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How Can Food Be Flavoursome Without Garlic and Onion?

At Bodhi, we follow the traditional Buddhist way of cooking by avoiding the five pungent vegetables. But that doesn’t mean our flavour profiles are compromised!

Following Buddhist philosophy, the dishes at Bodhi avoid the use of the five pungent vegetables - onions, garlic, green onions, chives and leeks. For meat eaters, these ingredients can be beneficial because they can help break down enzymes and toxins from a heavy meat diet, but for individuals following a vegan diet, instead of working with the body, these vegetables are said to work against it and throw the digestive system out of balance.

In the olden days, they were forbidden amongst the Buddhist community because these vegetables can cause irritation and intestinal gas, which lessen one’s ability to concentrate or meditate. Garlic and onion are even considered medicinal in Ayurvedic medicines, and are believed to stimulate and arouse the senses in an undesirable manner.

Nowadays, low FODMAP diets are recommended to people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), because steering away from FODMAPs (carbohydrates found in milk, soft cheeses, wheat, onions, garlic and vegetables) can help prevent an upset stomach that is triggered by the digestion of these sugars. That said, even though garlic and onion seem to be in everything – from soup to salad, dip to salsa… there are more than one reason to not cook or consume them. But don't despair, there are plenty other flavour enhancers you can rely on, and here are some of our favourites:

Lemongrass It tastes like a mix of lemon and lemon mint, but without the bitterness of lemon. It’s light and adds a tangy kick to your dish. Ginger It’s one of the most versatile ingredients. It adds a distinctive fragrance and heat to the dish that is simply incomparable. Chili spice This natural flavour enhancer is so universal and can be addictive. A little goes a long way! Saffron The sweet, floral taste of saffron adds an earthy element to your dish. Not to mention its colour can make any dish pop. Celery You can smell it before you see it! Packed with vitamin A, C and K, this super vegetable offers an aromatic smell and crunchy texture to your dish. Peppercorn One of the most popular spices. This hot, pungent, woody and piney ingredient can be found in almost all cuisines.


Don't let this odor-less, white root fool you. When cut or grated, it releases a sinus-clearing sensation that will remind you of wasabi and mustard.

Asian five spice A mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds that encompasses all five tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.




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