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One National Dish You Need To Know About From…

If you look up a country’s national dish, the answer you get will almost always surprise that country’s residents. Truly, nobody knows the dish that represents a country the most more than its people, and even that answer is something that will vary from family to family. A Mexican abuela could swear to you that her tamales are the most authentic you’ll ever try; a Palestinian teta will promise that her Msakhan is better than her neighbours’; an Italian nonna will guarantee that her ravioli beats anything you’ll find in a local restaurant… the list goes on.

I’ve spoken to some friends that come from a range of different nationalities about what they believe is the dish that best represents their country.

Greece & Cyprus

I should be the first to know that lumping these two countries’ foods together is not always the best idea, but in this case, it actually makes sense. Loukmades are eaten in both Greece and Cyprus, and really, a lot of the foods eaten in both of these countries overlap. Loukmades are best described as deep fried doughnut balls. They’re crunchy and golden on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, and drenched in a delectable syrup. Some people in Greece swear that they should only be eaten with honey, other people top them with nuts, but I personally believe that the simpler the better.

I can only personally speak for Cyprus. One of the oldest places to serve Loukmades is in Nicosia, the capital city. It’s a small, quaint shop off the side of the highway, with minimal seating, cash only, and offering up a selection of only 3 or 4 desserts. A Cypriot grandma stands in the open kitchen, rain or shine, piping in small bits of batter into the hot oil, straining them and tossing them in a vat of sugar syrup. Best served warm, these are addictive and indulgent, and are something I will never get tired of savouring every last bite of.

If you want to try a more modern take on Loukmades, head to Yeeros!

The Philippines

I spoke to Irah, who runs the food blog Foodstagram.ie, and is from the Philippines. A lot of people will say that the Philippines’ national dish is Adobo, either in chicken or pork form, and whilst this dish is undoubtedly delicious, Irah believes that there is another Filipino dish that needs to be celebrated.

“Kare Kare is a dish that needs to be on the pedestal when we talk about Filipino dishes. It’s a peanut-based meat and vegetable stew – it’s thick, nutty, savoury sauce holds its weight amongst hundreds of Filipino stews.

The dish comes in many iterations but traditionally, it consists of ox tail and tripe, loaded with veggies like long beans, aubergines, banana blossom and bok choy. One thing’s certain, it’s not a full meal when Kare Kare isn’t accompanied with bagoong (shrimp paste) and rice.”

If you’re a satay lover, Kare Kare is the dish for you.

Mexico

one dish you need to know about from mexico

I spoke to Omar about what he believes to be the best representation of Mexico.

“Mole is my favorite dish, the one that always transports me to my home and the meals lovingly made by my mom. It is a unique and complex flavor that represents the very essence of Mexican cuisine. Mole is made with a variety of carefully selected ingredients combined in a rich sauce that can include over 20 ingredients, including chilies, spices, chocolate, fruits, nuts, and more.

But what makes mole so special? It’s its history, its tradition, and its ability to evoke memories of family and home. For many Mexicans, mole is a dish served on special occasions and festivities. Its preparation can take hours or even days, as each family has its own secret recipe passed down from generation to generation. Mole has a smooth texture and a complex, deep flavor that combines sweet, salty, and spicy notes in perfect harmony. When you taste it, you are transported to the streets of Oaxaca, Puebla, or any corner of Mexico where mole is a true culinary masterpiece.

For me, mole is much more than a simple dish. It is a profound connection to my roots, a reminder of my childhood and the meals shared around the family table. Every time I savor that delicious mole, I feel how my mom’s love and dedication merge in every spoonful.”

Palestine

Of course, as a Palestinian, the two dishes people always associate with us are hummus and falafel. While these two are certainly delicious from anywhere in Palestine, they are predominantly Levantine dishes. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine all have their own takes on hummus and falafel, which is why the dish I think best represents Palestine is Msakhan. The two ingredients that stand out the most are sumac, and olive oil. Sumac is a crimson spice that is very tangy, and the flavour it adds to Msakhan is what makes it different to just a regular chicken dish. Olive oil is symbolic of Palestine – there are olive trees everywhere in Palestine, and it is one of our most popular exports, and Msakhan is the embodiment of celebrating these two ingredients.

Msakhan can be made one of two ways. The traditional way begins with a layer of taboun bread, which is an extremely thin flatbread – this soaks up all the goodness from this dish. It’s then layered with soft, sweet caramelised onions that are cooked down in a healthy amount of olive oil and sumac. It’s topped with cut up pieces of chicken, and traditionally eaten with your hands. The second way uses the same ingredients, but is the quicker way to make it when you’re having Msakhan for a midweek dinner – the chicken and onions are layered inside the taboun bread, which is then rolled and toasted, so it looks like a wrap.

If you want to try a modern take on Msakhan, Shaku Maku serve some delicious Msakhan Rolls that you have to taste!

India

For those who don’t know, Indian cuisine differs across its different regions. Food from Kerala is different to that of Mumbai, to that of Goa, and so on. With regards to Southern India, I spoke to Nikita about what she believes is a dish that represents that region best.

“Dosas are a staple in every South Indian household. It’s key ingredients are black gram and rice which is made into a batter and then fried like a really thin crispy crepe. Usually made for breakfast it comes in different forms – my personal favourite being the masala dosa stuffed with potato and coconut chutney and/or sambar on the side. It also comes plain or with cheese and sometimes with a twist of chicken or paneer stuffing.

In a few places, you’ll find dosas that are stuffed with Nutella, but I’m not a fan. It’s debated as to where the dosa originally came from – Karnataka or Tamil Nadu, but as a South Indian that’s from neither of these states I care less about its history and more about where I can find the best crispy dosa around! Every South Indian state has its own recipe for what goes inside the dosa and it’s also known as dosha or dosai in some states.”

Indian Tiffins has some delicious dosa for you to try!

Article by Sara Abdulmagid

I’m a Palestinian who grew up in Cyprus and moved to Dublin in 2013, so I’ve had a mishmash of different cultures and cuisines surrounding me my whole life. I’m an avid foodie, and after realising that life as a lawyer was not for me, I studied media and became a radio host for Dublin City FM. I’m now writing for TheTaste full time, but I also have my own food blog where you can find a mixture of restaurant reviews and the occasional recipe. I talk a lot about being Palestinian; to be honest, I talk a lot in general. That’s why I did radio!

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