In honor of World Vegetarian Day, Musement explores 15 of the world’s most traditional vegetarian dishes from different countries.
October 1 marks World Vegetarian Day, and Musement has selected 15 vegetarian specialties from around the world that truly represent their countries and cultures. More or less popular, more or less healthy, here’s a list of 15 vegetarian dishes you can test when you’re out or even prepare at home.
1. Dhal, India
Dhal is a dish of Indian origin that’s based on aromatic coral lentils. Warm and comforting, dhal’s aroma alone will entice you. For a complete, classic vegetarian meal, serve it with Basmati rice.
2. Greek Salad, Greece
A true emblem of Greek cuisine and the Mediterranean diet, this crispy, fresh salad is the perfect accompaniment for all local dishes.
3. Falafel, Middle East
Whether it’s prepared with chickpeas as in Israel and Palestine, beans as in Egypt or a blend of the two as Lebanese commonly do, these small balls—crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside—are immensely popular throughout the Middle East. Serve them with hummus, tahini or yogurt.
4. Miso Soup, Japan
Like rice, miso soup is a must-have dish that accompanies almost every meal in Japan, a country teeming with good eats. Especially tasty, miso soup also boosts your health as its rich in vitamins, proteins and minerals—the perfect anecdote for winter.
5. Tamales, Mexico
Extremely popular in Mexico, these cornmeal rolls are wrapped in banana or corn leaves and then steamed. While they’re commonly stuffed with pork or chicken, you can opt for a vegetarian version with cheese or black bean stuffing.
6. Tortilla de patatas, Spain
We mentioned tortilla de patatas in our article about Spanish cuisine, and we couldn’t omit this traditional Iberian dish from a list of the world’s top international vegetarian specialties. Eggs, potatoes and a few slivers of onion—what could be more practical for an impromptu meal or an informal picnic?
7. Margherita pizza, Italy
The great classics of Italian cuisine are often vegetarian. We could have told you about pasta with tomato sauce or pesto, but we prefer to single out the Margherita pizza. An emblem of Italy and the city of Naples, the ingredients represent the colors of the Italian flag: red tomato, white mozzarella and green basil leaves.
8. Mac ‘n’ cheese, USA
In the U.S., mac ‘n’ cheese is a staple. Whether it’s out of a box with a powdered cheese sauce base in your college dorm or a lavish homemade version, it’s perfect as a side dish, but even better on its own.
9. Savoyard fondue, Switzerland
Savoyard fondue is an ideal dish to warm up and fill up on calories after a day of skiing or hiking. Synonymous with socializing, the dish warms both the body and the mind.
10. Sarma and dolma, Turkey
Turks feast on these essentials during various celebrations and festivities. These stuffed grape leaves are available in many versions, vegetarian included, often filled with rice, bulgur and vegetables, and then wrapped up.
11. Ajapsandali, Georgia
Ajapsandali is a bit like a French ratatouille, and like ratatouille, there are many variants. That said, some ingredients never change, and those include eggplant, tomato, onion, pepper and spices. This traditional dish is often served with potatoes.
12. La Poutine, Canada
This particularly restorative dish helps combat Quebec’s cold weather. Far from being light (or even healthy), poutine is comprised of French fries, cheese curds sometimes called skouik-skouik (taken from the sound it makes in your mouth), and poutine sauce, or brown gravy. Poutine, or French fries with cheese and gravy, has earned a place in the cannon of American diner food.
13. Pad Thai, Thailand
Pad Thai is a traditional Thai dish cooked in a wok and made with rice noodles sautéed with diced vegetables. This is without a doubt Thailand’s most exported dish.
14. Caldo Verde, Portugal
Its name alone well describes this Portuguese dish, caldo verde—literally “green broth”—is a soup made with green cabbage and potatoes. While it may seem overly simple, it’s really tasty, which probably explains why it can be found in almost every restaurant in Portugal!
15. Kartoffelsalat, Germany
Consistent and versatile, kartoffelsalat, Germany’s classic potato salad, can accompany all sauces and seasons. If you decide to take part in Oktoberfest in Munich or any other beer festival in Europe this autumn, this will be your best ally.