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Old 12-30-2006, 04:03 AM   #1
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ISO good, easy ethnic food recipes!

Ok, so here's the deal, my girlfriend loves ethnic foods and we both recently moved to the same college which is in a smaller town where there is not alot of ethnic food restaraunts. So when we got back from the break I was wanting to have her over for dinner and cook her a bunch of ethnic foods. Here is the problem, I am fairly new to cooking and thus I am not real good at it. Secondly, not being much of an ethnic food connasieur(sp?) myself, I really have no idea where to start or what things should taste like etc. So what I was wondering is if anyone could give me some suggestions for good, easy to make, ethnic food recipes. I know she really likes indian, greek, japanese/thai food, but really I think anything "ethnic" would suffice--I think she really just likes trying things that are different. I should also mention that shes a vegetarian, so Ill probably have to nix anything that involves meat lol. Anyways, I'll hang up and listen now. Major thanks in advance to anyone that helps.

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Old 12-30-2006, 04:31 AM   #2
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Hi, first and foremost welcome to DC! Secondly, do let us know if your girlfriend is a total vegan or she simply doesn't take meat. To begin with, you might want to look at the recipes under the "Vegetables & Vegetarians" section of this site. In there, I have posted a few recipes like Vegetable Lasagne, Curry Vegetables (Indian) etc. Lastly, are you familiar with Asian ingredients and spices? Do fill us in so that we can assist you better in your cooking adventure.
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Old 12-30-2006, 04:39 AM   #3
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Recipes in the Yahoo! Directory

Take a look here. A bit of something for everyone.
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Old 12-31-2006, 03:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boufa06
Hi, first and foremost welcome to DC! Secondly, do let us know if your girlfriend is a total vegan or she simply doesn't take meat. To begin with, you might want to look at the recipes under the "Vegetables & Vegetarians" section of this site. In there, I have posted a few recipes like Vegetable Lasagne, Curry Vegetables (Indian) etc. Lastly, are you familiar with Asian ingredients and spices? Do fill us in so that we can assist you better in your cooking adventure.
My girlfriend is not a vegan, just a vegetarian, though I should also probably mention that she doesn't eat fish either. I really don't know much at all about any foreign spices and probably alot of american ones while we are at it. I may have heard of some but as far as what does what, or what spice tastes like what, I don't have much of an idea. Sorry, like I said, I am pretty new to all this. Thank you so much for your help.
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Old 12-31-2006, 03:59 AM   #5
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12-28-2006, 08:11 PM #2 larry_stewart
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Hi,
I've been vegetarian for the past 20 years ( i became a vegetarian at the age of 18). I kinda did it 'cold turkey' after i was told my cholesterol was too high ( since all the meat i liked was fast food crap). Anyway, with all that said, being a vegetarian can mean different things to different people. Some for health, some for moral reasons, religious reasons...... Then there are the different types of vegetarians. Some eat fish and consider themselves vegetarians. Others just dont eat red meat. Some dont eat meat, fish, poultry, pork ..... but will eat animal products such as cheese, milk, eggs... and then there are the extremes, who dont eat anything that has to do with an animal at all.
SO, i think to answer your question, i think u must understand why this person wants to be a vegetarian. This might help u understand his motives. Also, it would help you in finding and creating dishes for him. For example, when i go shopping, i read the ingredients on the lables. If they contain 'chicken fat, lard, dried chicken meat, beef broth .......whatever' I personally wont use them.
Many people also think that being a vegetarian limits what u can eat. And sure, to some extent, that is true. But, I had once counted all the dinners i make and eat , and figured out i can go about 2 to 3 months without repeating a dish. So, its all about learning new things, being willing to try new things, experimenting with new things, new cuisines, being open minded .
As far as vegetarian meats go ( burgers and things u can find in the supermarkets) Some brands are pretty good ( I like morning star farms, worthington), and others taste like crap. One of the main problems i have is when someone who isnt a vegetarian, tries to make a vegetarian dish. Sure, eggplant parmesian, things like this are universal. But, unless u have tried the vegetarian product, u cant just substitute it for 'chicken, or whatever the package says' just cause the package says its supposed to taste like that . Many products focus on the the look rather than the taste. So, something that looks like chicken, tastes or feels like rubber . MY mom was the worst at this, she once bought me a tofu turkey for thanks giving. It was literally, a slice of tofu shaped like a turkey. I must say, it was the most horrible thing i ever had!!!

I have found that chinese, indian, middle eastern cuisines offer a large variety of vegetarian dishes.




I just really thought this was some really good information as if it were just meant for your question.
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Old 12-31-2006, 06:17 AM   #6
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OK, how about Polish?

A nice creamed beet soup, then pierogi. Fill them with cheese or cabbage or potato, just Google for recipes and ideas. Can serve with some red cabbage (now almost always open the jar). And for dessert maybe crepes (yes, the Polish have crepes, they just do not call them that). Can spread on some lovely jam and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar.

Oh yes, of course wine. If you cannot find a robust Polish red, fake it.

Most of the stuff can be made beforehand. Even better, you can enlist your gf's help in making the pierogi, always fun.

And nothing there is very hard to make at all.

Just a thought.

Edited because I noticed I put an 'e' at the end of potato.
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Old 12-31-2006, 06:32 AM   #7
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Check out these sites:

Recipes at Food Down Under Recipe Database
Ethnic Dishes
Tibet asian vegetarian recipes and links to food information, culture, ingredients and oriental history from asia
World Cuisine Recipes - Recipes - All Recipes
Ethnic Recipes and Foods
ethnic recipes | international recipes | recipes to go
Recipes

and about a gazillion others!

And to familiarise yourself with a host of herbs and spices, you can't go past this site:

English Spice Index
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haplesschef
My girlfriend is not a vegan, just a vegetarian, though I should also probably mention that she doesn't eat fish either. I really don't know much at all about any foreign spices and probably alot of american ones while we are at it. I may have heard of some but as far as what does what, or what spice tastes like what, I don't have much of an idea. Sorry, like I said, I am pretty new to all this. Thank you so much for your help.
haplesschef, I just posted a recipe for an artichoke dish under this section. It is easy and simple to prepare so you might want to try it for your girlfriend. Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:31 PM   #9
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how about a good old Strir-fry or Chow mein, or chop suey, vegetable samosas, pakora, spring rolls, cheese naan, mushroom fried rice with peas, a sweet roast pepper Pizza with mushrooms and chilis and onion and plenty cheese, refried beans...

there`s tons of stuff Really! :)
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Old 01-01-2007, 12:50 PM   #10
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I think i would have to steer you towards some indian and asian dishes. The easiest thing would probably be to do some sort of stir fry or fried rice. I know of some stir-fry dishes that have used tofu in them as well and were very tasty.

Another thing you might want to try, if you're feeling up to a little challenge is to make your own falafels. I personally dont care for them all that much myself, but they seem to be a big hit with just about every vegetarian I know. Get yourself some dried chickpeas and fava beans and soak them for a day or so. The next day drain them and toss them in the food processor with some fresh garlic, parsley, and cilantro, add some salt and pepper, a bit of cayenne, and some coriander. Then you simply form them into rounds of the size you like and fry them. They taste good with tahini.
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Old 01-04-2007, 12:45 AM   #11
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Thanks one and all for your help. I have looked through some of the provided links. Here are a few things I was thinking I could do

-Falafels/Tahini
-Garlic Fried Rice (Sinangag) Garlic Fried Rice recipe | Philippine recipes
-
Spinach with Lemon Dressing (Horta) Spinach with Lemon Dressing recipe | Greek recipes
-Greek Potatoes Greek Potatoes recipe | Greek recipes
-Chinese Peanuts
chinese peanuts recipe | asian recipes | chinese recipes
-Seven-Spice Rice Pilaf
Seven-Spice Rice Pilaf
-Curried Lentils and Vegetables Curried Lentils and Vegetables
-Mija (Greek Candy); Dessert? mija (greek candy) recipe | greek recipes


Obviously I won't do all of those, it was just some things I thought might work. I also hadn't really been planning on going for one overiding theme but I was more trying to get a little bit of something from everywhere. Do you think I would be better served trying to make an all indian meal or all greek meal etc? Any other thoughts/suggestions on the foods I mentioned or anything else?
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:13 AM   #12
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why not just take the best of the suggestions and make a European, regional dining experience. You have some real solid info to base such a thing, and it would be easy too. just my $.02.
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Old 01-04-2007, 02:15 AM   #13
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haplesschef, based on the recipes you have chosen from the links, you can plan as follows to give your GF a taste of the various cuisines:

1. Garlic Fried Rice (Philippines) with Curried Lentils & Veggies (Indian)
2. Falafels/Tahini (Middle Eastern), Greek Potatoes & Spinach with Lemon Dressing. (Greek).
3. Falafels/Tahini (Middle Eastern) & Seven-Spice Rice Pilaf (Indian)

Of course, there are other dishes that are richer and more robust in taste but I guess you know your GF better to select the above for starters. Do let us know how the dishes turn out.
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Old 01-04-2007, 02:51 AM   #14
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We eat non-meat meals about half of our week, just because we like them and don't enjoy a steady diet of meat.

We love legumes in particular, 'gigantes' in tomato sauce (gigantes are like huge lima beans -- Boufa, what are these called in English?!) is delish, as are 'revithia' which is essentially a chick-pea/garbanzo bean soup or stew.

We make both traditional Middle Eastern (Israeli, actually) falafel with uncooked chick peas, and also Greek 'revithokeftedes' which are made from already-cooked chickpeas. They're both really delicious, with a tahini/lemon sauce or just with strained yogurt.

There's also spanakorizo which would be a bit more of a main dish than Greek spinach. It's spinach with rice, spiced up with olive oil and lemon, fresh dill, and pepper. Very comforting winter meal, especially topped with a slice of fresh feta.

Another favorite is 'tourlou-tourlou' which is a vegetable stew, heavy on romaine lettuce (strikes you as odd probably, but is absolutely delicious cooked!) as well as artichoke hearts and frozen peas. It has a thick avgolemono (egg/lemon) sauce over it and is also spiced with dill and pepper.

These are just a couple of our family favorites. NONE of them are difficult to make and most are very forgiving to beginners. (Meatless dolmades are also absolutely wonderful, but they do take nimble fingers. One of the few dishes where a history of hand-rolling cigarettes comes in handy!)
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Old 01-04-2007, 03:19 AM   #15
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Ayrton, you said it correctly. "Gigantes" are referred to as giant beans or huge lima/butter beans.

haplesschef, with all the yummy legume and veggie dishes provided by Ayrton, future planning and selection of your meals should not be a problem.
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Old 01-04-2007, 07:48 AM   #16
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A Moroccan vegetable stew served over cous cous might be an idea. Relatively common ingredients (depending on the recipe) with not too many expensive, unique spices to get. I think its also simple to make for someone with not too much cooking experience. One problem with ethinc foods ( especially Indian) is that there are usually many exotic spices in them. The problem with this is, if u dont normally cook with these spices, and dont have them on hand, you will spend $$ buying all these things just to use a teaspoon here, 1/2 teaspoon there..... And , if you never plan on cooking it again, you will have a cupboard full of spices that are so unique to a specific ethic group, you may never use them again :) . So, if your intentions are a one time thing just to impress your gf, keep it simple. If you plan on cooking ethnic more frequently, knock yourself out with all the spices.
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Old 01-06-2007, 01:02 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by boufa06
haplesschef, based on the recipes you have chosen from the links, you can plan as follows to give your GF a taste of the various cuisines:

1. Garlic Fried Rice (Philippines) with Curried Lentils & Veggies (Indian)
2. Falafels/Tahini (Middle Eastern), Greek Potatoes & Spinach with Lemon Dressing. (Greek).
3. Falafels/Tahini (Middle Eastern) & Seven-Spice Rice Pilaf (Indian)

Of course, there are other dishes that are richer and more robust in taste but I guess you know your GF better to select the above for starters. Do let us know how the dishes turn out.
Thanks for the suggestions I think I will probably do either number 1 or number 2. I don't necesarily know if those are the dishes she will like the best, but I was basically trying to pick the ones I thought she would most like that I could also make and it would be pretty hard to screw up.
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Old 01-10-2007, 05:42 PM   #18
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Hey this may be a dumb question. But the directions on one recipe say "Place peanuts 1-inch thick in cast iron skillet. Toss with soy sauce." What does it mean when it says "Toss with Soy Sauce?" Does that just mean put them in the skillet together and stir them up?

Also, the salad calls for a dutch oven. I'm reasonably sure I don't have one of those and I don't have $50 to drop on one. I have a normal pot with a lid, would that do the trick?
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Old 01-13-2007, 02:19 AM   #19
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Just an update. I cooked the dinner last night for my gf and it went great! Suprisingly, other than the fact my kitchen looked like a train wreck afterwards because I am not the most organized cook, nothing went majorly wrong. My girlfriend was very pleased and said the food was great. Thank you all so much for your help. I could not have done it without you.

I made the "Chinese Peanuts" as an appetizer sorta while I finished the meal. If you're interested those are extremely easy to make, require 2 ingredients, and are pretty good, especially if you are a nut fan. Then I served the garlic fried rice with curried lentils and vegetables and for dessert I made the greek candy (also very good). Thanks again for all you guys help! I'm sure I will be back here soon in desparate need of help in some other cooking area.
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