The protein-packed Buddha Bowl is the top-selling dish served at LiveBetter’s Café Connect in Orange.
While Café Connect Chef Jamie Stewart has been making them for almost a decade, it was US TV cook Martha Stewart (no relation if you were wondering) who coined the term in 2013.
Originally, Buddha Bowls were vegan or vegetarian options featuring salad vegies with a starch such as brown rice, quinoa, and non-meat protein, such as beans or tofu. They’re beautifully nutritionally balanced comprising a quarter carbohydrates, a quarter protein and the rest vegetables and fruits. Those proportions tick the box for Harvard University’s ‘Healthy Eating Plate’, by the way.
“It’s always a riot of colour, and to make those ingredients work, you add a bitter dressing to help with digestion,” says Jamie.
“It’s important to leave the mixing to the person who’s going to eat it. That way, they’re creating their own flavour combos on their forks.”
Jamie says the ingredients have changed a lot over the years, but the concept is the same. There’ll always be lots of green produce, which are high in antioxidants, and usually, there are edamame beans (baby soybeans).
“You can level it up with kimchi [a spicy Korean pickle], turmeric-roasted cauliflower, or a dressing to really make it sing. At Café Connect, we make tahini, maple syrup dressing with a touch of apple cider vinegar to add that important bitter note.”
The most popular variation at Café Connect includes chunks of steamed skinless chicken breast.
Have a go at making one in your home. Here’s the sequence Jamie uses to lovingly assemble each bowl for customers:
- Have your deep bowl and freshly washed cold produce and cooked choice of starch ready
- Place a handful of baby rocket leaves at the base
- Prepare your cherry tomatoes - slice about four or five in half and place in a clump in the bowl
- Cut a small section of a Lebanese cucumber into medallions, then in half, and place into the bowl
- Red onions are next - slice lengthwise and add as much as you like
- Add half a cup of cooked starch - Jamie uses a mix of brown rice and cooked quinoa to give an extra nuttiness
- Slice half an avocado into strips and splay them out a little towards the side of the bowl
- Warm-up some edamame beans before adding them as a small pile
- Cut the cooked chicken thinly and place them on top of the food
- Make the dressing and put on just before you tuck in. To make enough to serve for two bowls, use maple syrup, tahini, and some apple cider vinegar – quantities to taste so make sure you taste as you go
Traditionally, Buddha Bowls are served cold, but with the colder months upon us, give your bowl’s ingredients their own spin and add some warm ingredients. These may include roasted vegies, a fried egg, and experiment with different grains.
So, time to check your fridge and pantry to make your own sensational Buddha Bowl. Experiment with new colour, flavour, and texture balances.
Café Connect is a three-year-old social-enterprise that offers work placement and paid work opportunities to diverse people. You’ll find it at 107 Prince Street, Orange, and it opens business days from 8am to 2:30pm. Check it out for eat-in, takeaway, or catering.
Café Connect is part of a community Connection Hub run by LiveBetter, an innovative aged and disability services organisation focused on the unique needs of regional Australians.