Culinary Journeys

#CNNFood challenge: What's your country's national dish?

CNN staffUpdated 18th September 2015
Editor's Note — This story complements the Culinary Journeys TV series, airing monthly on CNN International. See more of the show here: www.cnn.com/journeys. Share photos of your own Culinary Journeys on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood for a chance to be featured on CNN.
(CNN) — Politics and religion aside, no topic sparks vigorous debate quite like the subject of food.
This became all too clear when we asked CNN followers on social media to tell us which dish they feel best represents their country.
We received hundreds of replies, leaving us amazed by the sheer diversity of both dishes and nationalities.
Here are a few highlights, some lightly edited for length.

Spain: Tortilla de patata

Though some of our Spanish readers gave paella a nod, for Twitter user @lamazuca it's the humble tortilla de patata that best represents Spain.
So what is it? Often described as a Spanish omelet -- the name means "potato tortilla" -- the basic version is made with eggs and potatoes.
Some people like to throw in mushrooms, green peppers or other vegetables. Meat can be added too, such as chorizo or ham.
It's a lot thicker than a regular egg omelet, as the following tempting Instagram pic shows.

Indonesia? Up for debate

Quite a few Indonesians responded to our #CNNFood national dish challenge, and by no means was consensus reached.
Twitter user LaRatsa singled out gado-gado -- a vegetable salad with eggs, rice cubes, prawn crackers and peanut sauce.
Instagrammer Fiascinating thinks Indonesia's rendang is "definitely mouthwatering," while Frisca_alexandra says, "for me it's nasi goreng."
The country's most famous curry, rendang takes time and skill to make so it's not a food for every day.
The secret's in the gravy, which the beef soaks in for hours until it's splendidly tender.
Far simpler is nasi goreng. This take on Asian fried rice is often made with sweet, thick soy sauce called kecap (pronounced ketchup) and garnished with acar: pickled cucumber and carrots.

Argentina: Asado

The Argentinian asado is a mighty celebration of barbecued meat, with beef being the star.
The Argentinian asado is a mighty celebration of barbecued meat, with beef being the star.
Courtesy La Cabrera
Twitter user @OLGAPLUS4 felt it was a no-brainer when it came to Argentina, saying its national dish is "asado, of course!"
@Tuttifrutti626 agreed, saying it's "the most typical Argentinean food."
The term refers to both a barbecue celebration and a traditional way of grilling meat.
A multi-step meal that can last several hours, entrees can include choripan (chorizo in a bun), morcilla (blood sausage) and provoleta (cheese) before moving onto offal such as mollejas (beef sweetbreads), chinchulines (intestines) and rinones (kidneys).
The centerpiece of the meal, of course, is glorious grilled Argentinian beef.

Philippines: Adobo

It was a tight race among our Filipino readers, with adobo (marinated meat) and lechon (whole roasted pig) both getting multiple shout-outs as the dish that best represents the Philippines.
But in the end adobo came out as the big winner, with many passionate cries for the popular one-pot dish made on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
"Adobo is the dish that is synonymous with the Philippines, a one-pot dish that's simple to prep: pork, vinegar, salt, garlic, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay laurel leaves," says Rapha Elle, via Facebook.
"It even tastes better the longer it keeps."

Norway: Smorbrod

As Mikkel Overland proves in his Facebook post below, a country's national dish doesn't have to be its fanciest.
We love the simplicity of his shot of a "smorbrod" -- or open-faced sandwich.

Brazil: Feijoada

Brazil's national dish? Twitter user @stanley_rocha was quick to suggest "feijoada," a simple yet satisfying meal.
As did Facebook user Silvia Oliveira: "Feijoada (beans) is the food that best represents my country. And it's my favorite as well. We have an unrivaled way of preparing beans."
Black beans are stewed with pork and beef, and accompanied with rice, farofa (toasted casava flour), couve (fried collard greens), and sometimes orange slices.

Nigeria: Pounded yam and egusi soup

The dish we're now dying to try? Nigeria's pounded yam and egusi soup.
Nearly a dozen Nigerian readers named this meal when responding to our national dish challenge, although a few gave a nod to jollof rice.
"Pounded yams and egusi soup... with much palm wine," says Kelvin John J via Facebook. "I swear... No place like home."
The soup is made up of ground melon seeds (egusi), which gives it its thick texture.
"It's the best food in Nigeria," says Ibrahim Olamilekan on Facebook.
"Most tribes in my country eat this food. My country produces a lot of yams so it is easy to get for rich and poor."

Uganda: Matooke

Ugandans also seem to agree on which dish best represents their country, with multiple shout-outs given to matooke -- boiled and mashed starchy bananas.
"Matooke or banana mingled and wrapped in banana leaves, cooked very well and served with boiled beef, cooked in banana leaves, known as luwombo, is the best food representing my country, Uganda," says Ssempijja William via Facebook.
Emrass Benon Ricky, also commenting on Facebook, agrees: "The food that represents us is matooke (bananas). From our ancestors until now we have been eating matooke and because our land is fertile it grows well. If you visit Uganda you can't miss enjoying it."

India: Daal chawal

"The humble daal chawal (or lentil soup with rice) is the quintessential Indian meal," says Sanjay Agrwal, via Facebook.
"It is a daily staple for over a billion people, and is full of nutritious low-calorie plant-based protein.
"It personifies the very essence of India -- simplicity. The ingredients are environmentally friendly and have the tiniest of an eco-footprint. One can walk into any village home at meal time and will likely be offered India hospitality with this dish, free of course!"

Afghanistan: Qabli palao

"Qabli palao of Afghanistan can best be described as the national food of my beloved country," says Nadine Duplessis on Facebook.
Also known as Kabuli palaw, it features lamb, rice, carrots, raisins and nuts.
The name comes from the city it originated in: Kabul.

Myanmar: Tea leaf salad

"Tea leaf salad is a versatile dish consumed as a main, a side, an after-dinner palate cleanser or a snack," says Facebook user Wall Flower. "Most homes would offer this to visitors with Burmese green tea."
The simple name doesn't do this salad justice.
Known in Burmese as "lephet thoke," this addictive treat is made up of pickled tea leaves, sliced tomatoes, shredded cabbage, deep-fried beans, nuts and peas, slices of chili and garlic and a dash of garlic oil.

Bhutan: Ema datshi

Ema datshi is an insanely hot Bhutanese delicacy consisting of boiled chilies and native cheese.
According to those who've tried it, the first taste is always fiery, but get past the spice and it becomes easy to appreciate the creamy, salty, somewhat fruity flavor.

Ukraine: Varenyky

If it involves dumplings, consider us sold.
Ukraine's version of this global favorite, varenyky, can be steamed, boiled or even fried.
They're stuffed with either savory or sweet fillings -- cherries included.

Pakistan: Nihari

Made of soft and tender mutton or beef shanks in a rich gravy filled with marrow and steeped in spices like cumin, cloves and cardamom, nihari's flavors explode onto the palate.
It's usually served with few pieces of naan or roti on the side.

Malaysia: Nasi lemak

"Nasi lemak? No doubt if you're truly a Malaysian," says Instagrammer Fayxuen_leong.
Gladys Fernandez concurs.
"In Malaysia, the best is nasi lemak," she says via Facebook.
"Rice cooked with coconut milk accompanied with red hot spicy sauce and fried anchovies with peanuts and cucumber and boiled eggs. It is usually for breakfast. A complete meal."
Got your own culinary tales to tell? Share pics of your favorite dishes on Instagram with the hashtag #CNNFood for a chance to be featured on CNN. For inspiration, check out some of our recent submissions below.
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