From the extravagant to the deceptively simple, when it comes to food, the world holds endless possibilities to tickle your taste buds. Here are a few cuisines worth gaining a couple of pounds for!
When it comes to food, Japan rules with its diverse array of dishes, mainly involving seafood. A typical meal comprises a bowl of rice or Gohan, miso soup (misoshiru) and pickled vegetables or Tsukemono, accompanied with fish or meat. Instead of rice, meals may also be supplemented with noodles (Udon, Soba or Ramen) – served in broth or sautéed in special sauce.
Sticky, short-grained rice is the staple food. Naturally, there are a variety of dishes available that revolve around rice; for example, Senbei (rice crackers), Onigiri (rice balls with seafood or vegetables in the middle) and Mochi (rice cakes).
Fish and seafood are eaten in many forms, the most popular being sushi and sashimi. And although meat isn’t as popular as fish, there are some dishes such as Yakitori (grilled chicken) and gyudon (beef bowl) that make Japanese cuisine extremely versatile. Another popular food item is the soybean (daizu) that’s used to make a variety of foods and flavourings. The most popular avatar of the soy is perhaps tofu, especially among vegetarians.
Japan usually has a reputation of serving ‘exotic’ food. But if you’re not really the adventurous kind, there are plenty of options available. You just need to know what to look out for.
Italy might as well be a synonym for ‘decadently delicious food’. Food varies from region to region but pasta, risotto and olive oil all feature heavily in Italian cuisine. Lunch is the most important meal of the day, with several courses being served. Most of the time lunch comprises a variation of pasta along with meat and some fresh salad at the side. Dinners are lighter affairs and the portions are smaller.
Depending on the region, the food varies lightly. Regions close to France have French influences and features delicacies like truffles where as food from the north east are well known for their smoked meats and heavy broths.
The northern part of Italy is famous for its olive groves and fine agricultural produce and hence many fresh vegetables and olives are popularly used. On a tangent, the cuisine from the south of Italy has more seafood based dishes due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea.
Today it is famous for a plethora of dishes: Pizza, Lasagna, Baccalà alla Vicentina, Fettuccine Alfredo and Pollo alla cacciatora along with desserts like Tiramisù and Gelato. Italy is indeed a foodie’s paradise. And if you don’t believe us, just ask Liz Gilbert!
Tortillas, salsa, and guacamole – these are just a few of the terms that pop into mind when we think of Mexican food. And although they are an important part of Mexican cuisine, we guarantee that there’s much more to Mexican cuisine than just tacos and exotic-sounding dips.
Tortillas are the staple food for Mexicans. Made of flour or maize, tortillas maybe served alongside a meal (as bread) or used to make main course dishes like enchiladas (baked tortillas) or tacos (fried tortillas) or quesadillas (grilled tortillas).
No meal is really complete without frijoles (beans). They are commonly boiled and then fried and served as either a main ingredient or a garnish. For the adventurous few, chillies are a worth a shot. Although be warned, the habañero is quite hot (like for instance, dips like salsa habañero that come in tiny jars and look deceptively like ketchup) and not for the weak hearted.
Tamales, traditional fare made from starchy dough, are also very popular. And if you thought that was all, you have to try churros (also known as Spanish doughnuts) and buñuelos (deep-fried fermented dough which is then dipped in brown sugar and cinnamon syrup). Delicious!
Spicy curry and rice is perhaps Sri Lanka’s definitive fare.
Made from fish, meat or vegetables the curry has a lot of similarities with South India cuisine. But it is said that Sri Lankan food is spicier, perhaps even the world’s hottest! Side dishes include pickles, chutneys and sambols (for example, the coconut sambol, made with ground coconut, chillies, dried Maldive fish and lime juice). Other popular dishes include Kiribath (milk rice) and mallung (chopped leaves with coconut and onions). Hoppers or appa are another favourite and served during breakfast along with lunu miris (a spicy mix of onions and spices). Egg hoppers, milk hopper and sweet ones are just some of the delicious varieties available.
Sri Lankan cuisine also exhibits a lot of colonial influences. A prime example would be the Dutch-influenced dish, Lamprais (rice boiled in stock) and frikkadels (meatballs) wrapped in banana leaves and baked.
And when it comes to desserts, its fiesta time! Kavun (oil cakes), Undu Walalu, Aluwa and Aggala, Dodol, Wattalapan and Bibikkan are just a few of the exotic dishes that the country’s famous for. So next time you’re in Sri Lanka, make sure you unleash the glutton inside you.
Turkey has a deep-rooted history and a rich cultural heritage – both of which seem to have abundantly influenced the cuisine – just like any great work of art. Anyone who visits Turkey will notice how special mealtimes are. More often than not, it’s a communal activity and families seem to share a special and almost-spiritual connection with their food and those around.
Cooking again, varies according to region. For instance, dishes from Istanbul, Bursa and the Aegean region sparingly use spices and prefer rice over burghul. The Black Sea region, has a cuisine evolved around seafood and fish, whereas the southeast is famous for kebabs, mezzes and desserts such as baklava, kadayıf and künefe.
Like other countries in the Mediterranean, the western parts of Turkey also has dishes that are cooked in olive oil and rich in vegetables, herbs and fish. Central Anatolia is famous for its pasta specialties, such as keşkek (kashkak), mantı (especially from Kayseri) and gözleme.
Gourmands will agree, unlike Italian or French cuisine, Turkish cuisine does not really have signature dishes per se, but in fact have similar patterns in a variety of cuisines. The food is a beautiful fusion of the Far East and Mediterranean and quite unlike anything you’ll ever experience.