There are so many reasons to love learning a new language. It opens the door to new cultures, new people, and exciting new places. And while we're certainly in it for the love of language, we're also in it for the love of food.
Any language-learning addict or world traveler will tell you that exploring cuisine from around the world is an adventure in itself. Every dish is packed with local flavor and steeped in cultural tradition, allowing you to get acquainted with a region or culture from a different perspective. We've rounded up 10 mouth-watering recipes from around the globe, designed to celebrate world food and inspire you to get out there and explore. Break out a world map, tie on your apron, and get cooking.
Start your meal with a classic Lebanese appetizer. This baba ghanouj recipe is a family favorite from the folks at Mama's Lebanese Kitchen, ensuring that your meal is as authentic as it is delicious. Baba ghanouj is a cold appetizer made with fire-roasted eggplants and tahini sauce, and it's a classic Middle Eastern dish. Serve it with a side of pita bread and brush up on your Arabic for an extra twist of culture during dinner conversation.
2. Pollo guisado.
White sand beaches, lush rainforests, the trails of Pico Duarte - our culinary journey takes us next to the Dominican Republic. Pollo guisado (stewed chicken) is a popular dish among Dominicans, making a regular appearance on the family dinner table in most homes. It's a simple recipe, it's packed with flavor, and it's affordable - what more could you ask for? Fun fact: pollo guisado is a part of the Dominican Republic's staple dish, La Bandera Dominicana.
3. Soup joumou.
Haitian cuisine is a brilliant blend of influences from Spanish, French, and African cooking styles, resulting in a bold, flavorful cuisine unique to the island. Bring a little Haitian flavor to your table with this popular soup joumou recipe. There are many variations to this traditional meal, but the savory soup will always be served piping hot with a side of bread. Soup joumou is also served as a symbol of freedom on New Year's Day in Haiti, commemorating Haitian independence in 1804. Want to learn more about Haitian culture and language? Check out Mango's Haitian Creole course for full immersion.
4. Water chestnut cake.
In Cantonese culture, ma tei gow (water chestnut cake) is a popular snack, serving up just the right amount of sweetness. You'll also encounter water chestnut cake on the menu for Chinese New Year, but it's enjoyed year-round in Hong Kong. Why choose to add water chestnut cake to your menu? It's simple to make, it keeps in the fridge for up to a week, and the sweet, savory balance pleases nearly any palate. If you're hoping to perfect your Cantonese pronunciation in time to serve up ma tei gow, set aside some time to learn with Mango's Cantonese course - you'll be a pro before you know it.
5. Rhubarb sorbet.
When you think of Polish cuisine, you likely think of pierogi, sausages, and goulash. You wouldn't be wrong - but Polish cuisine is more than just meat and potatoes. A hearty Polish meal also draws inspiration from seasonal vegetables, herbs, and spices to create its many delicious traditional meals. Here's an awesome recipe that took us by surprise: Rhubarb Sorbet. Rhubarb is a popular vegetable in Poland, showing up in recipes like Rhubarb and Honey drinks and Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam. Add this simple sorbet to your table as a refreshing dessert or light snack between courses.
6. Kabuli palaw.
Afghan cuisine is all about creating dishes rich in color, flavor, and aroma. Afghanistan's national dish is no exception. Kabuli palaw is a steamed rice dish with lentils, lamb, carrots, and raisins. You'll bake these ingredients together and cover the meat with the rice mixture. In Afghan culture, rice dishes are more than just a meal. Families dedicate time and thought into preparing rice-based dishes, and they're considered the most important part of a meal. Take your time with preparing this delicious dish, and enrich the experience by diving into Mango's Pashto course and learning more about Afghanistan's fascinating culture.
7. Danish rum balls.
Everyone loves a good Danish dessert - and this recipe for romkugler (rum balls) will round out your global feast. A popular dessert or snack in Denmark, Danish rum balls (also known as cocoa balls, also known as truffle balls!) were originally created by bakers as a solution for the unsold, unused bread and pastry at the end of the day. For this recipe, take a tip from Danish bakers and use your cake or pastry leftovers to create a new - and pretty simple - favorite dessert for you and your guests. Can't get enough Danish in your life? Learn more about the Danish language and culture with Mango.
8. Kuih Bingka Ubi.
Across Malay cuisine, coconut milk is a favorite ingredient. Coconut milk gives Malay dishes a rich, creamy texture, so whether you're whipping up nasi lemak or sayur lodeh, have coconut milk on hand and plenty of it. Bingka Ubi is essentially a tapioca cake (also called cassava), and it's a simple dessert that captures the signature sweet and salty combination of Malay cuisine. Whip this dessert up and encourage your dinner guests to learn even more about the Malay language and culture - there are more delicious foods where that came from!
Raise a glass with your guests the Portuguese way - with a glass of poncha. Poncha, or Madeiran punch, is a traditional drink from the island of Madeira and it's as easy to make as it is to drink. While the Portuguese will mix it with a mexelote, you can simply use a muddler to mix these simple ingredients to perfection. Fun fact: Poncha inspired Brazil's national cocktail, caipirinha. We absolutely insist you make a point of trying both.
10. Chè Đậu Đỏ Bánh Lọt.
The last stop on our World Food Tour? Vietnam. This traditional Vietnamese soup roughly translates to red bean, tapioca noodle, and coconut sweet soup. Chè is a sweet Vietnamese dessert usually made with beans and sticky rice. This variety is a favorite for its sweet, coconut flavor and fairly simple recipe. In Vietnam, desserts are often served as drinks or soups, and range from salty to sweet. Be brave and dive into a Vietnamese language course to learn how to pronounce Chè Đậu Đỏ Bánh Lọt for yourself - we know it looks scary, but it'll roll off your tongue in no time.
From Poland to Lebanon to the Dominican Republic, you've traveled the world over - all for the love of food. Experiencing cuisine from around the world is a great way to spark curiosity about a new language or culture. With Mango, you can choose from over 70 languages and quickly build conversation skills, cultural knowledge, and increase vocabulary. Ready to start your next adventure into the world of language and culture? Get started by finding Mango at a library near you!