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17 International Recipes That Bring Your Travels into Your Kitchen

When you’re between trips, one of the best ways to recapture the spirit of travel is to recreate the most delicious dishes you’ve tried on the road. The following are some of the best international recipes the SmarterTravel staff has cooked, fried, and baked in their own kitchens, ranging from comforting Vietnamese pho ga to spicy-sweet Dutch cookies.

Cacio e Pepe (Italy)

Cacio e pepe translates to “cheese and pepper,” and those are two of only a half-dozen ingredients you need to make this simple Roman dish (the others are olive oil, butter, salt, and spaghetti). It’s the ultimate comfort food. Get the recipe here.

Moroccan Couscous

moroccan couscous.

My favorite part of making this recipe is the first step, in which you gently toast half a dozen spices—including cumin, coriander, and cloves—until they fill your kitchen with a fragrance straight out of a Moroccan market. I often throw in some chopped-up chicken for a little protein. Get the recipe here.

Apple Tart (France)

This classic French dessert features flaky pastry topped with crisp Granny Smith apples, butter, and sugar, then brushed with an apricot glaze. The only thing better than the warm, sweet aroma while it’s baking is the way it tastes. Get the recipe here.

Falafel (Middle East)

fresh vegetarian falafel with tzatziki sauce, selective focus

Believed to have originated in Egypt, falafel is a classic street food found across the Middle East. The recipe involves mixing chickpeas, garlic, onion, and spices, then deep-frying in a neutral oil. Get the recipe here—and consider pairing it with the next dish on our list.

Tzatziki (Greece)

Served with gyros or falafel, or used as a dip for pita bread or veggies, tzatziki is popular throughout Greece, Turkey, and other neighboring countries. The main ingredients in this easy recipe are Greek yogurt, cucumber, fresh mint and dill, lemon juice, and garlic. (For best results, use full-fat yogurt.) Get the recipe here.

Pho Ga (Vietnam)

Pho Ga vietnamese soup noodles

Pho ga is the chicken version of Vietnam’s famous noodle soup—and if you have a pressure cooker, you can make your own in just half an hour. The list of ingredients is lengthy, from bean sprouts to coriander seeds, but the result is fragrant and comforting and oh, so worth it. Get the recipe here.

Cipate (Quebec, Canada)

cipate beef pie stew with dough topping

If you’re a meat-and-potatoes type, it doesn’t get much better than Quebec’s hearty cipate, or meat pie. Made with four different types of meat as well as potatoes, onions, and maple syrup, this dish will warm your bones on the coldest winter day. Get the recipe here.

Gyudon (Japan)

This dish of thinly sliced beef and onions, simmered in soy sauce and sake and then served over rice, is a popular comfort food across Japan. You can garnish the dish with a poached egg and your choice of toppings such as sliced scallions, red pickled ginger, or togarashi, a Japanese spice blend. Get the recipe here.

Baba Ghanoush (Lebanon)

Baba ganoush, arabian appetizer from tahini and baked eggplant,

Though this eggplant dip is believed to have originated in Lebanon, it’s popular across the Middle East. Start by charring the eggplant, then peel and mix with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil. Serve with bread or vegetables for dipping. Get the recipe here.  

Scones (United Kingdom)

Cherry Scone with strawberry jam. in close up. Out of focus scones in the background.

Until you can visit the U.K. again and enjoy tea and a scone, why not try your own version at home? This recipe takes just half an hour and produces the fluffy scones you can buy at Fortnum & Mason, an upscale British department store. Get the recipe here. (Note that it calls for self-raising/self-rising flour; here’s a recipe.)

Potato Tahdig (Iran)

potato tahdig, iranian cuisine

Tahdig, a common Persian side dish, is the crispy, caramelized rice you find at the bottom of a pot of rice. When you add potato, the result is even more carb-filled goodness. The dish requires just five ingredients: basmati rice, russet potatoes, vegetable oil, salt, and saffron. Get the recipe here.

Fondue (Switzerland)

cheese fondue

Switzerland’s most famous food is tasty, comforting, and easy to make. You’ll need dry white wine, cornstarch, lemon juice, a garlic clove … and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Get the recipe here.

Ants in Trees (China)

spicy stir fry vermicelli with minced pork, classic Sichuan dish in chinese cuisine called " Ants climbing a tree "

Also known as “ants climbing a tree,” this Sichuan dish is so named because the bits of ground meat resemble ants climbing the noodle “twigs.” Fortunately, it’s much more appetizing than its name, thanks to a flavorful sauce featuring sambal chili paste, soy sauce, and rice wine. Get the recipe here.

Currywurst and Curry Ketchup (Berlin, Germany)

german currywurst - pieces of curried sausage

A beloved street food in Berlin, this combination of sausage, ketchup, and curry powder was invented by Herta Heuwer in 1949, incorporating ingredients she received from members of the British military. Get the recipe here.

Dulce de Leche (Argentina and Uruguay)

Dulce de leche in a metal tin can.

Though both Argentina and Uruguay claim to be the place where dulce de leche was created, its origins are less important than how delicious it is. This sweet paste can be spread on toast, stirred into ice cream, or mixed into cookies. And all you need to make it is a can of sweetened condensed milk. Get the recipe here.

Speculaas (Netherlands)

A stack of fresh baked dutch cookies called speculaas.

Speculaas are a popular Dutch cookie often served around Christmas. The combination of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and mace gives them a delightfully spicy flavor. Get the recipe here.

Hummus (Middle East/Mediterranean)

Hummus with olive oil, paprika, lemon and pita bread

Yet another dish of disputed origin, hummus is one of the most customizable international recipes. Patricia Magaña, senior editor at our sister site, Airfarewatchdog, offers a basic recipe to which you can add just about anything, from carrots or butternut squash to beets or basil: “Combine a 15-ounce can of garbanzo beans with a quarter cup of tahini, the juice from a large lemon, two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, one to three garlic cloves, and salt to taste. You can get creative with spices, such as sprinkles of cumin, paprika, parsley, or lemon zest. Pair your hummus with pita chips, naan, cucumber spears, red bell peppers, or just about any leftover in the fridge. I ran out of mayonnaise last week, so I spread my pineapple hummus on my veggie burger for an even tastier, healthier option.”

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By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at sschlichter@smartertravel.com.

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