When it comes to porridge, the sky is the limit. Nearly every country out there has its own version of this breakfast and its popularity grows with each passing day. Long considered to be the breakfast of peasants and the working class, oatmeal porridge is now the top choice for just about any family that prefers a healthy lifestyle and the comforts of home.
As a cornerstone of kitchens around the world, oatmeal porridge is known by many names and is prepared with a wide variety of ingredients - from oats, barley and wheat, to quinoa, beans, buckwheat, corn and rice. All of these cereals are boiled in a hot liquid to a creamy porridge and garnished with milk, honey, fish, feta cheese, vegetables and spices or according to personal preference and taste.
Despite all their differences, it seems that all porridges share 4 characteristics: they're nutritious, healthy, loaded with vitamins and are the easiest thing you can make that'll satisfy your hunger.
Here are some of the top consumed porridges worldwide:
The favorite breakfast dish in the southern part of India and Sri Lanka is upma porridge, which is made from dried, toasted semolina, traditionally sauteed in melted butter with toasted mustard seeds and seasoned with curry, turmeric and fried onions. Once cooked, it can be mixed with potatoes, tomatoes, peas and toasted nuts. Nowadays, upma isn't just a breakfast food but is also a main course, eaten for lunch or dinner.
Chefs throughout Asia, including China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, are renowned for this beloved porridge, made from rice that's boiled slowly to a creamy perfection and then served with various tasty ingredients.
Rice porridge in the East is equivalent to chicken soup in the West, in that it is typically eaten when one falls sick. The porridge comes in a plethora of names and recipe variations, depending on who makes it and where. In China, for example, it's known as jook. Rice porridge can be boiled and mixed with ginger, pork, shrimp, onions, garlic, dried mushrooms and eggs. In Japan, it's called kayu and can be topped with sesame seeds and pickled plums.
Besides as a national iconic food, in the US oatmeal is also a common breakfast. It's traditionally eaten with butter and milk but depending on the region it's prepared in, oatmeal recipes can vary and include anything from bacon, eggs and ham to catfish and shrimp.
Sweet and chocolaty, this Filipino porridge is made from boiled sticky rice with milk, sugar and cocoa added in. It's traditionally served for breakfast or as a dessert. This Filipino culinary treasure was actually brought in by the Spanish, when during the Spanish colonization, a galleon of traders introduced their traditional hot chocolate, in turn transforming into the recipe for the Filipino porridge.
As with many porridges, polenta was also a food of the poor back in the day, more specifically the food of Italian peasants. Polenta can be served as a creamy porridge garnished with meat, sauces and feta cheese or simply with a piece of butter and sprinkled with parmesan. It's often left to cool so that it can solidify and harden, it's then cut into pieces that are fried, breaded or grilled. In modern gourmet cuisine, chefs garnish polenta with Gorgonzola, sauteed wild mushrooms, shrimp and even lobster.