Add spices and umami to vegetarian cuisine!


Looking for nourishing vegetarian dishes packed with vegetables?  Here are wholesome recipes featuring the spices of Southeast and South Asia and Kikkoman Soy Sauce.

Boost the potential of vegetarian cuisine with umami, aromatics, and spices!

The spice shelf in Yurico Aoki's kitchen studio displays spices worldwide.

Culinary expert Yurico Aoki, who explores cuisines worldwide, is here to introduce vegetarian cuisine.  Think dishes without meat or fish can't be delicious?  Well, think again!  Aoki incorporated cooking techniques from Southeast and South Asia to discover new flavors.  The key lies in using aromatics, spices, and the rich and bold flavors of “honjozo” (traditionally brewed) Kikkoman Soy Sauce.  You won’t be disappointed with these mouthwatering vegetable dishes.

Soy sauce and spices are key! - Onion Pakora with Dipping Sauce


"Pakora," meaning deep-fried, is a dish of onions fried in a batter made from chickpea flour and spices.  Pakora is eaten in India and Pakistan.  It’s similar to tempura, a deep-fried dish from Japan.  Dip the pakora in a sweet-tangy chutney featuring simmered soy sauce, spices, and fruit paste for a flavor boost!  Chutney is a great condiment that complements vegetarian cuisine.

What is chutney?

Once the surface of the pot bubbles and thickens, it's done!

Chutney is a paste-like condiment commonly used in India and Pakistan.  While you can find commercial chutneys, you can also make it from scratch! It's pretty simple, as you only need to cook down the ingredients.  This recipe calls for soy sauce, tamarind paste, jaggery, date paste, chili powder, ginger powder, coriander seeds, and cumin powder.  Salt is typically used, but substituting it with umami-rich Kikkoman Soy Sauce creates a chutney with a deep and flavorful flavor.

What's the secret to the delicious pakora batter?

Pakora batter is delicious on its own because it's full of spices.  It contains chickpea flour, spices like garam masala and chili powder, and aromatics like garlic and ginger.

The secret to the crispy texture lies in the addition of cornstarch.  Cornstarch, derived from corn, is a fine powder that drains excess oil well, producing a light and delicate crunch.  Add other vegetables like carrots, cabbage, bell peppers, and green beans.  It's a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet!

Garlic-loaded - Vegetarian Pad See Ew (Thai Stir-Fried Noodles)


"Pad See Ew" is a popular Thai noodle dish, where "pad" means stir-fry and "see ew" refers to soy sauce, hence "soy sauce stir-fry."   While it usually contains meat and eggs, this vegetarian version features Chinese broccoli, tofu, and shiitake mushrooms.  The secret to the dish is the generous amount of garlic.  Using a mortar and pestle to crush garlic enhances its aroma and flavor.

Add more soy sauce if you think it lacks flavor!

Once it’s cooked, taste it, and add more soy sauce if you think it lacks flavor.  The flavorful and aromatic Kikkoman soy sauce will elevate the dish. 

Customizing the recipe for vegetarians with tofu and shiitake mushrooms

Tofu is made from soybeans and is suitable for vegetarians.  Rich in protein and low in calories, tofu is also healthy.  For this recipe, choose firm tofu and crumble it coarsely.  This gives it a ground meat-like appearance and makes the dish visually appealing.

Shiitake mushrooms, known for their umami flavor, can compensate for the lack of richness in vegetarian cuisine. When cut into large pieces, they add substance to the dish.  While this recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, feel free to swap with any type of mushroom.  Use fresh or dried shiitake.

For more vegetarian dishes

An Indo-Chinese fusion cuisine, "Gobi Manchurian & Fried Rice" is a cauliflower (“Gobi” in Hindi) dish.  Another option for vegetarians looking to get their protein intake is "Filipino-style Tofu Steak," a popular dish from the Philippines made with tofu instead of meat.  Both dishes are delectable and protein-rich for those seeking vegetarian options.

Yurico Aoki


Culinary specialist of international and regional cuisines, and founder of the world cuisine portal called ‘’.   After having been trained at a restaurant in a global hotel chain, she became a licensed chef.  She wrote many books, including “Exploring World Cuisines”.

Kikkoman in Southeast Asia

In the Southeast Asian region, Kikkoman Soy Sauce is produced in Singapore.  Kikkoman’s technology has made it possible to produce “honjozo” (traditionally brewed) soy sauce in hot and humid areas.  Please visit the website below and find a wide variety of products in Southeast Asia!

Published on Oct 13, 2023  Written by Fumiko Ohashi