Indian cuisine has a strong and varied vegetarian tradition. Many groups in India do not eat meat due to religious reasons, caste restrictions or for economic considerations. Thus, there are hundreds of tasty, nutritionally balanced all-vegetable Indian recipes to try. Popular vegetables in India include eggplant, carrots, okra, potatoes, tomatoes, dark leafy greens of various sorts, cauliflower and peas.
Dal is the generic term for any Indian dish made primarily from legumes. They are an important source of protein for a vegetarian diet; the legumes also provide a good dose of iron. Dal consists primarily of water, legumes and a selection of spices, cooked until the legumes are soft. Sometimes the dal is finished with a tarka of spices fried in ghee; other times this is optional. A diced vegetable will also occasionally be added. Popular legumes for dal include yellow split peas, split green, brown or black lentils, chickpeas and black-eyed peas. Dal plus rice and a vegetable dish makes for a complete Indian vegetarian meal.
Saag paneer, also known as palak paneer, is a popular dish consisting of Indian cheese, or paneer, and spinach. Paneer is a mild white cheese that is cut into cubes for this preparation. The spinach is chopped and cooked with spices; the paneer is added near the end of the cooking time. This dish is rich in vitamin A, calcium, iron and vitamin C; the paneer also provides some protein. Serve with rice or bread.
Jhatpat Bhindi or bhindi fry is essentially sauteed or stir-fried okra. Treating okra in this way leaves it crisp and light, with hardly any mucilaginous character. Okra is a surprisingly good source of vitamin C as well as providing a good amount of dietary fiber. Serve with dal and rice.
Aloo gobi is a mixed curry of cauliflower and potatoes cooked with a fragrant blend of spices; if green peas are added, it is known as aloo matar gobi. This is a highly nutritious meal, with the vegetables providing good portions of the daily allowance of B vitamins, vitamin C, iron, potassium and fiber. Serve with bread or rice and dal.
Samosas are fried stuffed packets of dough. The most common filling is a mixture of peas and potatoes; they are usually consumed as a snack or appetizer, not as a meal. Potato and pea samosas are high in vitamins A and C and potassium as well as a good source of fiber.
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