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14 Must Try Vegetarian Dishes around the World

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14 Must Try Vegetarian Food sAround the World

If you’re vegetarian or vegan traveler, you probably know that it’s not always easy to eat your way around the world. You’d like to taste the colorful world of spices and flavors, but you have to be smart in navigating your way to find the right dishes for your diet. The world can be riddled with meat, lard, fish sauce and cheese… and on foot, wheeling through language barriers, your tastebud world can feel like a small place; certainly not  like the food lovers world of travel. I feel you (Read my post 15 Tips for Vegetarian travelers). But fear not, while my last Must Try Foods post included some veggie dishes, this post is for the hell-yeah vegetarian foodie.

Here’s 14 vegetarian must try recommendations from travel bloggers, foodies and expats. It’ll bring color back into your palate and hope back into your stomach!

14 Must Try Vegetarian Dishes around the World

China:  You tiao

Chinese people are real meat lovers and they will probably never understand the concept of veganism or vegetarianism. However, China is a very diverse country when it comes to food so everyone can find something healthy, spicy, oily or stodgy. In my opinion, the best vegeterian dish you can’t afford to miss in China is you tiao. They are deep fried breadsticks of dough usually eaten as a snack or breakfast. They are lightly salted, very soft and extremely delicious, served as an accompaniment for rice congee or soy milk. If you feel like eating something sweet, you can dip you tiao in chocolate sauce or peanut butter – it tastes so good!

–  Agness Walewinder,  e-Tramping  , Twitter @Agnesstramp 

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Must Try Vegetarian Food China: You Tiao

Costa Rica:  Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto is a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of rice and black beans, scrambled eggs, and a small tortilla. In some sodas (local eateries) gallo pinto comes with fried banana too, which off-sets the usually slightly salted rice. If there’s no banana, you can opt for a cup of chan seeds in sweet water instead.

At the farmer’s markets, many locals like to scoop out the flesh of a ripe avocado to go with it. This staple is not only vegetarian, but it’s filling, delicious, healthy and cheap. A gallo pinto will usually set you back only 1000 colones ($1.80). Eating gallo pinto at local sodas and markets is one of my favourite ways to live well for less here in Costa Rica.

If you’re vegan and don’t eat eggs, then yes! You can say “sin huevos” (without eggs), and you can add on some extra avocado and fried banana 🙂

–  Charlie Marchant, Charlie On Travel, Twitter @CharlieonTravel

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Must Try Vegetarian Food Costa Rica: Gallo Pinto

Ecuador:  Bolon de Verde

Many vegetarians are afraid to visit South America because they are worried that it’s all meat-based food. However, meat can be a luxury and so many traditional dishes have always been vegetarian, especially in Ecuador where the classic ceviche is also found with vegetarian options. For those looking for something more satisfying look for a bolon de verde, a large ball of fried plantain, stuffed with fresh cheese.  It’s typically eaten for breakfast and is filling enough to curb your hunger until lunch. Get this simple bolon de verde recipe here.

–  Ayngelina Brogan, Bacon is Magic,  Twitter @Ayngelina

Ethiopia:  Yetsom Beyaynetu

An Ethiopian meal is all about eating a variety of different dishes, each of them placed on top of a bed of injera (the staple starch, a spongy pancake made from teff flour). Go to any Ethiopian restaurant and order a mahaberawi, and you’ll receive a mixed platter of the freshly prepared dishes of that day. Normally the mix can include things like shiro wat (chickpea flour curry), misir wat (lentils stew), key wat (beef stew), salata (tomato salad), and any number of other dishes. Eating a Yetsom Beyaynetu is a great way to sample a variety of Ethiopian dishes in a single meal. Read Mark’s Ethiopian Food Guide for more.

–  Mark Weins, Migrationology .  Twitter @migrationology

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Must Try Vegetarian Food Ethiopia: Mahaberawi with Injera bread

France: Tartiflette au Reblochon

I’ve recently spent a lot of time in France since I received a French long term tourist visa. Having family there was been helpful with the process and I’ve had the pleasure of spending lots of time with them enjoying meals. One of my favorite veggie dishes that they prepare is potatoes and reblochon cheese – called tartiflette au reblochon. It’s a simple dish with potatoes, reblochon cheese, onions, white wine and spices. It’s very common in the kitchen of my cousins as well as in many French restaurants. Just be sure you verify it doesn’t come with ham or bacon before ordering as some people add this to the recipe.

Auston Matta, Two Bad Tourists, Twitter @twobadtourists

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Must Try Vegetarian Food for France: Tartiflette au Reblochon

India :  Masala Dosa

India has got to be the best travel destination in the world for vegetarians! Here, you won’t struggle to find complete meals made without animal sourced ingredients, although many others will include milk, cream or butter. From North to South, East to West India displays an incredible variety of gastronomic examples, that go along with the cultural diversity found all over the country.

Masala dosa is one of my favorite foods in India and, like many of the most beloved dishes in the country, happens to be vegetarian. This South Indian specialty is somehow similar to a crepe but made with fermented rice and black lentils batter. Curried potatoes and peas hide on the inside (that is the “masala”) and it is served with an array of dips: chutneys (tomato and coconut are the standard ones) and sambar (a spicy stewy preparation that can be used as dip and also spooned directly into your mouth).

Masala dosa is a tasty veggie treat (suitable even for vegans in fact!), very fulfilling and, as you can easy, a lot of fun to eat too!

–  Zara Quiroga, Backpack ME, Twitter @piggybackrideAZ

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Must Try Vegetarian Food India: Masala Dosa

Indonesia:  Gado gado

Gado-gado is easily one of the best vegetarian dishes in Indonesia for two reasons: 1) it can be found nearly everywhere and 2) it can be made spicy as you like it and still taste great, something that isn’t true for all veggie dishes. It is a mix of potatoes, carrots, green beans, kangkung (water spinach), lontong cubes (boiled white rice cakes), hard-boiled egg, tofu (plus tomatoes and sprouts if you’re lucky!) and topped with peanut sauce.

Served on top of it (or alongside if take-way) are krupuk (fried crispy crackers) which are great for munching in between bites or using to scoop up the excess sauce and veggies. As far as the level of spiciest is concerned, ask for it “pedas” or “dengan cabe” (pronounced “cha-bay”) if you want it spicy.

Derek Freal, The HoliDaze  Twitter @the_HoliDaze

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Must Try Vegetarian Foods Indonesia : gado gado

Italy:   Pesto trofie

The whole of Italy is known for its pasta, but what about the sauces that accompany it? Pesto is a popular sauce that originated from Liguria in Northern Italy. Crushing together basil, garlic, salt, and parmesan cheese, and then mixing in a hearty dose of olive oil make it. Every time I visit Liguria I make it my mission to enjoy at least one huge bowl of pasta al pesto.  The great thing about trying pesto in its home region is that here they make special types of pasta to go well with it. I personally like trofie, which a short and thin twisted pasta. It is made by rolling a long string of pasta across the back of the other hand, and then chopping the string into smaller pieces. The texture given thanks to the twisting helps the thin pesto sauce attach itself to the pasta.

–  Cyra Alcock. gastronomicnomad   Twitter @gastronomicnomd

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Must Try Vegetarian Foods Italy : Pesto Trofie

 

Nepal:   Dal Bhat & Vegetable Momos

Dal Bhat is the classic dish served up in Nepal.  It’s yellow lentil soup and boiled rice and is the staple of the Nepalese population. Easy, quick and inexpensive to make, but oh-so-tasty to eat. This is the Nepalese staple, but you’ll also find it popular in India and Bangladesh. It’s quite filling. If you’re trekking, these are one of the foods your guides and sherpas might eat and I suggest you try it too. If you have a large appetite, order a plate of vegetable momos (dumplings) to go with it. Although keep in mind, a servings of dumplings usually comes in 6-8 pieces.  Often momos are made from scratch and fresh each day.  You’ve never had anything taste so and for such an inexpensive price. Eating these mouthfuls of happiness is one of my top things to do in Kathmandu, Nepal.

– Christine Kaaloa,  GRRRLTRAVELER,  Twitter @grrrltraveler

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Must Try Vegetarian Food Nepal: Dal Bhat

 

Saudi Arabia :  Grape leaves dolma, hummus, baba ghanoush, fattoush & tabouleh

For a country well known for loving kabsa and being a meat eating culture there are, however, many vegetarian side options, because of it’s location in the Middle East. With so many delicious options it’s difficult to choose just one vegetarian dish that represents this part of the world. With that I choose grape leaves dolma, hummus, baba ghanoush, fattoush and tabouleh.

First up the grape leaves dolma, these simple and yet tangy wraps are easily found at food gatherings and are meant to be shared among guests. They consist simply of rice, spices and veggies soaked in a lemony sauce. Along side the dolma is the hummus and baba ghanoush. Hummus with it’s creamy texture is comprised of chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, juice of a lemon, garlic and salt. Baba ghanoush is made up of rich, smokey flavors consists of eggplant (aubergines), tahini and garlic. Both of these must be enjoyed with fatir, Saudi’s flat bread.

The easiest and most delicious way to get your greens in here is to eat the fattoush and tabouleh.  Fattoush is a colorful salad with a punch because of the lemon and sumac dressing. The tabouleh is loaded with tomatoes, parsley, mint and onions drizzled with olive oil.

A popular favorite in Saudi Arabia and served in every restaurant is the Saudi Champagne, albeit non alcoholic. Consisting of sparkling water, apples, oranges and mint it is sure to keep you cool and refreshed in the desert.

–  Wendy Deaton, English Teacher and expat in Saudi Arabia

Must Try Vegetarian Foods in Saudi Arabia, tabouleh, hummus, grape leaves dolma

Must Try Vegetarian Foods Saudi Arabia

South Korea : Doenjang Jigae

Doenjang Jigae is one of the Korean national dishes that happens to be vegetarian. Jigae is a term for stews and while most Doenjang Jigae happens to be more brothy in substance, it’s still filed under that category.  It’s a soybean paste broth that is delicious, light and perfect for winter and any occasion.  It’s a bit like a medium thick miso soup in consistency and taste. Tofu, mushrooms and bean sprouts are added ingredients to give it body and occasionally, seafood is added too, so you’ll need to find out before you order. Warning: some people (even Koreans) say it smells bad, like “dirty or wet socks”.  Ironically, I have a sensitive nose to smells, my first impression of it was not so strong or shocking. The taste is so savory, the smell won’t matter.

– Christine Kaaloa,  GRRRLTRAVELER,  Twitter @grrrltraveler

Doenjang jigae korean stew, doenjang jigae

Must try vegetarian food Korea: Doenjang jigae   Flickr photo: Creative Commons Alpha

Spain : Salmorejo (cold soup)

It was in Madrid when we fell in love with “Salmorejo”which is to date one of our favorite Spanish vegetarian dishes ever. It is something incredibly simple to make by using only a few ingredients, but we can guarantee you that the end result is incredibly tasty. This chilled creamy tomato and bread soup is in fact something very special, richer than the more well known gazpacho. Something that you really cannot avoid is scooping up all the last drops with the help of some crusty bread – that’s just how delicious it is! We had Salmorejo without the classic Spanish ham on top and only with a little drizzle of some gorgeous extra virgin olive oil which made it even more appetizing. Salmorejo is definitely something to try if visiting Spain, especially in the hot summer days.

–   Dale & Franca at AngloItalian FollowUs, Twitter  @AI_FollowUs

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Must Try Vegetarian Foods Spain: Salmorejo

Thailand:  Tam Ponlamai (vegetarian version)

Depending on ones strictness, Thailand can be a tricky place for vegetarians, mainly due to the fish sauce that’s frequently used in cooking. To get pure vegetarian food, it’s best to stick to a vegan only restaurant. One of my favorites is Chamlong’s Asoke, an all vegan food court, where you’ll find a lady who dishes up a delicious plate of tam ponlamai, or Thai fruit salad. A mix of fruit, usually guava, rose apple, dragon fruit, and watermelon, are diced up, then dressed in chilies, lime juice, peanuts, and soy sauce. The result is a wonderful contrast of sweet, salty, and spicy, that’s ultimately refreshing.  Check out Mark’s Vegetarian Thai Food Guide if you’re planning a trip to Thailand.

 –  Mark Wiens, Migrationology.  Twitter  @migrationology

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Must Try Vegetarian Food Thailand: Tam Ponlamai

Ukraine:  Vinegret

Vinegret is a salad, made of beetroots, potatoes, carrots, chopped onions, as well as sauerkraut and brined pickles. It was extremely popular in the Soviet Union and nowadays it is widely spread in all eastern European countries. Usually, it is the cheapest salad in the restaurant menu, so it’s a perfect option for budget travelers. In case you go to Ukraine, you definitely shouldn’t miss it.

–  Nastia and Illia, Crazzzy TravelTwitter @crazzzytravel

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Must Try Vegetarian Foods Ukraine: Vinegret

What are some of your must try vegetarian dishes around the world?  Share it!

35 Comments

  1. angela says:

    really India is heaven for vegetarians… multitude of vegetarian dishes especially in north India and all of them are so scrumptious.

  2. Gauri says:

    red curry (veg vers) is my ABSOLUTE FAVE and veggie pad kee Mao is ummmmm delicious! Italy has LOTS of vegetarian choices, and I even in Florence, an ALL VEGETARIAN pizza restaurant! Like god u won’t find that ANYWHERE else, it was called the Pizza Man. Italian pizza, bruchetta, pasta, (SOME)soup, but really to find good vegetarian food, you just need Google translate and a menu! I love Gallo pinto but seriously, once you get me started about food I NEVER stop!!!

  3. Ken Norris says:

    happy pear in Ireland was pretty good place to go to…….Greystone’s just outside of Dublin………If you do the walk from Bray to Greystone it will take about a 45 min to 1 hour…..Cliff side walk beautiful!

    • Thanks for sharing Ken! What was your must try Irish food?

    • Ken Norris says:

      GRRRL TRAVELER That is a hard one…….I have two choices that stick out in my mind……The first one was Temple Bar food market, Their was a stall that served Vegan, glutton free food……She made the best curry I had every eaten. Served on glutton free rice…..The next can be found all over Ireland and its the Irish breakfast served in a roll………Someplaces you pay as low as 3.50 Euros for it. Basicly its a heart attack in a bun…..Mayo, egg, sausage, blood pudding someplaces put bacon rasher’s and a deep fried hash…….Morning glory if your in need of something heavy if you do a lot of walkng around like I do.

  4. Ravi Jagasia says:

    Yeah U will need it for India

  5. Leigh says:

    I live in Argentina, so yeah, not at all known for vegetarian food. Even the bread and empanada dough here often contains lard. One food, though, that is always vegetarian is called humitas, made from a corn masa similar to tamales but usually a bit sweeter and without the cumin spice. You can get them en chala, boiled in the husk. Or you can find them en ollacooked in a clay pot. They usually have a mild goat cheese in the center, too.

    Loved this article. Always a fan of gorgeous food photos!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Leigh: Thanks for sharing Humitas. It sounds wonderful, especially with the goat cheese. Lard is a deeper layer that’s harder to sniff out. Thanks for the warning about Argentina. I wouldn’t have known that.

  6. Such a delicious food. thanks for posting nice views.

  7. i first had Tartiflette au reblochon i think in Scotland with a French canadian friend, at a christmas market i think, and when i encountered the dish in the south of belgium a couple of weeks ago, i thought i was in heaven. there is a similar dish though with meat pieces i think, so i was cautious
    masala dosa, its my favourite dish, yet i have never been to India, my friend made it and i had to camp out in his house for more food goodness
    as for Ethiopian food, i don’t know but i still haven’t developed the taste for it
    its so hard being a travelling vegetarian, and 2years in the Middle East did a number on me

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Yes @myfeetandmyheart. Being a traveling vegetarian can often feel like a challenge and an adventure in itself! I always wonder how easy it is to be a vegetarian in the middle east. It sounds like it wasn’t too easy. I’m glad the Tartiflette au reblochon is that common. It was the first I’d heard of it, but it sounds absolutely yummy.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      ps. @myfeetandmyheart: I just came out with some Vegetarian Travel Tips. Let me know if you have any tips to share; you sound like you would! http://grrrltraveler.com/travel-tips-3/vegetarian-tips-travel/ =)

  8. Great list with lots of delicious meals! My favorite vegetarian dish is an Israeli falafel kebab with hummus. It’s absolutely amazing.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Adventuriousmiriam: Mariam! You just named the second food that I craved like a dickins when I was living in Korea and always have to get when I’m in New York! I have have have to try it Israeli style!

  9. fotoeins says:

    China’s “yaw tiao” : I knew this from childhood as the “fried devil” (油炸鬼) in Cantonese. At the time it was the “only” way to get me to eat congee. Now, I really want the congee … and, okay, perhaps a few pieces of ‘fried devil” in the mix. 🙂

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @fotoeins: Thanks for adding that Henry! What a great translation. I’m taking the “devil” in China is a good and benevolent thing, until you look at your waistline after eating one too many? 😉

  10. So unbelievably hungry reading this! Used to live in Saudi and remember those foods fondly 🙂

  11. So much good looking veggie food here! Hummus is top of my list in any country, but would love to try it in Saudi Arabi – wow!

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Charlie: Right? I didn’t know you could eat hummus in Saudi Arabia too. =)

  12. alyson says:

    They all look like heaven! My favourites are the Indian, Sri Lankan and Neplai dishes, particularly the breakfasts, Nom!

  13. Tonight I am going out for masala dosa and coincidentally you posted this.. nice! 😀

    I love vegetarian food (even though I am not a vegetarian) and the dishes above are the proof that yummy meals do not necessarily need to include meat / fish.

    Thanks for allowing me to share a little bit of love from Incredible India on this one! 🙂

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      Yummy meals certainly do exist for vegetarians but we don’t always know what we can eat. Can’t always see the ingredients until you bite. Thanks for sharing and simplifying the search a bit for us @Zara! Hope that masala dosa you’re having hits the spot of India.

  14. Sarah@Travelcake says:

    I had no idea there was vegetarian ceviche. That’s a dish I absolutely want to try!

  15. What a great list of vegetarian delights. I have often had trouble finding foods in the past but this just highlights that there is plenty of choice out there.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Traveling Book Junkie: Yeah, I feel you about feeling difficulty when it comes to finding food on the road. But there’s hope! =)

  16. oh man i loved India for its amazing, cheap and varied vegan food .. it was everywhere, and so tasty… In bali too i also had gado gado without the egg almost every night for dinner 🙂
    The meal pictured from Saudi looks like something i would like to try .. and teff flour from the Ethiopia meal i have never heard of, very interesting, great post thank you for sharing this 🙂

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Jasmine: You’re vegan? I’ve not tried gado gado yet, but almost every night? That’s incredibly reassuring of it’s flavor! Adore India for that food haven and according to Mark, Ethiopia is second to India, vegetarian-wise!

  17. Derek4Real says:

    Quite a list indeed. I’m not even vegetarian but several of this dishes I *really* want to try now, especially dal bhat and veggie momos as well as all the dishes from Saudi Arabia.

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Derek: Thanks for your participation- Can’t go wrong with the Daal and momos and apparently, when I was living in Korea, it’s the Saudi food I craved the most! I love the glutinous rice, so I’ll have to try the gado gado!

  18. Dale says:

    I just had my lunch and I’m already licking my lips again!

    Love the look of so much of that food, but it’s got to be the Masala Dosa that gets me the most hungry 🙂

    • Christine Kaaloa says:

      @Dale: Yes, Zara certainly makes that dosa look fun too! Thanks for contributing!

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