Chinese Mapo Tofu

10 Simple International Dishes to Make at Home (With Videos)

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If you’re like us, you love to travel. However, traveling internationally isn’t very feasible if you’re on a budget, and you certainly can’t go to a bunch of different countries, one after the other.

Fortunately, there’s an easier way to experience other cultures and traditions – through food! Best of all, you can sample dishes from a wide array of countries without having to leave the comfort of your kitchen.

To that end, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 simple international dishes you can make at home. Some of these treats are a bit easier to make than others, but you don’t need a culinary degree or a world-class kitchen to make anything on this list. We’ve also covered many different countries and cuisines, so you’re sure to find a new favorite. Warm up the stove, and let’s begin!

Cuban Style Picadillo

Picadillo is native to many Latin American countries, including Mexico, Argentina, and even the Philippines. However, we’re turning our attention to the island of Cuba for this recipe. Cuban picadillo has an extra zest to it that transforms it from a traditional, feel-good dish into something a bit more exotic. Plus, it’s easy to make lots of it, so make sure you have some extra-hungry mouths!


  • 2 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 White Onion
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 Green Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Tomato Paste
  • 2 tbsp Spanish Olives
  • 5 Mashed Garlic Cloves
  • 1/4 Cup Dry Cooking Wine
  • 3 Diced Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Raisins (optional to taste)
  • 1 Large Potato
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Greek Kolokithokeftedes

If you find it hard to say the traditional Greek name of this dish, just call them “zucchini meatballs,” as that’s what the name translates to. Greek food is all about incorporating fresh flavors with natural fruits and oils. There’s a reason why a Mediterranean diet is so healthy. Even though these are called “meatballs,” they’re actually vegetarian, making them even better for your health.


  • 4 Washed Zucchini (leave the skin on)
  • 2 Lightly Beaten Eggs
  • 4 Thinly Sliced Scallions
  • 3 tbsp Chopped Fresh Mint
  • 1 Cup Crumbled Feta
  • 1.5 Cups Crumbled Breadcrumbs (plus extra for topping)
  • 1.25 tsp Salt
  • 1 Pinch Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Vegetable Oil for Frying

German Schnitzel

If you know anything about German cuisine, you know that Schnitzel is pretty common. Along with sausages, chicken, and sauerkraut, it’s hard not to find Schnitzel on any German menu. This recipe is both easy to make and super delicious, especially when enjoying it fresh from the frying pan. Nothing compares to that juicy and crunchy first bite.


  • 4 Boneless Pork Chops
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Splash Milk
  • 1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Lemon (cut into wedges)

Makaroni Po Flotsi (Russian Navy Macaroni)

If you want a Russian-style pasta dish that’s super easy to make and warms the soul, and soothes the spirit, Makaroni Po Flotsi is an excellent choice. While this isn’t the most “gourmet” option on this list, it’s perfect as an old standby when you’re too tired to make something complicated but want a good mix of flavors. Plus, this dish is great with a wide variety of sauces and sides, so it works for practically all occasions.


  • 18 oz Ground Beef
  • 1 lb Pasta (your choice, but Penne is the preferred)
  • 4 Onions
  • 3 Tomatoes
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 tsp Tomato Paste
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Masoor Dal (Indian Red Lentil Curry)

Curry is very common in both Pakistan and India, and you can find tons of different curry dishes and recipes. However, Masoor Dal is one of the simplest options, so you can master this before moving on to something a bit more complex. Plus, as a vegetarian dish, you can have bowl after bowl without feeling guilty or watching it go to your waist.


  • 1.25 Cup Red Lentils
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Onion
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 2 Green Chilis
  • Coriander to Taste

Minestra Maritata (Italian Wedding Soup)

No, you don’t have to be getting married to make a big batch of this soup. Instead, the name stems from the marriage of delicious ingredients (although it also works for large gatherings, such as weddings). Nothing compares to having a big, steaming bowl of Minestra Maritata on a cold day, especially if you pair it with some Italian wine and gentle music playing in the background. It’ll feel like you’re sipping vino in Tuscany, even if you’re just relaxing at home. Plus, since you can make so much of this soup at once, it’s perfect for leftovers to fill your belly all week long.


There are three sets of ingredients – one for the soup itself, one for the meatballs, and another for “pestata,” which is a mixture of vegetables blended in a food processor.

Pestata Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Carrots
  • 1 Cup Zucchini
  • 1 Cup Onion
  • 1 Cup Celery
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 5 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste

Soup Ingredients

  • 4 qt Chicken Stock
  • 4 Cups Swiss Chard
  • 4 Cups Baby Kale
  • 1 Cup Small Pasta

Meatball Ingredients

  • 2 lb Ground Turkey
  • 1 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 2 Cups Cubed Italian Bread
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Parsley
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 Orange Peel Zest
  • Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes, Basil to Taste

Chinese Mapo Tofu

Tofu is an essential ingredient in many Chinese dishes, but not everyone is a big fan of it. However, Mapo Tofu is so flavorful and delicious that you won’t even recognize it. That said, if you’re really not a big tofu fan, you can substitute another ingredient like chopped chicken or pork instead.

This is probably one of the more complex recipes on this list, but once you do it a couple of times, it will become pretty easy to make as an on-hand dish. You’ll also need to find an Asian food market to source many of these ingredients. Mapo tofu works perfectly over a bed of rice, making a fantastic meal without the need for extra sides.


  • 1/2 lb Soft Tofu
  • 1/2 tsp Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 1.25 oz Ground Pork
  • 2-3 Minced Garlic Cloves
  • 1.5 tbsp Sichuan Chili Bean Paste
  • 1 tsp Chili Pepper Powder
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable Stock
  • Canola Oil for Frying
  • 1 tsp Rice Wine
  • 1 tsp Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Dark Chinese Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Cornstarch (mix with 1 tbsp water before adding)
  • 1 tsp Sesame Oil

Baked Falafel

If you’re familiar with Middle Eastern food at all, you know that falafels are a staple of this region’s diet. Not only is the dish tasty, but it’s pretty easy to make, and you can cook large batches at once. Falafel works well as a snack or a side to a main course. Once you master this baked falafel recipe, you’ll want to make it regularly and keep some on-hand for when you’re feeling a bit peckish.


  • 1/2 lb Dry Chickpeas
  • 1 sm Onion
  • 1 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 3 Minced Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp Ground Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 2-3 tbsp Oil for Greasing

Spanish Seafood and Chicken Paella

Many of these dishes are designed to be shared with friends and family, but none quite so much as paella. This traditional Spanish dish is perfect for all occasions. Whether you’re at a wedding, celebrating the holidays, or just hosting a party, everyone will want to try (and get seconds of) this incredible dish. Plus, since it has both seafood and chicken, it’s a complete meal in one, making it easier to serve all of your guests.

If you’re not into seafood (or you’re allergic), you can substitute beef, pork, or some other ingredient. However, seafood cooks faster than most other meats, so plan accordingly if you make any substitutions.


  • 2 Cups Paella Rice
  • 1 Diced White Onion
  • 4 Crushed Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Sliced Red Pepper
  • 1/3 lb Sliced Chorizo Sausage
  • 3 1/3 tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 20 Strands of Saffron (if available)
  • 6 Chicken Thighs (cut in half)
  • 12 Medium Shelled Prawns
  • 4 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 4 Cups Fish Stock
  • 2 tsp Spanish Paprika
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil for Cooking

Levantine Fattoush Salad

Our final international dish is a light and delicate salad that works perfectly as a starter or as a side to something heavier and more fulfilling. This dish combines so many fresh ingredients that it’s perfect for spring or summer eating. If you’re eating it as a light meal, we recommend adding some pita bread and olive oil to round out the experience.


  • 3 Chopped Romaine Lettuce Leaves
  • 3 pc Pita Bread
  • 1 Diced Tomato
  • 1/2 Large Diced Cucumber
  • 1/2 Sliced Red Onion
  • 2 Diced Radishes
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 Crushed Garlic Clove
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sumac
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

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