Sushi, Pizza and Tacos, we are all familiar with these tasty global delicacies. But let us broaden our food horizons and explore some of the more unknown, but equally (if not more) delicious cuisines of the world! Travelling around the world and growing up abroad, I have had the chance to try some of the tastiest meals all around the world. I love food, tasting exotic dishes, trying out new recipes and exploring all that the world food scene has to offer. I still have a lot to explore, but for now: I bring to you a delightful, spicy and flavourful compilation of 5 of the most underrated world cuisines you simply have to try, before you can call yourself a true foodie!
1. Middle Eastern
I am cheating a little bit by grouping the delicious and diverse culinary scene of the Middle East into one category. But this way we can explore more of the delicacies this region has to offer. If the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Middle Eastern food is Hummus, you are not wrong! I personally love hummus, but there are so many more delightful and delectable dishes than just Hummus!
Middle Eastern cuisine is packed with mystical spices and herbs that many of us may not have heard of, such as sumac, za’atar and harissa, which often give the dishes their unique flavours. Traditional recipes and cooking techniques which have been passed down generation after generation are common in the Middle East. Middle Eastern cuisine is all about family and big meals shared around a table. Ranging from the Persian delicacy Tahdig, a crispy crunchy, golden rice dish, to Syrian stuffed vegetables Mahshi and Kuwaiti Quwarmah Al Dajaj, curried chicken with a blend of amazing spices and herbs. With this variety there is something for everyone to try and enjoy!
4+ dishes you have to try:
- Tagine - The classic berber stew from Morocco- Tagine is actually also the name of the cone shaped clay pot the stew is cooked in! Tagines can include meat, couscous and vegetables all slow cooked in a tagine, with aromatic spices, herbs and oils.
- Mezzes - Once again, I am cheating a bit with this category. A mezze is not specifically 1 dish, but a category of small appetizer dishes served in many Middle Eastern homes and restaurants. Kind of like a Middle Eastern tapas. Mezzes include hot and cold, meat and vegetarian dishes.
Some of my favourites are:
- Dolma - Stuffed vine leaves. Depending on the region, these tasty starters can include nuts, rice, fruits, onion and even lamb. The perfect finger food!
- Tabbouleh - A finely chopped, fresh Lebanese salad with parsley, tomatoes, Bulgur wheat, mint, onion, lemon juice and olive oil. A fresh and zesty salad, perfect for hot summer days!
- Moutabal and Baba Gannouj - These mezzes both revolve around the same vibrant purple vegetable, the eggplant. They both include smoked eggplant and either yogurt and tahini or molasses and pomegranate. A smokey, tasty dip often enjoyed with traditional flatbread, the perfect start to your meal.
- Street food: The Middle East has a wide array of yummy, greasy snacks and street foods that are relatively unknown around the world, but really should not be!
- Shawarma - are the Middle Eastern rival to the Turkish doner kebab and the Greek Gyros. Shawarma stalls can be found in most neighborhoods and are one of the most popular street foods across the region. A flatbread wrapped with shredded rotisserie meat or chicken, vegetables (salad, tomatoes, cucumber, onion) and sauce. The contents of the shawarma will differ based on region, but my favourite version comes from a stall next to my neighborhood mosque in Dubai: shredded chicken, garlic sauce, a single french fry, lettuce and a crunchy pickle; all for the price of 5 DHS (about 1.25 euros).
- Manakeesh - is the Middle Eastern pizza, originating from Lebanon. Flatbread or dough served with cheese, za’atar spice or meat. This treat can be folded, sliced and snacked on at any occasion!
- Baklawa - These sweets are made from hundreds of layers of dainty pastry and are flavoured with nuts, syrups and honey. Often you can find platters of these beautifully arranged sweets at the end of any dinner.
Move over Pad Thai, we have a new contender in town Pho the top spot for SouthEast Asian Food!
Vietnamese food has really grown in popularity around the world during the last few years, and rightfully so. Vietnamese cuisine centralizes around healthy meals which are full of herbs and flavour. Ingredients used are fresh, natural Vietnamese cuisine has inspiration from neighboring countries such as Thailand, China, Laos and Cambodia, and remnants of French colonialism, which have all formed the distinct cuisine.
4 dishes you have to try:
- Pho - The national dish of Vietnam. Pho is famous for its rich chicken or meat broth flavoured with zesty ginger and coriander served with rice noodles, and meat, with aromatic spring onion and greens. Believe it or not, this is actually a popular breakfast dish in Vietnam!
- Goi cuon - These transparent rice paper spring rolls are filled with mint, coriander, shrimp or minced pork. They are delicious and fresh appetizers to start any meal, and are even tastier when dipped in a rich peanut sauce.
- Banh mi - Inspired by the french, this sandwich based snack has a base of baguette, filled with pork, pate or beef and an array of fresh vegetables. The perfect street food snack!
- Banh xeo - Are vietnamese style sizzling pancakes containing shrimp, pork and vegetables, dipped in a delightful fish sauce (nuoc cham).
Hopefully your mouth is watering and you are inspired to broaden your food horizons by tasting or creating one of these amazing dishes! Did I miss out on one of your favorite dishes or cuisines? Let us know in the comments, what is your favorite underrated dish or cuisine? Do you want to build your culinary skills? Look no further than our culinary programs in the USA! As the USA is made up of so many different cultures and cuisines, it is the perfect place to learn a new cuisine!
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