India is a country with a rich vegetarian culinary heritage. For religious and cultural reasons, different regions of India have developed a panoply of vegetarian dishes, many of which include the heady flavors of a variety of spices. There's perhaps no more varied cuisine in the world for your Meatless Monday inspiration -- we've selected four of our favorite vegetarian Indian recipes so that you can begin to explore this culinary tapestry.
Chana masala is a classic of the Gujarat region, in the north of India. This rich chickpea stew has a tomato base highlighted with a combination of warm spices like cumin, coriander, ginger, garam masala, and cardamom. Since the dish only gets better with time, consider making a big pot of it and enjoying it for lunch all week.
This broccoli curry was created from a variety of influences: while the spices used, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder, seem more Indian in inspiration, the creamy coconut base is a bit more Thai. When slightly sweet veggies like broccoli, red pepper, peas, and carrots are cooked in this savory sauce, the result is a very colorful dish that keeps you coming back for more.
There are two major types of aloo matar, a curry dish made with potatoes (aloo) and peas (matar). The wet version has a gravy-like sauce, while the dry version is more of a stir-fry with spices. Try this dry version, seasoned with cumin, chili, dry mango powder, chaat masala, and garam masala, served with a side of vegan cucumber raita to temper the spice.
Photo by Ally Jane Grossan
Lentils, also known as dal in Indian cuisine, are used for a variety of dishes in the region. Dal in this case refers both to the ingredient, which can range from actual lentils to split peas and even chickpeas, as well as the resulting dish. This red lentil dal seasons red lentils or masoor dal with ginger, garlic, tomatoes, mustard seeds, chili powder, turmeric, and cumin. Given the quick cooking time of red lentils, this dish is positively perfect for Meatless Monday.
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