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How comfort food looks around the world, plus recipes to try at home


There are certain feel-good foods we reach for when we need to be comforted. A fragrant bowl of chicken soup. A cheesy jacket potato. A plate of greasy chips.

For us, it triggers memories of our mother's cooking and the smell of the kitchens in the homes we grew up in. 

But what do diners in France, India and many other countries around the world dig into when they need some edible consolation?  We take a look at the cheesy, creamy and feel-good wonders in other cuisines. 

Each suggestions contains a recipe for you to bookmark and make when you're feeling under the weather. 

Poutine, Canada


Pronounced “poo-teen”

Contains Meat gravy, french fries, white cheddar cheese curds

When Canadians need to recover from a hangover, the cold weather or just generally a bad day, they dig into a gloopy pile of French fries piled with fresh cheese curds and drizzled with a gravy. It's sold in poutine-only fast food joints across the country and has surprisingly remained the nation's best kept secret. 

Recipe Try this authentic Canadian Poutine recipes seasonsandsuppers.ca where the cheese curds can be substituted for mozzarella cheese.

Papri chaat, India

Papri chaat

Pronounced "pap-ry chart"

Contains Papri (flaky pastry/biscuit), tamarind chutney, spicy and mint green chutney, red onion, tomato, boiled potato, plain yoghurt, coriander, sev (fried thin dough)

When Indians need a pick-me-up they walk down to their favourite chaat wala (street food stall) to get a feel-good plate of chaat, pani puri or sev puri (all three dishes use similar ingredients). The combination of spicy, salty and sweet flavours is incredibly lip-smacking and moreish. 

Recipe An easy to assemble recipe can be found at vegrecipesofindia.com. If you want to make the flaky pastry and sauces from scratch try the recipe at foodwanderings.com.

Chilaquiles, Mexico

Chilaquiles, Mexico

Pronounced "Chi-ley-key-lays"

Contains Fried tortillas, lots of salsa, sometimes cheese and pretty much anything else you want to top it up with.

This throw-it-all-in leftover recipe is a Mexican dish that's traditionally eaten for brunch. It can be whipped up in minutes and is the perfect cure for hangovers. 

Recipe The beauty in a chilaquiles recipe is it can be chopped and changed with anything leftover in your fridge, but the black beans and kale recipe from bojongourmet.com is a healthy crowd pleaser. 

Tortilla Española, Spanish


Pronounced "Tor-ti-ya Es-pan-yola"

Contains Potatoes, olive oil, eggs for a basic tortilla 

With potato and eggs, this Spanish comfort dish is served at any time of day. Also a tapas bar mainstay by the name tortilla de patata.

Recipe You really can't go wrong with a Spanish Torilla and to start you off we recommend the recipe at epicurious.com

Aubergine Parmigiana, Italy


Pronounced "par·mi·ga·na"

Contains aubergine, mozzarella, parmesan cheese and lots of tomato sauce

Mothers across Italy can make this easy yet indulgent dish with their eyes closed. You can have it as an appetiser, entree or even sandwiched in between crusty Italian bread. 

Recipe While many recipes include chicken, here's an authentic one from Giulia at julskitchen.com with oozing cheeses and a golden crisp crust. Just as it should be.

Knödel, Austria and Germany


Pronounced "k-no-dill"

Contains bread, milk, onions, eggs

Households in Germany create these tasty humble dumplings to use up stale bread making it a true home comfort for anyone who grew up in the region. The dumplings taste similar to homemade stuffing and can either accompany a meat dish with gravy or be turned into a sweet snack by stuffing small fruits such as strawberries and apricots inside.

Recipe Margaret at allrecipes.com has shared a classic recipe from her mother. "This is one of those recipes that isn't written down, so I had to follow her around the kitchen the last time she made it. Be sure the bread is stale. If it isn't, dry it in the oven after cutting it into cubes," she writes.

Boeuf Bourguignon, France

Boeuf Bourguignon

Pronounced "bœf boor-gee-nyawn"

Contains Beef cubes cooked in red wine with mushrooms, onions and bacon

Forget croissants and fragrant cheeses. This beef stew is French comfort food at its finest with a tender slow-cooked beef, a sumptuous red wine sauce and delectable smell (do we have your mouth watering yet?). Although it was made famous by chef Julia Childs, who brought French cooking to the masses in her 1961 book Mastering the Art of French Cooking it's still remains a classic in the region it was invented, Burgundy.  

Recipe You can try Julia Child's original recipe at simplyrecipes.com

Onigiri, Japan


Pronounced "oh-nee-gee-ree"

Contains Rice, nori seaweed and beef, chicken or fish

Onigiri takes all of the delicious elements of sushi and puts them in a more homey, comforting form. You would see these hand-sized mounds of steamed rice and fillings in school lunch boxes and picnic baskets across Japan. The recipe dates back over 1,000 years, from the time when samurai would carry the snacks to keep them sustained through their travels. 

Recipe Ellen of blog In My Red Kitchen explains how to make them with a variety of fillings.

Beer cheese soup, Midwest America

Beer cheese soup

Contains Beer, cheddar, onion, milk, butter and garlic

If there's one country that knows how to do comfort food it's the United States. But if you've tried grilled cheese, mac 'n' cheese and cheesecake, here's a feel-good dish that's still off the radar. Found in the Great Lakes and Heartland regions of Midwestern America (brought to the country by early German settlers), it's served with crusty fresh bread to dunk. 

Recipe Portlander Anetta at The Wanderlust Kitchen takes you through the ingredients and shows you how to make it in 30 minutes.

Pastitsio, Greece


Pronounced "pa-stee-tsee-oh"

Contains Penne or macaroni, lamb, tomato sauce and parmesan cheese sauce

This is the ultimate one-pot dish in Greek cuisine. The word pastitsio derives from the Italian pasticcio, which loosely translates to a mess or a hodgepodge; the essence of a true comfort food. 

Recipe Sam shares her mother's recipe on greekgourmand.blogspot.co.uk. "I have been enjoying this dish as long as I can remember - it happens to be one of my all-time favourite Greek recipes," she writes.

Khichdi, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh


Pronounced "kich-ree"

Contains Basmati rice, lentils, water, ghee, salt

Khichdi is a rice dish with a rich and creamy texture, much like Italy's risotto. With plenty of lentils, it's a hearty meal that Indian mothers often whip up when their children are feeling under the weather. It's washed down with a generous helping of chaas, a cold watered down yoghurt and cumin soup.

Recipe As Puja Thomas-Patel writes on indiaphile.info, the texture of khichdi and chaas has been a long-debated topic, but her easy-to-follow recipe is a good start.


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