The world is a big place. And while we all may speak different languages and drive on different sides of the road, there are a few universal truths that unite us all. Key among them? The desire for a meal that’ll warm your soul.
No matter where you’re from, sometimes the only thing that can make you feel better is a nice, big bowl of whatever your momma makes you when you’re feeling down.
Here are 13 examples of delicious comfort food around the globe that’ll make you want to plan a worldwide tour ASAP.
1. Poutine // Canada
Poutine is one of the most addicting dishes in existence. Composed of french fries, gravy and cheese curds, the dish originates in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Many people call poutine “heart attack in a bowl,” which, based on its components, is a pretty accurate statement. Luckily, the poutine craze has extended to the United States, so there are plenty of places to get your fix.
2. Cha Siu Bao // China
If you’ve ever gotten dim sum, chances are you have experienced the deliciousness that is cha siu bao.
Also known as barbecue pork buns, these babies are made with a soft dough filled with pork tenderloin and are usually steamed to order and served with a number of different sauces like hoisin, oyster sauce, sesame or soy. These steamed buns are one of the many highlights of Cantonese cuisine.
3. Chilaquiles // Mexico
Chilaquiles are usually served for breakfast, but the dish is so comforting we’d eat it for any meal. The best part about chilaquiles is that they’re pretty simple, so you could easily make them at home.
The main component is fried corn tortillas cooked with some sort of salsa or mole. Then, the tortillas are topped with a variety of yummy goodies, like pulled chicken or carnitas, queso fresco, refried beans, crema and eggs. In other words, pretty much everything we love in life.
4. Khichdi // India
Khichdi is a dish that utilizes three main staples in Indian cuisine: rice, lentil, and spices like turmeric, cumin and curry. In addition to being delicious, khichdi is a great comfort food because it’s fairly easy to digest, making it a meal of choice when your tum tum isn’t feel its best.
Plus, you only need one pot and a stove to create it, making it one of the easier dishes on this list to concoct in your own home.
5. Pierogies // Poland
Pierogies are a type of dumpling from Poland that are stuffed with basically anything you could ever want in a meal, like meat, cheese, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and onions.
Some people love pierogies so much they’ve created sweet renditions, too. First step in making these babies is the dough, of course. Then once the dough is stuffed, each pierogi is pan-fried to a golden brown on the stove. We’re in love.
6. Moussaka // Greece
The easiest way to describe moussaka is like a Greek version of lasagna, except instead of pasta sheets, the dish is made with thinly sliced layers of eggplant. Each piece of eggplant is sauteed separately, then placed into a casserole dish in one layer on the bottom of the pan. It’s then topped with lamb, garlic, spices, onion and sometimes chopped potatoes.
To continue the assembly, add another layer of eggplant and alternate with the toppings until all pieces have been used. Then comes time for the best part: you get to cover the eggplant in all of its glory with bechamel sauce before placing it in the oven to cook. It’s as good as it sounds.
7. Spaghetti alla Carbonara // Italy
It’s pretty impossible to go wrong when pasta and pancetta or guanciale are involved. Spaghetti alla carbonara is a pasta from Italy that is native to Roman cuisine.
Once cooked, the pasta is tossed with sauteed pork and Parmesan cheese. Contrary to popular belief, this dish actually does not require heavy cream — if you go to a restaurant that includes cream in their carbonara, it’s probably not legit.
After the pasta is fully incorporated with the pancetta and cheese mixture, it’s placed on a plate and topped with an egg yolk, which you then pop and mix throughout the dish for creaminess.
This last step depends on who’s making the dish — some cooks will combine the Parmesan and egg together before tossing with the pasta rather than serving the yolk as a garnish, but to each their own.
8. Shepherd’s Pie // Ireland
Shepherd’s pie is probably the most genius way to get children to eat vegetables. Cooked in a casserole dish, the base of shepherd’s pie contains ground beef or lamb and vegetables like carrots, peas and corn that have been precooked in a skillet.
This mixture is then topped with creamy mashed potatoes and thrown in the oven to bake until the taters reach a nice golden brown. Leave it to the Irish to know how to master meat and potatoes.
9. Beef Bourguignon // France
The French may be the champions of comfort food, and beef bourguignon is here to prove it. This is a hefty stew that includes bacon, red wine, and flavorful herbs like thyme, bay leaf and parsley.
We’re not gonna lie, this dish takes a pretty long time to make — over an hour of cook time in the oven alone — but your beef will be so tender and rich you’ll forget about all the hours you slaved over it in the kitchen.
Just don’t forget to serve it with even more red wine.
10. Pho // Vietnam
Pho has magical powers. Seriously, it feels like it cures hangovers, the common cold, and rainy day blues. This stuff has been our saving grace on more than one occasion.
We’re not sure whether it’s the unctuous beef broth or the meat or the rice noodles, bean sprouts and other accoutrements, but this Vietnamese dish is one of the most soothing additions to our diet and we can’t imagine what our lives would be like without it.
11. Golubtsi // Russia & Ukraine
Golubtsi is so well-loved in Russia, some consider it the country’s national dish. That’s a pretty big accomplishment, especially considering the size of Russia.
To get to the specifics, golubtsi is essentially cabbage stuffed with pork, ground beef, carrots, garlic, onions and tomatoes, then boiled until fully cooked. The dish gets the name golubtsi (also can be spelled ‘golubtsy’) because golub means “pigeon,” and is supposed to make you full and happy like a bird.
We didn’t know birds were that happy of creatures, but we dig it.
12. Kartoffelpuffer // Germany & Austria
There’s something about root vegetables like potatoes that makes them such great comfort food. Perhaps it’s because root vegetables are grown in colder climates, where “comfort food” is desired far more often for warmth.
Kartoffelpuffer is a potato-based dish popular in Germany and Austria that is essentially pan-fried potato pancakes served with toppings like applesauce, sour cream, lox or even bacon.
Deep fried + potato = happiness.
13. Kushari // Egypt
Kushari is another fairly simple dish that utilizes rice and lentils that is the definition of comfort food in Egypt. As a matter of fact, many consider kushari to be a direct descendent of the Indian dish, khichdi, which is also on this list.
In addition to lentils and rice, kushari also contains pasta, essentially making it the country’s version of a carb-loading. Other common toppings include fried onions and tomato sauce.
Another thing that’s cool about this dish is how universal it is — it’s served at high-end restaurants, as street food, and made by the average home chef.