I like to think of myself as Indiana Jones. However, my artifacts are unexplored or uncommon snacks of the world. Being a food and travel blogger, I am always open to trying new local snacks in every country I visit whether its for work or pleasure.
The following uncommon snacks are some I had to write about because they need to be had at least once by everyone.
1. Suya, Nigeria
Suya is one of the most common street snacks found in Lagos and Northern cities of Nigeria. It simply consists of thin beef skewers, chicken or venison marinated with native African spices and grilled with peanut oil. It is usually served in paper like most street snacks with raw sliced onions, some lemon juice and a side of fried yam or plantain. Some restaurants have even started serving in the form of gyro or rolls and protein to jollof or Nigerian fried rice. It is a must have if you ever get to visit the heart of Africa. Middle Eastern immigrants especially Lebanese usually enjoy it with a side of hummus served with khubus or pita bread.
2. Shawarma, Lebanon
This is indeed one of my personal favorites. As much as I would like to deny it, Shawarma was among the top 5 reasons for my trip to Beirut last fall. If you’re in the Middle East, Beirut is where that party is at and Shawarma is the ultimate go to snack. Shawarma is basically marinated meat like chicken, lamb or beef marinated with Middle Eastern spices, usually grilled vertically and served with Khubus or Lebanese flat bread. The killer sauce is called Toum which is a garlic sauce made from egg whites and garlic. This sauce is then mixed with pickled vegetables usually cucumber. Though, there are many variants of sauces and breads, no Shawarma can match the taste of Lebanese Shawarma. Even on my last trip to India, I had a Shawarma from a local street stall which tasted nothing like it and even in the UAE, it tastes good but not as good as you can get in Lebanon. I’m going back for more.
3. Paratha roll, Pakistan
Pakistan is unlike any country you could visit. Don’t listen to what people say on the news. They do no justice to the great things about this country especially the cuisine. I am a bit of a daredevil so I decided to back pack to the northern areas of Pakistan this past winter despite many of my friends not supporting my decision. Boy did they miss the adventure of a lifetime. Ok, coming back to the food, Indian cuisine is usually what people are familiar with but Pakistani cuisine, which is relatively known for meat, rice and bread is a wonder on its own. Sure many of the dishes are the same but I have to admit, having visited both India and Pakistan, most Pakistani versions of the dishes taste much better. If you are a fan of biryani, Karachi is the king. However, paratha rolls are one of the most popular snacks on demand. They’ve got chicken tikka, beef boti, behari boti, malai boti, seekh kebab, behari seekh kebab, gola kebab. Literally, anything you can grill and put into bread served with yoghurt sauce or raita as they call it. Im drooling as I write this and really wanna take my friends with me this time.
4. Arepas, Colombia
This is one of the best breakfast dishes I have had in my life. I was introduced to this by my Colombian colleague from work and I went back for more. If you’re looking to have something new and unique once in a while, this is the dish to have. Arepas are filling flatbreads made from maize or flour that can be grilled, baked, or fried. The beauty of this is that you can add any protein and vegetable to this. I usually have it with butter and eggs but whenever I visit my friend, I need that special hogao sauce with freshly made sausages by his mom.
5. Chaat, India
I’m not much a of a vegetarian as you probably noted from this article but I have to admit, New Delhi gave me a food experience that I could never ever forget. If you have never had Chaat in your life, I’m sorry to say, you are yet to live life to the fullest. I was simply on my way to my hotel in the local taxi when I asked the driver what the best evening snack I could have at 5 pm. He took me to this small cart near my hotel and asked me to try Chaat. I was a bit hesitant at first due to obvious hygiene issues, but I have a strong stomach so I was quite confident that I would pass it down. It was sweet, spicy, soft, crunchy and sour all at the same time. I was literally amazed as I had a snack which had some chick peas stir fried with some vegetables and spices, topped with some sweet yoghurt, fresh cucumber, some potatoes, a dumpling made with gram flour and finally some crunchy wafer which they call “paapar”. It was an experience I could never forget and my Indian friends kinda liked me a bit more after I made it for them as surprise menu item.
6. Ćevapi, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Ćevapi is a Bosnian snack which consists of thick flat bread with small sausages made from beef, lamb, chicken, or pork. It is usually served with different sauces like sour cream, cheese and vegetables. The picture speaks for itself and meat lovers from around the world need to try this hidden gem of a meal atleast once in their lives. Sure it looks a variant of many kebab rolls ćevapi can be found throughout the Balkans. One serving usually includes at least five sausages, which are served in a flatbread with onions, sour cream, feta cheese, and red pepper which is quite filling for my big tummy.
7. Cheeze Zataar, Syria
Syria and Lebanon are neighbors so the culture and food is similar like that of India and Pakistan. Zaatar is basically an herb which is commonly used in the Middle Eastern cuisine. If you are looking for food heaven, a cheese Zaatar which is flat bread with Zaatar herb and cheese along with olive oil is all you need to get there. I mean as simple as it is, the taste is mesmerizing. It is extremely popular in the Middle East and it’s about time the world got a taste of it.