Delicious But Lesser Known Dishes From 25 Countries

By Rohin Raj on Feb 26, 2016
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Let’s face it folks. No one likes to come in second. No matter how close you are to that cousin or how many years you’ve been pally with that dear friend, being overshadowed by others does smart a bit. Okay, smarts a lot in fact! But the point is that the path taken is indeed more crucial than the end result. The experience one gains helps in building character and eventually is what defines you. Nothing describes the intricacies of life like a dish prepared by a chef. The love and passion poured into it is what powers life as we know it.

So here’s a list of all the dishes that have been dethroned by their more popular peers, but still have been able to carve out a niche for themselves as far as taste matters.

1. Osaka, Japan - Nabemono

Image Source: Hajime Nakano/Flickr

Nabe are a variety of Japanese hot pot dishes like stew and soups usually served during the winters. So basically various vegetables, choice of meat like pork, beef or chicken and noodles are cooked in a pot filled with delicious soup. It makes up for an extremely healthy and protein-rich diet with a sumptuous flavor. In fact a version of Nabe, Chankonabe, is the traditional food of the Sumo wrestlers. So you see Japan is much more than just sushi and ramen!

Want to learn more about the city? Here is a list of things to do in Osaka.

2. Lyon, France Salade - Lyonnaise

Image Source: Danielle Fenske/Flickr

Gastronomy giant France has quite a few big-shot dishes and cities up its sleeve. But no other city pulls its weight like Lyon does in the field of salads and sauces. With dishes like crepes and croissants at the lips of every tourist heading to France, it’s easy to forget the country’s favourite salad The Salade Lyonnaise. A mouth watering combination of lettuce, dandelions, bacon, eggs and Lyon’s special sauces, all that one manages to say after finishing it is ‘Merci’.

3. San Sebastian, Spain - Pintxos

Image Source: Katina Rogers/Flickr

Leave it to the Basque people of Spain to pick up a great dish and make it legendary! Pintxos consist of small slices of bread onto which a variety of ingredients like stuffed peppers, meats, seafood, tortilla or croquettes are added and finally a toothpick is inserted to hold everything together. The best Pintxo is served in beautiful San Sebastian, which incidentally is the second city with the most Michelin stars per capita in the world!

4. Bologna, Italy - Mortadella di Bologna

Image Source: jeffreyw/Flickr

The land of pasta, spaghetti and pizza has yet another tasty delight to give to us. The city of Bologna is known for the best cooked pork sausage in Italy. Mortadella is their signature cold cut sausage which is minced in a mortar with spices, cubes of fat and cheese. It is the finest meat imaginable for sandwiches and lasagnas. And that my friend is no ‘baloney’. Pun intended. Heh.

You might want to know about these Must try Italian Dishes other than Pizza.

5. Lucknow, India - Kebabs

Image Source: Rajan Manickavasagam/Flickr

The City of Nawabs has a rich culinary history that manages to stand out like a beacon amongst India’s other mighty food powerhouses. Dishes like biryani, chaat and kulfi are all equally tempting and delicious but nothing speaks about Lucknawi food the way a plate of juicy tender kebabs do. Galauti, boti and tundey kebabs are some of the most famous ones that the city has to offer. Tundey actually means handicapped and the chef who made them first was also handicapped, thus the name of the dish. The kebab is a succulent mixture of 150 masalas and minced lamb meat or beef.

Here is a list of Street Food in India you do not want to miss out on

6. Hangzhou, China - Longjing Xia Ren

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Chinese food has made its mark all over the globe and dishes like chowmein, dumplings and roast duck are a craze everywhere. But the city of Hangzhou has some of the best food in China and one of them is the Longjing Xiaren. River prawns coated with egg white, are marinated in Shaoxing wine and then stir fried in boiling water infused with Longjing tea. The dish gives a crunchy texture and a light lingering fragrance of the Tea. Head over to Hangzhou to have China’s favourite version of this yummy delight.

7. Seoul, South Korea - Soondae

Image Source: YouTube

Though also called Sundae, believe me when I say that it has no relation to the familiar ice creamy delight. Soondae is made by steaming or boiling a pig or cow’s intestines stuffed with noodles, barley, scallions, soybean sprouts and oh yea blood!! A kind of blood sausage, it is a very popular street food in Korea, so much in fact that there is a neighborhood called Sundae Town in Seoul. So the next time in Korea, instead of gulping down an octopus tentacle, try out a Sundae accompanied with tteokbokki sauce and fries instead.

Interested in visiting Seoul? Here are the tours and activities to do in Seoul .

8. Montreal, Canada - Smoked Meat Sandwich

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

So before you start passing judgment and close this blog in protest just hear (read) me out first. The Montreal smoked meat is a delicacy in itself and when put between 2 slices of bread and served with pickle does unimaginable things to your tongue! A beef brisket is salted and cured with spices, coriander, garlic & mustard seeds for a week and then smoked to perfection. A fat slice is then hand cut and served with coleslaw and fries to make a perfect meal. Canada, thanks to its French connection, has a lot to offer in the foodie area but the sandwich is one such delicacy which before digging your teeth into you absolutely shouldn’t board your flight back.

9. Berlin, Germany - Spanferkel

Image Source: Stefan Muth/Flickr

The Germans deserve due credit, not only for their engineering feats, but also for their cooking marvels. The Spanferkel or Roast Suckling Pig is usually prepared for occasions and festivals like the Oktoberfest. So typically a 2-6 week old piglet is smeared with a spicy seasoning paste, barbecued and painted with Germany’s favourite flavours-German malt beer, ginger and honey. It goes amazingly well with German beer and should be a must try on every foodie’s bucket list. Das ist unglaublich gut!!!

Want to plan a visit? Learn about all the things to do in Berlin.

10. Beirut, Lebanon - Shish Barak

Image Source: Foodista/Flickr

Lebanese dishes like shawarma and falafel have become a regular at street food shops and carts everywhere around, especially after witnessing Iron Man himself munching one at the end of Avengers. But a lesser unknown delight, the Shish Barak, is a must try for Lebanese enthusiasts. A thin wheat dough packet is packed with ground beef & spices and then cooked in yogurt before being served with sauces. The dish has been around for centuries and is a reminder of the exquisite food of the Middle East.

11. Gaziantep, Turkey - Lahmacun

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Sorry Italy, your favourite export, the Pizza just doesn’t work over in Turkey, and that is because the locals have their very own Turkish Pizza the Lahmacun. It is basically a round, thin piece of dough with a topping of minced meat, veggies and a lot of herbs which is then baked to perfection. Served with pickles, peppers and tamarind paste, the dish has a huge following in Turkey and has been around for almost a thousand years and the city of Gaziantep excels in the particular dish!

12. Key West, USA - Key Lime Pie

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

USA is the home for people from all over the world and it is very difficult to pinpoint exactly one dish which one should have while over there. It has created and modified hundreds of dishes and can be credited with anyone. But the Key West area deserves due credit for coming up with this tantalizing dessert. It is made up of Key lime juice, egg yolks and condensed sweetened milk baked in a pie crust. A reaction between the milk and lime juice causes the filling to thicken without baking. The pie is an absolute must try for those with a sweet tooth and is a happy ending for any great meal.

13. Thessaloniki, Greece - Moussaka

Image Source: a_marga/Flickr

The Greek have infinite contributions to the world of art, literature and science, and of course food. Mediterranean or Greek cuisine has been a wild craze in the west, but though people are familiar with Greek salads and Gyros, a dish more popular in Greece is the Moussaka. The dish consists of 3 layers of potato/eggplant and minced meat topped with white sauce and each layer is individually cooked and then baked as a whole. Each layer offers a different flavour and is a must try for Mediterranean cuisine lovers.

14. Porto, Portugal - Francesinha

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

This little Portuguese sandwich that literally translates into Frenchie is a sandwich unlike any other. It has a wild following in Portugal with people squabbling about and comparing their favourite Frenchie restaurants. So a smoke cured pork sausage, steak, wet cured ham or roast meat is covered with molten gooey cheese, the very secret Francesinha sauce, placed between bread and served with fries to give an explosion of flavours in your mouth. The only thing known about the secret sauce is that beer and tomato are integral ingredients. Have a bite of Francesinha and try to figure out the secrets on your own.

15. Bangkok, Thailand - Tom Yam Goong

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Made famous by the Tony Ja starring action film of the same name, Tom Yam Goong is a hot and sour soup with plenty of herbs and spices in the broth. It is usually cooked with shrimp but can also include beef, chicken or pork. Tom is the boiling process while yam stands for spicy and sour salad. While soup looks feeble on a list with such bigwig dishes, reserve your comments until you’ve had a taste of the goodness which fills the bowl and the hole in your stomach.

Want to have a chill pill in Thailand? Here is a list of things to do in Bangkok.

16. Singapore - Mee Siam

Image Source: Alpha/Flickr

Mee Siam or Siamese Noodles is a very humble but yet popular dish of thin rice vermicelli served with spicy, sour or sweet gravy. The gravy is made up of tamarind, spice paste or taucheo and is garnished with eggs, sprouts, scallions and lime wedges. Though the dish is a simple one but the taste is excellent and provides all nutrients required in a full meal.

17. Oaxaca, Mexico - Tlayuda

Image Source: Raul Ramirez/Flickr

Leave the nachos and burritos aside and try out this traditional Oaxacan cuisine that is made up of toasted tortilla, covered in refried beans, avocado, cabbage and shredded chicken or beef or pork. To top it all is a generous amount of Oaxacan cheese and salsa sauce. How can any Mexican dish be complete without a bit of salsa zing right? They are very popular snack food and you can find a lot of variations throughout Mexico, but we especially recommend the Oaxacan one.

Chalk out your Latin-American escapade using TripHobo's Smart Itinerary Planner.

18. Moscow, Russia - Stroganoff

Image Source: Kim Mc./Flickr

The Iron curtain did hide a lot of Russian secrets from the rest of the world, but even then the Stroganoff just couldn’t stay hidden from us all. Lots of variations of the dish exist these days but the original one can still be found in Moscow. It is basically a dish of sautéed pieces of beef mixed in a sour cream sauce, bouillon, mustard and topped with onions and tomato paste. Try the Stroganoff with Russian vodka and you might just feel the Rasputin rise within you.

19. Havana, Cuba - Frita

Image Source: Edsel Little/Flickr

When in Havana do manage to grab hold of a Cuban cigar and still more importantly the original Frita which is the best burger you can find anywhere. This Cuban burger consists of a seasoned ground pork and beef patty in between Cuban bread and with a topping of shoestring potatoes. Though you may similar burgers in USA, but nothing beats the original which is best when paired up with a Cuban puffed wheat milkshake.

20. Durban, South Africa - Bunny Chow

During the colonial period there was a lot of immigration from India to Durban and one of the dishes that was created in Durban was the Bunny Chow. Although the original was vegetarian, non-vegetarian versions exist now that consist of a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry. The curry is made from traditional recipes and the dish is served with side portions of chili, carrot and onion salad. It is a popular South African fast food and each year, the Bunny Chow Barometer is held in September to judge the best Bunny maker in Durban.

Interested in planning a visit to South Africa? Here is a list of things to do in Durban.

21. Rio De Janeiro, Brazil - Churrasco

Image Source: Zomato

Churrasco basically refers to grilled meat or beef, or a barbecue to be more specific. The meat, beef or pork is cooked in a churrasqueira (barbecue grill) with supports for skewers or spits. The meat is barbecued till it becomes tender soft and juicy and is then served with various sauces prepared in advance. The Brazilians love their barbecue and one can easily find shops and vendors selling a Churrasco on the Brazilian streets.

22. Lahore, Pakistan - Haleem

Image Source: Manal Khan/Flickr

Pakistan boasts of some incredible wonders when it comes to food, but nothing takes away the crown like a bowl of hot, piping Haleem. Basically a stew, it is prepared by slow cooking barley, wheat, minced meat and spices for almost 8 hours until the dish gives a paste-like consistency, blending in all the flavours to give its unique & delicious taste. Though it is especially famous during Ramadan, being a popular street food, Haleem can be found easily in Lahore throughout the year. Tasting it is a fundamental right of your Taste buds!!!

23. Tehran, Iran - Chelo

Image Source:

Iran or Persia as it was known in the ancient times has an enviable cultural history and they are credited with coming up or modifying some of the best and tastiest dishes found in the Middle East and the rest of the world. The Chelo is one such feat of the Iranians, and the beauty of the dish is that it’s common to see people fighting for the rice rather than the meat. At the top one finds plain buttery rice while the bottom is a crunchy golden crust of pure delight, the dish is accompanied by skewers of chicken (jojeh) or beef kebab and succulent grilled tomatoes.

Planning a trip to the Middle-East? Book your Accomodation using TripHobo's Hotel Booking Feature.

24. Yorkshire, England - Yorkshire Pudding

Image Source: Alpha/Flickr

First of all, just to make things clear, Yorkshire pudding is not a pudding! They are eaten as accompaniments to tea and Sunday meals. The English consider it to be the best part of their meal, and seeing how they cook it, deservedly so. A very delicate dish, making the pudding is a true test of one’s cooking ability. Add a morsel of beef & horse radish and they make a great canapé too! They are named after the city they originated in, and that is where you should head towards, to taste the best one.

25. Sana’a, Yemen - Kabsa

Image Source: Abdullah AlBargan/Flickr

Not many people are familiar with this particular dish or that it is Yemen’s favourite. The mixed rice dish originated in the country and has won hearts all over the Gulf. It is prepared with rice, vegetables, spices and meat of chicken, lamb, beef or camel. The meat is barbecued in a deep hole which remains covered while the meet cooks properly. The dish is then garnished and served with home-made Arabic tomato sauce.

So I guess many of these dishes might have taken you in by surprise. Now let your heart and stomach make all those travelling decisions for you and make it a point to visit all the food capitals of the globe. You never know just what dish awaits you at which corner of the World and where your taste buds might lead you to next.

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