Just as the Vietnamese relish the freshness of herbs and fish sauce in their cuisines, the Indians relish the spices and their combinations. Surprisingly, one of the greatest similarities between the Indian & Vietnamese cuisines is the inclination towards vegetarian food on certain days. “An Chay“ means vegetarian. “Chay” is the common dysphemism of the word ‘trai’ or ‘trai tinh,’ a transcription of the Sanskrit word ‘Upavasatha.’ Its actual meaning is to keep oneself pure and clean from the worldly taints. The relevance of vegetarian diet to cleanse and purify must have hailed from the strong ties between Hinduism and Buddhism. To seek “trai tinh” is to empathize and act with mercy towards all other living creatures (Ahimsa ). It is the slow yet steady path to enlightenment. A vast majority of those who eat meat in India do not consume so on certain days, typically Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Many Vietnamese remain “An chay”, vegetarian on the 1st and the 15th day of the Lunar month, highlighting the practice of compassion and an attempt to free oneself from karma. Aside from meat, fish and spices, they also do not eat butter, cheese or greasy food. They refrain from using too much spice, salt and sugar. The meals are clean and light; an ideal diet for optimum health.