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Top 5: Exclusive lip-smacking vegetarian recipes!

Last updated on: December 22, 2011 15:58 IST

The non-veggies may not agree but vegetarian dishes can indeed be yummy. We bring you an exclusive excerpt from The Heart of the Matter by Gitanjali Gurbaxani with five recipes, which the author has kindly shared with us.

A healthy vegetarian diet supports a lifetime of good health and provides protection against numerous diseases including heart diseases, cancer and strokes. A well-planned vegetarian diet provides us with all nutrients that we need, minus the saturated fat, cholesterol and contaminants found in animal flesh, eggs and butter.

A wholesome vegetarian diet offers distinct advantages as compared to the one with meats and other foods of animal origin. This demystifies the age-old myth that a pure-vegetarian diet lacks proteins and essential minerals.

Fibre content in vegetarian food prevents synthesis of very low-density lipoproteins, which can lead to heart diseases. Red meat in particular contains high amount of saturated fats, which are bound to increase cholesterol levels leading to heart attacks. This roughage also helps to eliminate faecal matter from large intestine easily.

Meat eaters usually suffer from constipation, as it does not contain fibre. This is the reason why diseases like ulcerative colitis and colon cancer are more common in meat eaters. An unbalanced non-vegetarian diet can lead to heart diseases, cholesterol problems, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity. But the paradox is that even an unbalanced pure vegetarian diet can lead to the same problems.

Convenience vegetarian foods can be just as fattening as non-vegetarian foods. In fact, some vegetarian products like deep-fried Samosas, Bhajiyas and Chaats etc may contain more fat than meat-based foods. Overconsumption of these high-calorie convenience foods or vegetarian fast food leads to weight gain just like meat-based foods.

Heart ailments and heartaches both have become a part and parcel of modern man's life. Heartaches can be well cured by care and love, but not heart ailments. Heart ailments need adequate medical help apart from love and care for proper treatment.

Heart ailments like hypertension, high blood pressure etc, though are not normal health conditions but have come to assume the place of a common and normal happening.

The various properties of fruits and vegetables help in providing possible protection against cardiovascular diseases. These factors include folic acid, dietary fibres, potassium, magnesium, carotenoids, phytosterols, flavonoids and other polyphenolic antioxidants. A vegetarian diet is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Vegetarians typically have lower blood cholesterol levels as they consume plant diets, which are rich in soluble fibre. These are found in dry beans, oats, carrots, apples and citrus fruits, and are useful for lowering serum cholesterol levels.

The yellow, orange and red carotenoid pigments in fruits and vegetables are powerful antioxidants that can quench free radicals and protect against cholesterol oxidation. Persons with high levels of serum carotenoids have a reduced risk of heart disease.

A number of studies have shown that lentils reduce the blood-cholesterol levels, improve blood-sugar control and lower triglyceride levels. Since beans are good sources of soluble fibre, vegetable protein, saponins, phytosterols and polyunsaturated fat, consuming a diet rich in lentils will lower the risk of heart diseases.

The consumption of a generous supply of whole grains, lentils, nuts, fruits and vegetables provides protection against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. A plant-based diet is rich in its content of health-promoting factors such as the many phytochemicals.

Garlic, onions and other members of the allium family, contain a variety of ajoenes, vinyldithiins and other sulfide compounds that have antithrombotic action to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

A balanced diet along with physical workout and a disciplined lifestyle is important for one's well-being. Being a vegetarian is thus considered as the new fitness mantra, which could enhance the health of your body.

Top 5: Exclusive lip-smacking vegetarian recipes!

Image: Arbiseekh Kebab

Arbiseekh Kebab (Colocasia kebab)

Serves: 4

I experimented with this recipe using arbi instead of aloo (potato) as is often served in restaurants. My family simply loved it for the unusual combination and the subtle and simple flavors that it has. It is very soft in texture and just melts in mouth. When inviting guests at home, I often make this a day before, foil wrap it and then refrigerate. Make it for your family and be rest assured to be bestowed with compliments.


  • 250 gm colocasia or arbi
  • 2 onions, small
  • 1 tsp carom seeds or ajwain
  • 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tbsp heart-friendly table spread
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 4 tbsp coriander or dhania leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp heart-friendly oil like rice bran oil
  • Salt


  • Boil and peel arbi.
  • Finely cut onion, green chillies and coriander leaves. In a large plate, mash arbi thoroughly.
  • Add cornstarch, onion, green chillies and dhania leaves.
  • Gently mix till all ingredients are blended well. Add garam masala powder, red chilly powder, aiwain, table spread and salt to this mixture.
  • Divide it into 8 equal portions. Lightly grease your palms with half of the oil.
  • Take one piece at a time, mould it in the shape of a Seekh Kebab and put it on a metal skewer.
  • Place the skewer over low flame rotating continuously till it is cooked evenly all over. Alternatively, place them in an oven and grill for 15 minutes. Turn from time to time till they are thoroughly grilled. Serve hot with chutney.

Top 5: Exclusive lip-smacking vegetarian recipes!

Image: Phool Gobhi Raita

Phool Gobhi Raita (Cauliflower in yogurt)

Serves: 4

I got this recipe from my good friend Mrs Seema Goenka who had it at a friend's place and, thereafter, made it for her family.

It is easy to make, sumptuous to have and is healthy. Cauliflower contains allicin, which can improve heart health and reduce the risk of strokes, and selenium, a chemical that works well with Vitamin C to strengthen the immune system.

Cauliflower can also help to maintain a healthy cholesterol level


  • 1 cup cauliflower or phool gobhi
  • 1 tsp cumin or jeera seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard or rai seeds
  • 1 tsp heart-friendly oil like rice bran oil
  • 11/2 cup yoghurt
  • 2 red chillies
  • Salt


  • Cut phool gobhi in very small florets.
  • Heat oil in a small pan.
  • When hot, add rai seeds, jeera seeds and red chillies.
  • When mustard seeds sputter, add gobhi. Mix salt to taste.
  • Adjust seasonings.
  • Serve cold.

Top 5: Exclusive lip-smacking vegetarian recipes!

Image: Bajre ki Roti

Matar aur Bajre ki Roti (Peas and pearl millet bread)

Makes 4 Rotis

Whenever I make this, I am reminded of the pleasant times I shared with Maya Poddar. Although a simple person at heart, I have had some of the finest, rather rare and simplest of foods at her place, cooked under her guidance by her efficient cook.

The bajra flour is high in fiber and low in cholesterol. It generates heat in the body, so it is generally had during winters. The dough is not as smooth as the chapatti dough as the gluten content is low in bajra and that's why it is difficult to make it without breaking it.


  • 1 1/2 cups pearl millet or bajra atta
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  • Water to knead dough
  • 1 cup shelled green peas
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp heart-friendly oil like rice bran oil
  • Salt


  • Cook green peas till tender and dry. Add red chilly powder, jeera seeds, garam masala powder and green chilies.
  • Mix well and mash slightly. Sieve together bajra flour, whole-wheat flour and salt in a large bowl. Add just enough water to form a smooth dough.
  • Divide the dough in eight equal parts. Divide green peas filling in four equal parts. Put the dough over a plastic sheet. With your palms, flatten each portion into a 6" found disc.
  • Place green peas mixture evenly over one roti and place the other roti over it, sealing the corners tightly.
  • Heat tawa. When hot, place this roti over it. Cook over low flame on both sides till done.
  • Serve hot.

Top 5: Exclusive lip-smacking vegetarian recipes!

Image: Dahi Wali Bhindi
Photographs: USDA / Creative Commons

Dahi Wali Bhindi (Yogurt okra)

Serves 4

I tried making this dish some years ago, when onion prices went right up to the ceiling. It has a perfect blend of all the dry spices and yoghurt. Together, they enhance and bring out the richness of this dish. Sometime back, I had a deep-friend version of this dish at a friend's place.

This is my way of making it, keeping in mind the flavou. I have used very little oil to fry potatoes and bhindi yet retaining their crispiness.


  • 250 gm okra or bhindi
  • 1 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera seeds powder
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp coriander or dhania leaves
  • 2 potatoes, large
  • 2 tsp coriander or dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric or haldi powder
  • 2-3 green chilies
  • 1/2 tbsp heart-friendly table spread
  • Salt


  • Cut bhindi into half, then slit. Peel and cut potatoes into cubes. Finely cut garlic, coriander leaves and green chillies.
  • Heat table spread in a broad-based pan. When hot, add bhindi and potatoes.
  • Saute for 15 minutes over medium flame till well done. Mix yoghurt with garam masala powder, jeera seed powder, dhania powder, haldi powder, salt and green chillies.
  • Beat well and pour in a pan. Cook for a minute. Add garlic along with half-cooked bhindi and potatoes. Cook till masala is absorbed, stirring from time to time.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot.

Top 5: Exclusive lip-smacking vegetarian recipes!

Image: Shahi Baingan Pulao

Shahi Baingan Pulao (Eggplant rice)

This pulao is unique in taste. It is a perfect blend of whole garam masala, coriander powder and cumin seeds, which are used in making pulao in northern India and also has mustard seeds, fresh coconut which are primarily used in southern India. I incorporated baingan in this recipe and have used table spread as a cooking medium. It turned out to be outstanding.


  • 2 cups rice
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander or dhania powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin or jeera seeds
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 3-4 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp heart-friendly table spread
  • 150 gm eggplant or baingan
  • 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp mustard or rai seeds
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fresh coconut
  • ½ tsp turmeric or haldi powder
  • Salt


  • Wash and cut baingan into cubes. Wash and soak rice.
  • Grate coconut. Finely cut green chillies. Heat half of the table spread in a small pan.
  • When hot, add cloves, black peppercorns, coconut, cinnamon stick, and green chillies.
  • Cook this masala till raw smell begins to go away. Take it off the flame.
  • Cool and grind to a paste consistency. Heat the remaining table spread in a pan. When hot, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
  • When they begin to sputter, add ginger paste, masala paste and baingan cubes.
  • Cook on low flame for a few minutes till baingan cubes are half cooked. Add turmeric powder and rice. Mix well. Add water and salt. Whilst adding salt and a little less as table spread already has a little salt in it. Cook till rice is half done. Add half-cooked baingan cubes.
  • Cover and cook over low flame till rice and baingan are both cooked. Add water if required. Serve hot.