Three recipes in various-sized bowls and ingredients like garlic, peppers, egg, and limes are on a dining table from bird's eye view.Three recipes in various-sized bowls and ingredients like garlic, peppers, egg, and limes are on a dining table from bird's eye view.

The World on a Plate

When you are thousands of miles away from home, nothing can bring you back faster than the smell of familiar dishes coming from the kitchen.

By Kim Schmidt

Photographs by Abigail Bobrow

Food Styling by Rebecca Schultz

Over 11,000 students from across the globe study at Illinois, and to bring them a little slice of home, the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) teamed up with Dining Services to host the first International Cook-Off last fall. This friendly competition let students share dishes they love in four categories: rice, curry, kebab, and bread.

“Students get excited about food from their home countries, and we want to celebrate and spotlight what some of those dishes are,” said Kimberly Yau, who oversees programming for ISSS. “Food brings people together.”

Enjoy three recipes from dishes that earned top marks!


Small, fat breads with grill marks layered on top of one another in a light blue serving bowl. Garnished with a sprig of green onion.
Download bazlama recipe (PDF format).

Bazlama, TurkeyMade by PhD student Asena Karipek (LAS ’20)


1 c warm milk

1 c warm water

3 tbsp olive oil

1 pack instant yeast

1 tbsp sugar

4 c flour

1 tsp salt


7 ounces feta cheese

2 tbsp labneh cheese

5-6 sprigs parsley, chopped

  1. Whisk together warm milk, warm water, olive oil, yeast, and sugar. Add flour and salt to the mixture. Knead the dough.
  2. Cover dough with wax paper and a towel. Let it rise for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: Mix feta cheese, labneh cheese, and chopped parsley.
  4. After 30 minutes, cut the dough into 8 pieces and roll each piece into a ball shape.
  5. Place the balls onto a floured tray. Cover them with wax paper and let them sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, roll each ball to the size of a dessert plate.
  6. Spread a spoonful of filling onto a piece of dough. Cover the filling and pinch closed so that filling remains inside the dough. Repeat until all are filled.
  7. Roll each filled ball of dough flat. Cover dough and let rest for 15 minutes. One by one, cook each circle of dough in a preheated skillet and serve.



A large, white bowl filled with chicken and rice. Garnished with sliced red peppers and surrounded by lemon wedges and red jalapeños.
Download arroz chaufa recipe (PDF format).

Arroz Chaufa, PeruMade by Kurt Soncco Sinchi (Grainger ’23) and members of the the Peruvian Student Association


2 c boneless chicken thighs, diced into cubes

5 eggs scrambled then roughly chopped

2½ c cold cooked white rice

½ c onions, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 tbsp fresh ginger

½ c green onion, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp vegetable oil


⅛ c soy sauce

¼ tsp sesame oil

2 pinches cumin

1 pinch sugar

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the red bell peppers and onions. Sauté until softened, about 6 minutes.
  3. Right before the pepper and onions are done, add the fresh ginger and green onions and sauté for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chicken and cook thoroughly mix. Cook until chicken is cooked through.
  5. Add half the rice into the skillet. Mix well, and then add the rest of the rice. Mix well. Add the soy sauce mixture and mix.
  6. Add the chopped scrambled eggs. Toss. Season with salt and pepper.



A large white bowl filled with a thick, yellow curry chicken. Garnished with cilantro and red chilies.
Download cashew chicken curry recipe (PDF format).

Cashew Chicken Curry, IndiaMade by PhD student Amartya Karmakar


2 lbs chicken thighs

4 tbsp onions, sliced

4 tbsp plain yogurt

⅔ c sour cream

⅔ c fresh cream

2½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chili powder

½ tsp garam masala

2½ tsp salt

1 tsp lime juice

2½ tbsp olive or mustard oil

1 piece charcoal

3½ tsp ghee or butter

1⅓ tsp cilantro


½ lb cubed potatoes

1⅓ c sliced onions

2 tsp minced garlic

⅓ c ginger paste

½ c cashews

2 tbsp olive or mustard oil

1 tsp garam masala

2 dried red chilis

2 bay leaves

1 tsp turmeric powder

1¼ tbsp salt

2½ tsp cilantro

2 green chilies, sliced

  1. Caramelize onions and mix it with the yogurt and sour cream and make a paste of it. Coat the chicken pieces with this paste; mix the remaining ingredients with the chicken and paste. Smoke it with a piece of charcoal and some butter. Set aside for 45 minutes.
  2. Fry onions, ginger and garlic in some olive oil/mustard oil in a pan until they are light brown in color. Take it out of the pan and blend into a smooth paste.
  3. Peel potatoes, cut them in half, and boil/fry them until they are soft. In the pan, lightly toast the cashews and blend them with some water.
  4. In the same pan (where the onions, ginger, garlic have been fried and the cashews toasted), put oil and add the whole garam masala, dried red chilis, bay leaves. Wait for a minute (or until you can smell the spices) before adding in the onion, ginger, garlic blend. Fry it until the oil separates from the gravy (you will be able to see the oil floating over). Add the cashew blend.
  5. After 2 minutes, add in the chicken (make sure to remove the piece of charcoal before putting the chicken inside the pan). Cook until the chicken gets tender. It will take around 9 minutes on high heat or 15 on medium heat.
  6. Add the potatoes and cook the gravy for another 6-8 minutes on low heat. Add some fresh cream on top. Add salt and sugar according to preference. Garnish with cilantro.
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