We were invited to Edo for a tasting of Shojin Ryori – Buddhist religious food that is eaten at temples. It is a vegetarian meal based on the principle of ahimsa. This is eaten at monasteries primarily by the resident monks. Even believers eat this, and there are restaurants in temple premises in Kyoto, Japan that serve the cuisine. There has been some Chinese influences as well over the years. Edo has been serving inspiring food for many years now, and this Japanese concept is introduced as an obento meal for lunch with choices of 3 set menus. At our preview tasting, we tried an assortment of these set meals, while Chef Kamlesh explained about the concept menus.
The meal comprised of several key components – prevalent in Japanese cuisine, but rendered in a different way for Shojin Ryori. The food is also kept simple and natural – since sharp flavors and killing animals were not allowed in Zen Buddhism. Chef explained about the rule of five – every Buddhist meal offers five colors and five flavors, as well as five cooking methods. Our obento had a vegetable tempura – made with sweet potato and eggplant, a Japanese clear soup made with vegetable broth, three pickles – plum, cucumber and daikon, two types of sea weed, Japanese sea grapes, a braised and freeze dried tofu with sweet Miso sauce, steamed rice infused with plum and fried tofu, grilled mushrooms – shitake and boletus and ending with a beautiful dish of braised radish and Dengaku Miso.
In Edo, the Shojin Ryori festival has three curated set menus. Oshinko – Japanese pickles, Gohan – a steamed sticky rice and a soup of the day are accompaniments to all these 3 menus. There is Tsuki, priced at 1600 INR plus taxes that offers a set of three seasonal vegetarian specialties; Yuki is another variant offered at 1800 INR plus taxes – with five seasonal vegetarian specialty dishes; and finally Hana has six seasonal vegetarian specialties and is priced at 2000 INR plus taxes. The promotion starts today, and is available for lunch until 19th August. Check out this festival to try the exquisite vegetarian cuisine in all its simple wholesomeness. To read about standard obento lunches in Edo, click here.
Cover Photo courtesy ITC Gardenia.