Don’t get us wrong, we wouldn’t turn down an expensive, three-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant – but very often the most delicious meals are actually the simplest: home cooking that is often taken for granted in its country of origin is often the most delicious, and sometimes it can be the healthiest, too. This is what we’re homing in on today: here are five staples from around the world that you should consider trying in your own diet.
Dahl, also spelled dal, is common throughout India and made from different types of beans. It has a number of variations depending upon what region of the country a specific receipt originates from. For example, you will see more mung beans, used to make Mung dal, in the south, and more yellow split peas, used to make Chana dal, when the recipe comes from the north.
This recipe calls for the beans to be soaked overnight and simmered until the beans are tender. They are then mixed with seasonings like cumin, turmeric, ginger, chilly oil, or coriander. Healthy and delicious.
Borscht comes to us from Eastern Europe, where it has been eaten for generations in areas like Ukraine and Poland. It combines beets, potatoes, beans, cabbage, and other staples, depending upon the precise recipe used. The nutrient-rich ingredients and delightful flavor make it a great soup to add to your rotation.
Lentil soup originates in countless cultures and regions, with traditional recipes hailing from Europe, South America, and the Middle East. This soup will generally call for any colored dehulled lentil that will disintegrate while cooking. These lentils then form the base for the soup and can be combined with a variety of other vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, onion, and various seasonings, depending upon the recipe. This is a cheap and varied soup to add to your rotation, particularly in the winter on cold evenings.
Boiled or fried plantains
Plantains bear some resemblance to bananas, as they are in the same genus. However, unlike bananas, people consume cooked plantains. This staple is popular in West and Central Africa in addition to the Caribbean and South America along the coast.
You can enjoy this staple either fried or boiled. To fry them, simply slice the plantain into thin slices and then heat the oil in a pan and fry until they are golden. If you want to boil them, cut them slightly thicker– so you get about three pieces per plantain– and then boil until they are tender. In either recipe, season with hot sauce as desired.
The flatbread chapatis has a traditional region that stretches from East Africa to the Arabian Peninsula over to the Indian subcontinent. These delicious circular pieces of bread call for just finely ground wheat flour, salt, and water. The dough then forms round balls, flattened, and cooked on both sides. You can then serve it with various dishes and toppings for a complete meal.
As modern people, we have access to an incredibly rich menu of foods that come from around the world. Those interested in expanding their palates or improving their diets can look at some of these important staples from around the world to see if any of these might fit their own menus well.