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Buddhist Cuisine: Features and Facts

An authentic Buddhist spread P.C.: https://goo.gl/y9EsWQ

An authentic Buddhist spread
P.C.: https://goo.gl/y9EsWQ

Standing very parallel to Hindu beliefs and customs, Buddhism is an absolutely independent religion that has its own set of rituals and regulations followed by 300 million people of this world. While standing out from the rest, the Buddhists even sketched their style of diet, popularly known as Buddhist cuisine.

BYT lists 8 highlights of the Buddhist cuisine that you may try with a fellow Buddhist and have idea about a completely new kind of culinary spread:

Meat – Yes or No?

Consumption of meat in Buddhism P.C.: https://goo.gl/4IioxA

Consumption of meat in Buddhism
P.C.: https://goo.gl/4IioxA

Buddhists are predominantly meat lovers except the priests, monks, nuns or those abiding the Bodhisattva path. So, when in Buddhism, it depends on your wish whether you will be a meat eater or not. However, Buddha himself is believed to have died for over consumption of tainted pork.

Vegetarian Buddhists use gluten, tofu, agar and other plant products instead of meat in their meals.

Redefining the Food Habits

A Buddhist meal P.C.: https://goo.gl/sUyt3x

A Buddhist meal
P.C.: https://goo.gl/sUyt3x

Buddhists do not prefer much of poultry products. Those who are strictly vegetarians prefer lentils, beans, soups, salads, and vegetable dishes in menu. In case of meat, a broth or stew based preparation is preferred. A sect of Buddhists is known for abstaining from meat and yet keeping fish as a major constituent of their meals.

Limitation in Snacks

Fruit bowl, the preferable snack P.C.: https://goo.gl/gZFFqk

Fruit bowl, the preferable snack
P.C.: https://goo.gl/gZFFqk

Buddhists are not very fond of snacks. Between meals, they drink a lot of tea or opt for fresh bowls of fruits as snacks. This is mainly to aim for a healthy living and abstaining from junk food.

Dessert is Special

Dessert among Buddhists P.C.: https://goo.gl/OHlV8C

Dessert among Buddhists
P.C.: https://goo.gl/OHlV8C

For Buddhists, dessert is indeed a special affair that can be consumed only during happy occasions and feasts. Rice pudding and oatsbar are common Buddhist desserts that are seen on table only during festivals. This is mainly to balance the carbohydrate consumption of the body.

Post Meditation Dining

Meditation is important P.C.: https://goo.gl/OHlV8C

Meditation is important
P.C.: https://goo.gl/iRWHkE

Buddhists emphasize on meditation to a great extent. This is mainly to keep the body and lifestyle at calm and composed state. Thus they prefer taking each meal after a short span of meditation so that the calm body helps for faster metabolism and digestion.

Breakfast Menu

Porridge, the healthy breakfast P.C.:  https://goo.gl/PVG92c

Porridge, the healthy breakfast
P.C.: https://goo.gl/PVG92c

In case of breakfast, the Buddhists do not have much variety and prefer hot bowls of porridge usually topped with cinnamon, pumpkin seeds, raisins, muesli. Though this may sound a subtle start for a day, but it’s definitely healthy!

Shojin Ryori: A Food Style by Zen Buddhists of Japan

Culinary experts across the globe are quite enthusiastic when it comes to “Shojin Ryori”.

Shijon Ryori, a typical meal P.C.: https://goo.gl/B1cV1N

Shojin Ryori, a typical meal
P.C.: https://goo.gl/B1cV1N

Shojin Ryori, mostly implies their vegetarian cooking style. It’s the abundant availability of both wild and cultivated vegetables in Japan that led to the emergence of such a culinary style. It started during the 13th century, when Zen Buddhism, a kind of Buddhist practice started in Japan.

Zen Buddhist nuns P.C.: https://goo.gl/uDSUX5

Zen Buddhist nuns
P.C.: https://goo.gl/uDSUX5

A typical Shojin Ryori meal consists of a soup, and three dishes, together called as ichi ju san sai. Soy, tofu, kozu – are common ingredients in a Shojin Ryori meal, usually complimented with pickles of various kinds.

Ichi Ju San Sai, the soup P.C.: https://goo.gl/a1jpR6

Ichi Ju San Sai, the soup
P.C.: https://goo.gl/a1jpR6

During the training span of a Buddhist monk in Japan, experting in Shojin Ryori culinary form is important. Some of its dishes require elaborate preparation time with dedicated efforts. One example would be sesame paste, a popular dish that needs long hours of grinding in a pestle and mortar.

Seasame paste P.C.: https://goo.gl/gd8hvz

Seasame paste
P.C.: https://goo.gl/gd8hvz

Speciality of Shojin Ryori cuisine includes, there happens to be no waste during production of this food. Every spread necessarily has a balance of five flavours and colours that completes its composition.  Use of garlic, onion, meat, fish, insects and other pungent flavours is completely abstained in Shojin Ryori.

Shojin Ryori menu is also very much based on nature. Buddhists consider seasonal agricultural products as flow of nature and thus, incorporate them in their plates. During spring, emphasis is led on new sprouts that come up; in summer it’s the green leaves that are preferable; during autumn, it’s more of fruits and nuts while in winter, root veggies and fruits are the main ingredients.

Before the consumption of a Shojin Ryori spread in a Zen Temple, five principles or prayers are chanted which includes:  Reflect on the effort that brings us this food; Reflect on our imperfections as we receive the meal; Reflect on mindfulness to be free from attachment, anger and ignorance; Reflect on taking this food as a medicine to sustain good health and Reflect on the fulfilment of our practice as we accept the offerings.

Buddhists monks during feast P.C.: https://goo.gl/lEN6Qw

Buddhists monks during feast
P.C.: https://goo.gl/lEN6Qw

book P.C.: https://goo.gl/uMvnUh

Shojin Ryori: The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine
P.C.: https://goo.gl/uMvnUh

Authors and bloggers have already made ample research on this culinary style and produced elaborate thesis on it. Among them, “Shojin Ryori: The Art of Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine” by Danny Chu is one of the best work to know more about this special culinary style developed by Zen Buddhist monks of Japan.