Everything you need to know about the ‘Buddha Bowl’

by Sanjeev Kapoor

You know how every year there’s a food trend which literally everyone goes gaga over. Like in 2019, we were swooning over intermittent fasting and veganism so much that it hasn’t stopped till now. In fact, the social media game gets even stronger with quirky hashtags and gorgeous posts about these food fads. Now, 2020 has not given us much to get crazy over but there are still some culinary innovations which we can’t stop thinking about. One of these trends is the gorgeous ‘Buddha Bowl,’ also called hippie, macro, grain or power bowls by the internet fanatics. If you haven’t heard about this exciting concept yet, read on to explore all about it.

What are Buddha Bowls?

First off, they are pretty! While these colourful and vibrant meals are a definite treat to the eyes, they are extremely high on nutrition too. It’s a bowl filled with all good things and is more like a power-packed meal consisting of varied foods in tiny portions like rice or grains, roasted vegetables, plant proteins, dressing and leafy greens. Though, these bowls were popular much before today, the term ‘Buddha Bowl’ was first heard of in 2013 in a book written by Martha Stewart. The book was majorly based on the life of Buddhist monks and their journey, and that’s how these bowls gained so much fame.

You must know balance plays a huge role in maintaining a spiritual living and these bowls are nothing but all about consuming a balanced meal. Since balance of life is a prominent Buddhist concept, there is a story which emerges from the days of Buddha’s life. He used to wake up before dawn and walked around with a bowl in his hand to get food from the villagers, whatever they could afford to give him. This food provided by them was very simple and 100% vegetarian since Buddha was not a promoter of meat-based foods. This is why we call it a Buddha Bowl, because originally it was the only meal that existed for Buddha and his followers. However, as times changed, so did these versatile bowls. Today, you might find a version which consists of eggs, fish and meat too.

Tips to build your own Buddha Bowl

Today, what’s trending is a little different than the traditional version but the best part is that there are no rules in this one. You can add whatever you want and build-your-own-bowl (BYOB) at home. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Grainy base to start with

You got to keep the bowl simple. Start with choosing a grainy base for the bowl – grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth, bulgur, barley or do a combination of them.

2. Load it with vegetables

This is the favourite bit. You can choose from a range of veggies and make this bowl as colourful as you want. Pick some cucumbers for a green tint, tomatoes and beetroots for that vibrant red shade, bell peppers, cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, green peas and whatever you wish for. Not only do these add colour, but also bring in texture to the bowl. You can use some boiled, raw or cooked ones.

3. Pros of protein

This nourishing bowl is all about proteins and you have a lot of options to choose from. Tofu, paneer, dals, chickpeas, kidney beans, eggs, etc., are some protein rich supplements that are easy to include and are easily available. Make sure to not go overboard with this one, because you have a lot more things to add ahead.

4. Crunch it up

Seeds and nuts are also equally important to add that fabulous flavour and protein kick to your DIY bowl. Pick some almonds, crack some walnuts, shower some sunflower and sesame seeds. Know that a handful of nuts never hurts!

5. Drizzle the dressing

You know how it’s always important to sauce things up a little. Well, the same goes for a Buddha Bowl too, which is slightly incomplete without a delicious dressing. You can choose from a variety of flavourful sauces like pesto, pasta, mustard, soy, tomato or chilli. Drizzle your favourite salad dressing or keep it simple with a dash of lemon juice.

Desi Buddha Bowl

India has an ancient history of Buddhism and it would be unfair to not talk about a desi Buddha Bowl here. Our Indian cuisine has a plethora of ingredients which can be easily put together to make a beautiful and hearty Buddha Bowl. Try to start with rice or popular millets as a base, for proteins, add in some kadhi, rajma or chole, throw in some bhujiya, sev for crunchiness and use raita, dahi or chutney for a flavourful dressing. There, you got yourself a 100% desi and comforting Buddha Bowl ready in a matter of minutes. Get creative in your kitchen and share your ‘Buddha Bowl’ ideas with us in the comments.

For recipes, visit www.sanjeevkapoor.com

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.