Since vegetarianism is widespread in India, vegetable recipes are very common in authentic Indian cuisine. Here in the west with our 'meat and two veg' mentality we tend to regard vegetables as side dishes to accompany some meat dish. The fact is that Indian vegetable dishes are so tasty that you barely notice the absence of meat. When I was in India I quite often has meals with no meat and I really didn't notice.
The three main vegetables which nourish the Indian nation are rice, wheat and lentils, between them these provide all the nutrients the body needs. But of course there is far more to it than that; the Indians use spices, themselves various parts of plants, and many other vegetables.
In fact they use a far wider variety than we do. There are leafy vegetables such as chard and spinach, there are fruits from trees and annual plants such as breadfuit, tomato, aubergine and of course chillis. There are root vegetables like potato, sweet potato, carrots etc.; there are bulb and stem vegetables like garlic and onions, leeks and asparagus, and of course there are the legumes; peas, beans, chickpeas and all the different types of lentils.
And the list is huge - imagine all the possible combinations here. When you add in all the different cooking methods - they fry them, roast them, boil them and pickle them - there are more Indian vegetable recipes than you could eat in a lifetime.
Indians are thought of as mostly vegetarian but this is not quite the case. Firstly there are various degrees within this; such as lacto vegetarians who will eat dairy products, cheese, milk and so on, Some will eat eggs (an ovo-vegetarian) and there are some who are semi-vegetarian and will eat fish but no meat (called a pescetarian - didn't you just know that somebody would have to invent a word for it) or will eat meat only on special occasions.
In practice most Hindus are lacto-vegetarians believing that the cow gives her milk gladly after her calf is fed. Their diets also vary from region to region and may be stricter or more lenient depending on the local community; Gujerat is about 70% vegetarian whilst Kerala is a mere 6%.
Gobhi Daal (Lentils and Cauliflower)
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