Life can be pretty boring if you stick to your usual routine and never expand your experiences beyond the basic. And that applies to your dining habits as well, so let us be grateful for international food recipes. It’s time to leave your boring grilled chicken dinner behind and spice up your menu and your life with some international cuisine recipes that will instantly infuse your day with interesting flavor. After all, the best way to learn about a culture is through its cuisine. James Oseland, Saveur Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief (and Top Chef Masters judge) once said that he always had an “intense natural instinct to be able to understand a place through what it eats.” That’s why he wrote the book Saveur: The Way We Cook, Portraits from Around the World, showcasing different cultures and their international cuisine from every corner of the globe.

And while the way we cook and enjoy our food may have many similarities across the world, the food we eat and the flavors we favor define who we are as a community. Every country uses different herbs, tastes, styles and spices, and when you learn to embrace those dishes you’ll notice a major shift in how you look at the world and a major boost in how you enjoy your meals and your life. Here are 6 international food recipes that you will love and will have no trouble making, and they just might make you feel a little bit more cultured as you enjoy. 


1. Indian
One of the most popular dishes that comes from India is Chicken Tikka Masala.  Even if you think that Indian food tends to be too spicy for your taste, this dish will be right up your alley. You’ll see it on almost any menu at any Indian restaurant, and while you’ve probably tried it (and loved it) you may be hesitant to make it yourself. Don’t be. It’s far easier than it looks, and the flavor-packed dish you’ll enjoy is totally worth the effort. 


2. Thai
If you love spicy foods (guilty!) and you love noodles (double guilty!) then you will love this Drunken Noodles recipe. Even the name sounds appealing. The flat noodles are filling but not too heavy, the sauce is loaded with savory flavor and the Thai Chile makes it all sorts of amazing. Plus it’s mostly vegetarian (minus the chicken stock), quick and easy to make and healthy! 


3. Chinese
You can’t go wrong with international food recipes from China. In our house Chinese food is reserved for Sunday nights, and after many years of mastering the art of Chinese take-out, we decided it was time to try to whip up a fried rice dish ourselves. Warning: this dish smells and looks as amazing as it tastes, so good luck waiting until it’s done to dig in. The ginger and soy sauce add some traditional Asian flavors, and the end result is something so delicious your family will think you visited your local Chinese restaurant. PS – if you want to give the dish a healthier spin you could use brown rice instead of white rice. 


4. Italian
All pasta is created equal, right? Wrong! As much as pasta has become an incredibly common dish in almost every cuisine, a perfectly executed Italian pasta preparation will blow your mind. To begin, say 2 magic words: al dente. And then keep it simple. According to celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis anyone can make great Italian food with simple ingredients. “My goal is to make Italian food clean and accessible and beautiful and tasty, with simple ingredients that people can find at a local grocery store” she explains. And this Pasta Bolognese recipe is all of those things and more. It’s delicious, it looks impressive, tastes great, and is actually easy to make. Serve this sauce with rigatoni or penne cooked perfectly al dente (firm to the bite).


5. Mexican
Is it us, or does the word “fiesta” go hand-in-hand with fun and flavor? Which is exactly what this taco recipe packs: tons of flavor and a fun cooking process. You can make all of the ingredients ahead of time and then get your friends and kids involved in the taco prep. We love this healthy version of the Mexican favorite that boasts grilled shrimp, lime-juice, sour cream, tomatillo sauce and tortillas (naturally).  Plus you can top it with guacamole, salsa, lettuce or cabbage to taste. 


6. French
French cuisine tends to have a somewhat stuffy reputation, but it’s time to ditch any preconceived notions about French food and dig in to this amazing chicken dish. Sure, you could simply grill a chicken breast…or you could make Coq au Vin. Sounds fancy, looks fancy, tastes unbelievably good and is worth every second of preparation. It takes a while due to the time spent marinating the chicken legs, but don’t skip this step. These chefs from Balthazar (arguably the best French bistro in all of New York City) know what they are talking about. International cuisine recipes never tasted so decadent.

Photos 1, 3 & 4 courtesy of Food