Slow-cooked vegetable dishes like this one, a cumin-and paprika-spiced stew of beans and tomatoes, are a standby in many parts of the Middle East. Here, tomatoes and green beans release some of their flavor into the cooking liquid, creating a rich broth.
The Middle Eastern spice blend za’atar (which combines sumac, oregano, sesame, hyssop, and other spices) flavors this simple cilantro-and-garlic dip. It’s ideal served alongside roasted meats, or slathered on fresh-baked pita.
Fresh, crunchy shrimp- and tofu-filled spring rolls are a popular street snack in Ipoh, Malaysia’s capital city. See the recipe for Popiah »
This flavorful chicken curry is a braise in reverse: The chicken is cooked in coconut milk flavored with spices and begins to brown when most of the liquid cooks away, creating a beautifully caramelized exterior. See the recipe for Rendang Ayam »
Most commercial pickles are preserved with vinegar, which is the product of one kind of fermentation. But sour pickles develop their complex flavor thanks to lactic fermentation, the process by which the naturally occurring bacteria Lactobacillus transforms and preserves foods, usually in a brine. The balance of salinity is key: You want enough salt to get a nice, crisp pickle and to prevent the growth of pathogens or mold, but not so much that the pickles are unpleasant to eat.
While vinegar-making microflora will spontaneously gather on your wine, you may choose to kick-start the process with a mother of vinegar culture. This red wine vinegar is flavored with star anise and cloves, and makes an excellent all-purpose seasoning for everything from salad dressings to marinades.
All around the world, fermented cabbage has been a life sustaining bridge between the fall harvest and the first green shoots of spring. There’s Eastern Europe’s sauerkraut, Korea’s kimchi, and Latin America’s lightly fermented curtido. This spicy slaw is a riff on that last condiment; it’s sweet but not too funky, and perfect alongside grilled fish or as a condiment for tacos.