Amok in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Contributed by Thomas Holdo Hansen (whl.travel Siem Reap)
A local dish that is very popular across Cambodia is amok, which, in short, is a Cambodian curry that is usually with steamed or baked fish and served in a banana leaf.
A good place to try amok is Sala Baï, a special hotel-and-restaurant school for disadvantaged young Cambodians, where the students get the opportunity to learn key hospitality skills. This, in turn, enables them to secure a future for themselves and their families. The vocational training is provided for free and visitors get to experience traditional Khmer dishes with a twist and the training first hand.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Pabellón Criollo and Plato Navideño in Venezuela
Contributed by Melissa Gonzalez Llovera (whl.travel Venezuela)
Our main food is pabellón Criollo, a very colourful and delicious dish of white rice, seasoned shredded meat, black beans and fried slices of plantain.
My favourite dish is plato navideño. We eat it in December and January, especially on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. It’s made from hallaca (cornmeal, meat and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves), pan de jamón (bread and ham), ensalada de gallina (chicken salad with potatoes, mayonnaise, carrots and peas) and pernil (seasoned pork).
Learn more about food and cuisine in Venezuela.
Assorted Meat Dishes in Athens, Greece
Moussaka is a very popular local dish composed of three layers: the bottom layer of slices of cooked eggplant, a middle layer of minced beef (but also lamb) and a top layer of béchamel sauce. Different ingredients can be added to the middle layers, like potatoes, herbs and a variety of spices. It usually takes three hours to prepare, but one plate of moussaka is very hearty.
Saganaki with shrimps is also popular. It is cooked cheese (usually feta) mixed with small red shrimps in a tomato sauce.
Ntolamadakia is cooked rice rolled in vine leaves. Sometimes minced meat is also mixed with the rice.
Kokinista is beef cooked for long time until tender and then eaten with a red sauce of tomatoes and cinnamon. You can add onion or red wine.
Yiouvetsi is usually beef cooked in a terracotta dish with a red sauce and pasta rice.
Lamb Abelourgo is lamb stuffed with feta and vine leaves with lemon sauce and rosemary.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Athens, Greece.
Pig Trotter Curry and Fermented Soya Bean Curry in Darjeeling, India
Contributed by Yogita Ranapaheli (whl.travel Darjeeling)
The Nepalis in the hills of Darjeeling and Sikkim consider pork trotter curry as one of their delicacies. Why shouldn’t it be? It is by far the best dish that I have ever tasted in my life, which also makes it my favourite dish. The curry is quite hot and spicy, but what adds to the flavour of the curry are the juices of the bone marrow, which give it a fatty taste. That is why the curry is made of trotters – because they’re bony. The dish is known locally as khutta ko achar.
Another dish that is quite a favourite among the locals is fermented soya beans. Outsiders generally get disgusted with it because of its strong fermented smell, but it is an acquired taste.
Recipe for Fermented Soya Bean Curry
1 cup fermented soya beans
1 onion, chopped
1 tomato, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
5 or 6 green chillies, finely chopped
Heat a pan and add a little bit of vegetable oil.
Fry the chopped onion until golden brown.
Add the garlic, turmeric and mix for a few minutes.
Add the fermented soya beans and fry them for a few more minutes.
Add the finely chopped tomatoes and chilli and fry until the tomatoes are cooked.
Lastly, add two cups of water and let the beans cook properly.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Darjeeling.
Rice ‘n’ Beans in Belize
Contributed by Robin Chambers
The staple food in Belize is rice ‘n’ beans. The water used to cook the black beans is saved for use with the rice, which is why the rice is a purple colour. It is normally served with ‘fry chicken’ and coleslaw.
Omani Biryani in Oman
Contributed by Will Plummer
This is the most popular local dish. It’s made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat or fish.
Recipe for Chicken Biryani
1 lb basmati rice
3 lbs chicken, skinned and jointed
1 large onion, thinly sliced
oil, for frying
9 ounces of plain, unsweetened yogurt
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric powder
2 tsp. cumin powder
2 tsp. coriander powder
2 or 3 cloves of fresh garlic, mashed
1 tsp. fresh ginger paste
2 hot chillies, roughly chopped
large pinch of saffron, dissolved in 1 cup of warm milk
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of fresh chopped coriander leaves or parsley
2 tsp. garam masala powder (mixed spices) or curry powder
2 cinnamon sticks, 6 cloves, 6 cardamom pods
Wash and drain chicken. In a bowl, mix together the chicken, yoghurt, salt, turmeric, cumin powder, garlic and ginger paste and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Soak rice in cold water for 30 minutes.
Deep fry onion until lightly browned and crisp. Remove onions from oil and drain on kitchen paper.
Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and add 3-4 teaspoons of salt. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and drained rice. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the rice is about half cooked. The rice will increase in size, but will still be hard in the centre. Remove from heat and drain the rice thoroughly.
Put the chicken into a large saucepan with the marinade. Sprinkle on half of the fried onions and half of the chopped coriander. Then add the rice and sprinkle on the remaining fried onions, the remaining chopped coriander, the chillies, lemon juice, garam masala and saffron milk. Sprinkle on three tablespoons of oil.
Make 5-6 holes in the mixture with a wooden spoon handle. Cover with a lid and place on medium heat until steam rises from the holes. Then reduce the temperature and cook on low heat for 45-50 minutes. Move the saucepan in a clockwise direction a few times to ensure even cooking.
To serve, fluff the rice a little with a fork, remove the saucepan lid, turn a large plate upside down and cover the saucepan with it. Hold the pot and plate tightly together, turn both upside down. Rice should come out on the plate, with the chicken on the top.
Roast Lamb in Albania
Contributed by Laura Payne (whl.travel Albania)
In the mountains of Albania, roasted lamb is the local speciality.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Albania.
Taco de Pescado in Los Cabos, Mexico
Contributed by Karem Matamoros (whl.travel Los Cabos)
My favourite local food is the taco de pescado (fish taco). Most visitors who come here always ask for them, perhaps because the destination is so well known for having the best fish tacos! The preparation of the tacos is unique: the fish is always fresh and it comes with several spicy sauces and vegetables. Ideally, the fish tacos are made of breaded fish fillet, although there are also tacos made of grilled fillet.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Assorted Dishes in Pakistan
Contributed by Sadia Kalsoom (whl.travel Islamabad)
Pakistan has a rich and unique cultural heritage. The food is similar to that found in northern India, with a splotch of Middle Eastern influence thrown in for good measure.
Pakistan is divided into four provinces, each with a different culture and regional speciality. For example, the people living in Punjab (eastern Pakistan) are known for their roti (bread), chicken karahi, mutton karahi and chicken broast. Fish and other seafood are the main ingredients in the Coastal Sindh. The people of Northwest Frontier province eat a lot of lamb; one of the specialities of the city of Peshawar is chapli kebab. In Balochistan, sajji is the Balochi dish made of lamb stuffed with rice that has become popular all over the country.
Learn more about drink and cuisine in Pakistan.
Kokoda in Fiji
Contributed by Kolinio Rokuta (whl.travel Fiji)
My favourite dish is kokoda. It’s a traditional Fijian dish with a unique taste that makes your mouth water and lips zing. It’s a blend of marinated raw fish, a hint of chilli, a dash of lemon, pinch of salt, creamy coconut milk, tomatoes and onions to add to the zesty flavour. It’s only made with certain types of fish, usually walu, also known as Spanish mackerel.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Fiji.
Kraujiniai Vedarai and Smoked Eel with Calamus in Lithuania
Contributed by Kestas Lukoskinas (whl.travel Lithuania)
Local delicacies include kraujiniai vedarai – pig’s guts filled with blood, pearl barley and lots of other ingredients. This dish is a traditional meal in Samogitia, one of the four regions of Lithuania. To prepare this you will need to butcher the pig, remove its guts and thoroughly (we mean it!) clean them. Also, you have to collect the pig‘s blood and use it within four hours. This task is not for the faint hearted and needs an experienced hand!
Another big delicacy is smoked eel with calamus (a plant that smells good, but is difficult to recognise). No self-respecting fisherman in Samogitia will smoke fish without calamus! A good place to find calamus is in the area of the World Heritage-listed Curonian Spit by the Baltic Sea.
Smoked or fried lamprey is also popular; it forms a delicious greasy jelly that melts in your mouth!
Learn more about food and cuisine in Lithuania.
Nsima in Malawi
Malawi’s staple food – and indeed my favourite food – is nsima. It is prepared by cooking a mixture of maize flour and water until it becomes thick like mashed potatoes. There are two types of nsima: white flour nsima and wholegrain flour nsima. White flour nsima is prepared using maize flour that has been crushed first and then soaked in water for two or more days before it is ground into flour. Wholegrain nsima is prepared using wholegrain maize flour. Traditionally, nsima is eaten with vegetables, fish, beans, mice, caterpillars or (occasionally) meat. When nsima is prepared using cassava flour, especially in the northern part of Malawi, it is called kondole.
In Malawi, there are restaurants called chiyimirire (which means, ‘just standing’) found in local markets. They are given this name because there are no proper structures at these restaurants apart from three stone fireplaces on the open ground. Food is prepared before lunchtime and kept in plastic bags in big pots to keep it warm. No menu is provided and mostly it is nsima or rice with vegetables, dried fish, beans, beef or goat meat. Each person then just finds a place to sit or stand. There are no chairs and no shade!
There are also other ‘proper’ local restaurants in these local markets; they are small rooms built with bricks or cardboard boxes. They have a number of chairs and tables inside and the cooking is done outside on a three-stone fireplace. The most interesting thing at these restaurants is the menu i.e. “nsima with goat,” “rice with cow.” It’s as if you will be eating them alive!
Unusual bars are also common in Malawi, especially in rural areas and highly populous locations. The structures are just grass or cardboard thatched sheds with a few sitting benches and packets of Chibuku (local beer) or bottles of Kachasu (locally distilled spirits). In most cases, loud music is played from a stereo powered by car batteries. It is normal to find people at these places sitting in a circle and drinking from one traditional cup called a chipanda. It is always recommended at these local bars that the bar attendant first taste the beer before giving it to the customers – a way of saying it is safe to drink.
Learn more about food and cuisine in Malawi.