Buddha’s Delight aka Luohan Zhai (罗汉全斋 或 罗汉菜)



Luohan Zhai (罗汉斋) is a very representative dish or iconic of Mahayana Buddhism..The stew of 18 vegetarian cooking ingredients and the 18 ingredients represent the 18 arhat, the disciples of Buddha. In Wikipedia, it was written that:

“The Eighteen Arhats (Chinese: 十八羅漢/十八阿羅漢; pinyin: Shíbā Luóhàn/Shíbā āLuóhàn; Wade-Giles:Lóhàn) are depicted in Mahayana Buddhism as the original followers of the Buddha who have followed the Eightfold Path and attained the Four Stages of Enlightenment. They have reached the state of Nirvana and are free of worldly cravings. They are charged to protect the Buddhist faith and to await on earth for the coming of Maitreya, a prophesied enlightened Buddha to arrive on earth many millennia after Gautama Buddha’s death and nirvana. In China, the eighteen arhats are also a popular subject in Buddhist art, such as the famous Chinese group of glazed pottery luohans from Yixian of about 1000.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteen_Arhats)


There is another name for this dish in Western world, the Buddha’s delight. It was written that:

“Buddha’s delight, often transliterated as Luóhàn zhāi, lo han jai, or lo hon jai, is a vegetarian dish well known in Chinese and Buddhist cuisine. It is sometimes also called Luóhàn cài (simplified Chinese: 罗汉菜; traditional Chinese: 羅漢菜). The dish is traditionally enjoyed by Buddhist monks who are vegetarians, but it has also grown in popularity throughout the world as a common dish available as a vegetarian option in Chinese restaurants. The dish consists of various vegetables and other vegetarian ingredients (sometimes with the addition of seafood or eggs), 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 Ā luóhàn (simplified Chinese: 阿罗汉; traditional Chinese: 阿羅漢; pinyin: Ā LuóHàn) – is the Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit arhat, meaning an enlightened, ascetic individual or the Buddha himself. Zhāi (simplified Chinese: 斋; traditional Chinese: 齋; pinyin: 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.[1] If 18 ingredients are used, the dish is called Luóhàn quánzhāi (simplified: 罗汉全斋; traditional: 羅漢全齋)”


Towards the end of my vegetarian diet last month. I have decided to prepare this dish as a respect to my vegetarian diet. This is an important dish and I have put a lot of emphasis on the dish. it took me a few hours to get ready 18 ingredients .. and finding the 18 ingredients is really a headache and I have to substitute a fair bit of the ingredients..


As per Chinese Baike, it was written:that out of the 18 ingredients, 3 must be mushrooms, 3 must be fungus and it usually pair with other soya bean products.

“罗汉斋是取十八罗汉吉祥之意,以十八种素菜精制而成,这道菜里的食材虽不名贵,但是要凑齐三菇三耳等等,却是颇费心思的;正宗的做法里烹饪步骤也相当繁复,所以也有说这道菜是佛门最奢华的一道素斋。”(Source: http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E7%BD%97%E6%B1%89%E6%96%8B)


This dish is not a dish that is usually cooked for daily consumption  unless during special occasions due to its large varieties and quantities of ingredients being used. It is ideal if there is a vegetarian reception or family gathering. The final dishes is of quite a bit portion and it took us two days to finish all that I have cooked.


In this recipe, I will not be providing the quantities and I will list out the ingredients I used for reference. If you are serious to cook this dish, you will understand how the dish work after you read the recipes.. 



Servings: About 6-8 adults servings


  • A handful of white fungus (云耳)- soaked
  • A handful of black fungus (黑木耳) – soaked
  • A few monkey head mushrooms or Hericium (猴头菇) – soaked
  • A few winter mushrooms (香菇)- soaked
  • A handful of dried lilies (金针) – soaked
  • A small pack of white jade mushrooms (白玉菇) – cleaned
  • A small carrot (胡萝卜) – cut into small pieces
  • A handful of water chestnuts (荸荠) – skinned and cut into halves
  • Some broccoli (西兰花)- cleaned and cut into big pieces
  • Some asparagus (芦笋) – Skin and cut into big pieces
  • Some pumpkin (金瓜) – cut into big pieces
  • Some bamboo shoots (芦笋) – cut into bite size chunks
  • A handful of lotus seeds (莲子) – soaked
  • A handful of cashew nuts (腰豆)
  • Some bean curd skin – (豆腐皮)
  • Some firm deep fried bean curd – taukwa (炸豆干) – cut into big pieces
  • Some deep fried bean curd sticks  (豆腐支) – Soaked and cut into big chunks
  • few sprigs of coriander (芫茜)


  • Few tablespoons of cooking oil
  • Some ginger slices
  • Pinches of salt
  • Few tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce
  • Dashes of white pepper
  • Drops of sesame oil
  • Some starch solution (1 tablespoon of corn starch mixed with 3 tablespoons of water)

Note: To make it a luxury version, monkey head mushroom is a must as it is one of the most expensive vegetarian ingredients



PicMonkey Collage1

  • In a pot, put some oil and salt, bring to boil. Blanch the broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin  and carrots for 4-5 minutes until soft . Drain and set side.

  • In a clay pot or wok, add a few tablespoons of oil, sauté the ginger slices and winter mushrooms until fragrant. Add the ingredients in the following order; black fungus, monkey head mushrooms, cloud fungus, bamboo shoots and red carrots. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes, add the white mushrooms, dried water lilies, water chestnuts , lotus seeds, firm bean curd and deep fried bean curd sticks. Stir fried for another 2-3 minutes until the flavour incorporated.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Add adequate water that cover 3/4 the height of the ingredients. Add salt and vegetarian oyster sauce to taste. Stir until well combined. Bring to boil and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the ingredients are soft. Add the bean crud skin and blanch vegetables. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes.  Before off the heat, add the starch solution. Simmer until starch thickens which took about 1-2 minutes. Off the heat and let it rest in the clay pot for another 15 – 30 minutes for the flavour to develop  For serving, add the coriander, dust with some white pepper and drizzle with sesame oil. Best served hot in a clay pot.



Don’t be disheartened by the large varieties of ingredients to be used. Just remember to qualify for the  name “Buddha’s delight”, there must be at least 10 ingredients unless you are preparing the full version like this recipe that uses 18 ingredients.. The taste of the dish is very delicious .   I have done my part of preparing this dish during my vegetarian diet 2015 and I am finally able to share this famous iconic Buddhism cuisines for those who are interested. With regard the over all timing of cooking and overall seasoning, readers will have to exercise discrete judgement and it will very much depends on your pot and type of ingredients used.  Feel free to change the ingredients but you must have 3 mushrooms and 3 fungi.. (note I can only found 2 fungi, ha-ha)


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


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