Photo by Baehaki Hariri on Unsplash
We’ve all been there. You run through your mental list of dinner options, but you’re utterly uninspired with the same usual suspects that you’ve made and eaten what seems like a thousand times before. Perhaps it’s time that you spread your wings a little and started experimenting with some new, exotic flavors that will not only thrill the family but will keep you motivated in the kitchen, too. The best way to do this is to set your sights internationally and explore the tantalizing tastes, aromas and textures of foreign foods. So, fill up the spice cabinet, grab your trusty cookware, fire up the stove, and let’s spread our wings and broaden our culinary horizons with these easy to make, delicious dishes:
First stop is India, where the cuisine is a veritable feast for the senses. Even people who are a little tentative about trying foreign dishes will quickly fall in love with this one. It bursts with big flavor and is mild enough to be enjoyed by everyone. You may need to add a few new Indian spices to your cabinet when you give this recipe a try, but the results will be so good, you’ll want to make it again and again.
Next stop is Japan! The name of this dish translates as “Mother-Child Rice Bowl”, which is somewhat apt, given that it consists of tender chicken breasts or thigh fillets cooked in a savory egg mixture with onions. The authentic Japanese flavor comes from the traditional dashi stock in which you simmer the ingredients. Gently lay the concoction over a bowl of rice, and you have a thoroughly satisfying meal that kids and adults will genuinely love.
Early Portuguese settlers in Africa concocted a deliciously picante sauce from the local bird’s eye chilies that they discovered there, known as “Piri-Piri” in Swahili, so this one encompasses two continents! Today, Peri-Peri has been made famous via the South African based Nando’s Chicken chain that is growing in popularity in parts of the US. However, it is surprisingly simple to cook at home. For best results cook it in the slow cooker, or marinate it overnight and throw it on the grill.
Baked Mango Sriracha Cauliflower
Over to South East Asia now for this delightful combination of sweet, sour and spicy! Sriracha is a hot sauce originating in Thailand and Vietnam, and you can find it at pretty much any decent supermarket. The sweetness of the mango is the perfect foil for the spice. I think this works best with cauliflower, but is also spectacular with tofu. For the carnivores, you can substitute pretty any meat or seafood, and it will be a winner.
Baked Fish with Tahini Sauce
Our last stop is the Middle East, where zesty tangs of lemon, garlic blend seamlessly with earthly tones of sesame, nuts, pulses and legumes. This spectacular dish is a signature fish offering in Lebanon, but is common throughout the region and can quite easily be the centerpiece of a meal. For best results use a light white fish such as hake, tilapia or cod so that the lightness of the flesh counterpoints with the richness of the tahini sauce and pine nuts used for garnish. Top it off with some fresh, flat-leaf parsley for a bit of color, and you have a breathtaking sensory experience.
You will be amazed at how delicious, yet simple these exotic dishes will be. While cooking time varies, none require more than 20 minutes’ preparation, so you will love expanding your repertoire without all the effort and fuss. Bon Appetite!!