Iconic foods around the world you can buy for 20 Australian dollars

Iconic foods around the world you can buy for 20 Australian dollars

  • We travel around the globe to discover some iconic and downright strange dishes of the world
  • Find out what where your favourite foods originated from and how they’re made
  • Discover how much tripe soup you can buy for $20, and why Gamalost should probably stay lost

One of the best things about travelling is having the chance to savour different cuisines from around the world, but where to go and what to eat? With 193 countries and thousands of dishes on the menu, it’s simply too tough to choose for some wannabe wanderers. Still, we’ve managed to pick a handful of countries and their iconic dishes to tempt you to sample something new. And we show you how much of each dish you can buy for 20 Australian dollars.

Australia – Chicken parmigiana

Chicken parmigiana

Although its origins are far from Australia’s shores, the chicken parmigiana – or chicken parma as it’s affectionately known – is considered as Aussie as vegemite. Almost. Brought to Australia by Italian immigrants, eggplant was originally used instead of chicken and topped with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Nowadays the cheese is generally mozzarella and you may find the parma topped with sliced ham. The eggplant version is widely available for vegetarians, and the dish is served with chips and salad.

Cost per serve: Usually around $15 - $20

How much could you get for $20? Portion sizes can vary from average to ridiculously big, depending on which pub or restaurant you visit.

USA – Hamburger

Hamburger from USA

German immigrants to the United States brought with them the Hamburg Steak. This was made of salted minced beef mixed with spices and was eaten both raw and cooked. It started morphing into its more familiar form in the late 1800s when a Danish immigrant, Louis Lassen, started selling hamburger steaks between two slices of bread from his lunch wagon in New Haven, Connecticut. It quickly became popular and demand for the patties has yet to abate.

Cost per serve: $3.79

How much could you get for $20? You could buy 3.5 quarter pounders for $20.

UK – Fish and chips

Fish and chips

There’s a tussle over who invented good olde English style fish ‘n’ chips. It is said that Joseph Malin opened a fish and chip shop in Cleveland Street, London, within the sound of Bow Bells in 1860. But a Mr Lees of Oldham, Lancashire, claimed he was first, having sold fish and chips from a wooden hut in the market before opening a permanent shop in 1863. Whoever invented them, they were definitely onto a winner because they’re as popular now as they ever were with 382 million portions being eaten every year in Britain.

Cost per serve: £5 for regular serve

How much could you get for $20? A lot. You could probably serve 3-4 people for $20

Nepal – Momos

Nepalese Momos

A delicacy of Nepal, momos are bite-size dumplings filled with meat or vegetable filling. They’re similar to Japanese gyoza but are influenced by dishes of the Indian subcontinent. ‘Mome’ means to cook by steam in Newari, one of Nepal’s oldest languages.

Cost per serve: A plate of 10 cost 60 rupees (75 cents)

How much could you get for $20? At least 260 tasty morsels.

Sri Lanka – Sour fish curry

Sour fish curry

Malu Ambulthiyal (sour fish curry) is unique to Sri Lanka. It is made by simmering cubed fish in a mixture of coconut, garlic, chili powder and goraka – a tropical fruit that gives the dish its tang – until the fish is covered in a delicious spicy coating. Usually accompanied with rice and pitta, some people have yoghurt at the ready to settle burning mouths. It’s a hot one.

Cost per serve: 120 Sri Lankan rupees ( 90 cents)

How much could you get for $20? About 20 dishes of the delicious stuff.

Italy – Ossobuco

Italian Ossobucco

Pizza or pasta would be the obvious choice for a traditional Italian dish, but if you ask many Italians to name a dish that gives them the warm and fuzzy feels, bets are ossobuco would be top of the list. Ossobuco is one of those hearty, homemade meals that Italians do so well. It’s a veal shank, cooked slow in meat stock, white wine and veggies. Milan likes to think ossobuco originated there, but there are many other versions around Italy.

Cost per serve: Around $15-$20

How much could you get for $20? Enough to keep you from going hungry. 

Madagascar – Romazava


Romazava is considered the national dish of Madagascar, and each family makes its own version. It’s a one-pot dish, usually eaten with rice for lunch or dinner. The basic ingredients are beef, pork and chicken cut into equal-size cubes, chopped onions, tomatoes, spinach and crushed garlic.

Cost per serve: 10,000 to 15,000 Malagasy ariary, which equates to $4-$6

How much could you get for $20? Enough for a decent-sized family. 

South Africa – Bobotie


Bobotie was introduced to South Africa by ships en route to Holland from Indonesia in the 17th century and is thought to have been adapted by the Malay community on the Cape over the years. The word bobotie comes from the Indonesian ‘bobotok’ or ‘botok’. Bobotok is a dish made of coconut flesh, vegetables and occasionally meat that is cooked in banana leaf. The South African version is a meatloaf that is covered with a mixture of milk and egg that forms a custard crust.

Cost per serve: Roughly $2 a serve

How much could you get for $20? A lot.

Argentina – Asado

Asado Argentina

Until the mid-nineteenth century, wild cattle roamed freely through the pampas region of Argentina. The people of the Río de la Plata developed a fondness for roast beef as a result. Asado is more of an experience than a dish and consists of cuts of barbecued or grilled meats, chorizo and black pudding, served with potatoes, creole salads and a traditional chimichurri paste.

Cost per serve: Tasting menu US$50

How much could you get for $20? A decent dish of meat.

Russia – Kholodets

Holodets (kholodets)

From the times when Russians had to get creative in preserving meat, kholodets is an extraordinarily time-consuming dish but a signature starter in Russia. Pigs’ or cows’ feet are cooked for seven hours. They are then cut into pieces and the gelatinous broth they were cooked in is poured over them. The dish is then chilled and cut into slices to serve, usually with horseradish or hot mustard.

Cost per serve: Costs about $2 per serve

How much could you get for $20? You could easily feed the family. 

Norway – Gamalost


Gamalost, meaning ‘old cheese’ is a hard, crumbly brown cheese that never goes off. It was a Norwegian staple before the advent of refrigeration and is still made today in the village of Vik – the only place in the world to produce the cheese. Made from skimmed cow’s milk, an acid is added to the mixture, causing it to sour. After shaping, the cheese is repeatedly rubbed with different types of mould and left to mature. The result is one distinctly pungent brown cheese. Anyone for a slice?

Cost per serve: €15.75/kg

How much could you get for $20? You could get just under a kilo of the tasty brown stuff.

Korea – Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae

Kimchi Jjigae is comfort food for Koreans. While many people have tried kimchi by itself, few have tried it as a stew. (Jjigae means stew in Korean). The secret to good kimchi jjigae is to use very old kimchi. If you can’t buy old kimchi, make it yourself and leave it to age in the fridge – you’ll know it’s ready when the cabbage loses its whiteness and turns dark. Taste it. If it’s super sour, it’s perfect for making this hot, spicy and tangy stew.

Cost per serve: 5,000-10,000 Korean won (roughly $6-$12 in Aussie currency)

How much could you get for $20? You could pay for a nice date night for two. 

Morocco – Tagine


Tagine is a slow-cooked stew served in a conical lidded clay pot and can refer to both the utensil and the food. Tagine is usually served with khobz – a bread you can use to scoop directly from the pot. Thought to be introduced to Morocco by the country’s first settlers – the Berbers – the tagine is now synonymous with Moroccan cooking.

Cost per serve: 50 Moroccan dirham ($7)

How much could you get for $20? Two large tagines or three smaller stews.

Bulgaria – Shkembe


Better known as tripe soup, shkembe is a traditional Bulgarian soup made by boiling tripe for several hours along with paprika, milk and oil. Apparently, the more paprika, the better the shkembe.

Cost per serve: 1.50-3 Bulgarian lev ($1.20-$2.50)

How much could you get for $20? More than you could ever hope to eat. 

Israel – Falafel


Given that it’s just a tiny ball of crushed chickpeas, there’s a lot of debate about where falafel originated. Some say Egypt, some say Lebanon, others say India. Regardless of where they started out, in popular culture the Israelis have it. Usually served in a pita pocket with salad and lashings of hummus, falafel wraps are almost as popular as fish and chips these days.

Cost per serve: 6 Israeli new shekels ($2.30)

How much could you get for $20? Enough for the whole family.

Cuba – Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja Cuba

Like much of Cuban culture, ropa vieja has Spanish roots. The story goes that a penniless old man once shredded and cooked his own clothes because he couldn’t afford food for his family. He prayed over the cloth stew and a miracle turned the mixture into a tasty, rich meat stew. Hence the name, ropa vieja, meaning ‘old clothes’. Thankfully, this dish tastes much better in real life. Consisting of shredded beef, tomatoes and spices, this slow-cooked recipe is a hearty, loveable stew.

Cost per serve: US$8

How much could you get for $20? Enough for two people. 

Fiji – Kokoda

Fijian Kokoda

The ceviche of the South Pacific, kokoda is made from raw mahi-mahi fish with a dressing called ‘miti’ – a mixture of thick coconut cream with onions, lemon/lime juice, salt and chillies. It was traditionally made with seawater and walu (Spanish mackerel), but in the 1930s a Suva restaurant owner added coconut milk and that’s been the Fijian way ever since. Bula!

Cost per serve: $23 Fijian dollars ($15)

How much could you get for $20? One good portion. 

So where will you travel to next? Bulgaria for some tasty tripe soup? Cuba for some old clothes? Or play it safe and go for the trusty old chicken parma and a beer?

No matter where you decide to wander, do report back and tell us what you think of the dishes in each destination. Happy travels!