Chinese Cooking

BUDDHIST CUSINE

“When you eat in silence you can learn something new from the food.”

Mahayana Buddhism entered in China in 200 CE. It is the dominant form of Buddhism in China. Mahayana Canon prohibits eating meat as killing animals is Karmically negative.

Buddhist food is served in Buddhist Temples. The way of cooking respects the Buddhist precepts. Shaolin Monks follow the Buddhist Cuisine. The way of eating is vegetarian or vegan and follows the concept of cruelty free. As part of the cruelty free values, we often release animals into the wild – Fangsheng.

Terminology used:

1. Vegetarian Cuisine (Sùshí 素食)
2. Pure Vegetarian (Chúnsù 纯素)
3. Fasting Food (Zhāicài 斋菜)

MAHAYANA MONASTIC RESTRICTIONS

In the monastic diet, there are several food restrictions such us garlic, strong smelling plants (shallot, leek, onion, scallions and chives), coriander and alcohol. The vegetables restricted are called “The Five Acrid and Strong smelling vegetables” (Wǔ hūn 五荤) or Five Spices (Wǔ xīn 五辛). The restriction is because if they are eaten raw, can lead to anger or cooked to passion. For Buddhists, strong odours repel Gods and attract hungry ghosts and demons.

Alcohol it is also forbidden because of the effects it has on the body. A person under alcohol influence can violate the “Five Moral Precepts” which are: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying and no taking intoxicants. Moreover, a person under intoxicant (alcohol, tobacco, drugs) influence will lose the proper concentration needed to achieve enlightenment.

WAY TO PREPARE THE FOOD

“Please take your time, take your time!”

The Buddhist food preparation is simple with great attention to keep the wholesomeness, quality and flavour of food. Not everybody can cook Buddhist food. You must be sincere, kind at heart and treat each ingredient with care and respect. This means simple and natural.

Rice is a staple food served with every meal. In the morning and evening often will be cooked porridge or congee. Noodles and grains are also an important part of the diet. The food is cocked using stir- fry method or steamed.

Although eggs and dairy are not permitted in the Buddhist monks’ diet, they are served to our Kung Fu training students as an extra source of protein. As dairy we only offer goat cheese. Additional source of proteins in the Temple are tofu, beans, lotus root, nuts and grains.

We also offer many dishes which have medical properties such San Qi Root soup, seaweed, bamboo shoots so on. When there are ceremonies in the Temple, many offerings are given in form of fruits, nuts and cakes.

Buddhist cooking in a nutshell is about maintaining the original character and taste of the food and its nature. The inner peace can be led by a simple meal.

BUDDHISTS MONKS VIEW ON FOOD AND LIFE

“If you can let go everything, you are a freeman in the world”

Buddhist monks follow the law of nature. They have a set time for meals and eat in silence. Monks are present in every activity they do, show gratitude to the reality and find joy in daily life. Letting go of desire helps them achieve enlightenment. Being in the present you can feel relaxed, your body will be healthy and have vitality.

BUDDHISM AND TEA

“A cup of tea can wipe off the ignorance & affections/ two cups of tea clear the mind/ three cups of tea can lead to enlightenment.”

– Tea Drinking Ballad for teasing Cui Shishi

Buddhism was introduced in China from India but become known in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Wu Lizhen, a monk in Sichuan Province (Han Dynasty), was the first person to discover the benefits of tea. At that time, tea tree were planted widely. Buddhism developed in the Tang Dynasty when Tea Culture spread. The tea was very beneficial for monks which were doing Meditation. The benefits include refreshing and finding the true heart of Chan.

We keep classes for Tea ceremony for students to attend. During these classes you will learn how to do a proper ceremony, taste different types of Chinese Tea (Pu’er Tea is specific for the Yunnan Province) and understand the benefits of drinking tea for the body. You will be also able to keep your own Tea Ceremony as part of the practice.

COOKING CLASSES

In the Temple, every month, we organize free classes in learning how to cook dumplings. Dumplings are a very important dish for the Chinese people. It is specifically cooked during the Chinese New Year when all the family gathers together.

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