One of the best things about travelling abroad—besides the change in scenery and exciting sights—is the food. After all, what is a visit to Taipei without a snack (or three) at the bustling night markets, or a tour of the Amalfi Coast without a glass of wine and fresh frutti di mare? While it looks like we won’t be able to visit these places in person anytime soon, we can still let our palates do a little travelling for us by indulging in some delicious international cuisine.
And with all of us spending more time at home nowadays, what better time is there to learn how to recreate some of the world’s best flavours from the comfort of your own home? Here are five mouth-watering international dishes that any home cook can make with just a little time, enthusiasm, and some easy-to-source ingredients! Bon appétit!
1. Paneer butter masala with garlic naan
Well-loved by all, the paneer butter masala is a dish that is the perfect blend of spiciness tempered by creaminess. It is also vegetarian and near irresistible when paired with garlic naan.
• 250 grams of paneer, defrosted and diced into one-inch cubes
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 1.5 teaspoons of chopped ginger
• 3 to 4 cloves of garlic
• 6 to 8 cashew nuts, soaked in water for 15 minutes
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 green chillies, diced
• 3 medium tomatoes
• 2 teaspoons of Kasuri Methi (dried Fenugreek leaves)
• Half teaspoon of garam masala powder
• 1 tablespoon of coriander powder
• 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
• 2 tablespoons of cream
• 2 tablespoons of butter
• 2 tablespoons of oil
• Salt to taste
Drain the soaked cashew nuts and grind them with two tablespoons of water to make a paste. Blanch the tomatoes and blend them to make a smooth tomato puree. Set the two pastes aside in separate containers.
Heat the cooking oil and butter in a pan over a medium flame. In order, add the bay leaf, onion, garlic, and ginger, then sauté for approximately four minutes until the paste turns light brown.
Add the green chillies and the red chilli powder, then sauté for 30 seconds.
Add the cashew nut paste and tomato puree (from step 1) and cook for approximately three to four minutes, until the oil starts to separate from the puree.
Add the coriander powder and garam masala, then mix well.
Add half a cup of water, then season with salt and cook until the oil rises to the surface.
Add cream and mix well.
Add the paneer cubes and kasuri methi, then cook for about three minutes until the mixture has reduced to your preferred consistency.
Garnish with a cube of butter before serving.
2. Chicken pad thai
This rice noodle dish has become a delicacy thanks to its well-balanced flavours and diverse mix of textures. Luckily for us, it’s also not difficult to prepare. Tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy, a good pad thai is hearty and will leave you wanting more.
• 200 grams of rice noodles • 350 grams of chicken breast, shrimp, or tofu • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar (for a more traditional taste, use palm sugar if available) • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce • 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar • 1 tablespoon of lime juice • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce • 2 cups of bean sprouts • 1 cup of thinly sliced carrots • 2 spring onions, chopped • 2 cloves of garlic, minced • 1 bell pepper • 2 eggs • One-third cup of peanuts • 1 lime
Cook the rice noodles according to the packaging’s directions.
Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water right after cooking to prevent them from sticking together.
Whisk the sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and fish sauce in a bowl and set aside.
Heat the cooking oil in a pan on medium heat, then add chicken and sauté for approximately five minutes until cooked through. Set the meat aside, leaving the oil in the pan.
Stir in the bell pepper and carrots, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic, spring onions, and bean sprouts. Sauté for another minute.
Push the vegetables to the edges of the pan, and crack the eggs into the centre then scramble the eggs until they have just set.
Add the chicken, rice noodles, and sauce mixture into the pan, and stir fry everything together for a couple of minutes.
Garnish with some crushed peanuts and lime wedges or even sprinkle some coriander, chilli flakes, and sesame seeds.
3. Halloumi fajitas
A Mexican feast is a sure-fire crowd pleaser, so try your hand at these vegetarian fajitas with savoury halloumi cheese, offset by sweet bell peppers and crunchy red onions—it’s easy to prepare, which makes it the perfect weeknight meal.
• 250 grams of halloumi cheese • 4 soft tortillas • 2 handfuls of baby spinach • 1 tablespoon of olive oil • 1 red onion, sliced • 1 red pepper, sliced • Half teaspoon of chilli powder • Half teaspoon of garlic salt • Half teaspoon of ground cumin • A handful of fresh coriander, chopped • Guacamole, to serve
Heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat. Fry the onions and peppers until both have softened and are beginning to brown along the edges.
Add the spices and toss, cooking for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a bowl, set aside, and give the pan a quick wipe.
Cut the halloumi into slim, finger-shaped pieces. Add to the hot pan and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden.
Add the vegetables back into the pan and toss everything together.
Serve on warmed tortillas with the baby spinach leaves. Top with coriander and serve with guacamole.