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We are pretty boring with our food choices at our house and I would like to be more adventurous and try new things. Our dinners usually consist of grilled or roasted protein, and 1-2 grilled or roasted veggies. Sometimes pasta or tacos, and rarely takeout. When we do get takeout, it’s usually sushi, pizza, or Mexican. If DH were in charge, we would eat scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes for every meal lol. 
 

I am feeling in a rut in life (for more reasons beyond food), and want to try new things but don’t know where to start: what would be a good “beginners” order at an Indian restaurant, or Thai, or ??? I’m game for basically anything, but don’t love super spicy foods. Share with me your favorite ethnic foods - I really want to get a list going! 

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29 minutes ago, PinkTulip said:

We are pretty boring with our food choices at our house and I would like to be more adventurous and try new things. Our dinners usually consist of grilled or roasted protein, and 1-2 grilled or roasted veggies. Sometimes pasta or tacos, and rarely takeout. When we do get takeout, it’s usually sushi, pizza, or Mexican. If DH were in charge, we would eat scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes for every meal lol. 
 

I am feeling in a rut in life (for more reasons beyond food), and want to try new things but don’t know where to start: what would be a good “beginners” order at an Indian restaurant, or Thai, or ??? I’m game for basically anything, but don’t love super spicy foods. Share with me your favorite ethnic foods - I really want to get a list going! 

For Indian, I love chana saag. It’s chick pea and spinach curry.

 

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I really love Thai food.  

I think satay, shrimp pad thai (noodles with peanuts and shrimp, slightly sweet, not spicy at all), pad pak jae (veggies and tofu in a light garlic sauce), and mangoes with sticky rice are all good choices for someone who is looking for a mild introduction.

If I was going to push the limit, I'd add green papaya salad, because it's one of my very favorite things.  

 

 

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Chicken Tika Masala -yum yum yum

Naan bread is delicious, too

Tandoori chicken is kind of an easy "gateway" into Indian food, although not really easy to do at home. Do you have an Indian restaurant near you? Some of them have buffets so you can try a little of many things. 

Just stay away from anything "vindaloo" if you don't like spicy! 🔥

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At the moment, my brother and I are exploring African flavours. 

Basically, we went trawling all the African groceries, and now we're googling to see what to actually do with the stuff we've bought. I'm also reading a book about Nigerian food, so he keeps texting me and I keep texting back with "that was in my book!!!" and as soon as lockdown is over we're going to the Nigerian restaurant I just learned is in the city. Probably they know more about what they're doing than us two mugs messing about.

 

I have also learned that when waiters ask if I want mild, medium or (bless their hearts) hot, it is wise for me to say "Mild. Wimpy white girl mild."

Also, assign new foods that you might not like to your education budget instead of your food budget. It's the same amount of money, but feels far less irresponsible if you don't like it and want to throw it out.

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1 minute ago, BaseballandHockey said:

Ethiopian food is also delicious.  

I would say my very favorite Ethiopian food is tibs.

I know, right. I only wish some Ethiopians would move to my town and begin an injera business. I would be their first customer. Every week! 
I could also use a corn tortilla business too.

I might end up with decision making paralysis, not knowing whose shop to line up at first.

:svengo:

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Just now, Rosie_0801 said:

I know, right. I only wish some Ethiopians would move to my town and begin an injera business. I would be their first customer. Every week! 
I could also use a corn tortilla business too.

I might end up with decision making paralysis, not knowing whose shop to line up at first.

:svengo:

Come visit me!  I'm sure you can justify airfare to the US for some spongy bread.  We'll worry about getting you back with covid restrictions later.  

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Posted (edited)

Any Jamaican restaurants near you?  Oxtails or Brown Stew Chicken, with peas and rice and some veg (mostly cabbage with some other stuff), is a delicious not too spicy dinner.

ETA: Spring for the extra gravy.  You want it, you know you do.  

Edited by BaseballandHockey
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We love Indian food though my own cooking repertoire is pretty limited. But I have a cookbook suggestion: An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey.  My own copy is ancient and covered with spatters.  It opens automatically to a green bean recipe that is just wonderful.  She has a very conversational style - I love all of her books that I have come across (I only own two, but frequently get others from the library). I find her recipes easy to follow, and they always work. She is a treasure and I will be so sad when she is gone (she is 87 years old).

https://www.amazon.com/Invitation-Indian-Cooking-Madhur-Jaffrey/dp/0375712119

Mostly for trying new foods, I get cookbooks from the library and just try things out. The Splendid Table (podcast and website) is a great source of inspiration for trying new things. 

 

 

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Food intolerances have ruined things for me, but Thai food really isn't too intimidating. Most places will ask how hot you want things. Pad Thai, as mentioned, is really good and very tasty. Thai iced tea is really good!

I second the idea of an Indian buffet. It's a great way to sample a variety of dishes, and they usually put up signage if things are spicy. Once you get a feel for what you like, then you have a better idea of what menu items might appeal. You want some Indian tea. It's really good. Our restaurant calls it "special tea." 

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Thank you for all of the suggestions - I am googling Indian, Thai, Ethiopian, and Jamaican restaurants in my area and have found some with great reviews. I’m thinking this summer would be a good time to support some local restaurants and try new things, maybe once a week or once every two weeks or so. We’re all fully vaccinated here, so I am comfortable with going to restaurants or even ordering takeout. If I can’t get anyone in my family to go, I could probably talk some girlfriends to do this with me!

 

@BaseballandHockey my Latinx food experience is basically limited to Americanized versions of tacos, burritos and enchiladas - I would love to try some more authentic dishes. Thanks for all your suggestions!

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1 hour ago, Rosie_0801 said:

I know, right. I only wish some Ethiopians would move to my town and begin an injera business. I would be their first customer. Every week! 
I could also use a corn tortilla business too.

I might end up with decision making paralysis, not knowing whose shop to line up at first.

:svengo:

I have a tortilla press. Should I start the business? Or just express post you corn tortillas?!

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2 minutes ago, Melissa Louise said:

I have a tortilla press. Should I start the business? Or just express post you corn tortillas?!

It's the postage I don't want to pay for! lol I just don't get down to the Spanish grocer in Melbourne often enough. 

(I have a tortilla press too. But I have to go to that same grocer to get the flour.)

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7 minutes ago, Rosie_0801 said:

It's the postage I don't want to pay for! lol I just don't get down to the Spanish grocer in Melbourne often enough. 

(I have a tortilla press too. But I have to go to that same grocer to get the flour.)

Ah...

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I recommend going to a local Indian/Thai restaurant for their all you can eat lunch buffet.  Get there when they open if you're nervous about buffets (BIL is a health inspector, so I get wanting to avoid buffets in general.) The first time through the line take a small sampling of everything.  Then go back through and take larger portions of the things you really enjoyed.

Ethiopian and other restaurants often have sampler platters, which is a great introduction. I wish every restaurant did this.

Another option is to go with a group and have everyone strategically order something different with the plan for everyone to share with everyone else family style.  My Cuisine Ladies group does this at every ethnic restaurant we go to.

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Sometimes I think food threads are the best threads of all.

OP, Iranian food/Persian food, if you can find it, is great. 15 years ago I had this incredible 'Irani chicken' which was boneless and had almonds. Ah, it was so good. 

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One year we focused on world cultures for homeschool and so we hit a bunch of cultural festivals and we always tried the food. We attended at least one a month and still couldn't get to them all because there are so many here. We were exhausted, a little sunburned and my homeschool budget was empty by the end of the year, but it was all worth it because we discovered we love Greek. Greek is our go-to for take-out now. 

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For us, it’s mostly trying new recipes at home.  Honestly, that means a lot fewer new things because “authentic” often (though not always) takes a lot longer and I prefer quick meals, lol.  But we really lack diversity in restaurants in our area.  A few have tried, but they never last.
On the plus side, our supermarkets have expanded their offerings over the years.  I still try to check all the store apps to make sure they carry the ingredients I’m looking for before I settle on a recipe.  They’re not always great with Middle Eastern stuff.

I still have kids who will try anything, and others who would rather have toast. 😕 

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We went to an Indian restaraunt recently because my son is trying to get a job there 🙂

When we went — we didn’t know any of the items.  They just happened to be unfamiliar.

Okay — first I looked at the kids menu.  It is a safe bet that the most “friendly” items will be options on the kids menu.  One of those items was also an appetizer option and we tried it and liked it.

Then for my dish, I like eggplant and picked something with eggplant.  It was good!  I don’t know the name now, but there was an English description saying it had eggplant.

My husband likes curry and he picked something that said curry.  
 

We did want naan and there were different kinds, the server said “try the garlic naan” so we did. 
 

Then when the food arrived, we realized maybe we were supposed to put the dishes in the middle of the table and scoop onto our own plates.  We didn’t realize when we ordered.  But no big deal, it worked well to have one curry and one eggplant dish. 

It was slow or we would have been able to notice other diners doing that when we walked in.  

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Posted (edited)

For Thai food, my husband likes curry.  I like noodles.  For noodles — common noodles are Pad Thai, pad see ew, and drunken noodles.  I like all of those.  There will be a chili pepper sign by spicy menu items.  Pad Thai is not spicy so if you don’t want spicy I think it is a good choice.  
 

There is often a choice of protein or extra vegetables.

I always get tofu or extra vegetables. 
 

My husband always gets pork or shrimp.
 

 

Edited by Lecka
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Posted (edited)

My son’s potential job is only going to happen if the restaraunt opens its buffet.  I don’t know if it is not allowed (this is what I think) or they think they won’t have enough business over the summer (they are near a university).  
 

My son’s friend works there so I think he does have a good chance if they do open the buffet.  
 

We heard from the friend that they recently fired someone who worked there for an extremely short time before getting caught smoking meth in the bathroom.  Ugh.  
 

He will be able to work doing outside chores for my step-dad’s friends if he doesn’t get this job.  He helped repair a fence and did some other work for one of his friends last year and will be recommended now, to help with projects where they know how to do it but can’t do it alone anymore.  
 

Edit:  really I think buffets will be allowed here sometime in June, and then it will open then, or they might just wait until Fall.  My son was told they would call him when they open the buffet but that they didn’t know when that would be.  But they did have a “now hiring” sign and like my son’s friend, so we think maybe he will get called any time.  
 

Our town has separate coronavirus stuff from the state, and just lifted the mask mandate about a week ago.  But there are still restrictions on indoor dining.  
 

Edit:  my son is fully vaccinated so we think it is fine.  

Edited by Lecka
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Posted (edited)

Another thing I have done — I will just ask the server for a suggestion.  They know what popular dishes are for someone who is not as familiar with the cuisine.

My husband loves pho, and I am not a fan, and to be honest there is a lot of Vietnamese food where I am just not that adventurous.  
 

But there has only been one place where they could not recommend something I would like.

And that is because we went to a restaraunt that only served crawdad soup!  My husband loved it.  
 

There is a “Little Vietnam” near where we live,  so a lot of options.  
 

For some of the other kinds of restaraunts mentioned, I don’t think we have ever lived somewhere that had them.  
 

I am also a difficult person to not like pho.  My poor husband.  Most people do like it.

 

There are also often Korean restaurants outside of Army bases where most people will order a plate that comes with several things, so you don’t need to figure out what to order, you just order the lunch plate.  For Korean food — common things to get are Bulgogi and Bi Beem Bop.  Almost everyone will like them.  (Edit — bibimbap is the correct spelling.  This is like a rice bowl.). 

Edited by Lecka
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When my kids were younger, we studied different countries during the summer months - trying crafts, looking at art from that country, reading books about/from that country, etc - and we would try various recipes. I will say that some of the spices made some of those recipes quite pricey - and I was never sure if they were 'right', you know? So, we started trying ethnic restaurants - buffets were best because you could try a little bit of everything, but sampler platters were also good but we only found those at Indian places. 

Our family has different favorites - Mediterranean for me, Indian for one dd, the other two just enjoy trying all sorts of different things. 

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For someone who does not like spicy food, butter chicken (murgh makhani) is a good first dish at an Indian restaurant.  With naan and basmati rice.  Request "mild" the first time just in case.  Different cooks have different ideas of what "spicy" means.  Have either milk or mango juice/milkshake ready to neutralize the spice if needed.

I guess my favorite ethnic dish is cashew chicken (Chinese).

 

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