Food is an important part of everyone’s life: it helps to define cultures, brings families together, and gives us the energy we need to keep living. For some, fasting (deliberately refusing food) is a major part of their spiritual and religious life, and the end of a fast is celebrated by sharing a large meal with friends and family.

Many countries have their own cuisines and traditional dishes – for example, in England, a roast dinner is a must on a Sunday afternoon. Here are some traditional recipes that you might like to try.

 

Pad Thai - Thailand

Pad Thai is often served as a street food in Thailand, and can be made with chicken, pork, or tofu. It was first made popular in the country during World War II, and is now one of the national dishes.

This recipe serves four people.

Ingredients

  • 200 g rice noodles
  • 140 g frozen peas
  • 200 g frozen prawns
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 100 g beansprouts
  • small bunch of sliced spring onions
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 3 tablespoons roasted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
  • small bunch of coriander leaves

Method

  1. Boil the noodles for 3 minutes in a pan of water.
  2. Add peas and prawns and cook for one minute before draining and setting to one side.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan. Once hot, add noodles, prawns, peas, beansprouts, and spring onions. Make sure they are coated in the oil.
  4. Move the noodle mixture to the side and add beaten eggs, stirring them until cooked.
  5. Mix in the eggs with the noodles.
  6. Toss in peanuts, soy sauce, and sweet chilli sauce.
  7. Serve garnished with the coriander.

 

Chicken Jalfrezi - India

This popular dish was originally created as a quick way to use up leftovers, and uses a mixture of Chinese and South Asian techniques. It can be made as hot or as mild as you like by adding chilli powder or cream.

The following recipe serves four.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 450 g chopped chicken breast
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 fresh green chilli, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon grated root ginger
  • 3 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 400 g tins chopped tomatoes

Method

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Once hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove the chicken and set aside.
  2. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pan, and add onions and peppers.
  3. Once the vegetables have softened, add the garlic, ginger, chilli, and spices. Stir for 1 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and the cooked chicken to the mix.
  5. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for one hour.

 

Jollof Rice – West Africa

This rice dish is made all over the coast of West Africa, including countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, and The Gambia. Each place has its own way of cooking it, so feel free to experiment.

This recipe serves four.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken thighs or legs
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Fresh red chilli, to taste
  • 2 carrots, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 500 mL boiling water
  • 250 g rice, rinsed


Method

  1. First, season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a high heat, then fry the chicken until golden all over. Set the meat aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil and fry the onions until soft. Add in tomato puree, garlic, chopped tomatoes, and chilli. Cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Crumble the stock cube into the mixture and stir it in, then add the carrots and boiling water. Stir for 1 minute, then add the chicken.
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add the rice and cook for a further 20 minutes until the rice and carrots are soft.

 

Crêpes – France

These pancakes can be served either savoury or sweet – try adding cheese and ham for a filling lunch, or use chocolate and whipped cream for a dessert.

This recipe makes 6 crêpes.

Ingredients

  • 100 g (4 oz) plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 225 mL (8 fl oz) semi skimmed milk
  • 1 egg

Method

  1. Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the mix and add the milk and egg.
  3. Beat the wet and dry ingredients together to make a smooth batter.
  4. Heat a lightly oiled frying pan and add enough batter to coat the base. Make sure to tilt the pan for an even layer.
  5. Cook each crêpe for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is light brown – you can check this with a spatula.
  6. Loosen the sides with the spatula, then flip the crêpe to cook the other side.
  7. Serve hot with your choice of filling.

 

Baked Bananas - Cuba

This easy dessert is perfect for those looking for something sweet but easy to make, and is even a little healthier than the usual puddings.

This recipe serves four.

Ingredients

  • 6 bananas, sliced lengthways
  • 110 g dark brown soft sugar
  • 110 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 60 g chopped pecans
  • 75 g sultanas or raisins
  • 1 tablespoon brandy

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
  2. Lightly butter a 20 x 30 cm casserole dish and cover it with half of the banana slices.
  3. Sprinkle this layer with half of the sugar, butter, pecans, and raisins.
  4. Repeat the process for another layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, then allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle brandy over the top of the dish and serve.