Around the world there are a variety of vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes to be found, that are healthy, satisfying and oh so delicious! While it’s easy to veganize many dishes you’re already familiar with, like spaghetti, burgers and fries, or pizza, some dishes are naturally vegan friendly, relying on plant-based foods rather than animal-derived ingredients. Here are eight of our favorite vegan dishes from other cultures.
1. Bun Cha Gio Chay
Fried vegetarian vegan spring rolls served over rice noodles is a vegan friendly Vietnamese dish. I’ve commonly had this at restaurants, although I’ve never tried preparing it myself.
You’ll need ingredients for the batter. They include 1 pound rice flour (one bag from the Asian markets) 1 L + 1/4 cup warm water, and 2 tbsp. olive oil.
And for the filling: 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 medium onion, diced, 1 large carrot, grated, and 3 bunches of mung bean/glass noodles, approx. 3 cups dried, 2 cups of chopped fried tofu (about 3 cups of fried cubes, chopped is about 2 cups), 1 cup cloud ear fungus (dried, can be found in Asian markets),and salt and pepper to taste. It is recommended to serve, garnished with chopped cucumber, steamed bean sprouts, mint leaves, lettuce, and fried onions with Vietnamese dipping sauce, over a bowl of noodles.
Prepare your filling first by soaking glass noodles in hot water for 10 minutes. Once they’re pliable/soft, drain and use scissors to cut into 1 cm pieces. Set aside.
Next, soak the cloud ear fungus in warm water until soft. Slice into small slivers and set aside for cooking. Then In a large pan over medium heat, stir-fry the onion and carrots with olive oil for 3-4 minutes until the onions are getting translucent. Add the chopped noodles, sliced fungus and about 1/2 tsp salt and continue cooking, stirring continuously for about 5-7 minutes (the noodles will get softer and absorb the moisture from the cooking process.
Then add the chopped tofu and another dash of salt. Continue until everything is cooked through, then remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat a small, non-stick pan over medium high heat and pour one ladle-full of batter (make sure you stir before pouring) onto the pan. Cover with a lid and cook for about 1 minute. Take the lid off the pan and continue to cook for another minute.
Flip the crepe onto a cutting board/plate and fill the crepe with the filling. Tuck in edges then roll to wrap the filling. Transfer to a platter. Repeat until all ingredients are gone.
For more vegan dishes and additional instructions visit The Viet Vegan
2. Thai Yellow Curry
Thai curries are super easy to make vegan. Since coconut milk, spices and veggies are the main ingredients you can easily swap out meat for tofu, for a flavorful and filling vegan meal.
Start by heating 1 tbsp. oil over low medium heat in a large pot. Throw in half a yellow onion, thinly sliced and cook until its fragrant and softened. Since were omitting the chicken, feel free to add tofu. Add 1/3 cup curry paste. Now add 10 Yukon gold potatoes, cut into small pieces and peeled. Stir well so its evenly coated in curry paste.
Add 1 can of coconut cream (so it thickens the sauce), and 1/2-1 cup of water. Let it all simmer until potatoes are tender, adding more water as needed. Recommended cook time with the chicken is 20-30 minutes so it’s probably going to be less with just potatoes and tofu.
I also liked add more veggies like carrots, broccoli, and baby corn, zucchini, and red bell peppers. These don’t need to cook as long as the potatoes but don’t wait to long to add them, because you want everything soft and tender. The longer you let it all simmer, the more tender and melt-in-your mouth it will be.
Serve over white Jasmine rice.
3. Vegan Baozi (Chinese Steamed Dumplings)
These are scrumptious appetizer to have paired with your vegetable and tofu lo-mein. They are also known as steamed filled buns.
4. Vegetable & Tofu Lo-Mein
To go alongside your steamed dumplings a large helping of lo-mein noodles and veggies always hits the spot. One of my absolute favorites, and so easy to recreate at home. Veggie and tofu lo-mein is one of the simplest vegan dishes to prepare yourself.
First cook your spaghetti or lo-mein noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes then set aside after draining them.
Choose your favorite veggies: chopped broccoli, chopped and peeled carrots, baby corn, sliced bell pepper of any color, sliced fresh mushrooms, chopped green onions or white onions, and bean sprouts, and sugar snap peas.
In a large skillet, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and begin stir frying your veggies and seasonings. It is recommended to use 2 cloves of minced garlic. Stir in bean sprouts and green onions and cook for one minute.
In a small bowl mix together 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 cup vegetable broth, then add to skillet. Stir in 1/4 cup hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, and 1/4 tsp. curry powder. Toss in the cooked spaghetti so it has a chance to absorb some of the flavor, serve and enjoy!
5. Vegan Paneer Lababdar With Tofu
Indian restaurants are often very vegan friendly as their dishes have adaptable recipes to suit your needs. Paneer is a tomato based sauce, and with this vegan twist is a creamy cashew cheese sauce too.
Ingredients for Paneer: firm Tofu that is pan-fried to crisp a bit before adding to the sauce. For the tomato mixture you’ll need 15 oz. or 3 medium diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup raw cashews, 1 inch ginger, 4 cloves of garlic, 1/4 tsp ground cardamom, 1 whole clove.
For the lababdar sauce: 1 tsp oil, 2 bay leaves, 1 finely chopped medium onion, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1/2-1 tsp garam masala (or use a mix of cumin and coriander), and 1/3 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tsp salt, 1tsp sugar, and 2 chopped green chilies or thinly sliced bell peppers. 1 cup water, 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (or 1/4 tsp ground mustard), and for garnish you’ll need garam masala, cayenne, and cilantro.
6. Japanese Yakisoba Stir Fry
If it wasn’t apparent I really like noodles. Like a lot. And this is super simple and easily versatile to use whatever veggies and meat substitutes. #sendnoods
The ingredient list for the sauce is as follows: 2 tbsp. all purpose soy sauce, 2 tsp mushroom soy sauce (optional)* and 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp sugar or maple syrup, 1/2 tsp garlic powder or small garlic clove, finely grated, and 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp. ground up nori, 2 tbsp. ketchup or Siracha, and 1 tsp corn flour/cornstarch.
As for the rest of the ingredients you’ll need: 4 dried shiitake mushrooms (optional – feel free to skip if using mushroom soy sauce), package of yakisoba noodles, 2 tbsp. high smoke point oil (like rice bran), and 7 ounces broccoli , chopped, 2 white cabbage leaves, slice thinly, 4 baby corn halves, and 1/2 thinly sliced bell pepper plus 1 small thinly sliced carrot. You’ll also need marinated tofu, cubed, 4 spring onions or scallions that have been thinly sliced, a handful or bean sprouts, and 1 tbsp. toasted or crushed sesame seeds for garnish. Additional garnish could be some fresh or grated ginger.
To cook this all, star by pouring boiling water over rinsed dried shiitake, if you’re using them, then set aside to infuse for as long as you can.
In a small bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients plus 3 tbsp of water. If skipping mushroom soy sauce, add 2½ tbsp of shittake infused water instead of water and an extra 2 tsp of soy sauce (or tamari). Set aside.
Cook your noodles just a couple of minutes less than you would normally. Refresh under a cold tap and set aside. Slice the softened mushrooms. Heat up a wok on a medium heat. Add the oil and allow it to get really hot – until it starts shimmering and smoking a little (that’s very important).
Add in broccoli and cabbage – stand back as the oil might splash when you add the veggies in. Stir-fry for 2 minutes on a high-medium heat. Next add in baby corn, pepper, carrot, tofu, spring onions and sliced shiitake (if using). Stir-fry for another minute. Push all the veggies to the side of the wok and add in the sauce to the bottom of the wok, making sure you give it a good stir before adding to the work or else the cornstarch will be left at the bottom of the bowl.
Allow the sauce to bubble for 15-30 seconds and then add the noodles. Mix the noodles into the sauce. Then add sprouts and incorporate the noodles into the veggies and tofu. Divide between two bowls. Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds and pickled ginger.
7. One-Pot Pasta Primavera
Since becoming a lactose-intolerant vegetarian this is my go-to dish when I eat at Olive Garden. Pasta, veggies and a simple red sauce sans meat, and sans dairy. Pasta is one of the easiest vegan dishes to manipulate.
One of the simplest recipes in this article you’ll need 3 tbsp.. olive oil, 3 minced cloves garlic, 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, 8 oz. fusilli pasta or whatever you prefer, and 2 small yellow squash that have been halved and cut into 1/2 inch-thick slices. You’ll also need 1 medium orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces, 8 oz. (3 cups) broccoli florets, 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes, and 8 green onions thinly sliced and 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves.
First, combine oil, garlic, and lemon zest in small bowl. Set aside.
Second, cook pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions. Add squash and bell pepper 4 minutes before end of cooking time. Add broccoli 3 minutes before end of cooking. Drain pasta and veggies, save 1/3 of the water.
In the same pot with the pasta and veggies, stir in tomatoes, green onions, basil and oil mixture. Heat over medium low heat, until hot. Serve with Parmesan cheese is desired.
8. Seitanfrikadellen (Seitan Rissoles)
Usually prepared with ground meat and bread crumbs, rissoles are a staple in Germany, and served traditionally with gravy and mashed potatoes.
You’re going to mix all your ingredients in a large bowl together-the dry with the wet. These ingredients are 1 1/4 cup water, 1/3 cup oil (like sunflower), 1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 tsp. garlic granules, 2 tsps. mild mustard, 1 tsp. yeast extract, 2 tsps. hot paprika, and 1/2 tsp. salt, /2 tsps. pepper, and 1-2 finely chopped onions.
In a smaller bowl mix 1 1/2 cups flour and 4 tbsp. bread crumbs. Then add everything together and knead with your hands until well mixed, but not for too long. Cover bowl with a warm moist towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Using more neutral oil, heat in skillet over medium heat. Taking your seitan and breadcrumb mixture, began making little balls in your hands, about 9-10 of them. Place them in pan and fry, but be sure not to crowd them.
It’s important not to fry them like you’re frying meat: they need to fry slowly on low to medium temperature (I use grade 3 of 6) for about 30 minutes. Flip them repeatedly after about 8 minutes to let them brown evenly. They stay soft for a long time and don’t start to brown till the end. After about 30 minutes they should be done, you can take them out when they have the desired color.
They are best served after cooling with mashed potatoes and gravy and are also delicious after refrigerated overnight, for a satisfying meal.