Half the joy of travelling is all the food you get to eat, from tapas to ramen, the world is full of flavours that are ready to be explored. However, with foreign travel being fraught with problems this summer, I have instead decided to explore a few cookbooks that champion foreign flavours so to con my body into thinking I’m abroad.
First stop: East and Southeast Asia
Having travelled around East and Southeast Asia, I can safely say there isn’t just one dish that embodies all the flavours there let alone all of Asia – so, I’ve had to split it in two.
I recently stumbled upon the rich, nutty and spicy flavours of Dan Dan Noodles courtesy of Pippa Middlehurst’s Dumplings and Noodles. Simple and easy, you’ll be able to devour a hot bowl of noodles in a matter of minutes. The straightforward steps that Pippa sets out will also allow you to customise your dish to your taste, whether it’s spicier or soupier, you get to decide! And it doesn’t stop there, with tutorials on how to make biang biang noodles, dumplings and Sichuan chilli oil, you can get creative with a range of Asian delicacies in your kitchen.
Second stop: South Asia
Most of us have either heard or visited the fountain of flavour that is Dishoom, and for those that haven’t it’s well worth the visit! However, if you are unable to visit or fancy a homecooked meal, Dishoom have released an AMAZING cookbook: Dishoom. Full of traditional Indian street food, curries and chai, as well as anecdotal stories, it truly takes you on an adventure through India.
Now to be honest, some of the curries do take some time to make, but as we know perfection cannot be rushed. And, at the end of my slog in the kitchen, I can say with certainty that the Ruby Chicken is the best curry I’ve EVER made (and I cook a lot of curries).
Third stop: Italy
Europe’s usually an easy getaway for many British travellers, but alike last year, it seems that the likelihood of a dip in the Med this Summer is next to nil. So instead, I looked to indulge my carb cravings with some traditional Italian pasta! I found Lidia Bastianich’s cookbooks and was immediately enticed by the plethora of recipes, safe to say my family and friends dodged yet another spag bol. Simple yet wholesome, I chose a recipe which consisted of penne pasta, spicy tomato sauce, rosemary and ricotta, and as you can imagine it was delicious.
I feel we so often get stuck in routine when it comes to pasta dishes despite it being so versatile. So, why not start experimenting?
Fourth and final Stop: Africa
Africa is a vast continent with an array of different recipes, so alike Asia it’s hard to specify one dish, let alone cookbook, for the whole continent. Thankfully though, Hawa Hassan and Julia Turshen have created In Bibi’s Kitchen, which incorporates recipes from the eight different African countries that touch the Indian Ocean: Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, and Comoros. Meaning we can all eat our way around the Eastern coast of Africa!
This cookbook came into much acclaim in 2020 and the recipe that pulled me into buying the book was Ma Kauthar’s Mango Chile Sauce from Kenya. If you are a chilli sauce fiend, this is a must try! A beautiful balance between tangy, spicy and sweet it’s the perfect accompaniment to any meal. The book moves through a range of cultures and cuisines but with a familial touch that is emotionally enriching.
For those of you who have managed to getaway, lucky you. But for those of us who are bound to the British Isles, I hope you find some solace in any or all the cookbooks and their recipes! Be sure to share your creations with us by tagging us on Twitter or Instagram @JellybeanAgency – as we all love a bit of food envy here!