Savour the World: 15 Comfort Food Recipes Spanning Continents

Words: Crush

There’s nothing more satisfying and heart-warming than comfort food. This food group (yes) is in a league of its own, and as much as we appreciate a delicious salad, it could never compete with a hearty spag’ bol’, bowl of Jollof or Cape Malay curry. We take a trip across the globe and explore some traditional comfort food dishes from around the world.

South Africa – Pap & Smoor

South Africa is a mixed pot of tastes and cultures, and comfort food could range from tamatie or waterblommetjie bredie (stew) to Cape Malay Curry or kool kos (cabbage food). It’s really hard to pick as each household has a personal favourite. But if there’s one thing most South Africans appreciate, it’s braaied wors (sausage) with some pap and smoor.

The dish is simple yet loaded with flavour from the succulent sausage, while the combination of perfectly cooked maize meal with flavourful tomato and onion relish will keep you coming back for more.

Try our version of Wagyu Beef Short Rib with Pap and Spicy Tomato Smoor or this 3-Cheese Pap Tart.

India – Dhal

Legumes are the makings of many comfort dishes like breyani, soups and stews, and the list doesn’t end there. While tastes differ regionally, dhal is probably the most popular comfort food in Indian cuisine, apart from curry, of course. Creamy in texture and steeped with flavour, this humble dish is made with lentils or split peas and infused with spices like cumin, turmeric and coriander. Dhal is usually enjoyed with fluffy basmati rice or pillowy naan.

Try this recipe for Lentil Dhal or Tomato & Coriander Curried Dhal

Ireland – Colcannon with Stew

Irish stew

No comfort food list is complete without mentioning Ireland’s beloved colcannon. This traditional dish combines creamy mashed potatoes with tender cabbage or kale, savoury sautéed onions and a generous dollop of butter. Paired with a rich and hearty stew, colcannon embodies the rustic flavours and homely charm of Irish cuisine.

Try our recipe for Irish Pork stew with Colcannon, it’s the ultimate winter dish.

The United Kingdom – Cottage Pie

There are tons of British comfort foods to pick from – do you go with Fish & Chips with Mushy Peas, Yorkshire pud’ or Beef Welly…? Some might say that Bangers & Mash is the ultimate mid-week comfort food dish – it’s understated and delicious, plus there’s just something about the combination of pork sausages and buttery mash swimming in gravy. But if you really want to serve up a classic family dish, cottage pie is equally comforting.

Try this Pork Ragù Cottage Country Pie or Steak & Kidney Cottage Pie and be the judge.

France – Croque Monsieur

Oven Baked Triple Decker Croque Monsieur with French Fries

France may be the epitome of refined cuisine, but when the French need a comforting dish, they turn to their beloved Croque Monsieur. This classic sandwich, with its layers of salty ham, gooey melted Gruyère cheese and mustardy Mornay sauce and golden-brown toasted bread, is a nostalgic treat – possibly one of our favourite sandwiches.

Try this recipe for Oven Baked Triple Decker Croque Monsieur with French Fries.

Portugal – Caldo Verde

In Portugal, few dishes hold the esteemed position of caldo verde. This hearty soup, hailing from the northern regions of the country, has earned its rightful place as a beloved comfort food. Brimming with greens like couve-galega (collards) or kale, and enriched with tender potatoes and smoky chorizo, this brothy bowl of soup is utterly delicious. The secret lies in the simplicity of its ingredients and the combination of flavours. With each spoonful, the velvety texture and earthy taste bring comfort.

Thailand – Tom Yam Kung

From whole-cooked fish to Green Curry and Khao Pad (fried rice), Thai cuisine is vibrant and varied. While comfort foods are mostly cooked in homes, here locals can get their fix at food markets and street food vendors. As a popular travel destination, the obvious choice for tourists might be pad Thai, but Tom Yam Kung is arguably the quintessential Thai dish.

This zesty, sour and spicy broth is beautifully balanced when made right. Fragrant herbs like lemongrass, lime leaves, galangal and Thai spices make this dish a culinary delight, while the addition of prawns, mushrooms, tomatoes, chicken stock, fish sauce and garlic tie it all together. Usually served in a bowl alongside a heap of rice topped with an omelette, Tom Yam Kung is as good as it gets.

Greece – Moussaka

In Greece, Moussaka takes centre stage as a cherished comfort food. Layers of eggplant, minced meat and creamy béchamel sauce are baked to perfection, resulting in a flavorful dish. The pairing of those textures and flavours gives that melt-in-mouth feel that most comfort dishes have. A true delight!

Mexico – Pozole

With a rich food culture, Mexico has no shortage of delicious food, but pozole is the epitome of comfort food. Families normally make it in big batches and savour it for days to come. Traditionally made with chicken and wild turkey, the chicken and hominy corn really shine in this dish. It also incorporates braised rib meat, garlic, yellow onion and guajillo peppers, which are simmered in chicken stock, along with the main ingredients. Lastly, it’s garnished with fresh cabbage, radish, coriander and avocado, and seasoned with lime juice.

Italy – Carbonara Pasta

In Italy, the birthplace of la dolce vita, comfort food takes the form of a steaming bowl of pasta. There’s nothing more satisfying than eating a forkful of spaghetti alla carbonara; its creamy sauce clinging to each strand. The combination of pancetta, egg and Parmesan cheese creates a symphony of flavours that dances on your palate.

The United States of America – Mac ’n Cheese

In the land of soul food and comfort food classics, nothing surpasses the iconic mac ’n cheese. Velvety, gooey, and irresistibly cheesy, this dish captures the essence of American comfort. Whether baked with breadcrumbs or prepared stovetop, it conjures memories of family gatherings and childhood nostalgia. Then again, it really depends on who you’re asking as tastes differ regionally. In southern states, some would say barbecue, cornbread or a warming bowl of grits classifies as comfort food.

Try our version of Macaroni and Cheese with Caramelised Leeks.

Nigeria – Jollof

Jollof is undefeated when it comes to Nigerian comfort food, and even in other parts of the world. This one-pot rice dish is cooked to perfection, along with tomatoes, peppers and onions, and seasoned with fragrant spices. With each spoonful, the vibrant flavours and rich textures make it easy to understand why locals covet this beloved dish.

Spain – Paella

Ah, Spain, the land of fiestas and mouth watering tapas. Here, you’ll find solace in the embrace of paella, this fragrant rice dish reflects the diverse flavours of the nation. Whether it’s a seafood-infused delight from the coast or a hearty Valencian version with rabbit and snails, paella remains a comfort food favourite for locals.

Try this recipe for Seafood Paella.

Poland – Pierogi

Poland is the land of pierogi; these plump dumplings are stuffed with delicious fillings like cheese, potatoes, sauerkraut, savoury meats or mushrooms. We love that this dish can be prepared as a dessert too, with fillings like blueberry and sour cherry. Pierogi are the quintessential comfort food, whether enjoyed at family gatherings or any day of the week.

Japan – Ramen

Ramen is one of the best comfort food dishes, not just in Japan but across the world. This treasured dish has many variations, making it easy for almost anyone to love, even those with the most discerning taste buds. The combination of tender noodles and the flavourful and umami-rich broth is enough to win you over. The addition of customisable toppings like chasu (rolled-up) pork, soft-boiled eggs, firm tofu and nori seaweed takes it to the next level – not to mention the satisfaction of slurping the noodles. Yum!

Try this delicious recipe for Tonkostsu-style Ramen.

Feeling hungry? Check out our round-up of comfort food recipes and feed your cravings.  

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