Ever wondered what’s cooking in the kitchen in Lebanon? Or what traditional treats they enjoy in Russia over Christmas? Experiencing another nation’s cuisine is perhaps one of the best (and definitely tastiest!) ways for your child to explore a new culture. Don’t worry if you can’t afford to drop $1,000 on a plane ticket to Bali, you can make it to the other side of the world by dinner time with one of these 10 recipes that little international chefs can make with a little help or sometimes by themselves!
1. Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls
Finger foods have long been popular with children from around the world, and these rice paper wraps from BBC Good Food are no exception. Besides being fun and easy to eat, your child will enjoy using their hands to roll their veggies up into rice paper. While traditionally Vietnamese Rice Paper Wraps contain ingredients like bean sprouts, cucumbers and carrots, this one is totally up to interpretation. So let your little chef get creative! The best part (besides the fact that it’s fast and easy, with only 20 minutes of prep time and 3 minutes of “cook” time) is that it leaves so much room for creativity. What will your child think to wrap?
Humus is a delicious staple of Middle Eastern cuisine! It requires the use of a blender, but is otherwise easy for young chefs to whip up. The best thing about hummus is it’s flexible and unique; no two Mediterranean restaurants make it quite the same! Have your kid pick one of the many recipes at The Spruce or let them get creative and pick their own ingredients. Best for dipping, you can serve your child’s hummus with pita chips, or better yet, use it to trick them into loving veggies.
3. “Chinese” Fortune Cookies
I’ve got a premonition that these easy, three-ingredient fortune cookies from Epicurious are in your family’s future! Ok, so fortune cookies are actually a Chinese-American invention. While they may not provide an authentic taste of China, they are fun and easy to make (and might open the door for a fun and interesting history lesson on the fortune cookie). You can even let your kids write fun fortunes or encouraging messages to put inside.
4. Grilled Chicken Peanut Stir Fry
Though this dish may not provide the most authentic Chinese flavor, it does utilize the easy and tasty cooking method of stir-fry, which involves frying ingredients in a hot pan with light oil. Your child will find this grilled chicken peanut stir fry from Foodlets quite easy and fun to make. It’s also an especially ideal dish for kids with picky palate -- with familiar flavors like chicken and peanuts, it’s the perfect mixture of adventurous and safe.
5. Spanish Tapas
Tapas are a special appetizer or snack served in Spanish cuisine. Besides being an interesting part of their culture, they’re also easy and fun to make! While tapas can range from small portions of chorizo to slices of ham on bread, we suggest your little chef gives one of the straightforward recipes over at Toon Goggles a shot. Our favorite is the simple (yet delicious) pa amb tomaquet, which consists of lightly toasted bread with a little tomato and garlic.
6. Lebanese Manakish
Manakish is a bread that’s been called the pizza of the Arabic world. Sometimes topped with cheese, thyme and some type of ground meat, Manakish is sure to be a hit all your kids will love -- and it’s easy to make, too! Follow the instructions over at Pintsize Gourments for an easy version of manakish that caters to young cooks. Commonly a breakfast food in Lebanon, it can serve as a great meal any time of day!
7. South African Crunchies
Immaculate Bites list of easy dishes from all over Africa, like these crunchies, which are a traditional South African oatmeal bar described as being “nutty, buttery, sweet and crunchy”.
Does require use of a stove top to melt butter and other ingredients as well as an oven, so this might be one for young chefs to do with supervision.
8. Russian Tea Cakes
Though traditionally a Christmas treat, these Russian tea cakes from Beyond Recipes can be enjoyed on any occasion. They have tons of hands-on steps to keep young chefs engaged, like smashing and mixing ingredients, rolling the dough and covering the cakes in sugar. It’s a fun, delicious mess. Also called “snowballs,” these goodies don't have to be eaten with tea.
9. Salsa from Scratch
When you're grabbing chips and salsa for the next cookout or family movie night it’s easy to go straight for the jar, but homemade salsa is an easy and incredibly fun food for your child to make. While traditional Mexican salsa is usually quite spicy, it’s a food that’s widely left up to interpretation. Let your kids follow the easy recipe over at Parents or allow them to make their own creation based off ingredients of their choosing. It’s easy and there’s no cooking or baking involved, but be sure your child is okay to handle a knife for cutting ingredients.
10. Greek Ice Cream
Everybody loves ice cream! Pagoto Kaimaki, an orchid ice cream with gum mastic, is perhaps easier for your fledgling chef to make than it will be to pronounce. Though it does require several ingredients that may take a trip to a Lebanese or Egyptian market, once you’ve gathered the ingredients, it’s easy to put together and requires no cooking. Follow the recipe at The Spruce and be sure to enjoy it outside in hot weather if possible!
These recipes won’t just leave your family’s bellies full; besides the cultural exploration that cooking international foods provides, it also gives the opportunity for quality time in the kitchen and the chance to teach practical life skills like cooking, food preparation, and proper measurement techniques. Enjoy!