Perhaps Indian food is so popular here in the UK because it caters to such a wide range of different tastes and diets. The outdated stereotype of the local curry house solely serving up meat-heavy, extra-spicy dishes to be washed down with copious Cobras, has long since bitten the dust. The reality of contemporary Indian cuisine is much more refined, with some of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants presenting a menu as varied and versatile as the people that visit for dinner.
Vegetarians will find themselves spoiled for choice when it comes to Indian food which comes as no real surprise seeing as wide, sweeping areas of the country follow a vegetarian diet due to religious beliefs. In particular, many of the areas down south, such as Kerala, boast a delectable selection of vegetarian specialities that could tempt even the most committed of carnivores.
Here are some of the most popular vegetarian recipes India has to offer:
With a word like ‘malai’ (meaning ‘cream’) in the name, you can tell this is going to be a decadent recipe. Fried dumplings created from mashed potato and paneer cheese are immersed in a mild gravy, thickened with ground nuts and cream, to form a melt-in-the-mouth, sweetly spiced curry.
A favourite side dish or one to enjoy with a warm, Indian flat-bread and daal, palak paneer is a North Indian speciality made up of creamed spinach and cheese, flavoured with garam masala and garlic.
This popular vegetarian curry is created from red kidney beans and served up with a fluffy portion of rice or some bread for dipping. Rajma and rice is known for being a favourite in the north of India, particularly in the Punjab where it is a staple, everyday meal for the locals.
Chole bhature is a blend of spicy chickpeas and the lightly fried bread known as bhatoora. Traditionally it is often consumed as a hearty breakfast meal, washed down with a refreshing lassi drink.
There are too many versions of daal to mention as each region of India puts its own twist on this lentil-based dish. A firm favourite of vegetarians is tarka daal, a popular version in Indian restaurants of the UK, with its creamy tones coloured by fiery spices and studded with tomatoes and coriander.
Dosa and Sambar
A favourite dish of South India, these crispy crepes are formed from a batter of rice and lentils. Stuffed with spiced vegetables, with or without gravy, they form a healthy and delicious meal but they can also be sampled plain with a variety of chutneys and pickles or sambar, a spicy lentil and vegetable stew.
Hara Bhara Kebab
Who says kebabs are only for meat-eaters? These patties are created from potato, peas, green chillies and spinach which brightens up your plate with an unusual green colour. Throw in a smattering of Indian spices and serve with some fresh bread.
For an extensive and imaginative selection of vegetarian Indian dishes, book a table at Chutney Mary, one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants, and see for yourself the exquisite and beautifully presented creations on offer.