Ethnic Cuisines for Inspiration

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 27, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Yes, I'm in the process of converting over to being a proper little paleo. On top of that, I am a foodie and I thoroughly enjoy cooking, new flavors, new spices. So, I was wondering what ethnic cuisines people are using for inspiration and recipes?

The Jaminets (in Perfect Health Diet), recommend Pacific Islander. Related, Okinawan and Southeast Asian diets look like good sources (as long as you keep rice and noodles under control).

I was wondering about Brazilian cuisine being a possibility? No big uses of wheat, several non-gluten "bread" options. The problem might be getting hold of some of the vegetables.

Another option I was looking at was Basque? Modern hunter-gatherers, their language looks to be a paleolithic isolate. Other than the inclusion of beans, sounds like it might fit paleo requirements.

Anybody have any other ideas/recommendations?

Medium avatar


on January 28, 2012
at 04:34 AM

From the variety of recommendations, it looks like inspiration shouldn't be so much pre-agricultural or grainless cuisines, but simply anything that pre-dates industrial agriculture. The Jaminets recommend the original *Fannie Farmer Cookbook* for cooking with animal fats. I just recently got a copy *Lüchow's German Cookbook* with some delicious old school German recipes (including Veal Goulash) ... although avoiding the Desserts section will be challenge ... hmmm, maybe a Paleo Linzer Torte ...

  • Size75 avatar

    asked by

  • Views
  • Last Activity
    1459D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

10 Answers

best answer


on January 27, 2012
at 06:41 PM

If you want some Brazilian ideas, go to a churrascaria (Brazilian steakhouse). You can get great meats, offal, veggie dishes, etc. Like the Basque, aside from beans it is pretty solidly paleo. Some will serve bread, but many don't. Frequently carbs are from farofa, a dish made from manioc.

As for other suggestions, I'm a big fan of Thai food. The curries are very often paleo, and based in coconut milk. The use of soy is rare. Though not strictly paleo, Thai noodle dishes are rice-based, and are great places for flavor experiments, especially if you like spice. Make the dish without noodles and you have a lovely spicy stew of sorts.

Some African and Middle Eastern dishes are good too. When I lived in Brazil, there were these great Ethiopian restaurants, and the food was very often fish, meat, vegetables, and tubers. There are also dishes which use things like grape leaves in creative ways.

The only other main one I would suggest is Turkish cuisine. Turkish food has a lot of lamb and veggies, though there are some veggies that are nightshades, and I know some paleos avoid them. One of my favorite desserts is an almond pudding I've only found in Turkish restaurants, and it is pretty low in refined sugar: almonds, eggs, cream, honey, spices. Very tasty, and you can likely find a recipe online.


on January 27, 2012
at 09:53 PM

Ethiopia: lots of delicious long cooked stews. Middle East: lamb, lamb and more lamb!



on January 27, 2012
at 09:03 PM

balkan cuisine is very paleo friendly -- lots of meat, including offal, and veggies. even a lot of the baking is done with nut flours and eggs as opposed to grain flours.

oh, and if you get away from the breads and beers (which are def a highlight), german cuisine can be great too for a different type of flavor.



on January 27, 2012
at 08:13 PM

I have to put a vote out for my peeps, the Greeks. They suck at paying their taxes, but so much of the food that I grew up with was what my family gathered from local pastures and fields. Dandelion greens, amaranth greens, wild mushrooms, grilled fish and lamb, olive oil, citrus, almonds and walnuts, stone fruit, grapes...I grew up on great food! Simple, easy to prepare. All those other dishes that are famously found in Greek restaurants, we don't eat that all the time. Only on holidays.



on April 11, 2012
at 07:43 PM

I'd recommend checking out theclothesmakethegirl.com if you haven't already- she is big into ethnic foods and I've gotten a ton of ideas from her site & cookbook. I've done moroccan lamb meatballs, "paleofied" pad thai & fried rice, etc.


on October 12, 2012
at 06:41 PM

I do German and English cuisine a lot. The hubs and I thrive on meat, potatoes, and brassica (local sausage, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts). I also do cowboy/southwest/Mexican a lot too since I live in Texas and it's what I know. Planning on experimenting with American Indian cuisine soon--just bought juniper berries yesterday.



on October 12, 2012
at 06:21 PM

I started out learning traditional Irish/ Italian cooking techniques from my grandmother and her neighbor. In my adult life I took strongly to french cuisine. Recently I have been working with a lot of Afro-mediterranean cooking. This has really resonated with me and provides such a vast flavor profile with traditional Italian and Greek flavors, Middle Eastern flavors and Northern African flavors along with many of the traditional French techniques.



on April 11, 2012
at 07:55 PM

I'm rather partial to Asian and Latin cuisines. And unlike African, Middle Eastern and European cuisines, they seem much less wheat-centric. They are however rice-centric, but I'm ok with rice.

Check out cuisine from the Bahia region in Brazil. I've tried playing with those flavors (you'll need some red palm oil), and think they're pretty tasty.



on April 11, 2012
at 05:06 PM

I simply use specific spices to flavor the foods I eat in the manner/style I like. Take a curry, roast, soup recipe you like and modify it to reflect the way you eat.

I am partial to Thai, Indian, and Jamacian-style curries served with steamed veggies, I've been known to make my own Jerk beef short-ribs, carnitas with salad, Moroccan-influenced mint and cumin roasted lamb, a Scottish-influenced "mince and neeps" with ground beef and rutabagas seasoned with onion and nutmeg, various Gumbos, and Chilis. A few weeks ago I put together an Italian Wedding soup with kale, fennel, lamb mini-meatballs, and shredded slow-cooked rabbit that was insane.

Cooking is pretty awesome that way.


on April 11, 2012
at 04:45 PM

Carbohydrates make up a large portion of the Brazilian diet, so it's not really paleo. Feijoada includes beans and manioc flour, pao de queijo is a bread, pamonha has corn and most meals are accompanied by rice. Although the diet includes a lot of meat, I would say Brazilian cuisine isn't the most paleo-friendly ethnic food out there. I agree with those who previously mentioned Thai and Greek food. Indian food is also good if you're allowing dairy.

Answer Question

Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!