Magazine Recipes

30 Exotic Vegan Recipes from Around the World

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By Lora O’Brien

The world is getting smaller and thank god for that. Time was (or so I heard!) that food in the UK consisted basically of boiled cabbage, potatoes and beef. With maybe some nice fish and chips thrown in for a change, and of course, Sundays were all about the (meaty) roast. Foods like ‘Madras’, ‘Gado Gado’ and ‘Enchiladas’ were about as British as Carmen Miranda dancing the samba in a fruit hat – but that was then.

Today, Britain and most other nations in the world are a happy mixed salad bowl of world cuisines – so much so that chefs have gained the confidence to put a spin or two on traditionally foreign dishes, including making vegan substitutions when required.

Whether you’re a fan of spicy Indian or subtle sushi, we’ve got some Exotic Vegan Recipes from Around the World that take the best foods from around the globe and put them right into your kitchen.

Indian

Some may be cautious with Indian food due to the fear of too much spice, but real Indian food isn’t spicy so much as it is aromatic. That is, spices are used, yes – but not to set your tongue on fire and dull the tastebuds; rather cumin, coriander and tumeric are often used in brilliant combinations to enhance food, much the same way a perfume makes a woman all the more charming. And whereas Indian food can sometimes leave you feeling weighed down and experiencing somewhat of a food baby, these recipes will do the opposite!

1.Tofu Cauliflower Korma

Let me just get it out there . . . I personally don’t do well with chili. I can’t help it; whenever I eat anything too high on the spice scale, it’s like my esophagus turns into a roaring inferno and I can’t drink enough water to put it out. So a nice korma is the perfect mixture of creamy, delicious coconut and subtle spice. The addition of the tofu in this recipe really bulks the curry out in place of where meat would be in a traditional recipe, making it a nice, filling dish.

Get the recipe here.

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2. Butter Chik’un

Butter chicken is a popular Indian dish. It’s creamy and mildly spiced, making it a perfect dish if you’re just starting to introduce Indian flavour and spices to your cooking. The sweet couple at  hotforfood have waved their magic wand to banish boring food and have created this butter chicken recipe, and if you really love detailed instructions for cooking, they even have a YouTube video so you can follow along.

Get the recipe here.

3. Golden Lentil Dal with Cilantro Speckled Basmati

The best thing about this recipe? The leftovers! Have you ever eaten Indian food the next day? It’s just as good, trust me so if you make too much of this, you can enjoy it for a few days, hurrah! This dal is creamy from the coconut giving it a real rich texture. You’ve probably eaten a curry before and felt as though your body has become sluggish and heavy to lug about, right? Well, this recipe will do the opposite – it’s going to leave you energized. What more can we ask for from good food?

Get the recipe here.

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4. Beetroot & ‘Paneer’ Curry

Healthy eating really allows you to get creative when re-inventing popular cuisines to suit your lifestyle. And this beetroot and ‘paneer’ curry is just bursting with delicious colours and tasty flavours. Though paneer is usually cheese, this one uses tofu instead, so it’s absolutely vegan friendly, and holds so much goodness from the beetroot, potatoes and the array of seasoning. You could even go one step further and make some vegan naan bread to pop it up, mmmhmm!

Get the recipe here.

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5. Coconut Curry

Curries don’t have to blow your brains out with their spice levels: they can be rich and creamy, too. This coconut curry recipe is brimming with veggies such as broccoli, carrot, onion and snow peas but you could easily adapt this to your own preferences. I definitely suggest adding in some potato or an extra hit of healthy carbs. As for the spice factor: just a little curry powder with a pinch of cayenne is all this recipe calls for. Want a warmer vibe? Add a little cinnamon.

Get the recipe here.

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Chinese

Who doesn’t enjoy a good Chinese takeaway? Problem is, they’re often loaded with MSG, salt and artificial colourings. So best to find some great recipes, like these below, and make your own!

1. Sweet & Sour Tofu

Sweet and sour is a  favourite Chinese dish but one that usually contains chunks of chicken or pork, making it a no-no if you’re vegan or just looking to cut out your meat intake. Well, the good news is you can now re-create this dish with the use of tofu. I know some of you may be thinking, tofu? That bland block of nothingness? Well it’s actually a great ingredient to use in place of meat: firm tofu holds its texture whilst it’s easy to season and to make taste delicious.  Serve it over a bowl of rice to re-create that popular dish you’d buy from your local takeaway.

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2. Vegan Fried Rice

Rice is a standard side dish when ordering Chinese foods. I mean, who doesn’t order a rice dish? It’s practically takeaway etiquette. However, not many of the rice dishes are vegan and even plain rice can be a little dull and in need of a little sprucing, so this recipe is perfect. Cook up a large helping and serve it as a side dish.

Get the recipe here.

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3. Dim Sum Buns

When I was in Hong Kong there were a lot of foods I was excited to try, and one of them that I fell head over heels in love with was dim sum. Doughy steamed balls oozing with delicious filling, yum! I’d try and eat it as much as possible when dining out, but the traditional dim sum recipes usually contain prawns or some form of meat. So whilst this recipe by the King of Cooking, Jamie Oliver isn’t like the food I experienced in Hong Kong, these do look pretty damn good.

Get the recipe here.

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4. Veggie Fresh Rolls

Spring rolls are a popular Chinese side dish, but they’re often deep fried, which means they’re fatty and high in free radicals. Ew! Raw and crispy, these fresh rolls are full of vegetables and bean shoots and are quick and easy to make. You could even make some chilli or peanut satay sauce to dip them in.

Get the recipe here

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5. Soy Sauce Stir Fried Noodles

Noodles were another dish I thoroughly enjoyed eating whilst in Hong Kong was noodles. Unlike the thick, sticky noodles we’re used to when ordering ‘Chinese’ food, these were thin, and sometimes crispy and come accompanied by garlic sauteed veggies and it was seriously good. Although this recipe calls for egg noodles, which aren’t vegan for obvious reasons within the name, you can find some really simple recipes for cooking vegan forms of these noodles, meaning you don’t have to miss out. You could even try rice noodles, but the consistency won’t be the same.

Get the recipe here

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Mexican

I like to think that I was perhaps Mexican in another life, solely due to my undying love of Mexican food. There’s just something about the heaping portions at Mexican meals, the colours, the flavours, that has me doing my own victory dance. Mexican night in our household is like a celebratory event, but if you’re not familiar with the cuisine, let me explain a bit. Remember that scene in One Day when Emma works at the Mexican restaurant and explains it as easily as possible? Allow me so steal her words here:  ‘A tortilla is either corn or wheat. But a corn tortilla folded and filled is a taco, whereas a filled wheat tortilla is a burrito. Deep fry a burrito, it’s a chimichanga. Toast a tortilla, it’s a tostada. Roll it, it’s an enchilada.’

1. Fully Loaded Vegan Nachos

Traditional nacho recipes include meat, tortillas and various other ingredients. But think about how unhealthy they are from the meat (ew) to the heaped amounts of (kinda fake) cheese and sour cream. Thankfully I found this fully vegan nacho recipe which means we can enjoy our faithful nachos, without all that bad stuff. For real, how could I not share this when it looks so insanely good?! And did I mention that gooey yellow stuff is nacho cheese? Sorry, ‘vegan’ nacho cheese. It looks so good. And what’s more, this is healthy nachos at their tastiest. Even the cheese sauce is made from cashews. Plant based food rocks!

Get the recipe here.

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2. Easy Vegan Tacos

Tacos for me is all about the filling. The ‘meat’ that sucks up all the juices and then layers of creamy guacamole, tangy sour cream and handfuls of crisp lettuce and chunks of tomato . . . so good! I’ve been making tacos with ‘fake mince meat’ for a while now. Not because I crave meat, but because tacos is a food I’v always thoroughly enjoyed eating, and I want to enjoy it like I used to, just without the presence of meat. So, if anyone understands the need for tasty, vegan Mexican food then it’s this pair. John and Lauren create perfection with their foods, and are all about re-creating favourite dishes in vegan friendly ways, so I died and went to heaven when I found this recipe. It’s exactly how a taco should be, fully loaded and packed with Mexican goodness. Go and make it – like, right now!

Get the recipe here.

3. Vegetable Enchiladas

Whilst not a typically vegan recipe, you can very easily make it so by omitting the cheese for a vegan cheese substitute, voila! Anyone who enjoys a good enchilada will know that the corn tortilla is wrapped around an array of vegetables and then baked with cheese which melts over them like some kind of glorious shield. The best part of cooking enchiladas is how easy and versatile they can be. Especially if you’re vegan; you can just pack them full of wholesome good stuff like beans, spinach, corn and even potato.

Get the recipe here.

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4. Black Bean & Butternut Squash Burritos

Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows should be crowned the Queen of Cuisine, seriously. I can always find a killer recipe for whatever food I’m craving that has been made not only vegan but healthy on the oh she glows website. And I did a major fist of victory when finding this burrito recipe. It’s filled, no sorry, it’s crammed full of black beans, butternut squash, chunks of creamy avocado, onions and peppers. This is exactly what you want from a burrito.

Get the recipe here.

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5. Vegan Quesadillas

Quesadillas are toasted lightly, usually on a griddle pan, and full of goods that melt down and ooze out. I’ve used the word ooze is almost every Mexican recipe, but they all just ooze food, flavour and goodness! And this recipe is no exception. And this quesadilla has a lot of fresh ingredients, from the cilantro, red onions and scallions and then packed full of hearty ingredients such as black beans and a layer of humous. You could also add some cream guacamole and cashew cream to take this up a notch, but it’s pretty good as it is if you ask me.

Get the recipe here.

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Thai

Thai food is a super popular nowadays. You’re able to buy Thai food ingredients in a lot of supermarkets and there’s various Thai restaurants that have sprung up here and there. But you can just as easily cook it yourself. Not familiar with Thai? Think fresh, lemony, sweet, hot and salty flavours, with an emphasis on coconut, lemongrass and coriander. Thai food definitely has its own distinct taste, and is a real fusion of flavour and colour.

1. Thai Green Curry

Thai green curry is probably the most famous of Thai dishes. While traditional recipes use chicken, shrimp and fish sauce, this veggified version eliminates all the animals. It still looks delicious and creamy, but is packed out with an abundance of healthy vegetables. Want it a little more filling? You could add some tofu in there, but this dish is hearty enough without.

Get the recipe here.

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2. Veggie Spring Roll & Peanut Butter Dipping Sauce

Veggie spring rolls with a satay sauce are the perfect party food or dinner party appetizer. The traditional chicken here is replaced by lots of veggies, and you can still enjoy that peanut sauce, just in a new, healthy way. These wraps are coconut wraps, but you can just as easily use rice wraps instead.

Get the recipe here.

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3. Thai Green Papaya Salad

This dish, also known as Som Tam, is a hot dish that is crunchy and refreshing at the same time. The main ingredient in this dish is the papaya, but you won’t be needing a sweet papaya, entirely the opposite. In your hunt for all of the ingredients, be sure to pick up a green papaya which is green and unripe, firm with no spots on its skin. Even after two weeks in the fridge the flesh should still be pale, green and it will be crunchy without being too sweet, which is why it’s perfect in salad and stew recipes.

Get the recipe here.

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4. Pad Thai

Hooray! A traditionally vegan Thai dish at last. Well, almost – this can be made with chicken, shrimp or, in this case, tofu, and it usually has fish sauce as a base. But you can sub in soya sauce, as this recipe does, and no matter what you add, there’s always the sweet and salty taste of peanuts, the mixed textures of crunchy veg and soft rice noodles, and the tang of refreshing cilantro. Some vegans like me don’t object to organic, free-range eggs, but if  you do, just don’t add them.

Get the recipe here.

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Japanese

Japanese cuisine is one of the healthiest in the whole world, and thanks to a diet based on oily fish, tofu, fermented veggies and green tea, the Japanese live longer than anyone else on Earth. So what are you waiting for? Improve your health and impress your friends with these delish Japanese dishes, which turn your home into an impromptu sushi bar.

1. Vegetable Sushi

Sushi is probably the recipe that first springs to mind when considering Japanese cuisine. But so many people screw their noses up in disgust at the suggestion of sushi. Let’s just set the record straight – sushi is NOT all about raw fish. Sushi is actually the rice part of this dish. Right, now onto this AMAZING recipe. You can probably tell from the photo how beautiful this sushi looks, but allow me to sell it to you some more. This sushi includes asparagus, beets, red peppers and even sweet potatoes. Shiitake mushrooms have been sauteed, and there’s raw avocado, cucumber and kale for a little added texture. And I have to agree; this sushi looks way better topped with veggies than it would seafood or meat. Just sayin’.

Get the recipe here.

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2. Vegan Ramen

Ramen is a popular in Japanese cuisine, and is noodles served in a broth with vegetables and meat, but there can be vegan versions too, like this one. In this recipe, the broth of choice is made from miso, a delicious fermented soy beans. It’s topped with roasted sweet potato and mushroom which lends a filling topping whilst the charred eggplant gives an almost smoky edge to this dish.

Get the recipe here.

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3. Tempura Artichoke Hearts

Tempura is basically Japan’s contribution to the delicious world of deep-fried foods. It’s usually batter-coated seafood that has been fried in sesame oil and served with a dish of soy sauce. Tempura prawns is a popular dish, and one you can even get at most sushi restaurants. But if you’re vegan and still looking for a little deep fried fun, there are plenty of veggie options now too, like this one.

Get the recipe here.

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4. Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are often used in Japanese cuisine and are an easy-cook buckwheat based noodle with a slightly nutty flavour. I’ve found lots of vegan friendly recipes incorporating these thin, healthy noodles. The sweet and spicy peanut sauce in this recipe is truly scrummy, and is poured over the noodles, which are then topped with fresh vegetables, cilantro, sesame seeds and more peanuts.

Get the recipe here.

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5. Vegan Okonomiyaki

Okonomikayki can only be described as Japanese comfort food. It’s a grilled savoury pancake that is filled, usually with cabbage and prawns, and then topped with fish flakes, dried seaweed, and a mayonnaise and a worcester-style sauce. Okonomiyaki are usually made with the addition of eggs, veggies and of course meat. The chickpea flour adds the colour to these and kala namak gives the eggy flavour. The sauce? Vegan mayo and pickled ginger. The best thing about this recipe is that you can use any vegetables you have on hand.

Get the recipe here.

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Lebanese

Lebanese cuisine is one of the most loved – and possibly most ancient – cuisines around. It’s famous for its mezze, a collection of tasty appetizers, bright and vibrant colours and if you’re lucky enough to visit Lebanon, you’ll see that dishes are always served up in abundance with the warmest imaginable hospitality. Lebanese food is healthy due to the large volumes of those healthy grains and vegetables, and it’s pretty easy to take out the meat dishes or find plenty of dishes that cater to vegans.

1. Loubyeh B’zeit

If you’re struggling to pronounce this dish, don’t worry; it’s really just a green bean stew. The beans are in a tomato sauce and it naturally a vegetarian one-pot dish that requires minimal ingredients but tastes ridiculously good. Plus it’s a great way to incorporate green beans into your diet if, like me, you always struggle to find ways of enjoying them that don’t just require steaming them and plopping them on a plate. This dish does use butter, which isn’t vegan, but you could switch it for a vegan-friendly option pretty easily.

Get the recipe here.

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2. Freekeh Salad with Pomegranate Seeds & Molasses

This salad is super rich with antioxidants from the addition of pomegranate and there’s lots of nutrition from the eggplant and peppers, too. If you don’t know what freekeh is, it’s an ancient grain that is a young green wheat that has been toasted and cracked. It’s a super-healthy, slightly smoky tasting whole grain you can get here, and makes a delicious, filling salad. This dish does call for cheese, so if you’re vegan, you could sub this for vegan cheese, or use marinated pulsed cauliflower which resembles crumbled cheese and would be perfect scattered across the top of this dis.

Get the recipe here.

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3. Lebanese Stuffed Eggplant

This stuffed eggplant recipe is a take on the Lebanese dish Aubergine Lebanon, which is either stuffed aubergine, or an aubergine stew. Usually it’s cooked with chicken stock with added meat, but this is a vegan friendly option that looks just as delicious, if not more so, so you can wow friends and family when placing this dish in front of them.

Get the recipe here.

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4. Za’atar Man’ouche

Za’atar man’ouche is a very rich and healthy dish that many Lebanese have for breakfast to kick start their day. Za’atar provides a great boost of energy due to the levels of magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc, and is sometimes served with cucumbers, olives mint and tomatoes. It’s basically a flatbread that is spread with herbs, making it a very simple dish to make, and takes little time to do so.

Get the recipe here.

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5. Fattet Hummus

Hummus is perhaps the most famous of all Lebanese dishes, and is served up at many meals. Fattet Hummus takes it a bit further with the addition of  yoghurt, tahini, chickpeas, bread, spices and toasted pine nuts. It’s so easy to make this vegan: instead of milk yoghurt, use soy, and olive oil can be used in place of butter on the bread.

Get the recipe here.

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