Buddha Purnima is sometimes called Buddha’s Birthday and commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha in the Theraveda Buddhist tradition. Typically falling on a full moon day in the 5th or 6th lunar month, Buddha Purnima is a major festival in countries where Buddhism is followed.
One of the core tenets of Buddhism is to abstain from killing. Many sects of Buddhism interpret this as an instruction to be vegetarian or vegan, because they believe one should not eat an animal that was killed for their benefit. Modern proponents of veganism say that by refusing to eat meat, they are supporting the fall of an industry that causes unnecessary suffering and death to millions of animals.
Buddhist vegetarians vary in how they interpret this tenet and in their different diets. For instance, in Japan Buddhist vegan cuisine is known as shojin ryori. Shojin ryori is plant based and extremely good for you, and includes sea plants and excludes any animal products (milk, eggs, etc.). Translating to ‘devotion’ or ‘self-discipline’, shojin ryori cuisine is intended to help you achieve a state of mind conducive to enlightenment. Other Buddhist sects also forbid the usage of pungent spices like onions, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks, similarly to traditional Hindu sects, believing these lead to uncontrollable emotions.
In honor of Buddha Purnima, we wanted to celebrate vegetarian and vegan eating, and the philosophies behind these diets, whether for ethical, religious, or environmental reasons. A no-meat diet can be just as delicious as one that includes meat, and to prove it we’ve found some recipes inspired by Buddhism but imminently suitable for modern lifestyles and palates. These simple recipes are easy to make, healthy, and absolutely delicious!
Green Beans Namul
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 25 fresh green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
- 2 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted lightly
- Salt to taste
- Boil the water with a pinch of salt, then add the beans and cook till slightly crisp. Remove beans and soak in cold water to preserve their greenness, before draining beans of water thoroughly.
- Pour the sesame oil into a bowl and add salt. Add the green beans and toss. Garnish with sesame seeds before serving.
Ingredients (serves 2)
Wash rice thoroughly and soak in water for 15 minutes. Add salt to the rice, boil and then cook on simmer for about 25 minutes. Add mango pieces to the okayu, cover, and let steam for about 10 minutes. Serve hot.
Tip: You can also chop the mango peel (since it’s organic! And therefore safe to eat!). You can also grind the peel to a paste and add to the rice before cooking.
All Purpose Vegetable Paste
1 cup dried red chilies (soaked in water)
1 cup red chilies (deseeded)
1 cup cashews or almonds
1 tablespoon parsley 1 teaspoon turmeric powder ½ teaspoon curry leaves
2 stocks lemongrass ¼ cup vegetable oil
Blend ingredients in a food processor to a fine paste. Heat oil in a kadai, pour in the blend and sauté until oil floats on top. Refrigerate left over paste for up to 10 days. Use to sauté veggies and to spice up rolls.
200-300 gm pumpkin or squash 1 sweet potato or yam
½ cup peanuts
½ ounce glass noodles, cooked and drained
250 ml coconut milk
1/3 cup bean curds or tofu (optional)
Oil to fry
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the pumpkin/squash, sweet potato and peanuts in water. Simmer for at least 35 minutes. If using tofu, fry in hot oil until light brown on both sides. Slice into strips or small cubes and set aside. Add the coconut milk and salt. Bring to a boil. Add the tofu and noodles. Let cook for a minute or so. Serve hot.
Tip: Add mung beans (soaked for 30 mins and drained) to the soup while cooking. Ensure these are soft before you add the coconut milk.
Green Beans Namul: www.aeriskitchen.com; Mango Okayu: I Say Organic; Buddhist Monk Pumpkin Soup: www.willcookforfriends.com; All Purpose Vegetable Paste :www.eatyourbooks.com