When the weather gets cold, folks tend toward standby comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, chili and pot pies. Rather than go with a trendy riff on an original, why not look around to other cultures and countries, who have their own versions of comfort food. From Mexico to Greece and beyond, this is the food that fuels recovery from hangovers, breakups, cold snaps and whatever else ails you. Remember: we all pile up our plates in the same language.
Related: More comfort food recipes »
Ginger Fried Rice
Get familiar with this easy yet sophisticated ginger fried rice recipe from Anthony Ricco, Chef de Cuisine at Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Spice Market. Topped with garlic and ginger-crusted fried eggs, fried rice has never looked so fierce.
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, minced
2 cups leeks, thinly sliced, washed and dried
4 cups day-old cooked rice (preferably jasmine), at room temperature
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and brown. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels and salt lightly.
2. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low and add 2 tablespoons oil and leeks. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt.
3. Raise heat to medium and add rice. Cook, stirring well, until heated through. Season to taste with salt.
4. In a nonstick skillet, fry eggs in remaining oil, sunny-side-up, until edges are set but yolk is still runny.
Divide rice among four dishes. Top each with an egg and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. Sprinkle crisped garlic and ginger over everything and serve.
Then try out these exotic comfort food classics from around the globe:
Akoori (Indian Scrambled Eggs):
You've had scrambled eggs with chives, caviar, cubes of ham, smoked salmon, shredded cheddar and, hopefully, lobster. (Not all at once, of course.) But akoori, India's version of the veggie scramble, tops them all. Why? It's spicy from the chilies, herbal from the cilantro and earthy from the cumin. And as far as what to serve over toast on the weekend goes, it simply can't be beat. Get the akoori recipe »
Moussaka is the quintessential hearty Greek comfort food - their equivalent of lasagna. Seasoning the meat during every step is important to develop its signature flavor profile and although moussaka can be time-consuming to make, the finished product, hot and bubbling, is impressive to behold and worth every step. Get the moussaka recipe »
New Potato Rendang & Green Beans Recipe:
Add some Malaysian flavors to your life with this addictively spicy potato experience. Rendang is a special kind of curry in which a main ingredient is slowly cooked in spicy coconut milk until the sauce is deeply reduced. Tender new potatoes absorb the spice-infused coconut sauce and cook down to lush, citrusy perfection. Enjoyed throughout Indonesia and Singapore as well, rendang is a comfort food you should definitely get comfortable with. New potato rendang & green beans recipe »
Spicy Rock Shrimp & Grits:
Says Singapore native Chef Larry Reutens, "This curry sauce is based on Singaporean prawn curry, and together, the whole thing is my take on shrimp and grits. One of my favorite lunchtime dishes at home is a sambal udang (shrimp), often served with sambal quail eggs (which you'll need to learn to boil). I serve it with grits because it marries well with the sauce." Who knew a signature comfort dish of the American South would take to the Malay region so well? Spicy rock shrimp & grits recipe »
Chicken Ropa Empanadas:
The shredded spiced chicken known as ropa vieja - Spanish for "old clothes" - makes for one tender, juicy empanada. The ultimate comfort food of much of the Spanish-speaking world, empanadas take very well to braised meat. Look what happens when you stuff this chicken ropa into pastry dough. Have you ever seen an unhappy man with a delicious empanada in his hand? No. Chicken ropa empanadas recipe»
Spiced Coconut Lentil Soup:
Chef Marcus Samuelsson this about one of his favorite comfort foods: "Although 'spiced' this dish is not particularly spicy - even with the added chili and paprika. The spice is very mild and subtle but absolutely essential in aiding the soup to be bursting with the incredible flavor it possesses. Sheer aromatic excellence if you ask me. Alternatively, do as I did and make a massive pot and warm for lunch as and when needed. It really is the most satisfying midday meal I've had in a very long time. For some strange reason though every time I eat it I cannot get this song out of my head: "She put the lime in the coconut. She drank them both up." Spiced coconut lentil soup recipe »
This Egyptian classic is a carb-on-carb delight that includes all of our favorites staples: rice, lentils, chickpeas and macaroni. Together. If you thought it couldn't get any better than Japan's Great Carb Gift to Mankind, it just did, thanks to Egypt. Read the recipe for Egyptian koshary »
This easy potato tacos recipe is unexpected, and unexpectedly delicious. On the Atkins Diet? This is not for you. But if you love a good vegetarian taco and are in the mood for delicious Mexican comfort food, you've come to the right place. Wanna dress these potato tacos up and take 'em out on the town. Make asalsa verde cruda or top 'em off with chile con queso. Just make sure you use a decent tortilla for the shell - Chef's orders! Get the recipe for easy Totato tacos »