Travelling the world is wonderful, but as vegans we are often faced with the challenge of finding plant-based food on our global adventures.
Neil Coletta, Food Product Manager for Intrepid Travel, a company that specialises in responsible and sustainable travel and vegan tours, shares his knowledge of five of the best, lesser known vegan dishes from around the world.
Eating vegan when travelling isn’t all scouring HappyCow and packing snack bars.
There’s a wealth of dishes out there vying for the ‘best of’ crown. And good news is that they’re widely accessible, good value and, well, ridiculously delicious.
So, if you’re looking to traverse the globe and eat vegan while at it, the following five dishes make for a fantastic start.
Thailand: Som Tam
Sample Som Tam, a green papaya salad, and you won’t dream of complementing travels through Thailand any other way. The refreshing dish is one of the most commonly available in this Southeast Asian country, and it perfectly balances sweet, sour, spicy and tart.
Some regional variations add things like dried crab or shrimp, so be aware (and ensure fish sauce is held). But at its essence, the crunchy salad is as simple as shredded papaya mixed with tomatoes, long beans, chilli, garlic, palm sugar and peanuts.
Take our words for it and indulge along with a bowl of sticky rice. And go one step further and consider trying similar dishes found in surrounding Vietnam and Cambodia. What’s not to love?
If you’re all about comfort food – and who isn’t? – Egypt’s street food staple will do wonders for your taste buds. Found all over the country, but most commonly at roadside stalls and market vendors, this is a dish equivalent to a culinary hug. (Yes, it’s that heavy on the carbs.)
So, what is it? Koshary is made up of rice, macaroni and lentils with a spiced tomato sauce and crispy fried onions. It’s usually garnished with chickpeas and often sprinkled with garlic vinegar or hot sauce. And provided all the frying is done with vegetable oil, this hearty 19th century dish is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Because you deserve it after a hard day spent at the pyramids or a long night spent cruising the Nile.
There’s flatbread. And then there’s gozleme. And this Turkish delight (not to be confused with, um, Turkish delight) is so much more than the snack it started out as.
A traditionally unleavened dough made from flour, salt and water, gozleme is cooked on a griddle and open to numerous regional interpretations and even more toppings. And though meat like minced beef and cheese like feta can be found, there are so many vegan options you’ll want to chow down at every possible opportunity.
Some of our fave fillings? Spinach is decidedly the most popular, but leaving without trying aubergine, leek, onion and mushroom variants would be a sin. Especially when gozleme is chockablock with seasonal herbs and spices.
Even better, it’s available everywhere from traditional villages to big cities and is likely to be one of MANY incredible dishes you’ll enjoy in Turkey.
Ethiopia: Shiro Wat
Shiro Wat encompasses everything we love about the vegan-friendly haven otherwise known as Ethiopia.
It’s a stew whose primary ingredient is chickpeas or broad bean flour. And it’s served atop injera (fermented bread) for a tasty meal that’s available everywhere, anytime. (Yes, it’s even more popular during Ramadan fasting seasons!)
An essential part of Ethiopian (and Eritrean) cuisine, it’s often prepared with minced onions and garlic, though ground ginger and chopped tomatoes can be added. It doesn’t vary a ton according to the region and so really is as simple as that! Just check the dish in question doesn’t contain butter – as some do – and you’re good to go dine to your heart’s content.
If qutab is anything to go by, Azerbaijani cuisine might well be the next big thing. This traditional stuffed flatbread is one of the most famous dishes here and it’s not hard to see why. Made from paper-thin dough that’s stuffed with ingredients then folded into a crescent shape and cooked on a hot grill, the filling options are endless. Veggie ones are hugely popular, for instance, and range from pumpkin to leek.
Either eaten as a snack or to accompany a meal, it’s often eaten alongside yogurt and garnished with sumac, parsley, pomegranate seeds or chopped walnuts.
You can find qutab in markets, restaurants and everywhere in between, in much of the Caucasus area as well as Islamic areas of Southern Russia.
Intrepid Travel has a range of vegan Real Food Adventures to help you find the best vegan eats on your travels.
The 8-day India Vegan Real Food Adventure starts from £679pp, with departures from October 2019.
Find out more at https://www.intrepidtravel.com/uk/vegan-food-adventures or call 0808 274 5111.