Meatless Mondays: Indian Feast

Be kinder to the planet in 2011 by embracing Meatless Mondays. On the menu: recipes for a vegetarian Indian feast

Credit: Catherine Roscoe Barr

Left to right: roasted eggplant curry, Punjabi butter lentils, red lentil and spinach curry

Any night can be Meatless Monday when you make these delicious vegetarian Indian recipes for dinner

Despite the fact that I’m married to a meatosaurus and can’t imagine life without a juicy steak or crunchy chicken wings, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking some baby steps toward a more vegetarian-based lifestyle.

Coming from a weightlifting background where the diet of choice is very meat-centric, my eyes have been opened to different approaches to nutrition that also happen to be better choices for our beautiful planet. 

One of my action plans for 2011 is to embrace Meatless Mondays, and I hope by sharing these delicious recipes I will inspire you to do the same.

Some of the resources where I’ve found inspiration include vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier’s books, holistic health guru Paul Chek’s books and workshops, Granville magazine – especially Michael Robertson’s Sustenance blog – and anything by Madhur Jaffrey, Indian cookbook author extraordinaire.

This post is dedicated to my superstar biologist brother who has been exploring a vegan lifestyle and to my brilliant gourmand dad who made this incredible feast for us over the holidays (and labouriously transcribed the featured recipes).

One the menu: chickpea chipatis, roasted eggplant curry, Punjabi butter lentils, and red lentil and spinach curry. Serve with rice, cucumber raita, and mango chutney.

Chickpea Chipatis

Watch the video for making Chef Sanjay Thumma’s whole wheat chipatis at

Roasted Eggplant Curry (Baingan Bharta)

Adapted from Chef Sanjay Thumma’s recipe at


  • 3 or 4 small Indian or Chinese eggplants
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup onions, chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced  
  • 1-2 green chilies, chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes (chopped or pureed in a blender)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • salt to taste


  1. Rub oil all over eggplant.
  2. Roast in oven at high heat for around 15-20 minutes until it is slightly burned on the outside and soft on the inside.
  3. Once it’s fully cooked, allow it to cool down, peel and discard the skin, and coarsely chop the eggplant pulp.
  4. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, add the cumin seeds, sauté for 30 seconds until they stop spluttering.
  5. Add garlic and ginger and fry for about a minute.
  6. Add onions and fry on medium heat until they are soft and translucent.
  7. Add salt as well as green chilies and sauté for a few more minutes.
  8. Add turmeric powder, stir well, cook for a minute.
  9. Add tomatoes, cook for a more few minutes, then stir in the coriander powder and cumin powder.
  10. Simmer on low heat until the tomatoes are soft and you have a smooth sauce.
  11. Add the chopped eggplant to the tomato mixture, stir well, and sauté for a few more minutes on medium heat.
  12. Add red chili powder and salt to taste, and garnish with chopped coriander leaves if you wish. 

Punjabi Butter Lentils (Dal Makhani)

Adapted from Chef Sanjay Thumma’s recipe at


  • 5 oz. black urad dal (dried black lentils)
  • 3 oz. rajma dal (dried red kidney beans)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp whole garam masala  
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 chopped onion (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
  • 5 fresh tomatoes (pureed in blender)
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves


  1. Wash black lentils and kidney beans and soak them in water overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse soaked lentils and beans and cook in pressure cooker for 30 minutes (or boil for at least three hours), until soft.
  3. Add oil to a heavy pan and, when hot, add cumin seeds and sauté.
  4. When cumin seeds splutter, add whole garam masala and sauté for a few minutes.
  5. Add ginger-garlic paste, sauté briefly.
  6. Add turmeric powder, then tomato puree, stir and cook covered on low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. When tomato mixture forms a smooth sauce, add chili powder, coriander powder, and salt.
  8. Add butter and stir until smooth.
  9. Add cooked lentils and kidney beans to sauce, mix well, and add kasoori methi leaves.
  10. Cook, covered, on low heat for at least 30 to 40 minutes, or preferably 2 to 3 hours, stirring frequently.
  11. You can add a little water if the dal becomes too thick.
  12. Just before serving add the cream, stir well, cover and simmer for a further 5 minutes. 

Red Lentil and Spinach Curry (Saag Dal)

My mom’s special recipe


  • 1 cup red (masoor) lentils
  • 1 can vegetable stock (optional) topped up to 2 cups with water
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced 
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced 
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry paste or medium hot curry powder
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney (or 1 tbsp apricot jam + 1 tbsp white vinegar)
  • 1 cup spinach (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash lentils well in cold water, rinse and drain.
  2. Place lentils in saucepan, with 2 cups of vegetable stock and water – there should be an inch of liquid above the lentils.
  3. Bring to boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, sauté onions in oil at medium heat for several minutes until soft.
  5. Add garlic and ginger, stir into onions and sauté for a minute or two.
  6. Add curry paste, sauté briefly, and add tomato paste, cooked lentils and cooking water.
  7. Stir well, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until mixture is thickened.
  8. Add more water if you prefer a soupier dal. 
  9. Add spinach and garam masala, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  10. Just before serving, stir in yogurt and chutney.