16 Indian Vegetarian Recipes

From Palak Paneer to Kaali Dahl to Aaloo Paratha

Drizzle tamarind

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

For those who don't eat meat, Indian cuisine offers many tasty options from a chickpea curry to garlic-tinged lentils to paneer cheese in a rich sauce. Vegetarian cuisine doesn't take a backseat to meat dishes, proven by the assertive flavors, depth of spice, and array of textures. Some beginner cooks find Indian dishes intimidating because many include a long list of spices and multiple steps. But, once you gather the goods, it should be smooth sailing with no special techniques or equipment required. Stock up your pantry over time, and you'll soon have everything you need to put together a vegetarian Indian feast any time the craving hits.

  • 01 of 16

    Malai Kofta (Paneer Balls in a Thick Sauce)

    Malai kofta vege balls recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska

    Malai kofta is a dish for special occasions. Combine potatoes, vegetables, paneer cheese, heavy cream, and spices, then form the mixture into balls, and stuff them with chopped nuts and raisins. Finish by deep-frying and serving in a succulent sauce.

  • 02 of 16

    Mutter Paneer (Peas and Cottage Cheese)

    Mutter paneer peas cottage cheese recipe

    The Spruce

    Mutter means peas, and paneer is a kind of cheese curd; this mutter paneer dish combines the two in a rich tomato-based gravy with a touch of cream. The traditional Indian spices of coriander, cumin, turmeric, and garam masala work alongside garlic and ginger pastes and green chilis to create a dish that doesn't skimp on flavor. Serve mutter paneer with parathas, naans, and even jeera rice.

  • 03 of 16

    Chole (Chickpea Curry)

    Chole chickpea curry recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Nita West

    This is a basic chole dish that brings a lot of flavor to the dinner table. Chickpeas are simmered for just 10 minutes in a homemade gravy brimming with quintessential spices. Smashing some of the chickpeas creates a nice, thick consistency, perfect for scooping up with pooris/bhatooras (fried Indian bread).

  • 04 of 16

    Papdi Chaat

    Drizzle tamarind

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    Tangy, spicy, and satisfyingly crunchy, papdi chaat appears at street vendor stands and fast food stops as a popular snack. Many varieties exist with lots of ingredient combos. This recipe starts by making and frying your own papdi dough, then topping it with cooked veggies and topping with chutneys, sev, cilantro, and seasonings.

    Continue to 5 of 16 below.
  • 05 of 16

    Fried Paneer Pakora

    Fried Paneer Cheese Pakora

    The Spruce/Ahlam Raffii

    Two words: Fried cheese. Does it get any better? Paneer gets fried up in chickpea flour that takes on a shatteringly crisp texture in this paneer pakora. If you don't want to use ghee, any high-smoke point oil will work too.

  • 06 of 16

    Split Pea Yellow Dal

    Indian Yellow Split Pea Dal

     The Spruce

    This straightforward yellow dal, a creamy dish of split yellow peas seasoned with turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, and cloves, couldn't be easier—or delicious. It does have a kick, so reduce or leave out the cayenne if you don't love spice.

  • 07 of 16

    Baked Vegetarian Samosas With Phyllo Pastry

    Quick and Easy Baked Vegetarian Samosas recipe

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

    Traditionally, crispy samosas are made with a flour-based dough seasoned with caraway seeds and then deep-fried in ghee or oil. This recipe bakes them, using phyllo pastry for an extra fast prep. The result is quite different from what you would expect from samosas, but you may enjoy the this variation. Serve them as a tasty vegetarian starter or as a whole meal with rice or dal as a side. Whatever you do, don't forget dipping sauces.

  • 08 of 16

    Masoor Dal

    Bengali Orange or Red Lentils With Tomato (Masoor Dal)

    The Spruce/Anastasiia Tretiak

    Made with orange or red lentils, tomatoes, green chiles, and fragrant spices, this simple and filling masoor dal makes a lovely meal in itself if you serve it with some rice or naan for dipping. If you want to make it vegan, use margarine or olive oil instead of ghee.

    Continue to 9 of 16 below.
  • 09 of 16

    Vegan Madras Curry Vegetable Soup

    Madras curry recipes

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

    Madras curry vegetable soup has an intensely flavorful, spicy profile that tastes distinctly different from other curries you may have tried. Adding vegetables and coconut milk to this simple soup gives it a silky texture and lots of nutrition. Serve with couscous or rice and bread or naan for dipping, and top with lots of fresh cilantro.

  • 10 of 16

    Curried Vegetables

    Curried Indian vegetables recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

    Conjure the nostalgia of a 1990s college vegetarian potluck with these easy curry-spiced vegetables. Cardamom, cumin, turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon give it a warming, distinctive aroma, while cayenne adds a little zip.

  • 11 of 16

    Vegan Palak "Paneer"

    Vegan Indian Palak "Paneer"

    The Spruce-Anastasiia Tretiak

    Traditionally, palak paneer uses paneer and cream along with spinach, but you can also make it with tofu and soy yogurt for a vegan version. Use extra-firm tofu for the best texture. It tastes great over white rice.

  • 12 of 16

    Gobi Makhani (Whole Roasted Butter Cauliflower)

    whole roasted butter cauliflower

     Nancy Lopez-McHugh

    If you love the flavor of traditional Indian butter chicken but follow a meatless diet, try this vegetarian version that uses a whole head of cauliflower instead. It has a lovely fragrant flavor and depth of spice that you can customize to suit your diners' palates.

    Continue to 13 of 16 below.
  • 13 of 16

    Aloo Gobi

    Indian aloo gobi recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak

    Made with potatoes (aloo) and cauliflower (gobi), this classic vegetarian Indian dish uses a whole host of spices for its signature flavor. Once you've gathered the spices, it comes together quite easily.

  • 14 of 16

    Chana Masala

    Vegetarian Chana Masala With Spinach

    The Spruce / Emily Hawkes 

    Chickpeas and spinach combine for a nutritious and filling chana masala that also takes very little effort to put together. This recipe is simpler than many classic versions, with spices you can probably find at your local supermarket. It also uses canned chickpeas instead of dry, for a speedier preparation.

  • 15 of 16

    Slow Cooker Vegetable Curry

    Crockpot Indian vegetable curry recipe

    The Spruce Eats / Anastasiia Tretiak 

    Using your slow cooker means you can enjoy this extremely basic Indian curry without spending hours simmering over the stove. Just put it together, let it cook all day, and dinner will greet you when you get home. Serve with rice, dal, or naan.

  • 16 of 16

    Hara Bhara Kabab (Vegetarian Kabab)

    Hara Bhara Kabab

    Manjula Bharath/Wikimedia Commons/ CC by 4.0

    In Indian cuisine, kababs are sometimes made with mixtures of ground lamb and seasonings ,then grilled to smoky perfection. Hara Bhara kabab utilizes vegetables to achieve the same texture, featuring healthy spinach, peas, and fresh coriander leaves. When combined with potatoes, ginger, and chaat masala (a spice powder mix), you get a delicious and filling veggie patty perfect for a snack or part of a meal.