Buddhist Cuisine - Shojin Ryori Recipes

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Buddhist Cuisine - Shojin Ryori Recipes

Post by hannya » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:48 am

Hi all,

Years of eating junk food has taken its toll on my tummy and I was advised to stay away from it.


I am interested in Buddhist cuisine as it is said to aid spiritual progress and is also good for the body. I came across Shojin Ryori, which is the dietary system adhered to in Far East Buddhist countries. I identified one of the common items from pictures as tempura - beans/vegetables coated in light batter and fried in oil. Apart from this my knowledge of what Shojin Ryori is zilch. I would like to know some authentic Buddhist recipes and try them out.

Has anyone here tried Shojin Ryori or know about this?
Are there any traditional Buddhist recipe sites or books?

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Buddhist Cuisine - Shojin Ryori Recipes

Post by 明安 Myoan » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:50 pm

Hi, hannya. Welcome to Dharma Wheel.

Buddhists generally try to view food as medicine for the body, rather than a source of pleasure-seeking or extravagance.
The body is a vital support for practicing the Dharma, so we want to keep it in good shape.
Beyond that, there isn't a universal Buddhist diet.

That said, if a food makes you unhealthy or sluggish, or even causes harm to others, that's an easy one to remove.
Junk food comes to mind :smile:

The biggest challenge for me was finding recipes that didn't require a ton of time in the kitchen, or that needed expensive ingredients.
I found a book called Japanese Vegetarian Cooking by Lesley Downer. I liked Japanese cuisine before, and this book checks all the boxes above.
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Re: Buddhist Cuisine - Shojin Ryori Recipes

Post by Meido » Sun Oct 21, 2018 4:16 pm

Yes, we maintain this cuisine at our place. You can find tons of cookbooks and recipes online.

Note that some of what you'll find out there is a bit on the fancy side: dishes can be extremely refined in both preparation and appearance. But the original monastery shojin ryori is a poverty cuisine, just using whatever could be grown/made on site or collected by begging.

Some of the items or ingredients as noted are medicinal, and specifically included because they have a beneficial effect on things like sitting practice. The other thing to note is that fixed recipes are not as important as is altering dishes and ingredients to suit the conditions...seasonal, weather, what kind of practice is going on, how fatigued the practitioners are, etc.

For this reason in Zen monasteries the job of cook is considered a difficult one and generally given to advanced students: they have the power to help or hinder the practice for everyone.
It is relatively easy to accomplish the important matter of insight into one’s true nature, but uncommonly difficult to function freely and clearly [according to this understanding], in motion and in rest, in good and in adverse circumstances. Please make strenuous and vigorous efforts towards this end, otherwise all the teachings of Buddhas and patriarchs become mere empty words. - Torei

The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice

Korinji Rinzai Zen Monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺] - http://www.korinji.org

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Re: Buddhist Cuisine - Shojin Ryori Recipes

Post by KeithA » Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:52 pm

This isn't Japanese, but it may be worth a peak:

Un Mun's Cake

It's a collection of recipes we use during retreats, plus some discussion of various health/food topics. Some of that stuff veers close to food dogma for me, but that's just my idea. :)


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