Everywhere in the world, you will find legumes. It’s been over a couple of weeks now that we’ve gone back to our favorite foods to eat. The most wonderful places in our travels brought me recipes that is healthy, simple, quick and sustainable. We have to be flexible with the availability of ingredients and most of the time, it comes down to the seasonality of the produce around where we live. Most of the food we learned to love are foods cooked at home by the locals in each country.
This summer, I packed spices from India and Thailand with me. Along with the spices were the steamer and a blender from Vietnam. I bought the spices from California when we visited our family and it traveled with me to Vietnam. The time we stopped over in Thailand, I also bought many spices for Thai curries. In Vietnam, we stocked up on Japanese and Korean ramen for times where we would need it for camping or emergency. Here in France, there are some Asian spices in the grocery store but it’s expensive and watered down for European tastes. It’s not the same.
Bara is a Newari food from Nepal that is basically a lentil pancake spiced with ginger-garlic paste, garam masala and salt. Here is a quick video on YouTube of the recipe: https://youtu.be/Mzp1hXalI0Q
There are no black gram lentils here in France but they do have those wonderful green lentils that worked perfectly for Bara. The green lentils are quite inexpensive just like all the legumes in the world. Lentils feed the masses meaning, you can get several meals in a 500gr or 1.2 lbs of uncooked lentils. Soaking it overnight doubles and sometimes triples the size. It’s a wonderful ingredient.
Lentils are healthy, full of fiber and a great protein source for recovery. Bara is a recipe I can whip out in minutes even after a long day on the bike or hiking. I’m always amazed by the variety of ways legumes can be used around the world.
Meals can be inexpensive, delicious and healthy. It never really impressed us of foods found in restaurants. Probably because we never really were interested in going to expensive restaurants. It’s more enjoyable to us eating outside with people like street foods or being invited into a home of friends to watch how the food is made. Street foods often feed the locals who have no time to cook specially in Asian countries. It’s cheap and often are home cooked recipes found at home so you get to tastes what is served in most homes. It’s actually more authentic than what some restaurants label themselves as “authentic.”
Exploring these kinds of locally made foods are exciting! There’s always something new and so much to learn. Simple yet complex in taste. Flavors bursting on that first bite.
So, here’s some frugal eating tips: eat seasonal ingredients, try new foods and new recipes and learn where the food comes from. Eating is always an adventure!