Dishes that will give your stomach a hug and push your worries away
Sometimes, all we really need is that one dish that reminds us of home, takes us into its arms, gives us a hug, and pushes our worries away: comfort food.
Every country around the world has its special dish, and we’re ready to try all of them. Here are some of our favorites from around the globe.
Mexico: Tacos de Guisado
Usually, Mexican mothers, grandmothers, and aunts will prepare tacos de guisado, or stewed tacos, during the day while their families are away, leaving the dish simmering on the stove. That way, family members can either eat them when they arrive home hungry from work or school, or the whole family can enjoy them together at day’s end.
Types of stewed tacos include fried pork fat (chicharrón), sausage and potato (longaniza con papa), chicken tinga (tinga de pollo), poblano chile with cream (rajas con crema), ground beef with carrots (picadillo), and beans with cactus (frijoles de la olla).
The US: Chicken & Waffles
Mention the combination of fried chicken on top of waffles bathed in syrup, and you’ll likely get some weird looks. So what’s the deal with this somewhat unusual combination of flavors? One origin story can be traced back to 1930s Harlem: When jazz musicians finished performing in the wee hours of the morning, they wanted a dish that was part dinner, part breakfast, and so chicken and waffles was born.
Today, the popularity of this combo has grown, with chains like Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles helping push it into the mainstream. Although this dish can be eaten any time, many continue in the tradition of those who invented it, eating the delectable combo in the early morning after a night out.
Israel: Matzah Ball Soup
There’s nothing quite more comforting than soup, and many cultures have their own soup dedicated to this very aim, whether chicken noodle, french onion, or tortilla. Head to Israel or any Jewish community in the world, however, and you’ll find there’s no competition: Matzah Ball soup holds the comfort food title.
Matzah balls are giant dumplings made of matzah meal, a traditional Jewish unleavened bread that’s also known as matzoh, that’s combined with eggs, water, and a fat such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat. The matzah balls are then plopped into a bowl of chicken soup and stirred with pure love.
There’s really nothing more comforting to a Spaniard—especially madrileños—than cocido, a traditional chickpea-based stew that can be made with chicken, Serrano ham, bacon, chorizo and/or pork belly and slow-cooked to perfection. The first cocidos are said to have originated among the Sephardic Jewish community of northern Spain in preparation for the Sabbath. Since then, the dish grew in popularity during the 19th and 20th centuries, especially in Madrid.
Cocido madrileño is usually eaten in two or three courses. Once the chickpeas, meat, and vegetables are cooked, the broth is separated and used to make soup, which is served as the first course. The rest of the ingredients become the main dish, usually served in two courses.
India: Curd Rice
Also known as Thayir Saddam, curd rice is a South Indian comfort food that’s easy to cook and even easier to tuck into. This dish is also called yogurt rice, as the word “curd” refers to unsweetened probiotic yogurt.
The base of this dish consists of rice, unsweetened or ‘sour’ yogurt, and seasonings like coriander, ginger, red and green chilies, mustard seeds, and salt. Other additions can include grated cucumbers or finely chopped garlic, and the rice is often served with papadum— seasoned flatbread—and/or pickles. Curd rice is usually eaten at the end of the meal to aid in digestion and counteract the spiciness of the main dish.