(Last Updated on : 14/03/2012)
Ancient Buddhist Cuisine mainly includes cereals and pulses in which rice played a major role. Rice remained a major cereal of north India which was also included within the ancient Buddhist cuisine. Ancient Buddhist cuisine was mainly divided into four categories that were divided into soft food such as boiled rice, hard food such as roots and fruits, beverages and replenishable articles. Buddhist cuisine include all the cereals and pulses which were largely available in India along with the dairy products, meat preparations and beverages which were common in all the genres of ancient India. The Buddhist food was prepared with some salt and specific spices and oil and oil seeds with sweets fruits and vegetables.
Ancient Buddhist Cuisine included rice which formed one of the staple food of northern India. As mentioned in Ancient Buddhist Cuisine rice included both varieties of Virhi which was the common form of rice along with Sali which was a fine form of variety. Along with this there were three more types of rice namely Raktasali, Kamalasali and Mahasali which was mentioned in the Buddhist text on food. The Buddhist text narrates number of ways in which rice was cooked with some choicest flavours. Usually boiled rice was preferred by the Buddhist along with other preparations. Next to boiled rice the favourite preparation of rice was a gruel which is highly praised both in the Buddhist and the Jain works. Along with rice Barley and wheat were equally important cereals of ancient Buddhists which were taken in the form of cakes which was taken along with some inferior cereals. Buddhist text also mentions some of the most popular pulses that were cultivated in India. These include pulses like Moong, masura, masa, kulattha and kaldya or peas which was consumed with great choice. Among the common cuisines the Buddhist preferred soup which was taken with round fried pulse balls.
Ancient Buddhist Cuisine along with this included a number of dairy products which included milk of cows, buffaloes, goat and camel which was further processed into a number of products. Curd was a common form of milk product. Along with this Buddhist literature
mentions about Sakarine known as Sikharini that was mixed with crystal sugar along with some more spices. Fresh butter was another common form that was found in ancient Buddhist cuisines. Ancient Buddhist Cuisine further included some meat preparations which identify them as non vegetarians. The Buddhist text mentions about the slaughter houses and the meat markets which show the popularity of meat among the Buddhist people. Flesh roasted on spit, meat of Sheep dressed with salt and pepper and fried in oil has been mentioned several times in the sutras. Meat soup is also very common. Meat has been elaborately prepared with great delicacy with ghee, curd and spices which make the food very delicious. Buddhist texts also include preparation of fish which was taken with Sali rice. While the Buddhists were vegetarian as well as non- vegetarian, the Jain community, on the other hand, were largely vegetarian who considered non vegetarian food to be a part of Himsa. The Jain community specifically avoids slaughter houses and avoids eating at night and finishes their food or last meal of the day before sun set.
Ancient Buddhist Cuisine along with also included a large number of beverages and sweets which were domestically prepared. Honey was commonly used that was commonly produced from small and big bees. Juice of Sugarcane was used which was extracted with the help of machines. This was common with gur that were included as sugar items of Buddhist community. Along with sweet fried rice the food in Buddhist community was prepared with specific spices and oil seeds. Buddha allowed his followers to take fruits and vegetables which included jojoba, mango, rose apple etc. Among the beverages and drinks plain cool water was largely preferred along with fresh fruit juice.
Thus, Ancient Buddhist Cuisine had been more or less similar with rest of Indian cuisines. It included both vegetarian and non vegetarian items which were cooked in utensils made up of wood, clay and copper. Utensils made up of gold, silver and precious stones were used by the rich people in the community. With a number of etiquettes which was to be followed while taking food the ancient Buddhist cuisine represented the same tradition of ancient India.