Something called a ‘Buddha Bowl’ is currently trending on Instagram and Pinterest. As an example, here’s what a Buddha Bowl might contain – pickled carrot, creamy spinach, fresh rice, peppery cauliflower florets, zesty peanut sauce and curried chickpeas.
What’s the Buddha Bowl?
A Buddha Bowl is a balanced meal with carbohydrates, proteins, whole grains, raw and cooked vegetables, nuts, seeds and a sauce/dressing served in a bowl.
Packed with health, taste, tang and texture, it involves your senses and makes healthy eating easy and enjoyable – explains Dr Nandita Iyer, nutrition expert and author of the book The Everyday Healthy Vegetarian and the blog Saffrontrail.
No Buddha’s Belly
Don’t let the resemblance of the bowl to the archetypal Buddha belly scare you! The circular shape of the bowl allows few spoons of each category – limiting the portions to keep your belly flat.
Why the Craze?
The health articles suck you into a whirlpool of fear. Ask Mr Google what’s healthy, and in the blink of an eye a thousand options – from Keto, low carb, high protein, raw food and paleo to eating small meals frequently – compete for your attention.
Diet is a personal choice, but sustaining it depends on balance, moderation and convenience. You need something healthy but yummy. Buddha Bowls are popular because they don’t compromise taste, are highly customisable and provide optimum nutrition.
"This is a healthy trend that is easier to assemble than cooking multiple dishes comprising a thali. Easy cooking makes it popular. People have no time for elaborate meal preparation and this home-cooked balanced meal is a far better option than eating out."So, What Are Your Buddha Bowl Basics?
Intrigued? Would you like to try a Buddha Bowl? Possibly yes, but only if it’s hassle-free? A little planning will ensure that. You will need these six things:
- Veggies: raw and roasted
- Greens: spinach, any local greens
- Grain: quinoa, brown rice, millet
- Protein: tofu, chickpeas, beans, hummus
- Extras: nuts, seeds, sprouts
- Sauce: tahini dressings, peanut or other sauce, spiced buttermilk/coconut milk, chutney
Nandita suggests batch cooking on weekends:
"If you cook 2 or 3 portions of brown rice or millets, boil and season chickpeas, make some extra sauce or dressing, then you just need to sauté a few vegetables, make a salad and assemble the Buddha Bowl."
Buddha Bowls are very much a part of Indian culinary history and not a Western trend. Including local, seasonal products and variations like a dash of mango or tomato chutney instead of a sauce enhances the regional flavour.
Varied combinations make it appealing. Replace rice with noodles, pasta or quinoa. Include mushrooms and sprouts. Use tofu and if you don’t eat soy search for chickpea (besan) tofu – suggests Nandita.
Importance of the Colour
Also remember – assembling right is crucial, and colour is an indicator of balance.
If brown dominates, it’s heavy on carbs. If too green then you need more carbs. White suggests lack of micronutrients and no red, orange or yellow indicates deficiency of beta carotene.
Recipe 1: Rice, Chickpea Masala and Vegetables
1 cup steamed rice
One onion chopped
One tomato chopped
2 cups spinach shredded
1/2 cup each of beans and peas
1 yellow bell pepper roasted and shredded
1 cup of paneer cubes
1 cup boiled chickpeas
I tbsp oil
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp each of turmeric powder and paprika
1 tbsp each roasted sesame seeds and cashews
Add ginger garlic paste, beans, peas and yellow bell pepper, sauté for two minutes, add paneer cubes, turmeric powder, paprika and salt. Cook for 10 minutes. Add shredded spinach. Cook for 5 minutes.
Heat oil, add onions, cook for two minutes, add ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, paprika, chickpeas and salt. Cook for 5 minutes. Cool and blend.
In a large bowl, spoon some rice, blended chickpeas, vegetable mixture, chopped tomato, dress with tomato chutney, cashews and sprinkle sesame seeds.
Recipe 2: Quinoa, Besan Tofu and Peanut Sauce
2 cups of cooked quinoa
3 cups of cauliflower florets sautéed with ginger paste, chilli flakes and salt
1 cup chickpea tofu
1 cup each of carrots grated and lettuce shredded
1 cup steamed sweet corn, drizzled with lemon juice, salt and pepper
Juice of two lemons
Sesame seeds roasted
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
5 garlic flakes
2 dry red chillies
Roast tomatoes, garlic and red chillies on a roasting grill. Add salt and water to blend until smooth pouring consistency.
In a bowl, take quinoa, cauliflower florets, tofu pieces, steamed corn, carrot and lettuce mixture. Pour the peanut sauce. Garnish with lemon juice and sesame seeds.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
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