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Jan 22, 2012 10:38 AM

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)

    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:

        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.