuca)

1/8 pound eggplant

3 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/4 cups)

2 medium turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces (2 1/2 cups)

1/8 pound cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)

8 small fresh or frozen okra (2 oz)

1 (2-oz) piece dried fish such as stockfish (optional), broken into 2 or 3 pieces

4 cups water

2 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne

1/8 cup loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

3 (1-pound) whole white-fleshed fish (each about 12 inches long) such as red snapper, cleaned, leaving head and tail intact

2 cups long-grain white rice (1/8 pound)

Special equipment: a large nonreactive roasting pan (16 by 13 by 3 inches; see cooks’ note, below)

Recipe Steps: 

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Cook 2 cups onion in 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Add finely chopped garlic (from 2 cloves) and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until caramelized, about 1 minute.

5. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring until tomato paste is incorporated, then remove from heat.

6. Trim ends of cassava, then halve crosswise and peel, removing all waxy brown skin and pinkish layer underneath. Quarter each half lengthwise, then cut away and discard thin, woody core. Cut cassava crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

7. Cut eggplant into 1-inch pieces.

8. Put cassava, eggplant, carrots, turnips, cabbage, okra, and dried fish (if using) in roasting pan, then straddle pan over 2 burners and add broth mixture (reserve skillet), water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 1/4 teaspoons cayenne.

9. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then transfer to oven and braise, uncovered, stirring twice, until vegetables are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

10. While vegetables are braising, pulse together parsley, chopped garlic (from remaining 3 cloves), 1/8 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 cup onion, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cayenne in a food processor until finely chopped.

11. Lay 1 fish on its side with gutted side facing you. Holding a sharp paring knife at a 30-degree angle from fish, cut 3 evenly spaced (2 1/2-inch-long) slits across center of fish’s side to make shallow pockets. (Start at side farthest away from you; be careful not to cut through bone.) Turn fish over and cut 3 slits across center of other side in same manner, then repeat with remaining 2 fish. Pat fish dry, then stuff slits with parsley mixture (some mixture will come out of slits).

12. Clean skillet and wipe dry, then heat remaining cup oil in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

13. Brown fish, 1 at a time (fish will not lie flat in skillet), turning over once carefully using tongs and a metal spatula, until golden, about 2 minutes per fish. Transfer as browned with tongs and spatula to a shallow baking pan.

14. Arrange fish over vegetables and braise in oven, without stirring, until fish is just cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes (test for doneness in thickest part of fish). Transfer fish using tongs and spatula to a platter, then transfer vegetables with slotted spoon to a large bowl and keep warm, covered with foil.

15.  Pour cooking liquid from roasting pan into a 1-quart liquid measure and add enough water to total 4 cups liquid.

16. Bring liquid (4 cups), rice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to a full rolling boil in a 4-quart heavy pot, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, undisturbed, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

17. Remove from heat and let stand, undisturbed, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

18. Spoon vegetable mixture into center of a very large platter, then spoon rice around vegetables. Arrange fish on vegetables.

If you would like to contribute to our series, Cultural Cooking, please complete the recipe submission form and email photographs to

To learn more about People to People International, visit or check out our Facebook Page.