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What other vegetables can I put in indian food?

I´ve learned to make indian food lately. And quite well too.

We´re talking currys here with the standard sauces of ground nuts, tomatoes, cream or coconut milk etc. But have you all noticed that most restaurants of indian cuisine, ONLY use two vegetables in their dishes?

These are onions and paprica. You see this over and over again, and that makes me wonder if theres something else I can put in, that tastes good, but doesn´t defy Indian cooking tradition too much.

I thought of carrot, but I think root vegetables would be too hard. And yes I know they use potatoes in VIndaloo, but I´m on low carb diet so I dont eat them.

What other vegetables would be authentic to put in a chicken curry?

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  1. chicken saag (with spinach) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/490314

    Most Indian restaurants I visit don't add the other vegetables (beyond spinach, tomatoes, onions) to the various chicken curries. Vegetables are usually the stars in their own curries, such as muttar paneer (peas), saag paneer (spinach), baingan bharta (eggplant), bhindi bhaji (okra), etc.

    2 Replies
    1. re: prima

      PEAS!!!!! Genius. I will add that the next time.

      And eggplant sounds good too, although I don´t think it really tastes much of at all.

      How would Okra be added? Whole? Cause that becomes glue, like in traditional Chicken Gumbo.

      1. re: Ramius

        Okra (in my experience) is usually used in dry curries, either whole or sliced. It's sauteed in oil, rather than stewed. Okra doesn't release the slime when cooked in a dry curry style. Here's a recipe: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/bhi...

        I'd serve the okra dry curry as a side dish to the chicken curry, rather than adding okra to a chicken curry, to avoid creating a gumbo-like texture in your chicken curry.

    2. Since Indian dishes contain legumes and other vegetables, including peas, eggplant, cauliflower, and lentils, to name a few, I think you can feel free to use any that appeal to you. "Authentic" varies a lot depending on what part of India you are in. And why feel obliged to use only authentic ingredients, anyway? Since you are eating low carb if you are not putting your curries over rice, right there your authenticity goes out the door.

      4 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        I agree. I have just tried cooking "Indian" food lately, and yes, depending on the region, one can have dishes with limited vegetables to those that are quite full of them. Just as anywhere, there is a huge variety of cuisines. And more than just curry.
        For me, it's all about the spice. The flavor at the base.
        And it's a variety of spices and blends. It's a layer of flavor from the get go.

        1. re: greygarious

          Because I belive they´ve found out what worked best for their cooking. I would never add something cucumber in the curry. But I know they give you cucumber in all their horrible salads.

          Neither would I add carrot, cause I´ve never been served that, and I think it would be too hard.

          1. re: Ramius

            They found out what worked best for their cooking where they live. I find it to be "authentic" to do the same.
            and one can cook carrots.

            1. re: Ramius

              I add carrots to my Thai and West Indian chicken curries all the time. They don't stay too hard.



              Some Indian recipes call for shredded carrots:

          2. Off the top of my head, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, chickpeas, green peas, eggplant, and spinach to name a few. Add the ingredients according to what takes the longest to cook first.

            5 Replies
            1. re: letsindulge

              Cauliflower doesn´t sound dumb. Maybe I´ll try that too. Does it need to boil on its own first, in water? Or will it be enough with 20 minute in the curry? I think I vaguely remember getting cauliflower in a dish before, so this seems valid too.

              But I´ve never had zucchini in indian, and am unsure of this. I use it alot when I make chinese stir fry. How do they cut it in India?

              1. re: Ramius

                Cauliflower doesn´t sound dumb.
                i should hope not, considering that it's quite common in North Indian cuisine.

                  1. re: prima

                    my mind immediately went to Northern dishes like aloo gobi and gobi musallam, but you're absolutely right.

                1. re: Ramius

                  I cook sliced zucchini coins with onion-garlic-ginger pastes, turmeric, coriander, cumin seeds and finish with chopped tomato and cilantro. My father also uses it in an Indo-Chinese chili shrimp dish. Given the great affection for vegetables in Indian vegetarian cuisine, you can be sure that if it grows in the ground, there's a way to Indianize it.

              2. While I understand the urge to make one pot meals, I think you are missing out on other flavors by doing that. Try veggie dishes on the side instead of adding them to the pot. Aloo gobi, saag, mutter paneer, bhindi masala, jalfrezie, et al. Try different curries / masalas in one meal. Aloo gobi is a standard in the gordeaux house that can be pretty easy - one pot veggie side. If I'm doing Indian night, I usually do chicken in some kind of curry, aloo gobi, and saag paneer.
                And also, no, I have not noticed that Indian restaurants only use onion and paprika. Possibly a regional thing. Peas, cauliflower, spinach, assorted greens, potato, bitter melon, eggplant, okra, are things that come to mind quickly that most every Indian restaurant in my area would have on offer.

                1. I think that if you do a bit of research you will find that "Indian Food" is a much vaster category than you imagine and that it makes use of virtually every vegetable that you have available to you plus many more that are unknown to you.
                  Opa Squash, Amaranth Leaves, Elephant Yam, Ash Gourd, Cashew Fruit, Bitter Melon,Mustard Greens, Tapioca, Drum Sticks, Cooking Cucumbers, Banana peel, Green Banana, Papaya, Mango and more.
                  Most Curries that are meat based do not have vegetables in them.Other egetable dishes would be served with a meat dish. Of course there are exceptions to this.
                  Try looking for vegetable dishes rather than meat dishes with vegetables in them. Some of the regional areas with very veggie-centric food are Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu,and Maharashtra.
                  You can also find a whole new repertoire of dishes of Non Veg dishes as well that you do not usually see in restaurants.
                  Learning about the sub continents varied and ancient can keep you busy for a lifetime have fun. Here are some links to get you started.

                  1. although not fond of eggplant, and I see it's mentioned quite a bit, I'd not necessarily use it because there are many other listed here that to me sound just right.

                    EL this morning on some fresh and good and easy show of his or whatever it's called, did a curried cauliflower dish that looked sensational. I have many of the spices because I've made it my mission to go into stores that I know nothing about and ask for help picking out the spices needed to do a good amount of Indian cooking. Such nice people helped me so much.

                    1. I know I wrote vegetables in the headline here. But a local indian restaurant sells a chicken with mango sauce.

                      It´s like a curry but sweet, and tastes mango. Has anyone heard of this? Do they blend mango meat and stir into the sauce or what?

                      1. I'm not sure what vegetables you are referring to when you say paprika, but I can assure you that we Indians do eat vegetables. It just depends on what region's foods you are looking at. I'm North Indian, but enjoy the foods of other areas as well.

                        First of all, keep in mind that indian food generally doesn't mix a bunch of things in one dish. There is usually a main item, like a meat curry or lentil dish, and then the vegetables are served as sides. Or a lentil dish is served with a meat dish as the side. You generally don't put meat and vegetables to cook together, with the exception of potato.

                        Also, restaurant style curries are not what the average person makes at home. Most of us don't use cream and coconut milk on a daily basis. Those are usually reserved for more intrinsic or special occasion dishes. But if you're looking for those creamy, rich restaurant meals, then here are some options:

                        Navratan Korma: Cream sauce with carrots, green beans, potatoes, yam, cashews, etc. Depends on whose making it. Great with naan, but not healthy at all.

                        Paneer Tikka Masala: Paneer pieces (indian cheese) in a cream tomato sauce. You can add bell peppers, onion slices, peas to this.

                        For dry dishes, you have a lot more options. Aloo Gobi (Potato Cauliflower) is a Punjabi standby. You can also use cauliflower to make parathas, or in rice for pullao. Bhindi (okra) is also popular. Potatoes are commonly used in many dishes. Bandh Gobi (cabbage) can be made into a dry dish, grated and fried to make koftas (dumplings) in sauce, or seasoned and added to parathas. Peas are also popular -- Muttar Paneer (Peas with Cheese), Aloo Mattar (Potatoes Peas), Aloo Mattar Gajar (potato, Peas, Carrots) etc. Bell Peppers can be sauteed with spices, stuffed with meat or potatoes, or added to stirfried dishes.

                        1. You mention low-carb, by which I suppose you mean low-glycemic-index carbs: don't forget cabbage.

                          Sliced into shreds, it is great cooked alongside sliced onions and whatever other bulk items and seasoning profile suits you. It can obviate use of rice.

                          1. You can use any vegetable in a South Asian curry but I would avoid non-South Asian vegetables like celery or broccoli or others that are strictly European. But even some types of veg like baby corn have made it into desi cooking, so there is some flexibility. There are also some types of veg that are considered more South Indian versus more North Indian/Pakistani.

                            When talking about authentic use, it's hard to be specific because everything is too diverse from region to region. You cannot find this truth represented in typical American Indo-Pak restaurants.

                            For example, I haven't seen mixed veg cooked with chicken but I have some friends whose moms cook like that with mutton or beef, like throw vegetables into the pot with bone in mutton pieces and oila, serve with rice as meal in a pot.

                            In my husband's regional cooking style, this is not done. However, single veg are often combined with mutton or beef like bottle gourd, turnip, okra (in a wet gravy, bhindi gosht is an extremely common dish in U.P., Punjab, and Pakistan, to address the erroneous info given above about okra in dry gravy only), and so on. My husband's family doesn't usually cook these things with chicken but perhaps some people do. Spinach chicken is not uncommon, though. I have friends from the Eastern part of India who cook fish or shrimp plus veg medleys as well as mutton with jackfruit or unripened mango, and this is very exotic for someone like my husband who has roots in a totally different part of India. There is also what I have seen called 'village vegetable dish' (gaon ki sabzi) which is this huge medley of mixed lentils, meat, and mixed veg cooked in a giant pot for rustic or village style cooking. There is also a variety of recipes for vegetables stuffed with minced meat. In addition, minced meat is commonly cooked with bell peppers, but sometimes even with eggplant or other veg.

                            You really can do any combo as long as the cooking times and flavors work well together.

                            1. Roasted sweet potato tastes really good with curry

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: scunge

                                  They are used in Southern India to make a wet curry as well as to vegetables and lentils to make something like a variation on sambar.

                              1. Check your library for some vegetarian Indian cookbooks. There are so many delicious vegetarian recipes--some authentic, some mash-ups--that just asking for a few vegetables to cook will limit you too much. On my first 3 trips to India, I was still a vegetarian. While we mostly were in southern India, believe me, I ate more than onions and tomatoes! And--at least in Mr. Pine's family--paprika was not used at all.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: pine time

                                  For some reason I have attracted loads of veggie propaganda ministers in this thread. No meal good enough for me if there is no meat there.

                                  I love meat. I must have meat every day. All meals must contain meat. Meat makes you strong. Meat is good. Eat more meat.

                                  1. re: Ramius

                                    You asked about vegetables. No veggie propaganda. You got what you asked for. Simply.

                                    1. re: Ramius

                                      you are asking about vegetables and then complaining about the vegetable responses?!
                                      carrot curry is excellent too as are spinach ones, for which I often substitute other greens.
                                      and then there are legumes. peas, and cabbage.

                                  2. We add cauliflowers into our curry dishes, cauliflower can soak all the yummy juice and turns out delicious.

                                    1. Is there any type of Indian food that still leaves vegetables looking like and tasting like the vegetables they once were? I've been eating at Indian and Nepalese restaurants and always get mushy over-cooked veggies that to me are just blah - and of course they probably have lost all nutritive value.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: jounipesonen

                                        Like someone mentioned in their post most Indian restaurants only serve food which is cooked occasionaly in Indian homes.Also a large part of Indian food is vegetarian in nature, if you ever ate that then you would get vegetables which are not cooked to mush, and tasting more like vegetables.Yes Indian food tends to be spicy which sometimes takes over the dish by itself, but , simple stir fried vegetables ( Indian style like foogath, poriyal etc or some Indian salads, just taste of the vegetables that are in it.)but these are hard to find in restaurants.Maybe trying an vegetarian Indian place ( especially south Indian) might give you a taste of it.

                                        1. re: shakkar

                                          Thanks comments. I had a look at recipes and images of Foogath. They still seem to indicate rather thorough cooking.

                                          To cut to the quick (pun intended) -- are there any specific dishes where one could say the vegetables were 'al dente?'

                                          1. re: jounipesonen

                                            In all my experience, Vegetables are always cooked till soft in India or so long that they get crisp again after loosing all their moisture.Not to a mush but no crunch.
                                            as Shakkar says some home style dishes especially in South India are very simply spiced not at all like most of the restaurant food seen across the globe.

                                            1. re: chefj

                                              Do you know something about vegetables I dont? What do you mean cooking vegetables so long they get crisp again after having become soft?

                                              1. re: Ramius

                                                There are recipes that call for pan frying until (karahi) the vegetables become crisp and dry, Bitter Melon comes to mind.

                                            2. re: jounipesonen

                                              I guess this would vary from cook to cook, since al dente is a matter of personal taste.My mom made foogath a bit on the undercooked side( she was big on the nutritional values), but I cant put a name to anything specific that you would find in a restaurant because they will all be called stir fried vegetables .

                                              1. re: shakkar

                                                I am sure you are right that it varies from cook to cook. I was just saying that in my experience, in homes not in restaurants, vegetables where always fully cooked not what most people in the west would call "al dente"

                                        2. Cauliflower! I put it with potatoes and green peas with very good results, either as a vegetarian curry or with chicken. With a yellow curry cauliflower is wonderful.