Scotland is a country blessed with a colourful history, beautiful landscapes, a strong patriotic identity and of course, fabulous food.
And with Burns Night coming up on Thursday January 25 - which is held in honour of Scotland’s most famous poet Robert Burns - it would be a great time to sample some of the delectable dishes that the UK’s most northern country has to offer.
Scottish chef and proprietor of The Kitchin in Edinburgh, Tom Kitchin (pictured below), tells us, "A home-cooked Burns Supper is a great excuse to gather friends and family and enjoy a warming, hearty meal. Whenever we host a Burns supper at home, we like to include some of the traditions that give the night some theatre, like the Selkirk Grace or the address ‘To the Haggis’.
"Adding an element of fun always makes for a memorable dinner."
The annual Burns Night tradition started a few years after the poet's death in 1796, when his friends commemorated his career on the date of his death. And more than two centuries later, Burns Night has become a nationwide event with recitals of the poet's works and a haggis dinner.
Thinking of hosting your own Burns Night celebration? Here are a few of our finest Scottish recipes to get you started...
whip up some smoked salmon parcels
Can you think of a better way to kick the night off than with our Extra Special Speyburn Single Malt Whisky Smoked Salmon?
It's not just any salmon we're talking about here as this extra special treat is smoked for 15 hours over whisky barrel chips as well as oak, before being infused with Speyburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky, a local whisky distilled just up the road from the smokery.
Use it to make our smoked salmon parcels, which can be made the day before to save you hassle on the big day.
get involved with some haggis
The star attraction at the feast is haggis, of course - a dish made from lamb, oatmeal, onion and spices and when served, it’s traditionally ‘addressed’ with a famous poem by Burns. If you've never tried haggis before, now is the time as not only is it a Scottish delicacy, it's delicious!
And don't forget the ‘neeps and tatties’ (mashed swede and potatoes), which is served alongside the main.
Tom says, "you can’t beat a traditional dish of haggis, neeps and tatties but I always like to try something new and give the classic dish a little twist.
"I like to serve my haggis with smooth, fluffy and creamy potatoes, ribbons of neeps and a small quail’s egg as a finishing touch."
If you wanted to introduce Scotland's national dish into your everyday meals, making a lasagne would be a good start. Just layer lasagne sheets with haggis and chopped tomatoes, cover with white sauce and bake. Or make into a special Scottish-style pie by putting it in a pie dish with diced carrots, cover with pastry and bake.
Have a helping of Cranachan
Sign off with the classic and traditional Highlands dessert, Cranachan. Made with fresh raspberries, cream, heather honey and oatmeal – it's sweet enough to satisfy your cravings and light enough so you can manage a whole portion. Your stomach will thank you for it later!
Or (if you needed another excuse to do so), try whipping up some shortbread for your guests to indulge in.
Wash it all down with whisky
Raise a toast with a wee dram of whisky. Here at Asda, we've got whiskies aged from 10 to 30-years-old including McKendrick’s own-brand blended whisky, which picked up a silver medal at the International Spirits Challenge in 2016.
Try whipping up an old fashioned, which is a 1960s classic. Rub a piece of orange peel on the inside of a glass. Add a pinch of sugar, 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, then one to two shots of whisky and three ice cubes. A great way to round off your Burns Night celebrations.
Garnish with a twist of orange peel and cherry and then it’s ready to serve!