Indian Vegetarian Food

By: Silvia Blach

When people talk about being vegetarian, many usually think that they do not have many dishes to choose from. People would think that being a vegetarian would only require them to eat bland tasting, raw or uncooked vegetables.

However, that is not the case for Indian vegetarian cooking. Vegetarian connoisseurs will find delight in Indian cuisine without the need to endure the same old, boring, and dull taste of typical vegetarian food meal after meal. Vegetarian Indian cooking offers a dazzling variety of choices when it comes to flavourful, nutritious and tasty dishes. Your meal can still be savory even if there is no beef, mutton, or any kind of meat used in the cooking.

Generally, Hindus are vegetarian by nature. This is because Hinduism believe that by saving the lives of the animals, they will get to cleanse their souls. Therefore, they have cleverly integrated methods and spices in their cooking such that every meal can still be healthy and yet tasty at the same time.

In vegetarian Indian cuisine, bread are often served. One of the most served foods is the Capati. Capati is a flat and baked wheat bread that is served with dahl or other curries of your choice. Other popular Indian breads are naan, parantha,, puri and dhosai.

Most of the Indian recipes for the vegetarians not only have vegetables but lentils, fruits, beans, legumes, and sprouts as well. Indian vegetarians also incorporate dairy items in their cooking such as cheese or yogurt. Cottage cheese or Paneer as it’s known in India is often used as a perfect alternative for vegetarians. Paneer can be homemade or bought from markets in big blocks. They are then cut into cubes or slices. It is a very versatile ingredient that easily absorbs and adapts to the flavors of other ingredients used in the dish. Some famous recipes that utilize paneer are Mutter Paneer – cottage cheese cooked with green peas, tomatoes, spices and onions; Palak Paneer, a healthy North Indian dish made of spinach and cottage cheese that’s mildly flavoured; or Shahi Paneer – cottage cheese cooked in rich tomato gravy. Other hot favourites that involve paneer are Kadhai Paneer, Matar Paneer, Paneer Korma, Paneer Kofta, Paneer Pasanada, Paneer Makhni, Paneer Pakora, Paneer Parantha and Paneer Tikka.

Potatoes or Aloo are used extensively in Indian vegetarian cooking. Some popular recipes that incorporate potatoes are Aloo Gobi which is potato cooked with cauliflower in spicy sauce, Dum Aloo – potatoes cooked in mildly spiced gravy, Aloo Paratha – flatbread stuffed with potatoes and eaten with pickles or chutney. Other popular Aloo recipes are Baigan Aloo (brinjal and potatoes), Aloo Ki Sabji (boiled potatoes in spiced gravy), Aloo Dahi Wale (potatoes in creamy yogurt sauce), and Aloo Palak (chopped spinach and potatoes cooked in spicy curry).

Other famous Indian vegetarian dishes are vegetables Jalfrezi – a vegetarian medley combining assorted vegetables such as beans, cauliflower, carrots and green pepper sautéed in garlic, ginger, spices and dry fruits; Baigan Bharta which is made from mashed brinjal cooked with tomatoes, peas and spices; Dal Makhni – slow-cooked lentil gravy with garlic, onions, tomatoes, ginger and spices; Chana masala – spicy chickpeas curry served with bread; Malai Kofta – vegetables-balls in a thick sauce which is usually served during special occasions alternative to meatballs and Dahi Baingan – Aubergine in seasoned yogurt.

If you want a meal that is heavier in your stomach, then you could include rice in your meal. The Griddle Fried Rice or Tava Pulao is the choice of many vegetarians in India who have a big appetite. It is considered as a very popular street food in the country and also served in fine-dining restaurants as well. There’s also vegetable Biryani which is rice cooked with a combination of vegetables and spices.

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