Asia is probably known for being a continent made up mostly of developing countries. But if there is one thing where this Far East can take over the Wild West, then it’s through the skills that the Asians apply in the kitchen. Spicy, sweet, sour and bitter, the food is so diverse that it titillates each and every palette to an extent that is enough to give you an Asian round belly. To give you a hint of the mammoth variety of foods available in this ancient land, here are the 10 most exotic Asian foods.
P.S. – Read the article at your own risk. It may cause hunger and temptation.
10) Roti Canai
When Indian roti travelled from Chennai to Malaysia, it evolved itself into ‘Roti Canai’. Made of wheat flour, crisp and buttery are the terms that have now become synonymous which Roti Canai. It is often sold at stalls in Malaysia and even Indonesia. The main difference between our humble Indian roti and its Malaysian counterpart is the technique that is used to flatten out the dough. While roti is rolled into a circle, making Roti Canai is almost an art form performed with hands by beating the dough and even throwing it in the air to make it as thin as possible. The result is a paper thin delicacy often devoured with mutton curry.
This food of the nomadic people living in the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan has now become the most famous main of this region. The name ‘Beshbarmak’ means five fingers, suggesting that this dish is usually eaten with hands. Traditionally it is made of horse meat and noodles, spiced up with onion sauce and served in a big round dish. ‘Beshbarmak’ has all the makings of a comfort food which gave the nomads warmth they needed to survive the cold harsh climate of this region as well as making them strong for the struggles they faced in their journeys.
A cold dessert from the far away land of Japan is one of the simplest delicacies of all times. Frozen layer of red bean custard between soft pancakes is probably the most sophisticated dish resembling the place of its origin. It is not harsh like the central Asian cuisine and not even extreme when the taste is concerned. That is, it is not too sweet or less sweet, it is just perfect to have after a meal and not feel guilty afterwards. A plate of ‘doyaraki’ will often remind you of the cartoon food in ‘Ninja Hattori’,‘Shinchan’ etc. giving the feel of an unreal world. It is usually accompanied with raspberry sauce, adding to its toy story candy feel.
7) Pad Thai
A mammoth plate of rice noodles stir fried with fresh sprouts, firm tofu, shrimp, fish sauce along with shallots, red chillies, super and lime juice is a dish that was introduced by Vietnamese traders who travelled to Thailand and since then has become the national dish of Thailand. The strong Vietnamese influence can be seen from the fact that the distinct flavour of all the ingredients is quite prominent. The texture of the peanuts used for seasoning enhances the flavour and raises the exotic level of ‘pad thai’.
‘Bibimbap’ has become a symbol of Korean cuisine due to the worldwide fame it has garnered. CNN even listed it among the 50 most delicious foods. The name literally translated, means mixed rice. In a porcelain pot, steamed rice forms the base and an assortment of vegetables and kimchi (cabbage pickle) long with cooked beef and placed in segments on top of the rice. An egg fry is at the topmost layer. The best part about this dish is before eating you have to aggressively mix all the ingredients and some sriracha sauce (hot chilli sauce). The final result leaves you licking your chopsticks.
5) Bun Bun Xiao
This a traditional hotpot dish from Vietnam, which is quite similar to Bibimbap except that this one is twice the size of its Korean counterpart. Instead of rice, it base is vermicelli. It is garnished with herbs like mint and parsley and of course peanuts which is traditional for Vietnamese cuisine. It is quite reminiscent of Pad thai in its constructions but the taste differs due to the herbs and the addition of fried spring roles. It is generally served with chicken or beef but the vegetarian alternative with Tofu is quite scrumptious as well.
A list about exotic Asian foods will be incomplete without a Chinese dish making its way in the top 5, so here we are with the most traditional one of them all. The ‘Hotpot’ is a stew which consists of a variety of vegetables; dumplings; fish; meat; wanton etc. The reason it’s called a hotpot is because the cooking pot is left simmering on the table itself and the food cooked therein. There is generally a lot of broth in the dish which is extremely spicy as its from the Sichuan district which is known for its spicy and hot cuisine.
Well leave it to the Japanese to pair sea weed with sticky rice and a few aquatic animals and turn it into one of the most mouth watering, wonderful treats of all times. Dipping a piece of sushi in soya sauce and eating it is sensual and that’s how this exotic food makes one feel. The fact that it’s healthy and you can eat as many you want and not think about putting on piles just makes it all the more tempting. Let’s just say, the Japanese know how it’s done!
The most traditional Vietnamese dish is here to make its way into your hearts. If you have a Pho once, you will crave it for each and every moment of your life. ‘Pho’ is a flat rice noodle which looks quite similar to linguini pasta but is much healthier. The whole dish served with pho noodle is chicken or beef stock and generally beef is added to the soup. A salad of bean sprouts, Vietnamese herbs, chillies is served as a side dish. Sriacha sauce and black bean sauce can be added to the soup for its spicy and sour flavour. This is just as perfect as food can get.
A big round steel plate, with little bowls, each consisting something sweet, something bitter, something sour, something spicy and something to ease up that spice. A ‘thali’ is the most ancient food of the Indians and is as rich as their culture. There are various types of Thalis depending on the region like in the West you’ll get a Maharashtrian thali which will be all the authentic food of Maharashtrians while in norht-west, you’ll get a Rajasthani thali and in the south, the south Indian thali. Second and third helpings are generously given and all cutlery used is either steel or copper or on a banana leaf.