Vegetarian delicacies from around the world

This post is part of a series by Jayeeta Ghorai on vegetarian travel

logo-3.3-with-bgVegetarians are not boring eaters.

They can be adventurous about trying out unusual treats, and are just as curious as non-vegetarians. And when the world is out to offer such wonderfully different options, why should they not be?

Even the most prolific flesh-eating nations of the world have at least one specialty vegetarian dish hidden in their culinary sleeve.

“Travelling and eating abroad, many diners discover that the world is a vegetarian’s oyster,” wrote Alistair Bland in The Smithsonian Magazine. Here are some of the unique vegetarian delicacies worth travelling the world for.

Polenta (Italy)

Cornmeal boiled into mushy porridge or cooled and cut into solid wedges. It is not uncommon to find polenta made of other starchy grains like barley, millet or farro. Polenta chunks may also be fried.

Warning: May be served with a variety of sides and sauces, both vegetarian and not. Any kind of salad greens, pesto, mushroom sauces are safe and choices to go with polenta.


Youtiao (China)

Golden deep-fried sticks of dough that are lightly salted. Youtiao can be chewed and eaten on its own or dipped in soya milk or rice congee, usually for breakfast. Variations of youtiao are widely available all over South Asia.

Warning: The rice congee, a porridge that is usually vegetarian, may have bits of non-veg thrown in with the boiling rice or as topping and side.

Bryndzové Halušky (Slovakia)

A flour and grated potato dumpling (this variety has no eggs) mixed with melted sheep’s cheese. Bits of bacon are usually sprinkled on top but can easily be left out.

Warning: There are many different kinds of halušky which use eggs in the dough, only bryndzové halušky does not. Also, though the main dish is completely vegetarian, make sure to ask that no bacon, sausage or eggs are added as topping.

Provoleta (Argentina)

Yummy grilled Provolone cheese, often seasoned with herbs and sometimes brushed with olive oil. This may come in smaller roundels or a big panful cut out into individual portions.

Warning: Again, the main thing to be careful of is what it is served with, though it is extremely calorific and often served on its own.

Porotos Granados (Chile)

A stew made of pumpkin and cranberry beans, wholesome and filling. The ingredients may be mashed after cooking or left whole.

Warning (for Indian vegetarians): May contain onion and garlic, may raise a few eyebrows from the cook if asked to be left out!

Stamnagathi (Crete)

A wild green that grows in the Cretan countryside, similar to chicory, and is made into a delicious salad laced with olive oil and lemon juice.

Warning (for Indian vegetarians): May contain crushed garlic.

Kiribath (Sri Lanka)

Rice boiled with coconut milk, cooled and cut into diamonds.Usually served with lunu miris, the fiery Sri Lankan sambal.

Warning: A vegetarian dish on its own but may be served with non-vegetarian sides. Lunu miris contains onions but can be substituted with plain chili sambal.

Rajas Poblanas (Mexico)

Slices of Poblanas pepper cooked in cream and usually served with tacos. It is also known as Chile Poblana or Rajas con crema.

Warning: May be served in accompaniment with other non-vegetarian dishes like tinga and chicharrón.

Injera (Ethiopia/Eritrea)

Injera is a flatbread made of teff flour. The dough is fermented and the bread gets a spongy texture. It is served topped with a variety of wat (stews) not all of which are vegetarian. It is the national dish of both Ethiopia and Eritrea but commonly found in many other east African countries.

Warning: Some of the accompaniments are non-vegetarian.

This is not an exhaustive list and vegetarian travellers should be able to add many more names from their own feasts. What’s more, their memory from these happy meals would definitely include a smaller bill than their non-vegetarian travel buddies.

Jayeeta Ghorai writes, travels, reads, studies and photographs — all this when she can spare time from her pillow and houseful of cuddlesome strays. She swears by her light backpack and an ever-lighter purse. Her favourite dream – a world without borders (and visa fees). Catch up with her on An Idiot’s Tale.

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