25 of the Best Healthy Indian Vegetarian Recipes for dinner (or lunch!) that make for a delicious and nutritious meal. Full of rich flavor, they range from curry recipes to street food!
Vegetarian Cuisine in India
Indians, especially South Indians, and other South Asians have a long history of eating lots of vegetables. There are thus many naturally vegan or vegetarian Indian dishes.
These are usually eaten with Indian breads such as naan, chapatti and paratha. A typical Indian meal usually includes many little dishes such as dal and chutney.
- Indian food is well-seasoned with lots of aromatic spices such as chili, curry leaves, etc making it super delicious!
- There are a group of 7 whole spices known as "the 7 Indian spices" because they're so commonly used: turmeric, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin and fenugreek!
- Most of them are used in Garam Masala powder, as well as sometimes nutmeg, black pepper, mace etc.
- A secret to successfully recreate the Indian flavors is to temper the spices in oil then pour it on your vegetarian food.
- Lentils are also a very common ingredient in Indian households. Think dal/ Dahl/ daal and fritters!
- If you need an Indian dipping sauce for fritters, click here.
- See below for Dal Makhani, an Indian lentil dish.
- Dairy products such as ghee and curds
- If you can't get ghee, the closest substitute is clarified butter. (They're not the same though.)
- South Asians traditionally eat with their hands (eating is considered a very sensual and sensory experience) but please remember to only use your right, and never your left!
- In South Asia, Sri Lanka and countries such as Singapore which have a large Indian population, it is common to see food served on banana plates (very fragrant and great for the environment!)
- After eating, do remember to fold the leaf towards yourself- folding it outwards is reserved for funerals!
The 1st dish that comes to mind when you say Indian food is usually biryani, so if you haven't tried it yet, you should! It is a mixed rice dish which can range from vegetarian ingredients to meats such as mutton and lamb.
When I visited 1 of my best friends who was born and breed in Sri Lanka, the first meal she took me to try was Kottu, which is somewhat similar to paratha and the Singaporean India dish roti prata (but cut up into smaller pieces.) We also ate lots of hoppers and jackfruit curry!
Achar, or Indian pickle, is a must-have at an Indian feast!
Lentils & Butternut Squash Curry
Black Eye Peas Curry
This chickpea (chana) masla (spice) curry come with a rich tomato gravy. You can adjust the amount of Kashmiri chili powder added to vary the spice level.
Tip: Curry powder is a British invention. There's no such thing in Indian cuisine! For authentic flavors, use Garam Masala AND add extra whole spices to intensify the flavors.
For an easy 3-ingredient Indian-inspired roast potato recipe, click here!
This spicy curry from Maharashtra, India, has lots of protein and fiber. Unfortunately, this popular street food sometimes has lots of oil, so make it yourself with this healthy Indian recipe!
FYI: Pav is actually an Indian dinner roll. If you can't get the Usal Sprouts, you can use Mung Bean Sprouts.
If you're not a fan of sprouts, try this spiced veggie gravy and dinner roll dish which uses green peas and potatoes. Another popular street food (this time from Mumbai), the recipe shows you how to make it quickly in an Instant pot!
Moong Bean Curry
Sweet Potato Curry
Cashew Nuts Curry is another favorite! In the photo below, I made it using Rishi Naleendra's recipe. (He's a Michelin-starred chef in Singapore.) You'll need pandan, lemongrass, turmeric and curry leaves.
According to my South Asian friends, it tasted pretty authentic!
Tip: If you only have light coconut milk, leave it in the fridge to harden and scrape off the hardened part at the top. That is the fatter part that you can use to substitute for coconut cream.
This red lentils dish is by 1 of my favorite bloggers, Izzah of Tea for Turmeric! (Although she actually shares Pakistani not Indian recipes!)
However, her stovetop and Instant Pot recipe is so good, I couldn't not include it in this list of healthy recipes!
Best of all, it can be frozen for up to 3 months!
This Indian Cottage Cheese recipe is the perfect side dish in my opinion! It's also really easy to make paneer at home- you can make it every day and not just on special occasions! (Click through for an authentic Indian recipe!)
Tip: you want to blanch the spinach leaves first. Also make sure to use young spinach leaves as old ones can be quite bitter!
If you love paneer as much as I do, try this Punjabi-style dish!
Tip: As with all spiced dishes, the key to the flavor is using fresh spices, and this recipe shows you how to make your own Kadai Masala powder!
These spiced potatoes are a vegan Indian recipe. They can be made on the stove or in an instant pot, and on the table in under 30 minutes!
Tip: you want potatoes that don't break when cooked, such as baby potatoes or Yukon Gold.
Click here for the restaurant style Dal easy recipe.
For Indian food, remember to use long grain basmati rice and not jasmine rice or, worse, short grain Japonica or glutinous rice! If you want to be healthier, I guess you could use brown rice!
Note: if you make too much, here are some ideas for leftover rice dishes!
Curry Fried Rice
These South Indian pancakes can be made with various fillings.
Tip: To get crispy dosa, you can add some puffed rice. Also, don't grind your rice too finely! You also need to control the temperature of the tawa (large flat Indian pan) well- use medium heat only!
I used to make this with an Indian friend in London and it was great fun watching them puff up!
You'd be surprised to hear that this Indian bread only requires 3 ingredients!
Tip: vary the flours used to change up the taste and texture of the puri. (This will, however, impact the amount of water used- if you use the wrong amount, your dough will soak up the oil!)
Desserts & Drinks
A coffee meets Masala Chai drink, this is made in seconds if you have Chai Syrup in the fridge!
What are your favourite healthy Indian vegetarian recipes? Let me know in the comments and, if you've found this recipe round-up useful, do share it on your social media!