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3 Recipes That Bring Exotic Places Right to Your Plate

Can’t travel to exotic destinations this summer? These three delicious recipes will bring the destination to you!

Are you on a tight budget? Did your passport fall through?

For whatever reason you find yourself stranded at home this summer, these flavorful culinary delights will transport you to the exotic places you’ve dreamed of. Without leaving the comfort of your own kitchen, you can experience meals that are inspired by far-off destinations, each dish infused with vibrant flavors, fragrant spices, and cultural richness. This gastronomic adventure will bring the essence of exotic places right to your plate.


First up is a traditional Shor recipe from Yana Tannagasheva, a representative of the Shor Indigenous People of Southern Siberia. Her recipes and others just as tasty and culturally rich can be found in our favorite multicultural cookbook, The Cookbook in Support of the United Nations: For People and Planet.


Yana Tannagasheva

Shor Community

South-West Serbia, Russia

Yana Tannagasheva is a representative of the Shor Indigenous People of Southern Siberia who works to preserve the traditional recipes of her community. In her native lands, open-pit coal mining is destroying the water quality and food supply, so the local population must cook and eat whatever products are available to them. From the root word “talka,” meaning “to grind,” this talkan recipe combines ground barley with butter, honey and pine nuts to create a completely unique morsel that is enjoyed at any time of day by the Shor people.

Yield: About 34 balls

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes plus 1 ½ hours chilling


  • 3 cups (400 g) barley flour
  • Salt
  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons (196 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅔ cup (150 ml) honey
  • ¾ cup (100 g) pine nuts


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the barley flour and ½ teaspoon salt and toast over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the flour smells toasted, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the melted butter and honey over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until warm, about 3 minutes. Pour over the barley, then add the pine nuts and stir to fully combine. Season with ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. To shape the talkan, scoop a small amount into one hand and squeeze, as if squeezing a walnut in your palm, to create a roughly 1-inch (2.5 cm) ball. Arrange on a sheet pan and repeat until all the dough is shaped into balls. Refrigerate until solid and chilled, 1 to 1 ½ hours. Serve chilled.


Our main course is a delicious combination of Arabic and Iranian cuisines from Zahra Abdalla on page 23 of the Cookbook in Support of the United Nations.

Saffron Chicken with Freekeh

Zahra Abdalla

Iran and Sudan

Multinational author and food blogger Zahra Abdalla hosts food-related media programs from her base in Dubai, UAE. Inspired by the Arabic and Iranian cuisines from her childhood, Abdalla creates beautiful, updated classics like this one-pot dish that artfully fuses the two cultures and reduces waste. The chicken is spiced with a heady mix of cinnamon, turmeric and Arabic 7-spice powder—a blend that is also called baharat or bokharat, which can be found at Middle Eastern grocers or online. It is paired with nutty, nutritious freekeh, an ancient grain that Abdalla says promotes digestive and planetary health.

Yield: 6 servings

Active time: 1 hour

Total time: 2 hours


  • 2 cups (322 g) whole freekeh
  • 1 teaspoon Arabic 7-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 sustainably sourced bone-in chicken drumsticks (about 1 ½ pounds / 675 g total), skin removed
  • 4 sustainably sourced bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 pounds / 900 g total), skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 (½-inch / 1.25 cm) piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2½ cups (600 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed saffron
  • ¼ cup (30 g) toasted cashews
  • ¼ cup (35 g) toasted almonds
  • 3 dried figs, roughly chopped
  • 3 dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Wash the freekeh well in a bowl of cold water and drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Repeat. Return to the bowl, add enough water to cover by 1 inch (2.5 cm) and let stand for about 1 hour. Drain well and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the 7-spice powder, ground cinnamon, turmeric, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over the chicken and set aside.
  3. In a 5- to 6-quart (4.8 to 5.7 liter) Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, preferably enameled cast iron, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft but not browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic. Add the freekeh and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the freekeh is sticking lightly to the pot, about 3 minutes. Combine the chicken stock, rose water, saffron and ½ teaspoon salt. Pour
  4. over the freekeh and stir well, especially at the bottom of the pot.
  5. Nestle the chicken pieces in the freekeh mixture. (It can be closely packed as the chicken will shrink during cooking.) Bring to a boil. Cover tightly and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer on low without stirring until the freekeh has absorbed most of the liquid and the chicken is fully cooked (it will show just a little pink when pierced at the bone with a small sharp knife), 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the cover during the last 5 minutes to cook off any excess liquid—the freekeh should be moist but not soupy. Remove from the heat, cover tightly again and let stand for 5 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Sprinkle with the cashews, almonds, figs, apricots, golden raisins and parsley. Serve hot.


Our final course is a tasty twist on a traditional Mexican favorite. It and other delicious Mexican-American treats can be found in ¡Viva Desserts!, the dessert cookbook that will make your tastebuds dance.

Coconut Almond Flan

If you love coconut, this is the flan for you. It’s subtly sweet with a chewy layer of coconut that bakes into the flan and doubles down as a thin base. The slick accents of nuttiness come from the almonds that insisted they belong in the mix too.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 1 hour

Cool Time: 30 minutes

Chill Time: 4 hours

Yield: 6 ramekins


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, plus more for garnish
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil several cups water, enough to fill a large glass baking dish partway.
  2. Pour sugar into a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Do not stir. Swirl sugar in pan to break up any sugar clumps. After a few minutes the sugar will start to melt. Once the sugar is melting, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, swirling occasionally, until all sugar turns a light copper color. It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the sugar to become caramel.
  3. Evenly pour caramel into 6 ramekins, quickly swirling each ramekin to coat the entire bottom with caramel. Set to the side and allow to cool.
  4. In a blender add all remaining ingredients. Blend 2 minutes or until smooth.
  5. Pour 1 cup flan mixture into each ramekin over cooled caramel. Cover each ramekin with a piece of aluminum foil.
  6. Place all covered ramekins in a large baking dish. Fill baking dish with about 1 1/2 inches boiling hot water. Bake for 1 hour.
  7. Remove large baking dish from oven. Then carefully remove each ramekin from water bath and place on a clean surface to cool for 30 minutes.
  8. Remove aluminum foil. Run a butter knife along the edge of each ramekin to loosen the flan from the dish. Place a small plate on top of each ramekin, then flip to invert flan onto the plate. Gently lift up each ramekin and allow all caramel to drip out onto flan. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
  9. Decorate with shredded coconut and almonds, if desired.

To experience more international culinary delights, check out these recipes from Taste of Home.

Explore the Flavors of Diverse Regions with these Cookbooks

Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.

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