Top 10 National Dishes

Most countries have a favorite or national dish that represents the cuisine of that nation.  In this list I have chosen 10 delicious national dishes.


This is a traditional Portuguese dish found in Brazilian cuisine as well as in countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Goa and India.  Feijoada is a stew of beans with beef and pork.  The word “feijoa” means beans in Portuguese.   The Brazilian  feijoada is prepared with black turtle beans (also white, pinto and red beans), a variety of salted pork and beef products, such as pork trimmings (ears, tail, feet), bacon, smoked pork ribs, and at least two types of smoked sausage and jerked beef (loin and tongue). This stew is best prepared over low fire in a thick clay pot. The final dish has the beans and meat pieces barely covered by a dark purplish-brown broth. The taste is strong, moderately salty but not spicy, dominated by the flavors of black bean and meat stew.


In Sweden, köttbullar (meatballs) are made with ground beef or a mix of ground beef, pork and sometimes veal, mixed with breadcrumbs soaked in milk and finely chopped (fried) onions, some broth, and, occasionally, cream.  They are seasoned with white pepper or allspice and salt.  Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with gravy, boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, and sometimes fresh pickled cucumber. Traditionally, they are small, measuring one inch in diameter.


Cou-cou consists mainly of cornmeal (corn flour) and okra (ochroes).  The cornmeal which comes readily packaged and is available at stores island wide and the okra which is accessible at supermarkets, vegetable markets and home gardens, they are very inexpensive ingredients.  A unique cooking utensil called a ‘cou-cou stick’ (or ‘fungi stick’) is used in its preparation.  It is believed by Barbadians to be essential in stirring the cou-cou, as cou-cou takes on a firm texture and the cou-cou stick makes it easier to stir in a large pot.  Flying fish prepared fried or steamed is a usual complement to cou-cou to make up this national dish


This is a popular Greek dish consisting small pieces of meat and sometimes vegetables grilled on a skewer.  It may be served on the skewer for eating out of hand, in a pita sandwich with garnishes and sauces, or on a dinner plate, often with fried potatoes. The meat is traditionally lamb in Greece and Cyprus, or in modern times increasingly pork due to the lower cost.  A similar dish is known as a Gyros.  This is a souvlaki but the meat is rotated on a mechanical skewer, thinly cut then placed in pita bread.


The most likely origin of the plate lies in the area of present-day Peru.  Ceviche is a seafood dish popular in the coastal regions of the Americas, especially Central and South America, and the Philippines.  The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish marinated in citrus juices such as lemon or lime and spiced with chilli peppers. Additional seasonings such as onion, salt, coriander/cilantro, and pepper may also be added. Ceviche is usually accompanied by side dishes that complement its flavors such as sweet potato, lettuce, corn, or avocado. As the dish is not cooked with heat, it must be prepared fresh to minimize the risk of food poisoning.


Fondue is a Swiss dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot over a spirit lamp (rechaud), and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union in the 1930s and became popular in North America in the 1960s.  Since the 1950s, the name “fondue” has been generalized to other dishes where a food is dipped into a communal pot of hot liquid: chocolate fondue, where pieces of fruit are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, where pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil.


Sheperds pie, also known as Cottage pie is a minced meat pie with a mashed potato crust.  The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791,when the potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor.  The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until 1877,and since then it has sometimes (incorrectly) been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton. The term “shepherd’s pie” should be used when the meat is mutton or lamb,with the origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle.


Bobotie, traditionally spelt bobotjie, is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. The recipe is likely to have originated from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia.  It was then taken to South Africa and adopted by the Cape Malay community. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight “tang”.  Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours that can add complexity. For example, the dried fruit (usually apricots and raisins/sultanas) contrasts the curry flavouring very nicely. The texture of the dish is also complex, with the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread which adds moisture to the dish.


This dish is made with boneless meat, thinned and coated in bread crumbs and fried.  It is a popular part of Viennese, Austrian and German cuisine.  Although the traditional wiener schnitzel is made of veal, it is often made of pork. In Austria by law the dish has to be called  Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein (vom Schwein meaning from pork or pig) when made with pork .  The traditional wiener schnitzel is garnished with a slice of lemon and served with a side of potato salad or potatoes with parsley and butter.


Paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century on the east coast of Spain. There are three widely known types of paella: Valencian paella (Spanish: paella valenciana), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco) and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta).  The most globally popular recipe is seafood paella.  Paella usually has a layer of toasted rice at the bottom of the pan called socarrat in Spain. This is considered a delicacy there and is essential to a good paella.


  1. Thanks for looking Heidi. I have tried most of these (except the flying fish) and they are so delicious and really not difficult to make, you should give them a try 🙂

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