5 Best Chinese Buddhist Vegetarian Recipes

So you've invited some vegetarian Buddhist friends over for dinner and you're looking for the 5 best Chinese Buddhist vegetarian recipes? Look no further. In searching for Buddhist recipes or even Tibetan cuisine, your research may come up a little dry. But you should be able to get a sense of the diet of  vegetarian Buddhists and you may decide that some of this cuisine sounds downright tasty. Before you get started there are a few things you should know. Practicing Buddhists eat different things according to the particular strain of Buddhism being practiced. All Buddhists practice "harmlessness" which is a non-violent way of looking and relating to the world. Generally speaking, this means vegetarianism, a diet of no meat or seafood. Some Buddhists will only eat vegetables that do not kill the plant- which means that root vegetables like potatoes, carrots and onions are off the table. For these Buddhists, a diet of beans and fruit is more likely.

Now that you have an idea of what to eat, here are some recipe ideas to get you started.

  1. Vegetable Spring Rolls. Who doesn't love spring rolls? Get yourself some of those dried rice wraps available in Asian food stores. Make a nice veggie filling of thinly sliced carrots, bean sprouts, chopped leaks, bean curd or tofu. Season the filling with some black pepper. Now fold up and saute your spring rolls in peanut oil until crispy.
  2. Buddhist Monk Soup. Pour about a quart of water into a large soup pot. Add chopped unseasoned pumpkin meat or butternut squash, raw peanuts, dried mung beans (similar to soy), chopped tofu, coconut milk and salt to taste. Bring mixture to a boil. Cook, covered, on low heat for an hour. Serve with cellophane noodles.
  3. Sesame Delight.  Use a fry pan coated with vegetable or peanut oil to saute a combination of chopped broccoli, scallions, bamboo shoots, cubed yellow squash, Chinese pea pods and Chinese baby corn. Add some diced tofu to the stir-fry mixture. Sprinkle sesame seeds generously onto the mix. Season the mixture with a little plum vinegar and black pepper. Stir occasionally. Do not overcook.
  4. Tibetan Rice. Start with plain uncooked rice. Saute the rice in a little cooking oil, being careful not to burn. Add a little turmeric, curry powder, salt and raisins. Follow the package directions for the correct amount of water to add to the rice. Vegetable bouillon cubes can be added for additional flavor. Stir well. When water comes to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until all water is absorbed.
  5. Nuoc Leo. Here's a peanut recipe with some zip. In a hot wok, add chopped roasted peanuts, sugar, red hot chili slices, a little tuong (a type of soy sauce) and a little water. Saute until the flavors are well combined, being careful not to burn.
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