It’s time to celebrate the vegetarian food landscape. Going beyond paneer recipes and the omnipresent potato in every dish, chefs and culinary experts recall their favourite veg meal, and create some dishes for you to try
Koon Kizhi by Chef Regi Mathew
Chef Regi Mathew, culinary director and co-owner of Kappa Chakka Kandhari says that his memorable vegetarian dish is Pachadi – Pineapple Nendram Masal Pachadi. “It is a dish made out of pineapple and Nendram banana. It goes as a dish between meals. It is a traditional Namboodri dish from Central Travancore, which happens to be a unique dish.”
Three-course menu recommended by Regi
Starter: Koon Kizhi
Steamed banana leaf pouches with mushroom and coconut masala flavoured with ‘kodampuli’.
Main course: Appam and Stew
A classic Syrian-Christian community dish. Fermented laced rice pancake served with a stew of vegetables in coconut milk with select Kerala spices.
Dessert: Palada Payasam
For those with a sweet tooth, the Palada is an excellent choice — rice flakes cooked in reduced milk until rich and decadent.
Recipe For Koon Kizhi
- 25 Fresh mushrooms
- 100gms sliced shallots
- 25gms chopped ginger
- 20gms chopped garlic
- 25 gms chopped green chilli
- 2 strips curry leaves
- 25 ml coconut oil
- 1 cup grated coconut
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tbsp Kudampuli water (Malabar Kokum, soaked water)
- Salt to taste
- Lemon juice
- 1 tsp Freshly ground pepper powder
- Wash and clean the mushrooms well, and pat dry.
- Cut mushrooms into thick slices, and marinate with little turmeric powder, lemon juice, and salt, and set aside.
- Heat the pan with coconut oil, add mustard seed till it crackles, add ginger garlic, green chilli, and curry leaves, and sauté until the onion turns soft and transparent.
- Add chilli turmeric powder and pepper, sauté well, add marinated mushrooms and cook till almost done, then add grated coconut and kokum water mix together, check the seasoning and remove the fire and prepare ‘Kizhi’.
- Take 8 medium size round cut banana leaves and blanch gently on the fire.
- Spread little coconut oil over each banana leaf, and put Sox pieces of mushrooms with the masala.
- Hold the edges of the banana leaf together, and tie the top of the banana leaf with fibre from the banana stem to form bundles.
- Steam for approximately 6-7 minutes.
- Serve hot.
Semiya Payasam by Chef Rahul Desai
Chef Rahul Desai, founder of Vanakkam Café, says that his most memorable dish is the Sri Lankan curry. “The Sri Lankan curry is hands down a favourite. Tiny coin idlis are simmered in a coconut sauce, which is infused with gunpowder and tempered with spices. Tiny bites of pineapple chutney in between helps cut through the savoury flavours.”
Three course menu recommended by Desai
Starters: Cheese & Corn Stuffed Paniyaram
Balls of fermented batter cooked in a paniyaram pan and stuffed with cheddar cheese and
Main Course: Khowsuey Idli
Mini coin idlis cooked in a Burmese coconut soup and served with fried garlic, crispy rice,
chaklis, peanuts, fried onions, and lemon.
Dessert: Semiya Payasam
Cardamom scented, sweet, and creamy pudding cooked with ghee and nuts.
Recipe For Semiya Payasam
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 12 to 15 cashews
- 2 tablespoon raisins
- 1 cup vermicelli or semiya
- 3.5 cups whole milk
- 4 tablespoons sugar, or add as required
- ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
Frying dry fruits:
- In a pan, add the ghee, and let it clarify. Add cashews and cook them until golden on low heat.
- Transfer them to a plate and cook the raisins the same way. Once the raisins swell, remove them with a slotted spoon.
- Set the raisins aside with the fried cashews.
- In the same kadai, add the broken semiya
- Mix well.
- Keep the flame to a low, and begin to roast until the semiya becomes golden.
- Stir often while roasting semiya for even browning.
- When the semiya has turned golden, add 3.5 cups of milk. Milk can be chilled, warm, hot, or at room temperature.
- For a thin payasam, add 4 cups of milk. The payasam thickens on cooling, so add milk accordingly.
- Keep stirring until the semiya softens.
- Add in the sugar, and sprinkle the cardamom and nutmeg powder.
- Simmer for a couple of minutes, and switch off the heat. Add in the fried cashews and raisins and use some as garnish.
Kathal Biryani by Prashant Issar
For Prashant Issar, creator & co-founder, Ishaara, his list of his most memorable vegetarian meals include broccoli soup with ricotta by Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli, Calabrese and Babycorn Stir Fry, and Pomegranate and Blood Orange Sorbet.
Three course menu recommended by Issar
Starters: Narangi Shorba
A Spiced tangerine broth.
Main Course: Navratan White Korma, Kathal Biryani with a side of Papad Churra
Navratan White Korma is a medley of nine vegetables and fruits in an almond and cashew nut sauce, Kathal Biryani is a raw jackfruit dum biryani made with aged basmati rice, and Papad Churra is roasted papas tossed in ghee and spices.
Dessert: Apple Jalebi
Apple slices in Jalebi batter
Recipe of Vegan Kathal biryani
- 50 ml oil
- 30gms garlic ginger paste
- 30gms chop mint & coriander
- 3 ½ tbsp tomato paste
- 1½ tbsp cashew nut paste
- 5gms cumin powder
- 4 gms Punjabi garam masala
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 black cardamom
- 3 cloves
- 4 peppercorns
- 4 gms bayleaf
- 4 green chilli
- ¾ tbsp red chilli paste
- ½ tsp Deghi chilli powder
- ½ cup brown onion
- Rose water
- Kewara water
- 150 gms rice
- Marinade raw jackfruit in chilli, turmeric, and green cardamom, ginger-garlic paste.
- After 30 mins lightly fry in a seasoned pan.
- Wash and soak rice.
- In a heavy bottom pan, boil water.
- Add cinnamon stick and green torn cardamom.
- Add rice, and cook at a very slow flame till half done.
- Boil tomato and puree.
- Boil cashew nut and puree.
- Heat oil.
- Add ginger-garlic paste, red chilli paste and Deghi chilli powder.
- Lightly sauté.
- Add tomato and cashew nut puree.
- Cook on slow flame for 30-40 mins till the sauce leaves oil.
- Add pan-fried jackfruit.
- Cook till al-dante.
- In a separate heavy bottom pan, layer rice, and al-dente jackfruit with masala.
- Make two to three layers.
- Sprinkle brown onions, chopped mint, and fresh coriander.
- Drizzle kewda and rose waters.
- Cover with lid, and seal the edges with dough.
- Cook on a slow flame for 30 minutes.
Smoked Aubergine Patio By Chef Irfan Pabaney
Chef Irfan Pabaney of SodaBottleOpenerWala finds it tough to choose one dish. “The one that I seriously remember a lot is when I first came back to India in 1981, I was taken to Shree Thaker Bhojanalay in Kalbadevi by my cousin who had flown down to India from Singapore. I absolutely love all the dishes there.”
Three course menu recommended by Pabaney
Starters: Vegetable Cutlet
Crisp, savoury, tender patties made with a mix of veggies, spices, fresh herbs, and breadcrumbs.
Main Course: Smoked Aubergine Patio
The ideal combo is coconut infused dal with the smoked aubergine patio and steamed basmati rice.
Dessert: Mawa Cake With Vanilla Ice Cream
A delicious cake made with mawa (evaporated milk) and whole wheat flour.
Recipe Of Smoked Aubergine Patio:
- 1 large aubergine
- 2-3 cloves
- 1 tsp ghee
- Oil for frying
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 tsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp chopped ginger
- 1 tsp chopped Green chillies
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Deghi mirchi powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp Parsi sambhar masala
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp jeera powder
- 1-2 tsp or to taste Kolah vinegar
- Small piece of jaggery
- Slice the aubergine down the middle from the stem to the other end.
- Score the flesh into cubes p, and sprinkle liberally with salt.
- Turn skin side up, and keep aside to let the excess water drain.
- After about half an hour, rinse and cut into cubes.
- Deep fry and drain on paper towels.
- In a deep SS Bowl, place a smaller katori in the middle, and arrange the fried baingan around the katori. Now, take a piece of coal, and heat it over an open flame till it becomes red hot.
- Put the coal into the katori with the cloves and pour the ghee on top of the coal.
- Cover the bowl with a lid, and put a heavy weight on it to ensure no smoke escapes. Keep aside for a couple of hours.
- In a separate kadai, heat oil and add the ginger, garlic, and green chilli. Sauté. Add the onions, and continue cooking till the onions are nice and golden.
- Add the tomatoes and cook till it’s really mashed and pulpy, and the oil starts to sort of float all over. Add all the dry spices and continue to cook, another 8-10 mins.
- Add the kolah vinegar and the jaggery.
- Now add salt to taste.
- Add the smoked aubergine and mix very carefully to ensure you don’t mash it.
- You can add whole jeera as a tadka in the beginning if you’d like.
- The parsi sambar masala, the kolah vinegar and the gud are key to this recipe.
Vegan Kimchi Mac n Cheese by Chef Vikramjit Roy
Hello Panda Asian’s co-founder, Chef Vikramjit Roy shares, “My most favourite vegetarian meal is from a restaurant in Seoul, South Korea. I loved their food so much that I spent the next five months working there. The name of the restaurant is Gosang, which specialises in vegetarian temple dishes that date from the Goryeo dynasty.”
Three course menu recommended by Roy
Starters: Honey Soy Chili Korean Tofu Salad
A light, refreshing, and spiced up authentic Korean appetiser.
Main Course: Vegan Kimchi Mac n Cheese
A Vegan creamy Mac n Cheese made with cashew cream with a perfect crispy crust.
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Recipe Of Vegan creamy Mac n Cheese
- 150 gms macaroni
- 65 gms cashewnut (soaked in water for 6 hours)
- 250 ml soy/almond milk
- 25 gms dried shitake mushroom
- 1 tbsp chickpea flour
- 1 tbsp vegetable/olive oil
- 25 gms kimchi
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes or any other chilli flakes)
- 30 gms panko
- 1 tbsp chopped scallion
- 1 tsp chopped coriander
- Oil a cast iron skillet or a baking dish, and put it inside a preheated oven around 180 degrees Celsius.
- Boil the macaroni till al-dante and drain.
- Blend the cashew nut, soy/almond milk, chickpea flour, salt, vinegar, oil until smooth.
- Hydrate the shitake mushroom in warm water & slice it. Mix the shitake water with the previous mixture & blend again.
- Mix the macaroni with the sauce and mushrooms, add the chopped kimchi, and mix well.
- Transfer it to the cast iron skillet or the baking dish.
- Sprinkle with panko mixed with the Gochugaru/chilli flakes and bake it in the oven for 15-20 minutes till a nice brown crust is formed.
- Enjoy whilst it is hot, sprinkled with chopped scallion & coriander.
Panji Green Watana Rassa by Chef Hussain Shahzad
Chef Hussain Shahzad of O Pedro shares, “My most memorable vegetarian dish is the Watana Rassa with sweet bun. That is something we hit upon during our first research trip to Goa. I opted for the sweet buns that are made out of bananas. The combination of sweet and savoury really worked for me.”
Three course menu recommended by Shahzad
Starters: Mushroom Ceviche
Pickled oyster mushrooms, lima bean mousse, and crispy tempura.
Main Course: Panji Green Watana Rassa with Panjim Sweet Bun
Dried green peas cooked with fennel, mustard, and curry leaves, served with chapati.
Condensed milk & whipped cream, toasted biscuit crumble, orange caramel, orange segments.
Recipe Of Panji Green Watana Rassa (with Bhatura)
- 2 cups dried green watana
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 2 cups sliced onion
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, packed
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- ½ tbsp fennel seeds
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 10 pcs curry leaves
- 4 slit green chillies, at a bias
- 4 tbsp sunflower oil
- Soak the dried watanas overnight in at least eight cups of water.
- Pressure cooks the soaked watana on a low flame with six to eight cups of water, and one tbsp of salt till they are soft but not mushy. Drain the watana and save the water.
- In a small sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp oil on a medium flame, add all the sliced onions, and caramelise.
- Remove into a bowl, add in the cilantro, garam masala, fennel, and coconut, and grind to a fine paste with 1.5 cups of water.
- In a large heavy bottom saucepan, heat the remaining oil on a medium flame and add in the mustard seeds and let them splutter, follow with curry leaves, and slit chillies.
- Finally, add in the tomato and cook till the oil separates, lower the flame, and add in the masala paste at this point and stir continuously.
- Once the paste is cooked, add the boiled watana, and 5-6 cups of the reserved water depending on how thick or runny you want your rassa. Taste and season with salt.
- Serve the rassa hot with bhakari, pav, chapati, or rice.