Whether you're about to get married and are planning your own catered dinner or have been given the tremendous responsibility of planning a menu for a friend or loved one's wedding, you may be anxious at the prospect of sticking to a vegetarian or vegan menu when serving guests from many walks of life. Fortunately, the increasing popularity of Thai, Indian, and other Eastern cuisines can make planning a unique, mouthwatering, and entirely animal-friendly menu easier than ever. Read on to learn more about some of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly cuisines and recipes perfect for any wedding.
With many of its recipes highlighting the lemongrass, ginger, and coconut flavors that make Thai cuisine instantly recognizable, Thai cuisine is among the most vegan-friendly available, so incorporating a few Thai recipes into your wedding's menu is sure to be a crowd-pleasing option. Appetizers like fried tofu with peanut dipping sauce or wontons stuffed with shredded carrots, cabbage, nuts, and other goodies can get your wedding off to a rousing start.
Many Thai recipes rely on soy products like tofu or edamame in place of chicken, pork, or beef, and coconut milk in place of milk or butter. The light flavors in Thai cuisine can allow you to easily make substitutions even in recipes that traditionally feature meat.
Like Thai cuisine, recipes originating from India make good use of rich spices, rice, and other vegan-friendly options. Hindu culture dictates that the cow is sacred, so most Indian recipes are automatically beef-free; many go even farther by omitting chicken, pork, and lamb in favor of beans and grains. Spices like coriander and turmeric give Indian food a special depth that can convert even the skeptical.
Combining Thai and Indian cuisines can ensure that your guests are all able to find something they enjoy, whether they're a fan of light-tasting fare or rich, heavy tomato- and legume-based sauces. Some recipes that may be a hit at your wedding include palak paneer (for cheese-eaters), malai kofta (potato dumplings in tomato sauce), and coconut curry. Talk to a local Indian restaurant for more ideas and to see if they may even be able to cater your event.
This rich cuisine is often an underrated one, but boasts a long proud history and ingenious use of sometimes limited ingredients. Many North African recipes make liberal use of tubers like potatoes and yams and starchy fruits like plantains while also taking advantage of the proximity to the Middle East by using spices like turmeric and coriander. Because of the limited availability of meat and milk in much of Africa, most African recipes are either already vegetarian or easily adapted to a vegan diet.
Some African foods your guests may enjoy, even if they've never encountered them before, include couscous (mixing yams, carrots, peas, and chickpeas with pearl couscous in a savory gravy), plantain dumplings in spicy tomato sauce, and tagine, named for the vessel in which this legume-and-vegetable stew is brewed.
Although the U.S.'s Brazilian steakhouses are known for their revolving doors of freshly-sliced meat, many other traditional Brazilian dishes are designed with the vegetarian or vegan in mind. This cuisine makes liberal use of the local supply of mangoes, papayas, pineapples, and bananas while also taking advantage of the wide variety of grains and legumes available. As with most of the foods available in South America, Brazilian cuisine can be made as mild or spicy as you prefer, allowing you to offer options at both ends of the spice range to ensure your guests are satisfied.
Mixing up some Brazilian fruit and vegetable kebabs can be a crowd-pleaser, as can corn and mango salsa with fresh flour tortilla chips or black bean patties with stewed fruit toppings.