International Comfort Food
By: Ms. Hala Abdoun for BQ Plus via Zomato
Originally Published for the January 2017 Issue
Publication Source: BQ-Magazine.com
Winter is here! A relatively warm winter but, this is the season we crave something to make us feel all warm and fuzzy. It’s why they call it comfort food!
Let’s discover some of the world’s favorite comfort foods and where to get a taste of it.
Spaghetti Carbonara – Italy
Can’t start this list without the world’s favorite dish, pasta! And the one Italians call to for comfort is spaghetti carbonara. Originating from Rome in the 20th century, this dish has comforted the masses as it has evolved in different parts of Italy and in different forms of pasta.
Sticking with the classics, the spaghetti dish is made with eggs, cheese, bacon and seasoned with black pepper to taste. You can’t go wrong with a classic!
Slurp on some spaghetti carbonara at Lo Spaghetto in Al Saad.
Pho – Vietnam
Not only is pho the star of Vietnamese food, but it’s one of the most popular soup dishes in the world. Pho dates back to the 20th century and was introduced to the world through migration and tourism.
Pho consists of rice noodles, either chicken or beef, cooked in broth with a few herbs and seasonings. It’s all the basics in one pot!
Try a bowl of pho at The Rice Room in The Gulf Mall.
Poutine – Canada
Ask any Canadian and they’ll tell you that poutine is what warms their soul. Originating in Quebec in the 1950s, the word “poutine” is French for “mess”. Who knew messy can be so good? Canada did!
This messy street food quickly took over the nation with just three ingredients. Fried potatoes topped with cheese curds and gravy. That’s it!
Get messy with platter of poutine at Lord of the Wings at The Pearl-Qatar.
Pav Bhaji – India
Some say dosas, others say choles, we say, “can we have them all?” Indian cuisine is so beautifully diverse, we can’t pick just one. However, pav bhaji was the dish that stood out from almost every corner of India.
Potato based vegetable stew, all mashed together with fragrant spices and served with light, fluffy buns.
Get yourself some finger licking pav bhaji at Saravanaa Bhavan in Al Ghanim.
Koshary – Egypt
Talk about making something out of nothing! In the 19th century, whatever was leftover in the pantry at the end of the month, got all mixed together to make room for the new. And from there, koshary was born.
Today, it’s the ultimate comfort food in Egypt, sold from street carts to five-star restaurants. It started with rice, lentils and pasta topped with spicy sauce, vinegar and crispy onions. It has since evolved to include chick peas, garlic and oil.
Grab a bowl of koshary at Layali Al Qahira in Souq Waqif.
Macaroni and Cheese – USA
Whoever came up with this baked dish, thank you! Of course, this isn’t a historically American dish but it has become one over the last couple of centuries with the flood of immigrants altering their own favorite comfort foods.
With small pasta and a whole lot of cheddar cheese topped off with some bread crumbs and baked in the oven for about 15 minutes. The end result is crispiness on the outside and gooey goodness on the inside. This is why America is great!
Try a fishy take on the classic at Red Lobster in Fereej bin Mahmoud.
Kare Kare – Philippines
The thick stew of kare kare is another rendition of putting everything in one pot. Originating from Pampanga and spreading across the islands, kare kare is a stew like no other.
It starts with a base of stewed oxtail and can have anything from calf feet to leftover meat, and seafood to all kinds of vegetables. Thickened with rice and topped with peanut sauce, this stew brings the essence of comfort in a bowl.
Try a bowl of kare kare at Max’s Restaurant in Al Saad.
Harees – Qatar
Coming back to Qatar, many don’t realize harees has history. This simple wheat dish dates back to the 10th century as documented in ‘The Cooking Book’ by Ibn Sayyar Al Warraq. Many even say there’s evidence of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) eating harees.
Harees is not soup, it can fall between a stew and porridge. After simmering pre-soaked wheat in water, it can be made savory by adding meat before it’s strained and beaten to a thick consistency then seasoned to taste. Make it sweet by excluding the meat and season with cinnamon and sugar.
Discover the flavors of harees at Muglat Harees Al Waldah on Salwa Road.All images courtesy of BQ Plus Magazine unless otherwise noted.