Pepes ikan, or fish steamed in banana leaves, is one of Indonesia’s best dishes. Here’s how you can re-create this deliciously flavorful version of tuna pepes, thanks to our host Putu. Read on for more.
A salad featuring fresh coconut? Count us in! Sayur Urab, translated to mean “mixed vegetables”, is a classic Balinese dish that is perfect for anyone looking to spice up their salads in a flavorful and exciting way. Follow host Wayan’s recipe below for a delicious, healthy dish that will give you a glimpse into authentic Balinese cooking without having to leave your kitchen.
The lotus, or bua, is an important symbol in Thai culture as a sacred flower in Buddhist tradition. Within Thai cuisine, various parts of the lotus are eaten. With its abundance of minerals and vitamins, the lotus has several health benefits, such as increased bone density, healthier heart function, improved digestion, and better blood circulation. Ever wondered how you could cook lotus and make a delicious meal? Our host Pink in Bangkok shared with us her recipe for this deliciously savory traditional Thai dish, stir-fried lotus runners with shrimp. Read on for more.
If you’re looking to travel like a local and not like a tourist, you’ve come to the right place. Thanks to our amazing hosts in Thailand, we are bringing you a local tips destination guide that gives you the inside scoop on the best way to explore Bangkok like a local.
Here at Traveling Spoon, we strive to do our part in making the world a smaller place through meaningful travel experiences that encourage engaging experiences with locals and opportunities to dig deeper into understanding cultures and places that may be unlike our own. Read on for 7 ways to explore Bangkok like a local along with traveler tips, provided by our hosts and Bangkok residents, Pern and Lae.
Spanakotiropita, a cheesy version of the renowned Greek spinach pie, spanakopita, is a must-try dish when you visit Greece. Essential to creating that perfect flaky texture is setting the pie with layers of phyllo dough. Phyllo dough pies have a rich history rich built around tradition, practicality, and deliciousness. Back in the day, it was a farmer’s go-to lunch meal because the spinach, cheese, and flaky dough packed just the right amount of punch, in its own self-contained package, to last a day’s worth of strenuous labor. In this recipe, our host, Christina, perfects centuries of tradition, as inspired by her own grandmother’s pies, to make a delicious spinach pie that you can re-create in your own kitchen.
What are the real best things to do in Mumbai? Almost every travel site about Mumbai will tell you to visit the Elephanta Caves, Dhobi Ghat and the Bandra-Worli sea link. But Mumbai teems with a rich artistic, cultural and culinary scene beyond these major tourist sites.
For our guide to the Best Things to Do in Mumbai, we asked a local resident. What did she say? Cycle through Oval Maidan, taking in boys playing cricket in the humid afternoon, dine at a restaurant using sign language to order with your hearing-impaired waiter, catch the mad rush of the local train that transports millions every day, and visit a market guided by a local before returning to their home to enjoy a traditional Indian meal eaten with your hands.
Read on for a local’s guide to the best, un-touristy things to do in Mumbai and revel in the hidden gems that make up this frenetic, cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures in India. These are just a few things we as locals love about our city, and would want all those who visit to experience it as well. Come let us see what makes Mumbai so special.
Ramadan, a month of intense prayers and fasting currently being observed by Muslims worldwide (June 5 – July 5th, this year), is considered to be one of the five pillars of Islam. According to the Royal Embassy of Saudia Arabia:
“Ramadan, the month during which the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, begins with the sighting of the new moon, after which abstention from eating, drinking and other sensual pleasures is obligatory from dawn to sunset.”
However, there is also a very special meal after the fast that Muslims can look forward to, iftar. Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset. We recently shared with you one of our host’s favorite recipes for breaking the fast, Malaysian fish head curry. But iftar differs across Muslim communities around the world. Here are some of our favorite iftar traditions the span the globe!
In India, most Muslims break their fast with haleem because it is very filling. The preparation of haleem is considered to be an art as it is slow-cooked for hours together on firewood. The ingredients include meat, barley, pulses, pounded wheat, spices, especially kababchini (all spice) and ghee. The garnish includes fried cashews, golden fried onions and a slice of lime. Check out this recipe if you are curious!
In Pakistan, iftar is usually heavy, consisting mainly of sweet and savory treats such as jalebi. The jalebi is by deep-frying a wheat flour batter in pretzel or circular shapes, which are then soaked in sugar syrup.
Beguni is a must have recipe for Iftar in Ramadan in Bangladesh. Beguni is a Bengali snack made of eggplant which is sliced and battered before being either fried or deep fried in oil. We have also found a video recipe for you!
In Turkey, sugar and sweet foods symbolize happiness and goodwill, and no iftar is complete without sweets and candies during Ramadan. One the most beloved sweets since the Ottoman Empire, the baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey.
Happy Ramadan to everyone celebrating this month!
Gulai kepala ikanor, or fish head curry, is a popular dish in Malaysia, and it is widely served during family get togethers and occasions such as birthdays and during breaking of the fast. During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month currently being observed (June 5 – July 5), many Muslims fast from dawn until sunset and then enjoy a meal to break the fast. When we reached out to our hosts to collect recipes they use during the Ramadan holiday, we heard from host Halim in Kuala Lumpur, “[this is a] favorite family dish that is served during family get togethers such as birthdays and during breaking of the fast. It is one of my family favorites. I cook this when all my children gather at my house…I know a lot of Americans are not used to see a fish head being serving as a main dish, that is why I chose this dish for you to feature!” It’s true, while fish head is not a popular ingredient in many western dishes, the fish head is full of tender meat and flavor that creates incredible stews and curries. We love getting to feature some of the authentic favorite family dishes of our hosts around the world.
Read on to re-create this authentic fish head curry recipe yourself!
Malaysian Fish Head Curry (gulai kepala ikanor)
1 fish head (grouper or snapper), about 1 kg or 2.5 lb
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp cooking oil
2 tbsp or 1 oz of fish curry, mixed in 3 tbsp of water to make a paste
1/4 cup of tamarind soaked in 1 cup of water
3 cups coconut milk
3 tomatoes, cut in half
5 fresh red chilies
5 fresh green chilies
1.5 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
Ingredients for spice paste
15 dried chilies, soaked in hot water (use more or less for desired spice preference)
4-5 bulbs of shallots
2 garlic cloves, smashed
3 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
1 tbsp of galangal
2 tsp of shrimp paste
Clean the fish head. If you prefer cut them into smaller pieces. (The fish monger can do this for you). Mix in the salt. Set aside.
Blend the ingredients for the spice paste (you can use a large mortar and pestle or a Cuisinart). Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or a pot over medium-high heat. Add the spice paste mixture and fry for about 3 minutes or until fragrant and the oil separates.
Then add in the tamarind water (removing the tamarind) and coconut milk. Bring it to boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add in the okra, then the tomatoes. Next add in the red and green chilies. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Finally, add in the fish head. Increase heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
Pour into a large serving bowl and serve with white rice.
The coconut has been acknowledged as one of the most versatile fruits on the planet, and it has even been called the world’s most versatile superfood. Coconut milk, in particular, a creamy, non-dairy alternative made by processing coconut meat with water, is widely used as a food ingredient in many South and Southeast Asian countries. Coconut milk is so delicious and versatile that famous American actor Dustin Hoffman once said that “all you need to sustain life is coconut milk and sunshine.”
If you’re still not convinced of the power of coconut milk, here are five delicious Asian dishes where coconut milk plays an extremely important role of bringing the dish to life, check them out!
1. Tom Kha (Thailand)
Tom Kha is a spicy and sour hot soup from Thailand, and compared to its twin, Tom Yum, which is a clear broth with lemongrass as the leading spice, Tom Kha is clearly defined by its use of coconut milk. Here is a recipe for you to try!
photo courtesy of Akito-X
2. Nasi Lemak (Malaysia)
Widely considered to be the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. The name literally means “creamy rice” because the rice is soaked in coconut milk before it is steamed with the other ingredients. Often served with spicy sauce, cucumber, roasted peanuts, or fried eggs, Nasi Lemak is a dish that enjoys a wide popularity even in countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand.
Photo courtesy of mila0506
3. Watalappan (Sri Lanka)
Watalappan is a delicious sweet steamed coconut custard from Sri Lanka, and it is particularly popular amongst the Muslim community. With a taste that is heavily built on coconut, watalappan has become one of the must-have desserts in any special occasion such as a wedding in Sri Lanka.
Photo courtesy of Sajana D. Ratnayake
4. Laksa (Malaysia)
Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup in the Peranakan cuisine, which is a combination of Chinese and Malay cuisine. Based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk, the Penang Laksa has been ranked 7th out of the 50 most delicious food in the world by CNN in 2011.
Photo Courtesy of dion gillard
5. Halo-halo (The Philippines)
The name “halo-halo” is the Tagalog word for “mix mix”, so it should not be a surprise that halo-halo is a popular Filipino dessert made from sweet beans, sago, gulaman, tubers, fruits, and of course the coconut. As chef Leah Cohen describes, the idea is to mix everything together and eat it like a sundae. Here’s a video recipe for you to try!
Photo courtesy of dbgg1979
Nikujaga is a homey, delicious Japanese dish that is common in home kitchens. Niku means meat and jaga means potato, and that’s exactly what this simple meat and potato stew is. This recipe is from Traveling Spoon host Keiko in Kyoto. It’s quick enough that it can be whipped up for a weeknight meal and it’s very flexible. You can add more or less meat/onion/carrot/potato as you wish. Read on to re-create this authentic home cooked nikujaga recipe yourself!
Nikujaga – Japanese meat and potato stew
1 teaspoon oil (vegetable, canola or another neutral oil)
1 onion, sliced pole-to-pole in thin slices
1/3 – 1/2 pound meat, thinly sliced (beef or pork are most common but chicken can also be used. Paper thin pre-sliced meats can be purchased at many Asian grocery stores since they are commonly used in dishes like hot pot, shabu shabu, and pho)
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped in large chunks
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup dashi (Note: Packets of instant dashi can be easily found in Japanese grocery stores and many Asian grocery stores. Instant dashi is very common in Japanese homes and is convenient alternative to making it from scratch. It is sold as a powder that is dissolved in hot water (much like a boullion cube) or in packets that look like tea bags. Look for a brand with no msg. If you can’t find dashi, water or a mild beef or chicken stock can be substituted)
Note: Japanese home cooks use a perforated cooking lid called an otoshibuta, which is a placed directly on the cooking food and allows the heat to evenly distribute and the flavors to mix more effectively. Otoshibuta are commonly made of metal or wood but you can easily make one by cutting a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil into a circle just a bit smaller than your pot. Fold the circle into quarters and cut off the pointed end to create a hole from which steam can escape (like making paper snowflakes!)
1. Heat a deep skillet or large saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the onions and sauté until they start to soften. Add the potatoes and carrots and cook for a few minutes.
2. Add the meat, sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and dashi to the pot and stir to combine. Cover the cooking food with an otoshibuta (if using) and then cover the pot with the lid. Simmer for 15-25 minutes, until the meat is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender.
3. Taste the sauce and adjust the soy sauce, mirin and sugar as needed.
4. Serve with steamed rice.
View our host Keiko and book a meal with her to experience authentic home cooked Japanese cuisine on your next travels!