“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” François de La Rochefoucauld
One of the best ways we can enjoy our travels is by cooking and trying new tasty foods.
It’s great to eat out at restaurants, and I encourage all travelers to try as much locally prepared food as possible. Each country and region you visit will have a wide range of new exotic cuisine to sample. You´ll learn new cooking techniques and recipes from every restaurant you dine in.
Though at times, when we travel, we don’t always find the type of food we´re looking for. We may want to cook something homemade and healthy with our new friends. Cooking is a great way to bond and show off our culinary skills.
When we cook for ourselves, we know exactly what we’re eating and what ingredients go into our meals. Unlike when we go out to restaurants, which can be a little dicey at times if we choose the wrong place.
Cooking is a great skill to have for all travelers. It’s a way to connect with your new friends, hosts, or romantic partners. You´ll become a highly valuable citizen of the world. Especially if you’re on a long ocean voyage, or trapped on a deserted island. Everyone will come to you for their next delicious and inspiring meal!
In this post, we´ll teach you the basics of cooking, with many types of ingredients. We hope that with some practice and dedication, you’ll be able to cook with confidence and style in any country on your journey.
The main food groups we´ll cover are proteins, starches, vegetables, and fruits. We´ll discuss each food category and give some simple and easy recipes anyone can follow. We´ll also go over vegetarian cooking, soups, creams, fried foods, desserts, drinks, presentation, and lots of general cooking tips. Feel free to browse through and find which culinary delights interests you the most!
Let’s go have some fun in the kitchen!
Proteins – Chicken, Beef, Pork, Lamb, Enticing Oriental Style Chicken Recipe
Starches – Potatoes, Pasta, Rice, Yummy Mashed Potatoe Recipe
Vegetables – Eat your Veggies!
Fruits – Refreshing and Exotic
Nuts and Seeds – Add Some Taste and Texture to Your Cooking
Herbs and Spices – Add a Flavorful Punch
Soups and Creams – Exquisite Cream of Tomatoe Recipe
Vegetarian Cooking – Brown Rice, Quinoa, Lasagna, Beans, Lentils, Delicious Hummus Recipe
Deep Fried Foods – Tempting Onion Ring Recipe
Desserts – Savory Baked Fruit Treat
Drinks – Get Yo Drink On! – Wine, Beer, Liquor, Tea
Presentation – Creating Your Masterpiece
DON´T! – What Not to Do in the Kitchen
In Conclusion – Final Thoughts and Inspirations
Protein derived from meat is probably the most densely nutritious food. Certain tribal cultures today, still sustain themselves solely on meat. Meat was the main source of nourishment during our caveman days thousands of years ago, before we learned different agricultural techniques.
Enticing Oriental Style Chicken
This recipe is easy to cook and absolutely delicious and healthy.
Ingredients – chicken breast chunks, olive oil, lemon juice, ginger powder, brown sugar or honey, red peppercorns, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, soy sauce
First, marinate the chicken in these ingredients for a half an hour to an hour. Then cook the chicken breast in olive oil, a bit of water can be added to prevent drying,
After the chicken has cooked for about 5 minutes add peanuts or sesame seeds, and vegetables: sliced carrots, peas, red bell peppers, onions, and garlic.
Cooks in about 20-25 minutes. This delicious chicken can be eaten with brown rice or rice pasta. Garnish with cilantro and add some freshly squeezed lemon juice and soy sauce as desired. Prepare yourself for an amazingly complex flavor of spicy chicken!
Beef – Pork – Lamb
These meats can be grilled in a pan with spices, onion, garlic, and bell peppers. They can also be grilled on a barbeque. Always marinate your meats to give them a great tenderness and flavor.
Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods in the world. They can be added to your soups, cooked alone, boiled in a pot with or without the skin. They can be mashed.
Yummy Mash Potatoe Recipe
Ingredients – peeled and boiled potatoes, salt, pepper, butter, garlic, milk
First cook the peeled potatoes and garlic in boiling water until tender, drain the water. Add the other ingredients, mash it with an electric or hand-powered mashing tool. Add milk and butter, until it reaches desired texture and consistency. Be careful not to over mash. Afterwards, garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.
Pasta is another really easy food to cook. Throw it in a big pot of boiling water and its ready in about 10 minutes. Sometimes I add eggs or chopped veggies to the water: carrots, peas, onions. To make a quick healthy pasta meal. Afterwards, add some grated parmesan cheese and olive oil. Very Tasty!
See below in the vegetarian section.
Vegetables are best cooked steamed in shallow water. Careful not to overcook your veggies, as overcooking will destroy their nutritional value. Chop them up, add salt and olive or sesame oil to taste. More about vegetables below in the vegetarian section.
Fruits are delicious and healthy, especially if you’re traveling through hot/tropical regions. In my travels through Nicaragua, I’ve seen papayas more than 3 feet long. One of them could have fed more than 50 people, just incredible!
Pineapples, mangos, figs, and bananas are great options. I don’t have enough space in this post to discuss the vast variety of fruits, that are available around the world.
I’ll just say that I prefer to eat fruits separately from all other foods, because they digest almost instantly. Much faster than proteins and starches.
I like to have a portion of pineapple or papaya first thing in the morning, before I eat anything else. These fruits are packed with healthy vitamins and enzymes.
Be sure to try as many different locally grown fruits as you can, when you travel. Fresh fruits are always more delicious and nutritious than any fruit that’s imported from other continents.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and minerals. They add a nice touch of flavor and texture to your dishes. I like to use sesame seeds in rice or pastas and stir fry’s. Peanuts can be cooked in your oriental style stir fry’s.
Other nuts that can be used in your cooking are coconut, pistachios, cashews, and almonds.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and Spices are what will give your cooking a rich, more complex flavor. I like to marinate my meats in olive oil, lemon or orange juice, and spices, for a half an hour to an hour before cooking. This will give your meat enough time to absorb the flavors of your chosen ingredients.
Some common spices I use are cumin, turmeric, paprika, ginger, curry, salt, and pepper. These spices can be bought in most countries. They are small and light, so you may wish to travel with your own spice mix. When using them in the recipes described in this post, I usually just use a pinch of each spice, if your cooking bigger portions then more can be added.
The herbs you use will vary depending on the part of the world you’re in. Commonly found herbs are cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and mint. Chopping up your herbs into little fine pieces will be a great addition to your meal, giving it a wonderful, decorative look. I usually don’t cook parsley or cilantro, they can be added raw.
Soups and Creams
Soups are one of the easiest and fastest things to cook. You can add starches, vegetables, meat, herbs, and spices, pretty much anything you want to the same pot. Soups are very hearty. I’ve been known to eat several bowls of soup in one sitting, cause they’re one of the healthiest and easiest foods to digest. It’s pretty much an entire meal in a bowl.
Exquisite Cream of Tomato Recipe
Ingredients – peeled tomatoes, cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, onion, garlic
This cream is so easy to cook. If you have lots of fresh, beautiful and delicious tomatoes available, then you should take full advantage. Cook all the ingredients in a big pot with some olive oil and water. When your tomatoes are nice and tender, let it cool down a bit, then add everything to a blender and blend. You might have to add some extra water, till it’s the right thickness. Pour into your bowl and garnish with some chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese. This dish is divine!
This same recipe can be used for other vegetables like beets, broccoli, and carrots. Red bell peppers can also be added to the recipe for a more complex flavor.
When traveling to countries with predominately meat based diets, it’s good to be able to buy some fresh produce at the market, and prepare food in your hostel or with your host family. This is a great way to show people that vegetarian food is also quite hearty and delicious.
Some vegetarian options are:
I prefer brown rice to white rice. It’s healthier, has fiber and protein. But it takes about twice as long to cook brown rice as it does to cook regular white rice. Other great rice options to try are basmati or jasmine rice, which both originate in the Orient.
It’s like a hearty rice that’s easy to cook. Originates from South America.
Vegetarian lasagna, prepared with pasta, broccoli, spinach, and mozzarella cheese is a great vegetarian option!
Beans – Lentils
Beans and lentils are a good protein alternative. As you travel you’ll discover a wide variety of these legumes, which vary in each country you visit.
Delicious Hummus Recipe
Hummus is a delicious food originally from the Middle East. Hummus means chickpea in Arabic. It’s easy to prepare, hearty and delicious.
Ingredients – cooked chickpeas, salt, pepper, cumin, raw garlic/onion, lemon juice, toasted sesame seeds.
Cook the beans and spices until tender. Let the beans cool a bit, add them with your other ingredients to a blender. Blend, adding water and olive oil, till you arrive at desired consistency.
Afterwards, garnish with roasted red peppers and garlic, or fresh chopped cilantro. This delicious hummus can be eaten as a side dish to your meal, or as a snack with some pita chips.
Deep Fried Foods
If you’re a health fanatic, then you probably don’t eat a lot of deep fried foods. But for those of us who love the taste and texture of crunchy fried foods, they are quite hard to resist.
Some of the tastiest fried foods are falafel, fried fish and onion rings.
Once in a while, I love to make onion rings. My recipe is awesome, so you’re welcome, here we go!
Tempting Beer-Batter Onion Rings
Ingredients – sliced onions, flour, yeast, beer, sesame seeds to add more crunch, red peppercorns, salt, and pepper
Slice your onions into rings.
Mix together the dry ingredients, then add the beer, dip in each onion individually and fry individually. These rings will stick together in the frying pan, so they need to be carefully separated. I use a little bamboo stick to take them out of the pan and move them around in the insanely hot oil. Fry until they are golden brown.
These rings will be so crunchy, delicious, and addictive, that you’ll want to cook them every weekend!
Sliced beets can also be dipped in the same batter and deep fried, which will make for a very special treat.
I could write an entire book on desserts alone and it would probably sell thousands of copies because desserts are by far the most delicious and tempting thing on the entire planet. There are almost an infinite variety of desserts to pick from, like flavored ice creams, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, pies, brownies, homemade chocolate fudge, baklavas, etc.
The problem for The Nomadic Chef is trying to cook desserts on the road when he doesn’t have all the necessary tools for the job. Most desserts require an oven, specialty cooking utensils, and ingredients to make.
One of the easiest desserts to make is to bake some sliced fruit in the oven. Here’s a simple dessert recipe, that only requires an oven and baking pan.
Savory Baked Fruit Treat
Ingredients – brown sugar, cinnamon powder, sliced apples or peaches, butter, ginger powder, freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine all your ingredients in a big baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until desired texture and taste is achieved. You can eat your delicious and healthy baked fruit with a bowl of store-bought vanilla ice cream, “Mmmm, just yummy!”
Wine – Beer – Liquor – Tea
Choosing the right type of drink to accompany your meal will add to your worldly allure and deep culinary wisdom. Certain alcoholic beverages aid in digestion.
Red or white wine can be used, depending on the type of meat you’re serving.
Beer and hard liquor, tend to combine well with deep fried and greasy foods.
A nice hot herbal tea is very soothing and good to have with oriental style dishes.
Presentation – Creating Your Masterpiece
The visual presentation of your food is one of the most important aspects of your cooking. Your food could taste great, but is your plate visually appealing and presented in a neat and artistic way?
As the saying goes, “Food first enters through the Eyes”. Just go to a restaurant on an empty stomach, and start looking at all the colorful pics of the food on the menu. I’m sure you´ll be tempted to order everything, without even smelling or tasting anything.
So when you make something with your new travel mates, cook meals that are both delicious and a beautiful work of art!
The easiest way to improve your presentation is by adding fresh and neatly cut vegetables to every meal. Try to have at least 3 different colors on each plate.
DON´T! – What Not to Do in the Kitchen
Don’t burn your food! It’s ok if it’s undercooked because you can usually throw it back in the pot or in the oven. Then cook to perfection, after a few minutes, but once your food is burned there’s no turning back. Your friends will be disappointed and upset. So pay attention! Cooking requires complete focus. If you are easily distracted by your phone or conversations, then cooking may not be for you.
Don’t cook ingredients that all have the same color! For example, white rice, boiled potatoes and a piece of chicken breast. This would be the most boring and flavorless dish on your trip. Add some brightly colored vegetables and garnish. Make it look like a work of art, you can do it!
Don’t waste food! Leftovers can be given to homeless people on the street, instead of giving cash.
Don’t throw food scraps in the trash, if they can be fed to house pets or thrown in the compost pile.
Don’t forget to put on some nice music, when you’re cooking and dining. This will enhance your cooking experience and make everybody happy. Just don’t play Hardcore Trash Metal, if you’re hanging out with a bunch of reggae dudes.
Don’t make bad food combinations! Sometimes we can get a little crazy in the kitchen and start throwing whatever we find in the pot. This could be a fast way to create a disaster. It’s good to be creative and experiment, but if everybody is waiting for you to cook something for dinner, then maybe you should do your experimentation when you’re alone. Then when you’re satisfied with your newly discovered culinary creation, you can share it later with your friends.
Food is the stuff of life.
Nothing’s better than breaking bread and having a glass of wine, with new friends that we meet on our journey.
Learning to cook well, is a matter of dedication and practice. Using and combining the best quality ingredients and cooking them for the right amount of time.
Balance is essential. Learn to add the right amount of each ingredient, until you have created your culinary masterpiece, that is both a delight to the eyes and taste buds.
If we eat well, then we´ll be healthy and happy travelers. The love and companionship our friends have for us will only grow stronger with each deliciously prepared meal we share together.
We hope this culinary advice will help you during your next big trip abroad!
Let us know if you have any other great cooking tips, Bonne Appetite!
What was the best meal you ever had while traveling?