Many non-vegetarians are often confused about the food that vegetarians and especially vegans eat, as to meat eaters it may seem that the world of food is full of nothing but livestock sourced food. It might seem so in fact, if we look at our basic American diet but thats not really the case, particularly with non-western cuisine.
Most countries of the world have many amazing vegetarian and vegan dishes to offer that provide a unique addition to our daily diets. In this piece we take a look at some of the best vegetarian and vegan dishes from the eastern world that is the Middle East, Southeast and the Far East, or more commonly known as Asia.
Fattoush (Levant): Fattoush salad is a favorite amongst Arab communities all over the world and all Arab nationalities call it their own although its exact origin is from the Levant area of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine. So not really exact at all! The salad combines greens with mixed vegetables topped off with fried crispy bread and tangy pomegranate sauce. The main ingredients of this vegan salad are tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, parsley, black olives, lemon juice, ground sumac, mint and olive oil. This clean and green recipe is full of nutrients and antioxidants that are found in the veggies and olive oil which makes it a great treat for any time of the day.
Mix Chana Chat (Pakistan): This Pakistani street food might not be popular around the globe but its a big favorite in the sub-continent region, and understandably so. Healthy, filling and super nutritious the Mix Chana Chat combines boiled chickpeas with tomatoes, boiled potatoes, onion, cilantro and coriander, yogurt, green chilies, lemon juice, pieces of crispy brown fried bread and a sprinkle of red chili and cumin powder. This dish is packed with protein, vitamins, antioxidants, herbs and spices that clean our systems and calcium from the yogurt. Its a complete vegetarian meal with a unique exotic taste and lots of health benefits.
Masala Dosa (India): Its a popular South Indian dish found its most south Indian restaurants in any part of the world. This dish is made of thin crispy crepe type bread which is rolled and then filled with veggie fillings served with various curry or chutney dips. The bread can be infused with fenugreek or split Bengal gram to make it tastier. The filling consists of boiled potatoes with are stir-fried in oil with Masala; a combination of garlic, mustard seeds, chopped onions and green chilies, cumin seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder, and salt. The dish is a whole meal with a wide variety of nutrition from carbohydrates to the cancer-fighting properties of turmeric, garlic, onion, and all the other spices. The crepe bread can be made vegan or with egg depending on the consumer.
Sweet and Sour Tofu (China): Its a simple Chinese staple food found in their stalls, restaurants and other eateries. The dish consists of firm tofu cubes which are added to a sauce of pineapple chunks and juice, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, salty soy sauce, green and red bell peppers and minced garlic and ginger. Its a dish that requires no effort as its easy and quick to prepare. It can be served with a side of healthy brown rice and stir fried bok choy, cabbage and sprouts. These ingredients make this dish a protein charged meal perfect for vegans and vegetarians.
Baba Ghanoush (Levant): Made with baked and smoked eggplant mash mixed with tahini, olive oil, salt and various seasonings like pomegranate sauce and pepper depending on the localities. This Arab appetizer presents eggplant in a unique way while bringing in the healthy properties of olive oil and tahina (sesame seeds). The vegan dish is usually eaten with pita bread and is a staple in Levant Arab households. Eggplant provides dietary fiber along with many micronutrients and vitamins which make it an important part of a well-balanced meal.
Nasi Goreng Biasa (Malaysia): Nasi Goreng Biasa means vegetable fried rice which is a popular Malay dish. Often its served at Malaysian mamaks with fried egg on top along with paddadum and chilies in soy sauce. There are many veggies that are a part of this dish like carrots, spring onions, sprouts, cabbage, onions and spinach along with garlic and mustard plants. Sometimes this comes with anchovy fishes so its preferable to let the restaurant know if they should not be added. To make it vegan one can ask to remove fried egg and still consume this tasty healthy recipe.
Falafel with Hummus (Middle East): Falafel and hummus are both popular Arabic dishes which are enjoyed all over the world. Chickpeas are a main ingredient in both the dishes, yet they are both nothing like each other. Falafel is a deep fried ball of a mixture of parsley and other seasonings in a chickpea mash while hummus is a chickpea dip topped with oil olive salt and sometimes a little chili powder. Not only are these dishes very healthy but they are also a favorite meat replacement with vegetarians because they provide protein.
As these foods are so clean and light they are also great eating options for the elderly, obese or people with heart problems as they have special health needs according to their weight and metabolic limitations. Regardless of your dietary lifestyle, these unique eastern dishes are a great way to include healthy tasty recipes for our daily needs.