What do you miss the most about traveling?
I, for sure, miss delicious exotic foods that I’m able to try everywhere I go. Without trying local food when traveling, it’s simply impossible to get the full experience and truly immerse yourself in the new culture.
My obsession with ethnic foods started when I first went backpacking around Southeast Asia. It’s there when I tried Asian delicacies, which have now become my favorite dishes I eat almost every day.
So, today I want to share some of my absolute favorite foods you need to try when traveling around Asia, so you could also discover unique flavors that you won’t get anywhere else in the world.
During my first visit to Bangladesh, while I was exploring Dhaka, the capital of the country, I kept seeing something that looked like little bowls of fried dough sold on every corner of the street. My curiosity took over, and I decided to give them a try. I found out that they were called panipuri, and the ingredients to make them are quite unique.
Traditionally, panipuri is made from tamarind chutney and flavored water called pani, for which you usually need mint and coriander leaves as well as some spices, including ginger, green chili, chaat masala powder, etc. Balls I fried until golden and are served with different sides, including chickpeas, green beans – whatever your heart desires.
Last year, I spent a few months in Sri Lanka. I went there as a member of an exchange program to help children learn French, so I worked as a foreign language teacher in a small rural school for about five months.
Devika, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sri Lanka was also the place where I tried my first appam – a pancake, which is made from fermented rice batter mixed with coconut milk. This dish is traditional for Sri Lanka and is served with different sides, but usually with curry or a vegetable stew. The beauty of appam is that it’s vegan and gluten-free, so it’s a safe option for a snack for everyone traveling around Sri Lanka.
How could I write about my favorite Asian street foods and not mention pho? This dish is also quite popular in America, but I believe that if you want to taste the real pho, you have to go to Vietnam.
As you might already know, pho is a traditional Vietnamese soup that comes from the northern Hanoi region. It consists of a broth (chicken, beef, some people put vegetable broth as a vegan or vegetarian option). The soup also traditionally includes rice noodles, fresh herbs, sometimes boiled eggs, bean sprouts, and lime wedges.
My personal favorite variation of pho is chicken broth combines with rice noodles, onions, chilies, broccoli sprouts, and some pieces of chicken. For me, it’s the best option for a cold rainy day because pho’s savory and hearty flavor is a perfect way to warm you up, no matter where you are.
I strongly encourage you to try all of these goods when traveling around Asia. Every one of these dishes also has local variations, and you cannot miss the opportunity to taste them all.
Surely, you can try all of these dishes in your local Asian restaurant, but what’s the point? They won’t be nearly as good as the ones you buy on the street in Vietnam or Sri Lanka. Being in that place where the dish was born intensifies the flavor of it and turns simple street food into an experience that you won’t get anywhere else.
Kate is a passionate writer and blogger who likes sharing her thoughts and experience. Currently, she is working as a digital marketing specialist and develops online business branding, you can check here. Feel free to contact her on Linkedin.