Every culture has its own deeply rooted traditions around cooking and sharing meals. Our interconnected world allows us to explore and honor these traditions by mindfully weaving other countries’ flavors into our own cooking customs. That’s just part of being socially conscious global citizens!
As you stock your kitchen and build your pantry, you’ll come to rely on certain go-to ingredients as your staples. Building upon these with flavors from other cuisines is like having more colors to paint with, giving you endless amounts of cooking inspo to elevate your meals even further. We know that our ZENB fam is always curious to expand their palates, so we’re excited to share some global foods and flavors with you that you might not be aware of.
Check out Part 1 of this blog post to get acquainted with gochujang, harissa, and shawarma, and dive into Part 2 below for the scoop on elotes, tikka masala, and bibimbap.
Elotes is a staple of Mexican street food: a grilled ear of corn on the cob, charred to perfection, and smothered with a garlicky mayo-based sauce, and topped with crumbled cotija cheese, cilantro, chili powder, and a squeeze of lime. There are a bunch of different ways that elotes can be remixed and reinterpreted; sometimes crema can swap in for mayo, feta can step in for cotija, and hot sauce can take the place of powdered chili. There’s a related dish, as well, called esquites, which is basically elotes but shaved on the cob and served in a cup.
But no matter how it’s prepared, elotes is a riot of textures and flavors, a joyously messy food that simply cannot be eaten daintily — you’ve just gotta get up in there with no worries about getting food on your face! Elotes pair well with cold lager, strong margaritas, and loud music.
The flavors of elotes can also be translated into other dishes, like street-corn-inspired salads and pasta salads (made with ZENB Rotini for extra plant power) and elotes-topped hot dogs. Or if you are looking for a nutritious & delicious plant-based, elotes-inspired meal on-the-go with 14g of protein, check out ZENB Mexican Street Corn Pasta Agile Bowls!
In Indian cuisine, “masala” is a catch-all term that refers to any spices that are combined to make a powdered or paste blend. The jar labeled “curry powder” in your cabinet is a type of masala; so is the chai seasoning you use to make fragrant tea lattes. Spices are hugely important in Indian cooking, lending both powerful elements of flavor (and, many believe, health benefits) to even the simplest dishes.
Tikki masala, which you’ll often see served with chicken, is a tomato and cream based sauce layered with spices. There is no one standard way to make tikki masala! The base is usually a combination of tomato puree, cream and/or coconut cream, and various spices, which may include paprika, turmeric, cardamom, garlic, cumin, coriander, and/or garam masala. For chicken tikki masala, boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs are cut into chunks and marinated in a yogurt mixture, before a slow braise in the creamy, spicy sauce. Served with fresh herbs and basmati rice, this is global comfort food at its finest: aromatic, earthy, satisfying, and hearty. It’s this tasty inspiration that lead the ZENB team to develop the ZENB Cauliflower Tikka Masala Pasta Agile Bowl!
The name of this tantalizing Korean dish (say it, “BEE bim bap”) translates to, “mixed rice with meat and assorted vegetables.” And, indeed, that’s what it is! At most Korean restaurants, you’ll get a dish of warm, fluffy white rice topped with sauteed veg, kimchi, sliced beef, and a fried egg, with plenty of gochujang or doenjang (fermented soy paste), sprouts, herbs, and sesame seeds on top. When it’s served, all of the ingredients are organized into tidy little piles, and the diner is expected to mix it all together with chopsticks before eating.
Bibimbap originated in Korean cuisine as peasant food, simply a way to serve leftovers all together over rice, or to feed many people at once. Over the centuries, it has become a popular staple in Korean households and restaurants across the world. It is easily customizable: The kinds of vegetables included can vary, as can the proteins, with tofu, chicken, and seafood as common subs for beef. In a way, bibimbap predicted the health bowl trend, with its nutrient-dense balance of vegetables, fermented products, starches, fats, and proteins.
Now that your creative juices are flowing, explore the recipe library for over 150 plant-fueled recipes! To keep your kitchen game strong, we’ve got plenty more on the ZENB blog, like how to make your dishes pop with finishing flavors and tantalizing textures. And to stay engaged with the ZENB community, give us a follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!