If you’re a vegetarian, chances are that at least once in your life you’ve run into one of those super enthusiastic non-veg fellows. That one guy who has made it his personal mission in life to tell you how being a vegetarian is keeping you from the one good thing in life aka ‘Malabar Mutton Curry’.

Chances also exist that you have instantly considered throwing a fridge or something suitably heavy at him. Put that refrigerator down, because we have a better weapon for you: four mouth-watering, vegetarian yet 100% paneer-free healthy dishes that will have even the most hardcore carnivore friend asking for more. Ready? Here we go:

1. Subzi dalcha

Bowl-lickingly delicious, rich in protein, minerals and multiple vitamins, a cup of hot subzi dalcha is all you need this monsoon.


  • 1 large potato, peeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ cup yellow split peas, (chana dal)
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets, (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup green bean pieces, frozen or fresh (1-inch pieces)
  • 1 small (8 ounces) eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1¾ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon refined oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 large cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
  • 1-3 fresh green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 long thin slices fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • Juice from 1 medium lime
  • 1 teaspoon ghee, or butter (optional)


  1. Start by placing the potatoes in a bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water.
  2. Take a large saucepan and place the split peas in it. Now fill up half the pan with water and clean thoroughly and drain. Now add four cups of water to the pan with the split peas still in it, and boil over medium-high heat.
  3. Wash and drain the potatoes and add it to the pan with the peas. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Wash some cauliflowers, green beans, eggplant, carrot and add to the pan. Add salt and turmeric and gradually reduce the boiling to a gentle simmer. Stir the pan occasionally till the vegetables become tender and the peas become soft. Let it cook for another 7 to 10 minutes.
  5. Next, heat some oil in a small pan over medium-high heat and add some cumin seed. Add some garlic and chillies to taste and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic is light brown.
  6. Now add this garlic-chilli-cumin mix into the saucepan with cooked vegetables. Whisk a tablespoon of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cooking liquid in a small bowl and add it to the stew along with cilantro and ginger.
  7. Simmer the curry at a medium-high flame, stir occasionally and wait for the curry to thicken. Add some ghee and lime juice as per your taste. Let it cook for two more minutes and serve hot.

2. Tandoori Tofu

What better way to welcome this Japanese cousin of paneer than some warm love of the desi tandoor? Rich in protein and low in fat, the tandoori tofu is the perfect dish to replace the paneer at your barbeque parties!

Tandoori Tofu

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 packets of tofu
  • ? cup nonfat plain yoghurt
  • 6 tablespoons sliced scallions or chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Preheat the grill to medium-high.
  2. Take a small bowl and add paprika, ½ teaspoon of salt, cumin powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder to create a spice mix.
  3. Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic paste, lime juice and the spice mix and cook till it begins to sizzle. Take the pan down from the flame.
  4. Now take the tofu blocks and cut them into 6 slices. Brush the tofu slices with the spices and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt.
  5. Place the tofu on the grill rack and grill the tofu for 2 – 3 minutes each side.
  6. Add the leftover spice mix to the non-fat plain yoghurt to make the yoghurt sauce.
  7. Serve the grilled tofu with the yoghurt sauce. Add cilantro or scallions for garnish.

3. Curried Cashew Burgers

Give a healthy twist to your favourite burger with the curried cashew burger. Mouthwateringly delicious yet super healthy, this fulfilling snack packs a whopping 16 gram of protein with 0 cholesterol. Literally, the fitness freak’s dream snack is here!

Cashew Burger


  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
  • 1 cup diced peeled carrots
  • ½ cup red lentils, rinsed
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¾ cup raw cashews
  • 6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • ¾ cup fine dry breadcrumbs
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6 6-inch whole-wheat burger buns
  • Lettuce & sliced cucumber, for garnish


  1. Add carrots, lentils, ¼ teaspoon salt and 2 cups of water to a saucepan. Heat the pan till water starts boiling, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pan partially and let it simmer for 12-14 minutes until the lentils are tender. Now, transfer the content to a plate and let it cool to room temperature.
  2. Take some cashew and toast them in a pan over medium-low heat till they turn golden. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. Now heat two teaspoon oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, curry powder and two tablespoons of water. Cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
  4. Grind the roasted cashews in a food processor, add the lentils and onion mixture. Grind until the mixture is cohesive yet textured. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  5. Mix the cashew with breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into ½ inch thick patties.
  6. Cook the patties on a pan over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve on whole wheat burgers with some cucumber slices and lettuce. You can even use mint raita for the spread.

Indian Mango Daal

Mango & daal, bring together two of the most quintessentially desi items in this ‘jugal bandi’ of taste and health. Rich in protein, loaded with fibre and calories, this simple yet fulfilling dish is the perfect relish for the ‘Aam’ aadmi!

Mango Daal

  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Wash the lentils in a large saucepan till the water runs clear. Add 4 cups of water, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon turmeric to the pan and heat till the water begins to boil.
  2. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover the pan and stir occasionally. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Take a small pan, add a tablespoon of oil and heat over medium flame. Add some cumin seeds and cook until they attain a brown colour.
  4. Add some onions and stir until the onions turn brown. To this, add a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste, coriander, chilli and ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir for about a minute.
  5. Add this mixture with the peeled mangoes into the lentil. Heat to a simmer and stir occasionally till the lentils fall apart. Add some cilantro for garnishing.

There, as promised, 4 healthy vegetarian recipes that will shatter stereotypes, shut down critics and earn you a date with Gordon Ramsay!  And if these dishes don’t take the enthu non-veg fellow’s breath away, well, you still have the frying pan.

Enjoy! Bon Appetit!


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