With the trend of eating global fusion foods catching up, it is not strange to eat a hash brown for breakfast, a bowl of spaghetti for lunch and a Thai curry for dinner. However, because a few cuisines have gained popularity early on, some have been pushed to the periphery and need to be revived globally. Moving over Chinese take-outs and American cheeseburgers, gastro geography is a huge trend where people prefer to travel to countries or districts to experience local and authentic foods.
Here are a few lesser known cuisines we believe haven’t hogged the culinary limelight like they deserve to:
One of the least-visited countries in South America, this country has one of the best dishes to offer as the cuisine here is combination of Spanish cuisine and Aymara traditions with later influences from various European countries. The staple food of Bolivians include corn, potatoes and quinoa which have been combined with Spanish staples like rice, wheat and different cuts of meat like beef and pork. The meals here are usually carb-heavy with a domination of potatoes, grain and pastry so the native drinks are perfect for washing down the heavy carbs. A few native drinks which mustn’t be missed are mocochinchi (peach cider) and yungueno (made of sugar syrup and orange juice).
Must-try dishes: Salteñas (stuffed pastry), Anticucho (flame grilled cow heart), Silpancho (layers of rice, meat and potatoes), Sopa De Mani (meat stew)
The Argentinean cuisine, though among lesser known cuisines in gastronomy is a perfect example of fusion food as it explores amalgamations of original Mediterranean flavours but draws traces of inspiration from European countries like Spain and Italy. Before European settlement, Native Americans dominated Argentina and grew squash and melons which are still used in their traditional dishes.
The diet of Argentina is beef-oriented and the term “carne” which literally means meat is used to denote beef. Barbecued beef and steaks form the staple diet of most people. Other than that, the country is blessed with cereals, grains, fruits and vegetables of all kinds which allow diversity. Drawing inspiration from the Mesopotamians, the Argentineans are experts in cooking local river fish like silverside, surubi and boga. Try out the famous locally-made wines like Malbec and Bonarda with your meals.
Must-try dishes: Matambre arrollado (thinly sliced beef steak), morcilla (blood sausage), empanadas (meat stuffed pastry
Azores is a volcanic archipelago of nine islands which lies in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and isn’t very popular beyond the mother country, Portugal. However, the native food is quite different from Portuguese cuisine and is complex, hearty and peasant-style. Comprising of spicy stews, exquisitely-cooked variety of seafood and simple desserts, this cuisine is a boon for anyone with a huge appetite. However, the gastronomy offered in these islands isn’t restricted to tradition and the modern cooks are going out on a limb to create fusion masterpieces which sing beautifully of Portugese and Spanish influences. In Azores, is it recommended to have vinho de cheiro (wine), pineapples, locally made creamy cheeses and orange pekoe tea.
Must-try dishes: chicharro (mackarel) with black-eyed pea salad, Black sausages (contains cinnamon), Cozido das Furnas (stew)
Iran, previously known as Persia, is home to one of the best cuisines across the world as their dishes are slow-cooked affairs which means that they put in a lot of effort into making them. A perfect blend of the East and the West, this Middle Eastern cuisine is definitely worth visiting Iran for. Rice is a predominant grain along with meats like lamb and chicken. The Persian foods usually have a distinct sour taste which is a result of using herbs like lemongrass and dried lime. Generous seasoning of saffron, cinnamon and parsley can be found on most dishes to get a more accentuated flavour. Doogh, a yogurt based drink is very popular and used to cut the spice and sourness experienced in the food.
Must-try dishes: Fesenjoon (pomegranate combined with meat balls),Bademjan (Eggplant and tomato stew), Tahdig (Crunchy fried rice), Zaban (dish made of beef tongue)
When it comes to foods from Russia, we hardly look beyond vodka and give the cuisine the respect it deserves. Russia defines glocal (global+local) in the correct sense as its style of cooking is traditional but the country adopts influences from Europe, Southeast Asia and Middle East. Soups, both cold and hot, and various salads respecting the native produce like cereals, mushrooms, berries, honey and millet have played an important part in the cuisine. Breads and pastries also form an important part of the Russian diet as they are perfect accompaniments to the soup. On your food trail in Russia, try out meads (strong alcoholic beverages) and Sbiten (made of honey and spices).
Must-try dishes: Pelmeni (dumplings filled with meatballs), Paskha (cheese dessert), Syrniki (fried curd fritters in apple sauce/honey)
We hope this article helps you discover lesser known cuisines and appreciate them. Be a bit more adventurous when it concerns the palate.
Written byNiharika Nandi
Niharika Nandi is a media trainee who loves exploring the fields of photography and baking simultaneously. She’s a self-proclaimed professional bathroom singer and believes that caffeine runs through her veins. This adrenaline junkie loves to pen down a million thoughts gushing through her mind at any instant and is very vocal about LGBTQ rights.