Vegetarian? Oh, no! Aloo, gobi and the like seem to have been looked down upon for ages now. Or that really the case? If one starts to explore the capital’s food scene, or even talk about what sells the best, any city dweller would answer — tandoori. But, what do they mean by that? Is it only about chicken or mutton tikkas, kebabs or masalas? If we are to be completely honest — no, it’s not. The plain rotis that we buy for merely five to fifteen rupees, which are made on either gas or chullah tandoors, also fall in the bracket. And, if they make an indispensable part, then why can’t the same be said for vegetarian tandoori items? The aloos, paneers, mushrooms and even the fruits have equal right to come under the wide umbrella of tandoori.
In one such vegetarian joint, we found Chef Arvind Bharti, who has a significant vision for the vegetarian section. He talks about his favourite tandoor dish, saying, “I like tandoori masala pineapple and apple. The sweetness of the fruits blend very well with the spicy marinade and the dish turns out to have an exceptional flavour when charred in a tandoor.”
Another renowned name in the capital, Chef Manoj Sati, who has years of experience in the industry, expressed, “It all depends on the availability and history of any region. In the northern part of our country you don’t get fresh catch. Thus, they did not develop the taste of fish. I cannot surely say that there aren’t vegetarian lovers in Delhi. There are people who are by choice vegetarian as they have grown a taste for it.”
Still, it can be seen across menus that certain dishes have been named after non-vegetarian dishes. When Chef Bharti was asked if the vegetarian tandoori options need to remain in the shadow of murghs or goshts, he explains, “We met a vendor who deconstructed and processed soya into fancy shapes like meat and fish (with false skin), and it turned out to be a good curry dish. As it was shaped like fish, we thought might as well use the name ‘veg fish curry or shakahari butter chicken.”
On the other hand, Chef Manoj feels, names are just a medium to attract guests. The guests are well aware that the dishes are all vegetarian. But then, the names make them more curious and then they definitely want to try them out.
He also states, “There should be a balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options in any restaurant’s menu. If that doesn’t happen and the owners keep focussing on the non-vegetarian options, how can one expect the former to become more popular among the masses?”
We are not suggesting to let go of your meat cravings, but, the next time you visit a diner, why not try a vegetarian dish and see if it’s worth it? And if you are still unsure if you should spend pennies on the veg fare, why not make them at home and try out once? Then, you’re at the liberty to decide for yourself.
Chimichnaga Rolls with tamatar Gud Salsa
- Carrots (shredded) 80 gms
- Cabbage (shredded) 80 gms
- Bell pepper, yellow (julienne) 30 gms
- Bell pepper, red (julienne) 30 gms
- Capsicum, green (julienne) 30 gms
- Onion (fine sliced) 30 gms
- Fresh ginger (chopped) 10 gms
- Garlic (chopped) 15 gms
- Soy sauce 7 ml
- White vinegar 8 ml
- Chilli paste 7 gms
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper a pinch
- Mozzarella cheese 50 gms
- Processed cheese 25 gms
- Spring onion 10 gms
- Kaffir lime leaves 1 no.
- Cooking oil 100 ml
- Spring roll sheet 4 pcs
- Corn flour 40 gms
- Fresh tomatoes 50 gms
- Jaggery 20 gms
- Chopped onion 20 gms
- Fresh coriander 5 gms
- Green chilli 5 gms
- In a Wok, heat some oil and sauté all the vegetables along with ginger and garlic.
- Season it with salt and pepper, soy sauce, vinegar and chilli paste.
- Flavour the mixture with finely chopped kaffir lime leaves and cool it in fridge till use.
- When cold, add the grated cheese to the mixture.
- On a flat table, lay out the spring roll sheet, cut it into half.
- Place the vegetable mixture on the sheet and roll it like a cigar. Seal it with some corn flour and water mixture and keep it for frying. Make four such rolls.
- Cut one of the sheets into fine juliennes. Apply some corn flour and water mixture all over the outer layer of the roll.
- Heat some oil for frying, cover the roll with juliennes of the sheet and fry till golden.
- Make a powder of jaggery and mix the jaggery with chopped tomatoes, green chillies, fresh corriander and some chopped onions to make a salsa. Add lemon juice for desired tanginess.
- Now you can serve the hot freshly fried rolls with tamatar gud salsa.
— Recipe by Swad, Desh Videsh Ka
- Spinach 1Kg
- Green chilli 30gms
- Ginger chopped 25gms
- Cumin seeds 5gms
- Elaichi powder 3gms
- Oil 250ml
- Corn flour 20gms
- Salt 3gms
- Roasted kaju crushed 40gms
- Roasted channa powder 30gms
- Paneer 100gms
- Tomato - onion Gravy 220gms
- Butter 20gms
- Cream 10gms
- Separate the spinach leaves from stalks and blanch it along with fresh green chillies in hot water. Cool it down and blend into a smooth puree.
- In a high speed grinder, make a powder of roasted kaju and chana daal separately.
- Heat the oil on a heavy bottom and fry some cumin and add spinach puree, let cook for a while. Add kaju powder and chana dal powder. Cook the mixture further and keep it aside to cool when the mixture turns out into a dough. Keep it in a fridge.
- Grate the paneer, and mix well with chopped ginger and salt. Add very little corn flour with it and on your palm and make small balls of it. Keep it in fridge.
- Cover the paneer balls with a layer of spinach dough completely. Keep it again in fridge for 20 min.
- Deep fry the balls in fresh oil.
- For Gravy: heat some oil on a heavy bottomed pan, add all the spices with ginger and chilli, Then add tomato-based gravy and let it cook for 15 mins.
- Add butter, khoya and finally cream to the gravy, And cook it to achieve the desired consistency.
- Add the fried paneer and spinach balls to the gravy, garnish with kasoori methi and it’s ready to Serve.
— Recipe by Swad, Desh Videsh Ka
OLD DELHI NaGORI ALOO
- Maida 1 cup
- Semolina ½ cup
- Oil 2 tbsp (to knead dough)
- Carom seeds ¼ tsp
- Salt ½ tsp (as per taste)
- Oil for frying pooris
- Aloo sabzi — premade
- Take out maida in any big utensil. Also add semolina, salt, carom seeds and oil into it. Mix all ingredients nicely. With help of lukewarm water knead soft dough (for kneading this much quantity of flour we need ½ cup water). Keep it aside for ½ hour so that it gets fermented and becomes puffy.
- After ½ hour grease your hands with some oil and knead the dough again. Now make small balls from it. With this much quantity of dough we can make 16-18 balls. Roll the balls giving them round shape and press them slightly.
- Take oil in a pan and place it on flame for heating. Take one ball and roll it into poori with 2-2.5 inch diameter. Roll 6-8 pooris.
- Check whether oil is hot or not. For this place little amount of dough in oil, it should float on the surface immediately. Oil is hot, for frying nagori poori oil should be medium hot. Gently place nagori poori in pan and fry on medium flame. Fry 3-4 pooris at a time. Press with a ladle and fry until golden brown from both sides. Take out the fried pooris in a plate with absorbent paper.
- Serve crusty nagori poori with aloo masala sabzi and sooji halwa and enjoy eating.
— Recipe by Chef Gautam Chaudhry, Maachis - Housefull of India