The dish consists of various vegetables and other vegetarian ingredients , which are cooked in soy sauce-based liquid with other seasonings until tender. The specific ingredients used vary greatly both inside and outside Asia.
In the name luóhàn zhāi, ''luóhàn'' – short for ''? luóhàn'' – is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit ''arhat'', meaning an enlightened, ascetic individual or the himself. ''Zhāi'' means "vegetarian food" or "vegetarian diet."
The dish is usually made with at least 10 ingredients, although more elaborate versions may comprise 18 or even 35 ingredients. If 18 ingredients are used, the dish is called Luóhàn quánzhāi .
In China, Hong Kong and Toronto, when served exclusively using only the most flavor-packed vegetarian ingredients, such as red sour tofu or sweet bean curds, it is known as ''tián suān zhāi'' .
As suggested by its name, it is a dish traditionally enjoyed by monks who are vegetarians, but it has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available in Chinese restaurants . It is traditionally served in Chinese households on the first day of the Chinese New Year, stemming from the old Buddhist practice that one should maintain a vegetarian diet in the first five days of the new year, as a form of . Some of the rarer ingredients, such as fat choy and , are generally only eaten at this time of year.
The following is a list of ingredients often used in Buddha's delight, each of which, according to Chinese tradition, is ascribed a particular auspicious significance. As the dish varies from chef to chef and family to family, not every ingredient is always used in every version of the dish.
Commonly used main ingredients
Less commonly used main ingredients
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