How Traveling Can Influence Your Cooking

There are many benefits to international travel. For many, time spent in other cultures and countries is an incredibly rich experience with many takeaways and opportunities to reflect. To us, one of the most unifying and authentic ways to learn about a new destination is to taste the local cuisine. Immersing yourself in the food culture is an excellent avenue to learn about a place and its people. New foods and international recipes are a wonderful souvenir!

Today, we’d like to introduce recipes from across the globe that feature some of each country’s representative ingredients and spices. We hope you’ll try these recipes and maybe incorporate some of the ingredients and spices into your home cooking!

MYANMAR

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, Laphet Thoke

Myanmar is one of the few places where tea leaves are eaten, in addition to being drunk. Green tea leaves are fermented underground for months and then mixed with salt and oil to make a salad dressing. This salad is served all over Myanmar, with different variations made for daily meals and special occasions or ceremonies. The combination of flavors and textures has caught the attention of international foodies, and people all over the world have begun to recreate this salad. Be warned that the tea leaves do still have their caffeine!

recipe adapted from Burma Superstar by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy

Ingredients

  • 2 heads of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Tea Leaf Dressing
  • 1/4 cup Fried Garlic Chips (below)
  • 1/4 cup Fried Yellow Split Peas (below)
  • 1/4 cup toasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 1 tbsp. shrimp powder
  • 2 tsp. fish sauce or a few generous pinches of salt
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Method

  1.  Place a bed of lettuce in the center of a large plate or platter. Spoon the tea leaf dressing into the center of the lettuce.
  2. Around the lettuce, arrange separate piles of fried garlic, split peas, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, tomato, and jalapeño.
  3. Sprinkle with shrimp powder and drizzle with fish sauce. 
  4. Before serving, squeeze two lime wedges over the plate. Using two forks, mix the ingredients together until the tea leaves lightly coat the lettuce. Taste, adding more lime or fish sauce at the table, if desired.

Fried Garlic Chips and Garlic Oil

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh garlic
  1. Line a heatproof bowl with a strainer and cover a plate with paper towels.
  2. In a wok or small saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat for a minute or two (the oil shouldn’t be scorching hot).
  3. Add garlic and gently stir. When bubbles start to form rapidly around the garlic, decrease heat to low and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is an even golden color and nearly completely crisp, about 3 minutes. If the garlic starts to darken too quickly, remove it from the heat and let it continue to fry in the oil.
  4. Drain the garlic and oil into the strainer. Lift the strainer up and shake off the excess oil. Scatter garlic onto the lined plate. The garlic should crisp up as it cools.
  5. The chips can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for month month. Refrigerate the oil up to six months.

Fried Yellow Split Peas

  • 1/3 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Place peas in a bowl and cover one inch of water. Soak at least four hours or overnight. Drain split peas through a fine-mesh strainer, shaking off the excess water.
  2. Line a plate with paper towels. In a wok or small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat for one minute. Add the split peas. Once the oil starts to bubble rapidly around the split peas, lower the heat slightly and continue to fry, stirring often, until they begin to crisp up and turn slightly darker, about five minutes.
  3. Drain well. Scatter the split peas on the lined plate and season with salt. The split peas should be crunchy, but not rock-hard, once cooled. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

SPAIN

Shrimp Paella

The word paella is roughly translated as pan; the traditionally round, shallow, polished steel pan with two handles is known as the paella pan. It’s a dish with ancient roots in Valencia on the east coast of Spain, where it was first made with rice, eel, and butter beans. As standards of living rose, meat was also incorporated, and in the 19th century, paella was made with seafood. Its popularity helped the dish spread throughout Spain and beyond. Though there are now many variations, it is always made with olive oil and flavored with saffron.

recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste or finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • salt
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika (pimentón dulce )
  • a good pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto rice, such as Arborio
  • 1/2 cup peas, shelled
  • 4 quartered artichoke hearts
  • 3 cups fish or chicken stock, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 12 jumbo shrimp in their shells

Method

  1. In a 16-inch paella pan, fry the onion in the oil until soft, stirring often. Stir in the garlic, and before it begins to color, add the tomatoes.
  2. Add the sugar, salt to taste, pimentón (or paprika), and saffron, stir well, and cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a jammy sauce and the oil is sizzling. Add the rice, peas, and artichoke hearts and stir well until all the grains of rice are coated. (You can prepare the dish to this point up to an hour in advance.)
  3. Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over the rice, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste (even if the broth tastes a bit salty, it will not be salty when it is absorbed by the rice). Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (do not stir again).
  4. Cook the rice over low heat for 18 to 20 minutes, moving the pan around and rotating it so that the rice cooks evenly.
  5. Lay the shrimp on top after 10 minutes and turn them when they have become pink on the first side. Add a little more hot stock toward the end if the rice seems too dry and you hear crackly frying noises before it is done. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large piece of foil.

INDIA

Cauliflower Potato Curry, Aloo Gobi

This curry is one of the most popular vegetable dishes across India and Pakistan. It’s filling, simple, and features many of the classic Indian spices and flavors. It’s origins lie in the Punjab region of Northern India, and has been of course changed and adapted by the many regions in which it’s prepared! This recipe is a good place to start.

recipe adapted from the Guardian

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. nigella seeds (caraway)
  • 350g waxy potatoes, cut into rough 2.5cm dice
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets and chunks of stalk slightly larger than the potato
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 4 tbsp. ginger garlic paste (or 4 garlic cloves, crushed and 1 tbsp. grated ginger)
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes, roughly chopped, or 5 chopped fresh tomatoes and 1 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted in a dry pan and ground
  • ½-1 tsp. medium chilli powder
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 2-4 small green chillies, slit along their length
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp. methi (fenugreek)
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • juice of ½ a lime
  • small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a wide, lidded pan over a medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the cumin and nigella seeds and cook for a few seconds until they pop, then add the potatoes and sauté until golden. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and repeat with the cauliflower, then scoop this out into a separate bowl.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add a little more oil if necessary, and add the onion. Cook until soft and golden but not brown, then stir in the ginger garlic paste and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, ground coriander, chili and turmeric and cook, stirring regularly, until the oil begins to pool around the side of the pan.
  3. Add the potatoes back in along with the fresh chillies and salt, bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and a good splash of water, cover and cook until both are tender, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick, and adding more water if necessary.
  4. Take off the heat, stir in the fenugreek and garam masala and leave for 10 minutes, then stir in the lime juice and fresh cilantro before serving
  5. Serve with plain basmati rice or naan.

We hope you enjoy these dishes! Here are a few of our other travel-inspired recipes: