Gazpacho is a cold, raw vegetable soup from Spain that includes tomato (the main ingredient), onions, cucumber, bell peppers, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, stale bread, herbs, and water. Tradition has it that you should add garnishes such as croutons and cut tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, or bell peppers. There are also modern variations which come in diverse colors and often replace the tomatoes and bread for avocados, cucumbers, parsley, watermelon, grapes, meat stock, seafood, and other ingredients.
Samosas are triangular, semilunar, or tetrahedral stuffed pastry shells. The stuffing can vary, and though some versions include ground lamb or chicken, the vegetarian version typically includes spiced potatoes, onions, peas, coriander, and lentils. Generally speaking, samosas are served as appetizers accompanied by chutney, and have been popular in places such as South Africa for centuries. They most likely originated in Central Asia and were brought to India by Muslim traders and soldiers.
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry that's layers are filled with chopped nuts which are sweetened with honey or syrup. While the origins of the dessert are unclear (many ethnic groups have claimed baklava as their creation), the strongest evidence is that it originated in Turkey. Other claims declare that the dish comes from ancient Mesopotamia, that al-Baghdadi described it in his 13th-century cookbook, and that it was a popular Byzantine sweet. Regardless of where baklava really originated, you can get delicious versions at many coffee shops in Istanbul.
The word ratatouille originates from the French verb "touiller," meaning to toss food. Back in the day, it was a poor farmer's meal served in the area around what is now Nice, prepared in the summer with whichever vegetables were being harvested. In its simplest form, it would include zucchini, tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, onions, and garlic, all tossed and sautéed in olive oil. These days, eggplants are frequently added to the mix.
Couscous is a dish of the Berber cuisine that dominates not only Morocco, but also Tunisia and Algeria. It is made of semolina, which is sprinkled with water and rolled with the hands to form small pellets. Then, these pellets are sprinkled with dry flour to keep them separate, and then sieved. Couscous is usually served with either a vegetable or meat stew spooned over it.
Massaman curry is frequently referred to as "red curry," and though the traditional version includes beef, many opt for a vegetarian version that uses the same curry paste and substitutes tofu for the meat. The dish also includes coconut milk, roasted peanuts or cashews, and potatoes, as well as cinnamon, star anise, palm sugar, chile sauce, and tamarind sauce. Rumors say that Indian Buddhist monks came over to Thailand in the 18th century for a palace feast honoring King Rama I, bringing him this curry.
Bunny chow is fast food, South African style. Often referred to as simply "bunny" or "kota" (meaning "quarter"), it consists of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. Though the exact origins remain up for debate, one story says that a restaurant run by an Indian caste called the Banias first created the dish as a way to serve take-away food to excluded people during Apartheid. Back then, Indians were prohibited to enter certain shops and cafés.
Mujaddara is a Middle Eastern dish consisting of cooked lentils, groats, wheat or rice, and garnished with roasted onions that have been sautéed in vegetable oil. It is equally good hot or cold, and can be served on its own or with other vegetables and side dishes. Fund in Syrian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Jordanian, north Saudi, and Israeli diets, it is popular among Jewish communities throughout the Middle East, who usually eat it twice a week — hot on Thursday evening, and cold on Sunday.
"Papa a la Huancaína" literally means Huancayo-style potatoes, Huancayo being a city in the Peruvian highlands. Sort of a Peruvian equivalent to German kartoffelsalat, this is a boiled potato salad, covered with a Huancaína sauce, which is spicy and creamy. The dish is an integral part both of everyday and holiday cuisine, and Peruvians usually eat it as an appetizer, serving it cold over green salad and at times, including black olives, corn, and hard-boiled egg as garnishes.
Arepas are traditional in Colombia, Venezuela, and other Latin American countries. They are made with cornmeal or flour and are often filled with a number of savory toppings such as eggs, tomatoes, salad, cheese, or any number of meats and fish. In other areas, you may find sweet toppings, such as honey. There are so many variations that you can try a different arepa just about every day during your travels.
Zongzi is a traditional Chinese dish that consists of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings, wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, and cooked by steaming or boiling. The practice of wrapping a zongzi properly is passed down through families, and they're traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet. As you bite the leaf-wrapped rice, you vicariously become part of the rich Chinese history and family tradition.
Ketupat, or packed rice, is a kind of dumpling that originated in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. It is prepared with rice that has been wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch and boiled. Traditionally, ketupat is served with rendang or as an accompaniment to satay (chicken or beef or lamb in skewers) or gado-gado (mixed vegetables with peanut sauce).