Nothing unites the world in excitement and anticipation quite like football. This summer, 32 widely diverse nations will come together in Russia – players and fans, there and at home, united by national pride and a mutual passion. The familiar sport, with a more international flavour.

What better way to celebrate the diversity, and unity of the football tournament, than by bringing an international flavour to your meal times during the tournament? As the only home nation competing in Russia this summer, we’ve explored some of the national dishes from the countries in England’s qualifying group – Belgium, Panama and Tunisia. Though none are particularly renowned for their cuisine, we’ve discovered some delicious and easy-to-prepare meals which can help you bring the excitement of football to the dinner table this summer.

Tunisia - Tunisian Food to kick off with

England’s tournament begins on the 18th June against Tunisia - a great excuse to bring some North African delights to the dinner table that evening, ahead of the 7pm kick off. Tunisian food is inspired by Mediterranean flavours, but Tunisia has, over time, been ruled by many different civilisations creating quite the culinary mix.

The national dish of Tunisia is couscous, known as “Kosksi”. Colourful and light, this is a tasty addition to any summer dinner party. Traditionally served with lamb, combine couscous, green peppers, potatoes, carrots and chickpeas with a sauce flavoured with cinnamon, paprika, tomato paste and Harissa. An easy to prepare dish with a fiery finish, perfect to build up excitement ahead of the opening game.

Next in the line-up is Tunisian Tajine. Though when you think of a ‘tagine’ you may conjure up images of a stew cooked in Morocco, in Tunisia, a tajine is a spiced quiche or frittata – a more summery dish which is great to serve among a group of fellow fans.

This dish combines chicken breast with ground coriander, onion, cumin, red pepper flakes, caraway seeds and salt and pepper, creating a spicy base which is softened with potatoes, parsley, eggs and swiss cheese before being baked.

For dessert, here’s something really simple yet delicious – Palace Bread. All you need are 12 slices of thick sliced white bread and some honey. Remove the crusts and soak the bread in honey for at least 30 minutes. Grease a deep baking dish and layer with the honey soaked bread. Cook for 45 minutes at 150 °C, and once cooled, slice and serve with double cream. Back of the net!

Belgium - Traditional Belgian Food to try at home

England’s final group game presents the toughest challenge on paper – Belgium, 28th June at 7pm, again a perfect time to enjoy some traditional Belgian food while you watch. Belgian cuisine takes inspiration from neighbouring France, Germany and the Netherlands, and though many would think their culinary exploits begin and end with chocolate and waffles, think again.

England fans will be hoping they get off to a solid start against Belgium and we’re going to do the same. First up is Waterzooi – a traditional, hearty Belgian soup. It may not sound particularly summery, but this dish is a perfect ‘match up’ of colour and fresh flavours. Featuring leeks, carrots, celery and onion, with a thick soup made from butter, chicken broth, double cream, corn starch and egg yolk. Traditionally featuring chicken, but for a lighter feel this summer, why not go with a soft white fish?

Belgium is the home of French fries served with mayonnaise. French fries are very popular in Belgium and are often served with saucy dishes so that they can be dipped. A prime example of this is Carbonnade Flamande – a beef stew cooked in beer served with French fries - let’s face it, football, chips and beer have always been a great combination! Take beef stewing steak and combine with thyme, chicken broth, Belgian beer, onions, grain mustard and brown sugar to create a sweet and sour rich stew, piled over French fries for an international twist on a classic.

For a quality finish, it has to be the jewel in the crown of Belgian cuisine – Belgian waffles. The batter consists of flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, milk and vanilla extract to give that crunchy yet chewy texture we all love. Cook in a waffle iron and serve with your choice of toppings – our suggestion would be whipped cream and of course, some Belgian chocolate sauce.

It will be total pandemonium if you serve Panama cuisine

For Sunday lunch on the 24th June, you can enjoy England v Panama at 1pm alongside some of Panama’s traditional foods. Not a particularly well-known footballing nation, their cuisine possibly even less so.

Panama is located in Central America, between Colombia and Costa Rica and with a diverse mix of cultures in the population, panama cuisine takes inspiration from North America, France and Spain. One regular feature of Panamanian dishes is rice, and thanks to its location on the Caribbean coast, seafood is plentiful on the nation’s plates.

For a tasty lunch, try the Latin American classic Arroz Con Pollo – or rice with chicken, in English! Take chicken thighs and coat with flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Put them in a pan to brown and then remove. Brown some rice in the same pan with olive oil, onion and garlic, and stir frequently until tender. Then place the chicken skin side up on top of the rice before pouring over a mix of stock, tomato paste, salt and oregano. Then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes before serving.

 

For afters, mango pudding. All you need is 1 large mango (fresh or tinned) which is pureed in a food processor. Add in vanilla ice cream and double cream before whizzing up again to create a pallet cleansing, refreshing taste of the Caribbean.

 

Football inspires everyone around the world to show pride in their nation, while embracing others. Capture the spirit of the tournament at home by watching the games alongside these international recipes. You won’t need any ‘extra time’ to make them and they’ll be a definite winner with family and friends. All the ingredients stated above, along with any additional snacks and drinks you need to enjoy the tournament this summer, are available at your local convenience store.