A warm bowl of comfort that we dig into every morning for a day full of basking in the sunshine of life, a recipe of ancientry that charts the course to good health and nutrition, a universal adherence to the idea of its versatility and convenience, a single spoonful of our good ol’ porridge is what it takes to gleefully look forward to each day. Even in the tremendous wrong porridges have been done, looked down upon as a sickly meal of not much offering in taste, this humbly faithful serving of wholesomeness though is a wonder in the many ways it allows itself to be explored and enjoyed in all diversity.
Existing in so many traditional variants and versions, each catering to the expansive fancies of different nations of taste, porridges can be something you can absolutely fall in love with if only you have stumbles upon their worthiest versions. Here’s some of the most interesting porridge dishes from all over the world that can sure be your go- to bowl of comfort-
Deviating far from the convention of porridges being deemed as dull, bland and boring bowls of dismal breakfast is a particular Filipino recipe that sure shines out from the rest of the clan. A sweet chocolate rice porridge, tsampurado or champorado is however the derivative of the Mexican beverage atole. More specifically, tsampurado derives from the close sounding chocolate based atole called the champurrado that spaced out the traditional ingredient of masa for the incorporation of sticky rice, a staple of the cuisine of many south Asian nations including the Philippines.
Made by boiling rice with ground roasted cocoa bean tablets called tablea, and served either hot or cold with milk and sugar, tsampurado is a very integral part of Filipino food culture today, relished for breakfast or during the customary ‘light meal’ of the merienda. A hearty enough chocolatey treat indeed to kickstart the day, enjoyed as it is or typically with some dried salted fish on the side.
A thick rice porridge native to Asia, congee goes by different names in different countries alluding to its many diverse methods of preparation. Generally cooked by boiling rice in large amounts of water, congee can be eaten plain along with a range of side dishes or it can be prepared as a meal in itself by allowing for everything from meat and veggies to spices and condiments to enrich its flavor.
Relished as jūk in China as well as in Korea, kayu or okayu in Japan, hsan byoke or hsan pyoke in Burma, babor in Cambodia, bubur in Indonesia, khao piak in Laos, Chok or Jok in Thailand, cháo in Vietnam, kenda in Sri Lanka and in a variety of such names and identities in different countries even outside the Asian continent, congees are generally savoury porridges though a few dessert versions exist as well. Considered a comfort food in its easily digestible, healthy and nutritious essence, congee makes for a really filling and wholesome breakfast or a truly nutritious meal regardless of whatever time of the day it is eaten.
An Italian dish, polenta is a porridge made from boiled cornmeal served warm though it is also sometimes served cooled in the form of a baked, grilled or fried loaf. Cooking yellow maize or even buckwheat or white maize low and slow over a fire with a combination of either butter, cream, milk, stock or water is what yields this comforting looking bowl of goodness. A dish with deep roots in history, this soft and creamy serving of warmth and health finds savoring as an iconic Italian dish though it does not command the same admiration of fancy as classic Italian fares like pizzas and pastas.
A porridge that is whipped, to attain a consistency much like a mousse, how very interesting does that sound? That exactly what the Finnish vispipuuro is, in all its porridgey identity, that which though also finds exploration in the cuisine of nations like Sweden and Estonia where it is popular as vispgröt/klappgröt/klappkräm and mannavaht respectively. A sweet wheat semolina porridge cooked in water with lingonberries, the mixture is allowed to cool and is then whipped vigorously to attain its light consistency and served with some milk and sugar. A traditional Nordic recipe that is creamy, fruity and pretty, the visvipuuro does sum up a variety of enticing elements all in one.
A porridge made from millet that is native to the state of Tamil Nadu in India, koozh can be a really interesting form of a dish otherwise perceived as a breakfast staple. Served hot at temple festivals throughout the rural areas of the state, koozh though is sometimes also consumed as a fermented dish as part of breakfast or lunch meals. Made from pearl millet flour and broken rice, this can be a vegetarian or a non vegetarian porridge typically prepared in clay pots. Koozh is sometimes also liquefied for consumption by adding water and salt and, optionally, buttermilk, onion, curry leaves and coriander leaves and served with spicy sides.
Fløyelsgrøt (Velvet Porridge)
A Norwegian porridge that is as striking and rich in essence as what its name suggests, velvet porridge will for sure send all your porridge nightmares for a toss. A really luscious and decadent porridge prepared by incorporating a generous amount of white roux made from wheat flour and butter into ample amounts of milk, cooked until it can be served as a thick, delightful delicacy. Served also as luxuriantly with some sugar, cinnamon and possibly buttermilk or even with some additional lumps of melting butter, this is a ‘finer porridge’ that makes for an indulgent Sunday morning spread and sure is one of the finer things to look forward to in life!
One of the rarer porridges that does not make for a meal in itself is the also otherwise unique funje from the region of Angola. Made by cooking cassava flour in water, this is a side dish that however prominently sits alongside every main meal in its somewhat bland flavor helping to balance the intense spices of the accompanying preparations. Sticky and creamy and smooth in texture, with a consistency that resembles that of mashed potato, this sure is a porridge unlike any other you are likely to encounter any place else on earth.
Oat Porridge (Oatmeal)
Easily the most common porridge of today is the one made by cooking oats in milk or water or both, sweetened with any number of agents, and topped with various fruits and nuts, both fresh and dried and candied for an exotic bowl of color fed, feel good, nutritious breakfast bowl that makes for a splash across not just dining table but also all over social media. Oat porridge can be made in any number of ways, in many different varieties, with individual ingredients of choice, mostly sweet but sometimes plain or even savoury as per taste preferences and fitness fads. Easy to cook up, convenient to devour, yummy to the taste buds and filling for the tummy, it is no wonder that oatmeal today is almost synonymous with porridge and is the first image conjured up when we think of cooking up a bowl of this comfort meal.
A decadent dessert, Russia’s guryev porridge or guriev kasha is a semolina based dish that however incorporates a method of preparation rather intriguing. Traditionally, cream or milk is baked until a golden skin forms upon it, which is then lifted up and used to separate the many layers of the dish that incorporated also nuts, honey and candied fruits. Sprinkled on top with sugar and then browned in a broiler, this semolina porridge is resplendent in the rich color and flavor of caramel by virtue of its distinctive method of cooking. Rich also in its history, and taking its name after the Count Dmitry Alexandrovich Guriev is this classic Russian recipe doing much to do away with the stereotypical bland identity porridges are typically reduced to.
We all have heard of and tasted the famed flavor of the classic bread and butter pudding but a bread and wine porridge? Sure please! A traditional Danish porridge, the Øllebrød might be a thrifty preparation of rye bread scraps and beer that ensures none of the good old bread goes to waste. But in its taste, it sure is a porridge that we would want to partake of any time of the day. Not the traditional way perhaps that was served unsweetened and eaten three times a day but certainly in its present day serving as a sweet bowl of breakfast with some milk, or even topped with some whipped cream, though lemon and orange flavourings also might do the trick.
The most popular porridges of the world are all grain based and some diversive ones make allowance for the inclusion of rice in the recipe but lentils have not been accorded the same status yet when it comes to concocting up a bowl of this comfort food. A case in contrast therefore has to be the savoury pease porridge made of boiled legumes with water, salt and spice and often also with some meat. An English preparation, this is a thick porridge generally of split yellow peas and is therefore light yellow in color. Eaten also in German speaking countries, Russia and in Greece in some form, there exists also a sweet version of the pease porridge in Beijing cuisine that is served chilled much like a dessert.
A very nutritious Arabian porridge that was supposed to have been eaten by the Prophet Muhammad himself, talbina is made from barley flour and is one of the healthiest porridges that you can ever dig into. Milk and honey are added to dried barley powder to arrive at a preparation that is soft and white, much like yogurt, which is why the name, derived from the Arabic word laban alluding to the dairy product.
One of the most unique types of porridges, the helmipuuro is a preparation native to Finland. Literally meaning pearl porridge, this is a sweet dish made however with no grains or flour in the process. Instead, some dehydrated granules of potato starch are boiled in milk that make them swell and turn into translucent, pearl like orbs, thus lending its very interesting sounding and tasting porridge its name. Flavored with butter or berries, jams or other fruit preparations or even sugar, the helmipuuro makes for a hearty breakfast for Finns and even for some Russians to kickstart the day with.
Another porridge from the southern region of India, pongal is a dish made by boiling rice in milk and sugar or as a savoury and spicy preparation. Ubiquitous to the Pongal festival, the savoury versions of this porridge includes also lentils along with rice though adaptations have allowed for oats to be included in place of the latter. Appropriate thus as some fort of an oatmeal as well, this is a really versatile porridge that is also a popular religious offering.
A traditional porridge from Slovenia, močnik is prepared with cereal flour, milk, cream or sour cream and salt or sugar. Also called buckwheat pap, this in fact is the national dish of the country even when it is commonly perceived of as food for the poor. Scalded and sifted buckwheat flour pellets are boiled in salted milk to which sugar is added for a serving of health within reasonable means.
Soft and floury in texture and mild and pleasant in taste with also an enticing aroma, a traditional serving of močnik might not boast of anything very luxurious, except in cases when eggs are incorporated into the preparation. But it is exactly in this simplistic essence of the porridge that its credibility as a comfort food rests. Served warm for breakfast or sometimes as a light meal, this is one of those porridges that sounds basic but is indeed a warmth inducing preparation for those long evenings of the winter.
Rømmegrøt (Sour Cream Porridge)
Norway sure seems to be knowing the perfect way to porridge it up! After the sinfully rich decadence of the butter laden velvet porridge, it’s time now for a preparation based in sour cream to titillate the taste buds in a gastronomic explosion of perfection. Rømmegrøt, literally sour cream pudding, is a thick and sweet delicacy of festive leanings, is a preparation of wheat flour in cooked sour cream generally drizzled in butter and sprinkled with sugar and ground cinnamon. Sometimes even served with cured meats or hard boiled eggs as per local traditions, this intensely rich porridge though is always served as small bowfuls, leaving perhaps every single of its devourers desperately wishing for some more!
Conforming to the displays of those breakfast bowls of oatmeal porridges decked up with some berries and fruits and color is a Dutch ‘dessert’ that is all things good and healthy and delicious. Krentjebrij or watergruel is one of the most exotic porridges to ever exist, that can be referred to as Raisin Porridge, Berry Soup, Berry Gruel, or more literally currants cooked to mush. Plumped up pearl barley cooked with fresh raisins and currants and cherries and berries with some cinnamon and sugar and honey, this is a fruity porridge that can be served hot or cold as a traditional recipe much loved throughout the Netherlands.