Vegetarianism is becoming more popular, and even people who don't want to go entirely vegetarian are learning to enjoy what meat free dishes have to offer. That's why everyone - vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike - should have a look at the great meatless dishes that Indian cuisine has to offer.
Surprisingly, even Bengali cooking, known for its chicken, lamb, and other tandoori meat dishes, offers a number of fantastic vegetarian foods that can be real palate pleasers. Other regions in India have a lot to offer in the realm of meatless dishes, as well. Kerala is well known for its thorans - spicy vegetable and coconut fried dishes - for instance.
Some possibilities that you might not have considered include saags (curries made from minced greens such as spinach or turnip greens), daals (lentil or bean dishes with a lot of flavor), aloo mutter (green peas with potatoes) and other potato based dishes, and India's famous eggplant dishes like pora and baingan bharta. Cauliflower is also a really common ingredient in Indian vegetarian foods.
While the heavy reliance on milk products in Indian cuisine makes it unsuitable for many vegans, lacto vegetarians (even ones who don't eat eggs) should have no problem finding great dishes they'll love. Proteins in Indian vegetarian dishes include many different types of bean and legume, from lentils to mung beans to chickpeas, a type of cottage cheese called paneer that doesn't melt when heated, yogurt, creams, and nuts like cashews and almonds. There are also a few egg curries, made with whole or halved hard boiled eggs, but they're usually reserved for very special occasions.
Many Indian breads are also vegetarian, and some include delicious fillings. Choose onion and garlic filled paratha, potato fillings or paneer, or a fluffy piece of naan or a thin roti. There are other starches available, too. In addition to the potatoes you'll find in many dishes, you can also enjoy rice biryanis, idli and dosa made from fermented rice and lentil batter, and puffy fried puris with onions and flavorful sauces.
Indian cuisine shouldn't be thought of as nothing but chicken tikka and lamb curry. Everyone, vegetarians and meat eaters alike, can enjoy the vegetarian delights of this interesting country. From coastal fish curries to jeweled biryanis, there's something for every palate. All you have to do is take the time to find out more about the dishes that are available.
Source: India Oven Restaurant, Las Vegas
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