Indian Vegetarian Recipes (Collection #8: More vegetable dishes, dosas)

Lentils Curried With Rhubarb And Potatoes

(Serves 4)

An unusual recipe from India.

  • 1 cup dry "orange" lentils
  • 1 very large sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup rhubarb, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons liquid sweetener
  • 1 Tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root, grated
  • 1 teaspoon hot red chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • Cover lentils with water in a deep pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add raw sweet potato slices. Simmer until soft (about an hour). Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a skillet. Once hot, add rhubarb. Reduce heat and cook until tender. Stir in sweetener and seasonings. Mix with drained cooked lentils and potatoes that have been mashed together with a fork. Pour into a oven-proof dish and bake at 400 degrees until piping hot (about 20 minutes). Garnish with coconut. Serve with chutney and a big bowl of brown rice.

    Total Calories Per Serving: 264

    Fat: 6 grams

    This article was originally published in the July/August 1994 issue of the _Vegetarian_Journal_, published by:

    The Vegetarian Resource Group
    P.O. Box 1463
    Baltimore, MD 21203
    (410) 366-VEGE

    Notes on Indian pancakes

    Indian pancakes, made out of bean flour,soaked bean, or soaked rice and bean batters, are among India's favorite breakfast and snack foods. Generally speaking, Indian pancakes are made without eggs, white flour, or leavening agents, though in some cases the batter is allowed to stand long enough to ferment naturally. Sometimes the batter is seasoned just with salt. At other times, especially when the pancake is not going to be stuffed, minced ginger, Chinese Parsley, and green chiles are mixed in.

    Cooking these Indian-style pancakes is quite an art but one which is not at all difficult to master. In India, the pancakes are always cooked on seasoned cast-iron griddles. As the batters have a tendency to stick to the griddles, Indian cooks use various methods to make their griddles as "nonstick" as possible. One South Indian housewife I know always grates her coconut onto her griddle, using it as a platter. The natural oil released by the coconut keeps her griddle permanently seasoned. She does not, of course, ever wash it. Another South Indian chef rubs heated griddles with cut onion halves. This simple procedure, he says, makes his griddles "nonstick". My own feeling on the matter is that since one can now buy real nonstick griddles and skillets, why work so hard on cast-iron ones?

    The general method for making Indian pancakes is the same: A batter is made, most frequently with beans,or rice and beans that have been soaked and ground. In India, this grinding is traditionally done on heavy grinding stones. Nowadays it can be done with the greatest of ease in blenders and food processors. This much of the pancake-making process is simplicity itself. The moment of truth comes in spreading out the batter.

    Unlike white-flour and egg batters, bean batters do not flow. You cannot tilt your skillet around expertly and have the batter flow to the edges as it would for a crepe. Instead, the batter will sit obstinately like a lump in the center of your skillet. It has to be coaxed to move. This is best done with a round soupspoon.

    The first step should be to grease the nonstick skillet very lightly and heat it. Then, drop a blob of batter in the center. Next, put the rounded bottom of the soupspoon very lightly on the center of this blob of batter and, using a slow, gentle, but continuous spiral motion, spread the batter outward with the back of the spoon. You can make the pancakes as thin as you like. You may not be able to manage a "continuous spiral" motion the first time around. Do not worry about that. As long as you get the batter to spread, basically using circular motions, that is good enough. Because nonstick skillets have no grip, if you push too hard with the spoon, the entire batter may begin to move. If you have that problem, use a lighter touch and try not greasing the skillet before you put in the pancake.

    Many of the batters for Indian pancakes may be made ahead of time and refrigerated. So if you want to eat the pancakes for breakfast, you can easily make the batter the night before. Sometimes the pancakes themselves can be made ahead of time and wrapped in foil. They can then be reheated by being placed in a medium-hot oven for about 15 minutes still covered in foil.

    from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking

    South Indian Dosas

    Dosas, plain or stuffed, may be served at breakfast, lunch, brunch, or as a snack. In South India, they are often accompanied by glasses of buttermilk or cups of steaming hot, sweet, milky coffee. Dosas may also be served as any Indian bread might be, with an assortment of vegetables and relishes.

    Please read the notes on Indian pancakes in the preceding posting, especially the part that deals with cooking the pancakes, before making these dosas. Since the dal and rice must be soaked 8 hours and paste must ferment almost a day, plan ahead.

    makes 8 pancakes

  • 1/2 cup urad dal
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • About 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Pick over the urad dal, wash, drain, and then soak in 2 cups water for 8 hours.

    Wash the rice well, drain, and then soak in 3 cups water for 8 hours.

    Drain the dal. Put it in the container of a food processor (with the metal blade in place) or a blender. Run the machine for 2 minutes, pushing down the dal with a rubber spatula every now and then. Now add 2 tbl water and let the machine run another minute. Add another 2 tbl water and let the machine run another minute. Keep doing this until you have added 3/4 cup water. The dal should be very well ground, light and fluffy. Put this paste into a bowl.

    Drain the rice. Put it into the container of the food processor or blender. Process the rice just the way you did the dal, until you have added 3/4 cup water and the rice is reduced to very fine, semolinalike grains. Pour this rice paste over the dal paste. Mix. Cover, and leave to ferment in a warm place for 16 to 20 hours.

    See that you have everything ready for dosa-making. Not far from your 8-inch, nonstick skillet should be your oil (take it out in a cup), a teaspoon, a rounded soupspoon, your bowl of batter, a 1/2-cup measuring cup, and a plastic spatula. Also have a plate beside you on which you can put the dosas as they cook. If you like, this plate may be kept in a warming oven.

    The batter should by now have a frothy, fermented look. Add the salt and cumin to it and stir. Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in the nonstick skillet over a medium-low flame. Remove 1/2 cup of the batter and pour it into the middle of the skillet. Let it sit there for 3 to 4 seconds. Place the rounded bottom of the soupspoon very lightly into the center of the batter. Using a slow, gentle, and continuous spiral motion, spread the batter outward with the back of the soupspoon until you have a pancake that is about 7 inches in diameter. Dribble 1/2 tsp oil over the pancake and another 1/2 just around its edges. Using a plastic spatula, spread out the oil on top of the pancake and also smooth out any lumps or ridges. Cover the skillet. Cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on the first side or until the dosa turns a nice, reddish-brown color. Lower your heat if necessary. Turn the dosa over and cook, uncovered, for another minute, or until the second side develops reddish spots. Put the cooked dosa on a warm plate. Stir the batter and make another dosa, just as you made the first. Make all dosas this way. Serve with the first side cooked up, accompanied by South Indian Coconut Chutney.

    To make stuffed dosas or Masala Dosa (as they are called in India):

    Make a recipe of Potatoes and Onions (see next posting) first. This dish may even be made a day ahead of time and then reheated. Now make the dosas. Lay out each dosa on an individual plate, with its "good" side-the side that was cooked first-down. Spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the heated potato stuffing over half the dosa. Fold the dosa over to form a capital "D". Once the dosa is stuffed, it should be served immediately.

    from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking

    Zakiya's Potatoes and Onions

    This dish, while it can be eaten as part of any Indian meal, forms the traditional stuffing for dosas (see previous posting). The dosa, a kind of pancake made with rice and urad dal, is put on a plate, some of this potato-onion mixture is placed on top of it, and the dosa is folded over once. The stuffed dosa is then called a Masala Dosa and serves the same function as a sandwich does in America.

    serves 4-6 as a vegetable dish and will stuff 8 dosas

  • 4 medium size boiling potatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 3/4 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 to 4 pieces
  • 1 fresh hot green chili, or more to taste, cut into 2 to 3 pieces
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • generous pinch ground asafetida
  • 1 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • 2 medium size onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Boil the potatoes until tender. Let them cool, then peel and cut into 3/4 inch dice.

    Put the ginger and chili and 1/4 cup water into a blender or food processor and blend until you have a somewhat grainy paste. Set aside.

    Heat the oil in an 8 to 9 inch skillet over a medium flame. When hot, put in the asafetida first and then, a second later, the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds begin to pop (this takes just a few seconds), put in the onions. Turn the heat down slightly and saute the onions for about 5 minutes or until they turn translucent. (Do not let them brown.) Now add the paste from the food processor as well as the turmeric. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Put in the potatoes, 1 cup water, and the salt. Cover, and cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Lift cover and, using a slotted spoon, break the potato pieces into smaller 1/3 to 1/2 inch cubes. Cover again and cook on very low heat for another 3 to 4 minutes. The "sauce" for the potato dish should now be very thick. Serve either as is or stuff Masala Dosa according to directions in previous posting.

    from Mahdur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking

    Matar Paneer (Peas with Paneer)

    This Punjabi dish, with some variation in the spices, is eaten all over North India. Indian restaurants, whether in India or outside it, almost always serve it on their thali, or vegetarian platter. As an interesting variation, you could substitute a diced 6 oz. cake of regular bean curd for the paneer.

    Serves 6

  • 1 medium sized onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 6 tbl veg. oil
  • paneer (plus 2 cups of the whey)
  • 1 whole dried red pepper
  • 1 tbl ground coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups shelled fresh or 2 packages defrosted frozen peas
  • Put the chopped onion and ginger into a blender or food processor along with 1/3 cup water and blend until you have a smooth paste. Leave paste in the blender container.

    Heat oil in a heavy 10 inch wide pot over a medium flame. When hot put in the pieces of paneer in a single layer and fry until golden brown on all sides. This happens pretty fast. Remove to a plate. Put the dried red pepper into the same oil. Within 2 seconds, turn the pepper over so that it browns on both sides. Now put in the contents of the blender (keep your face averted as the paste might splatter). Fry, stirring constantly, for about 10-12 minutes, or until paste turns a light brown color.

    Add the coriander and turmeric and fry, stirring, for another minute. Put in the minced tomatoes. Stir and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the tomatoes turn a dark, reddish brown shade. Now pour in 2 cups of the whey. Add the salt and the black pepper. Mix well and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Lift cover and put in the paneer pieces and the peas. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the peas are cooked.

    from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking

    VANGI BHAT (a rice and eggplant dish from India)

    This dish is usually served at room temperature, rather like a rice salad. It is tangy and spicy, but not hot, and smells enticingly of roasted coconut.

    **All the spices mentioned are readily available**

  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 tsp. plus 7 Tblsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. yellow split peas
  • 1/2 whole hot dried red pepper (may substitute 1/8 tsp. cayenne)
  • A 3/4 inch stick of cinnamon
  • 3 Tblsp. dried, unsweetened coconut
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • Put the rice, 3 cups water, and 1 tsp. salt in a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to very, very low, and cook gently for 25 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice sit, covered, for another 10 to 15 minutes.

    Peel eggplant and dice into 1/2 inch cubes. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Mix well and set aside for half an hour.

    Heat 1 Tblsp. oil in a small cast-iron skillet over a medium flame. When hot, put in the coriander seeds, split peas, red pepper, and cinnamon. Keep stirring. When spices darken by a few shades, remove them with a slotted spoonand placed on a plate lined with a paper towel. Put the dried coconut in the same skillet. Fry, stirring all the time (there will be hardly any oil in the skillet, but that is all right), until the coconut turns a fairly uniform golden-brown color. Remove coconut and place on the paper towel next to the spices.

    Heat 5 Tblsp. of oil in a 9 to 10-inch skillet over a medium flame. When hot, add the eggplant. Stir and fry for 5 to 8 minutes or until eggplant is cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.

    Put spices and coconut into an electric coffee grinder and grind as finely as possible. (You can do this with a mortar and pestle, but it does not work very well in a blender.) Leave in the grinder.

    Combine the lemon juice, about 1/2 tsp. salt, the turmeric, and 2 Tblsp. water in a small pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to very low and simmer gently for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat.

    Put the cooked rice in the skillet with the eggplant and stir well to mix. Allow to cool slightly. Dribble 2 Tblsp. oil on the rice and mix well again. Add the coconut-spice mixture, and the lemon-turmeric mixture. Mix again and serve at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6

    This was adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's VEGETARIAN COOKING. It makes a good vegetarian main dish, and in India would be served with a yogurt dish, another vegetable, and a bread.


    From CLASSIC INDIAN VEGETARIAN AND GRAIN COOKING (Julie Sahni; William Morrow and Co., N. Y., 1985)

    The art of making halwa with nuts was introduced in India during the Moghul period by the traders from the Middle East and Asia Minor. It is the Indian cooks, however, who are credited with making halwa by using vegetables such as carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, snake squash, winter melon, potatoes, and yams.

    This glazed carrot halwa, a specialty of the Sikhs of Punjab, is the most popular halwa in India and is enjoyed as a dessert as well as a sweet.

    Traditionally it is made with milk fudge (khoya), but I substitute ricotta cheese combined with dry milk and butter, which is quicker and produces just as good a result.

    For 12 to 16 persons:

  • 3 sticks (3/4 pound) sweet butter
  • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp. chopped pistachios
  • 6 cups packed shredded or grated carrots (2 1/2 - 3 pounds)
  • 9 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
    1. Melt 1 stick (8 tbsp.) of the butter in a skillet. Add the ricotta and dry milk, mix it in, and cook over medium-high heat to a thick paste (about 15 minutes), stirring constantly. Transfer the mixture to a small plate and set aside.
    2. Wipe the skillet clean and add 2 tbsp. of the butter along with the almonds. Cook over medium-high heat until the almonds turn light golden (about 2 minutes), turning and tossing constantly. Drain the almonds on paper towels and set aside for garnish. Add the pistachios to the same skillet and cook until they become crisp (about 1 minute). Drain the pistachios on paper towels and set aside separately.
    3. Wipe the skillet clean and add 1 stick (8 tbsp.) butter and place over medium-high heat. When the butter melts, add carrots and stir-fry until they are will coated with butter. Reduce heat to medium or medium- low, cover, and cook for 8 minutes or until the carrots are cooked but not mushy. Add sugar and cardamom and cook until the carrots are glazed (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly.
    4. Blend in the milk-cheese paste and continue cooking and adding the remaining 6 tbsp. of butter in small portions, until the halwa looks thick and glazed (12 - 15 minutes). Turn off the heat and stir in the pistachios.

    The halwa can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 1 week.

    To serve: Heat the halwa and put on an attractive serving dish and pat it down with a metal spatula. Garnish the halwa with almonds.

    The halwa has the consistency of a thick, moist pudding. Therefore, serve scooped into individual dessert plates with a spoon.


    This is a dish I learned from an Indian lady, at a cooking class. It's simple to make and has a beautifully subtle flavor. As per true curries, it uses raw spices instead of some prepackaged curry powder.

    INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 to 6)

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh spinach
  • 1/2 lb fresh ricotta cheese (see note)
  • 3 medium brown onions
  • 1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 1/2 tsp cummin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chile powder (cayenne) (or more to taste)
  • 2 cloves
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch mace
  • 1 Tbsp ghee (or use melted butter or oil)
  • salt (to taste)
  • Procedure

    1. Cook the spinach and chop it up.
    2. Cut the cheese into 3/4-inch cubes and deep fry a few pieces at a time in oil (a wok is good for this).
    3. Fry the chopped onions in the ghee. When almost brown, add the finely-chopped ginger. Use a medium to high heat.
    4. When the onions are golden, reduce the heat and add the skinned and chopped tomato, then the spices and salt.
    5. Cover for a few minutes, then add the spinach and salt.
    6. Cover and simmer about 5 minutes to let spices penetrate.
    7. Add the cheese pieces, mix, and serve.


    We eat this dish at a meal with rice, although you can use it as one dish along with others.

    The quantities given for the spinach and cheese are very flexible. I never measure them, just putting in what seems right. Experiment. Similarly, it can be kept hot for a while with no loss in taste or texture.

    In North America, most Ricotta cheese is packed as a pot cheese. This recipe calls for a more solid form of the cheese. Specialty ethnic markets in large cities will carry solid Ricotta. You can make your own by buying a tub of pot Ricotta and wrapping it in a clean cloth to wick the moisture out, leaving the whole assembly in the refrigerator for a week or so, and changing the cloth every day. With such treatment the cheese will gradually solidify enough that you can slice and fry it. Buffalo-milk Mozzarella is a fair substitute, and ordinary Mozzarella is a last-chance substitute.

    Don't fry the cheese too long. It should have a golden exterior and have a marshmallow texture inside. Frying too long makes it hard and dry.

    Use whole cummin seeds and cloves, not the ground variety.

    Like most curries, this reheats splendidly.


  • Difficulty: easy to moderate.
  • Time: 1 hour.
  • Precision: Approximate measurement OK.
  • Contributor

    Peter C. Maxwell,
    Department of Computer Science,
    University of New South Wales,
    Sydney, AUSTRALIA.


    This is a delicious dish that can be served as a side dish or as a main course. The rice and chickpeas (garbanzo beans) are complete proteins, so you can use this as a vegetarian dinner. We are not vegetarians, but we do have at least one vegetarian meal in a week just because they are lower in fat and taste pretty good!

    Spray a flame proof, oven proof casserole with Pam or similar product, or spread a bit of canola or safflower oil in the bottom. Simmer together for two minutes:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Add and simmer an additional ten minutes, adding a bit of water if needed to prevent sticking and burning:

  • 1 red pepper, chopped fine (I put cover on while simmering)
  • Get spices ready:

  • 1/4 tsp each cardomom, cloves, cayenne, ginger, mace,
  • coriander - or 1 tsp curry powder and some extra cayenne and cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Add spices and:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white rice (Uncle Ben's Converted)
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • Cover and heat on stove top until water simmers. Bake in covered casserole in 350-deg F oven for about a half hour. Fluff rice before serving.

    Nutrition Information:

  • Serving size: 1/4 recipe
  • Calories: 351
  • Protein: 14.3 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 69.4 grams
  • Fat: 2.8 grams (plus a little that was used to brown onions)
  • Fiber: 3.4 grams
  • Sodium: 12.8 mg
  • Cholesterol: zero (no animal fats!)
  • YOGURT COCONUT DIP (Narkeler Raita)

    When I need to prepare a dip in a hurry, I use this recipe. The cool, smooth sauce with a bare hint of sweetness is always popular with guests.

  • 1 1/2 tbls. veg. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbl. peeled fresh ginger, grated or made into a paste
  • 1 tsp. seeded, chopped fresh green chili (or to taste)
  • 1 cup dried flaked or shredded sweetened coconut, ground in a blender to a coarse powder, or freshly grated or shredded coconut mixed with 1/2 tsp. sugar (see note)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, lightly beaten until smooth
    1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Fry the mustard seeds until they start to pop. Add ginger and chili, keeping the skillet partially covered to avoid splattering the cooking area. As soon as ginger is lightly browned, turn heat to low. Add coconut and stir several times. Remove from heat.
    2. Combine salt and yogurt in a bowl. Add the coconut mixture. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to help develop the flavors.

    4 to 5 small servings.

    Serving suggestions: This raita is perfict for dunking boiled potatoes, lightly steamed vegetables, and vegetable fritters. Try also with any vegetarian or fish dish, such as Steamed Fish in Chili- Cilantro Sauce.

    Note: If available, use freshly grated or thawed, frozen shredded coconut, sold in Asian markets, to give this raita a fresh flavor.

    from The Healthy Cuisine of India by Bharti Kirchner