As people begin to hunker down, practice social distancing, and stop traveling, many of us are ready to start cooking at home more—especially as many restaurants close down for the time being. With that in mind, why not take a virtual food tour around the world by cooking international dishes from across the globe? From Indian to Thai to Peruvian to West African, here are some of the best dishes to make that are inspired by cuisines from around the world.
Polish Potato Pierogi
Pierogi Ruski, pierogi dumplings filled with potato, are among the most popular type of pierogis made in Poland. Ruski refers to Ruthenians, people from around the northern Carpathian Mountains in western Ukraine, eastern Slovakia, and southern Poland. While this pierogi recipe is a bit labor- and time-intensive due to making the dough and filling separately and then crafting the pierogis themselves (it takes about 100 minutes total), it makes a great cooking project—and they are easy to freeze. The ingredients are fairly simple: flour, egg, and water to make the dough and potatoes, onions, and farmers or ricotta cheese for the filling.
Indian Masoor Dal
Food in India differs from region to region, but regions across the country have some version of dal, or lentils. Masoor Dal translates to "red lentils," and while dal literally means “lentil,” in Indian cooking it usually means some kind of stew or soup made with lentils. This Bengali version, calls for red lentils, cilantro, tomatoes, turmeric, cumin seeds, and ghee, clarified butter. To make it vegan, just replace the ghee with oil. This zesty dish only takes about 30 minutes to make, ensuring an easy lunch or dinner.
West African Peanut Butter Soup
This hearty soup (sometimes called groundnut soup) is a staple in West Africa and is said to have originated from the Mandinka people of Mali, where it is called maafe. In Ghana, it is often served alongside fufu. There are many different versions of peanut butter soup and while the traditional version contains chicken, like this recipe does, it can easily be made vegan. Gather together peanut butter, onions, tomatoes, okra, eggplant, scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, bay leaves, a whole chicken, and chicken stock, and set aside 20 minutes for prep and an hour of cooking time.
Middle Eastern Malabi
Many Middle Eastern countries lay claim to malabi (or "muhallabia" in Arabic) and it is popular throughout the region, from Lebanon to Palestine to Turkey to Israel. It’s a silky milk pudding that uses rice flour or cornstarch as a thickener, sugar as a sweetener, and rose water for a gentle floral flavor. It can be topped with syrup (like the rose raspberry one in this recipe), shredded coconut, or nuts. To make it vegan, substitute a milk alternative for the cow’s milk. The best part? It only takes about 15 minutes to make.
Thai Green Curry with Chicken
So many cuisines have a version of curry and Thailand has several great options. Thai curries come from a curry paste made from chilis, onions, garlic, ginger lemongrass, and spices and herbs like coriander and cumin. What makes it green versus red? The color of the chiles, as well as basil and kaffir lime leaves that are absent from red curries. While there are a lot of ingredients, the paste and curry in this green curry recipe only take about 40 minutes to make, so a fast dinner is possible. Other ingredients include coconut milk, bell pepper, and zucchini (or really any vegetable you want to have in your curry) and chicken—or leave it out to keep it vegetarian.
Chinese Sichuan Green Beans With Pork
The Sichuan region of China is known for its love of spice so if you can handle it, these spicy, zesty green beans with minced pork make a great meal with varied textures. To make it authentic, ensure you char the green beans and use either Sichuan peppercorn or Sichuan preserved vegetables (which can be found canned in Asian food markets), as suggested in this recipe. This dish, which also includes ground pork, soy sauce, ginger, and chicken broth, comes together quickly, making it an easy weeknight dinner. If you have a wok, now is the time to use it!
Spanish Ham Croquettes
Spanish tapas are a huge part of the culture in Spain. Tapas bars serving a variety of snacks and appetizers dot the streets of Barcelona, Madrid, and beyond, but it’s easy to make a tapas spread at home. Simple items like olives can be paired with more complex bites, like these croquetas de jamón (that’s Spanish for ham croquettes). They do take time (3 hours and 40 minutes total) because the béchamel mixture needs to be refrigerated before fried, but the ingredient list is small: oil, chicken broth, flour, milk, eggs, ham, nutmeg, and breadcrumbs. The trick is to make a béchamel sauce first, add the chopped ham, and then let it cool in a refrigerator until it’s solid enough to coat in breadcrumbs and fry. Buen provecho!
Mexican Mole Poblano
While tacos might be the most familiar Mexican food for many Americans, mole sauce is a favorite of many Mexicans and is said to be the national dish in Mexico. There are many varieties of mole, but mole poblano comes from the state of Puebla and differentiates itself by the use of chocolate. And while nearly every Mexican mother and grandmother will have her own recipe, this mole version features Ancho and Pasilla chiles, raisins, pistachios, pepitas, sesame seeds, Mexican chocolate, cocoa powder, garlic, brown sugar, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, and tortilla and masa (as thickeners), While it has a long list of ingredients and takes more than an hour to make, the results are a complex sauce that's delicious on chicken, beef, tortillas, vegetables, and more.
Japanese Agedashi Tofu
A popular order in Japanese restaurants, agedashi tofu is tofu that’s coated in katakuriko (potato starch) and deep-fried until crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. It can be topped with things like grated daikon, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), scallion, nori, or grated ginger, as well as a savory dashi broth. For this recipe, you'll need about 30 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of cook time and you’ll need soft tofu, dashi, soy sauce, mirin, potato starch, oil, and ginger. And remember, the oil needs to be fresh and extremely hot.
Peruvian Chicha Morada
The iconic Peruvian drink chicha morada, with Andean origins, is made from dried purple corn, and the drink itself is a gorgeous dark purple color. In Peru, it’s easy to find this drink all over, from market stalls to restaurants to people’s homes, and there are even bottled and powder versions out there. Making it from scratch is easy, though; follow this chicha morada recipe for the method and ingredients, which aside from purple corn, include cinnamon sticks and whole cloves. The whole process takes a little more than an hour, but is well worth the effort.