Today we’re going to try something different.

When I was searching for the verb fry in the Contemporary Corpus of American English (COCA), I came across a recipe for a dish called Dovi, from Zimbabwe. So I decided that I would introduce you to more culinary vocabulary based on that recipe.

But first, here is a short introduction to that dish:


This aromatic stew is one of the favorite dishes in Zimbabwe and has a prevalent peanut taste that carries the flavor. It’s made with a copious amount of onions, peppers, carrots and garlic to balance out the flavor of the peanut sauce. When it’s available, chicken will also be thrown in to the mix. Make sure this dish is one of the first you chow down if you visit Zimbabwe.


From the text we learn that Dovi is a stew.

  • For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.
  • Most of the meat he cut into bite-sized pieces for stew.
  • Luke made the beef stew too floury and it had to be thrown away.


Here’s a picture of Dovi:

Courtesy of


Now, let’s look at the recipe and select some collocations. We’ll start with the ingredients.



  • 2 tsp butter.
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped.
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced and crushed.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 1/2 tsp pepper.
  • 1 chili pepper, seeded, minced.
  • 1 chicken, cut in serving pieces.
  • 2 green bell peppers, cored, seeded, chopped.
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, cored, coarsely chopped.
  • 2 cups water.
  • 6 tsp smooth peanut butter.
  • 250g spinach.


Just a word about the abbreviations before we start: tsp stands for teaspoon, and tbsp stands for tablespoon.

Now we’re ready.

As you can see, names of ingredients can also be collocations:



But let’s look at some collocations with finely:



1 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped






2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

1 tbsp. finely grated orange zest

1 small, raw potato, finely grated




1/2 cup finely diced celery






Although we could translate finely as ‘finamente’ – and it is sometimes translated that way –, a more adequate translation would be ‘bem…’, for example, ‘bem picado’ or even ‘picadinho’ for finely chopped.

However, we don’t say ‘raladinho’ or ‘bem ralado’ in Portuguese. We usually take it for granted that it is finely grated, though we may sometimes say ‘ralado fino’. However, we make the difference explicit when it is coarsely chopped by saying ‘ralado grosso’. So, finely and coarsely are antonyms in our culinary context.

When it comes to diced, we say ‘cortado em cubos/cubinhos’. As you can see, our diminutive comes in handy for translating finely in a culinary context.

Let’s move on to the verbs. We’ve already seen chop. Slice is next:

These are the most common things you can slice:




Oh oh!!! In the examples for bacon we notice that slices is a noun, not a verb! You don’t slice bacon because it already comes in slices.

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 1 slice bacon, chopped

The same goes for prosciutto:

  • 3 thin slices prosciutto
  • 16 large slices prosciutto


But, obviously, if you have a whole leg of prosciutto you have to slice it:


By the way, did you notice that in the list of ingredients we say slices bacon and slices prosciutto and NOT slices of bacon or slices of prosciutto? If you look at the list of ingredientes again you will see other instances in which of is not used:


      • 2 tsp butter.
      • 1 tsp salt.
      • 1/2 tsp pepper.
      • 2 cups water.
      • 6 tsp smooth peanut butter.
      • 250g spinach.


Let’s go back to our collocates of slice. Here are examples with the other words on the list:


  • I would have sat in the audience and watched her slice bread.
  • For a fast, pretty salad, slice tomatoes into rounds, scatter fresh basil and goat cheese over top, and drizzle with dressing
  • Thinly slice meat, garnish with sliced red onion and radishes, and serve with yogurt-mint sauce.
  • Slice steak across grain.
  • While potatoes are cooking, slice onions into -inch-thick rounds and set aside.
  • Peel, core, and thinly slice apples into rings.


Our next verb is crush. Notice that in the list of ingredientes this and the other verbs we’re discussing usually occur in the past participle, actually functioning as an adjective:


Seed is an interessting verb. It can mean ‘to sow seeds’, meaning to put seeds in the ground:


But in a cooking context, it means exactly the opposite: ‘to remove seeds’:


  • 1 chili pepper, seeded
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and diced or grated
  • 1 butternut squash (12 oz), peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 5 large fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and diced


Because mince deserves an extra post, we’ll address it next month together with grind. But the meaning is, hopefully, clear from the examples and pictures below:


  • After slicing onions or mincing garlic, neutralize smelly hands by rubbing

fingers on a stainless steel spoon under running water.

  • So it looks like we’re having minced beef, rice and some bread.




Our last verb is core


  • Simmer peeled, cored apple quarters with a little water until soft.
  • 1 medium cored pineapple cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Add peeled and cored pears to a saucepan with 1 cup white wine




Easy to guess its meaning, right?

Sorry, but you’ll have to wait for the directions of the recipe in the next post. In the meantime, you can make the mise en place, that is, get the ingredients going by slicing, dicing, grating, crushing, seeding and coring. Have a delicious month ;-))