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9 Delicious Vegetabes Commonly Used in Indian Cooking

Whether you’re a meat lover, strict vegan or something in-between, it’s hard to argue the importance of vegetables. Packed full of fibre, vitamins and minerals, vegetables are an essential element of a balanced diet.

With a population that is 40% vegetarian and with 81% of indians limiting their meat intakes, it will come as no surprise that India boasts a vast array of mouth-watering vegetable dishes.

In this article, we’ll cover 9 types of vegetables commonly used in Indian cooking.

1. Bhindi (Okra)

Okra, also known as ladies’ fingers due to their appearance, are highly nutritious with high levels of vitamin C and fibre.

Okra has a mild, distinctive taste that is somewhere in-between a green bean and a courgette. Its texture can be slimy – which many find off-putting and rightly so! – but this is only the case when it’s poorly prepared. Okra secretes a mucus-like substance called mucilage when it’s sliced open.

Instead, they can be flash-fried whole or roasted in the oven. You can also reduce sliminess by soaking sliced bhindi in vinegar for an hour before cooking.

Some of the best bhindi recipes include bhindi masala and bhindi fry.

Growing Areas: Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Orrisa and Gujarat.


2. Gobhi/Gobi (Cauliflower)

Gobhi, or cauliflower, is enjoyed across India and is one of the most versatile vegetables around. Whether boiled, roasted or fried, the nutty taste and firm texture of cauliflower compliments many dishes and makes it a popular meat substitute.

As well as tasting great, cauliflower is a source of antioxidants and is high in vitamins.

Try it in an aloo ghobi or ghobi masala.

Growing Areas: Virtually all states. The largest producers are West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana and Orissa.


3. Lobia (Black-eyed Peas)

Globally known as black-eyed peas, lobia are rich in protein and fibre and have an earthy, nutty taste and a starchy, potato-like texture.

Cream in colour with a distinctive back spot on one side, black-eyed peas are actually a type of legume or bean, not pea.

Enjoy lobia in recipes such as punjabi lobia or lobia chaat.

Growing Areas: States like Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, West UP abd Rajasthan.


4. Karela (Bitter Gourd)

Karela, or bitter melon, looks like a thicker, spiky green cucumber.

Unsurprisingly, given the name, karela is known for its bitterness and is packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Karela can occasionally be spotted in the UK at speciality stores and are also available online. Experiment at home with a punjabi style stuffed karela or karela sabzi.

Growing Areas: Maharashtra, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Punjab.


5. Patta Gobhi (Cabbage)

Descending from the cauliflower and broccoli family, cabbage or patta gobhi is a green leafy vegetable that is rich in beneficial and crucial nutrients, including high levels of vitamin K.

Popular the world over, cabbage has a flavour profile that ranges from slightly bitter to slightly sweet, depending on how it’s prepared and when it’s picked.

There are plenty of recipes where you can use patta gobhi, like aloo patta gobhi sabzi and patta gobhi mattar.

Growing Areas:  Virtually all states. The largest producers include Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujrat, Assam and Orissa.

Patta Gobhi

6. Turai (Ridge Gourd)

Ridge gourd is a green vegetable that looks like a mixture of bitter gourd and a large okra. It’s known for its broad health benefits, from boosting digestion to reducing blood sugar.

Turai or ridge gourd can be used to make delicious meals using a range of recipes such as ridge gourd curry and masale wali turai.

Growing Areas: Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Orissa.


7. Tindori/Tindora (Ivy Gourd)

With their distinctive striped skin, ivy gourds most resemble a tiny, oblong watermelon.

Cut a tindori open, and the insides look very similar to a cucumber. In fact, the taste is similar too, as they’re a member of the cucumber family. Young leaves can also be used in cooking and make a good spinach substitute.

The best tindori recipes to experiment with are tindori fry and tindori sabzi.

Growing Areas: Primarily Southern, Eastern and Western India. States include: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana


8. Arbi Leaves (Taro Leaves)

The distinctive, green heart-shaped leaves of the taro have numerous nutitional benefits, including being rich fibre and vitamin A.

Toxic when raw due to high levels of calcium oxalate, arbi leaves are first boiled in water for at least 15 minutes and then thoroughly drained.

If you can get hold of the leaves, try preparing alu vadi taro leaves or patal bhaji.

Growing Areas: Assam, Kerala, Orissa, Maharashtra, and  Tamilnadu.

Arbi Leaves

9. Methi Patta (Fenugreek Leaves)

While many readers will be familiar with fenugreek seeds as a spice, the vibrant green leaves of the plant can also be used as a herb.

Methi leaves are an excellent source of nutrients, including vitamin K and calcium, and have a unique earthy, slightly bitter flavour.

You can include methi leaves in recipes like methi rice and methi dal.

Growing Areas: Rajasthan produces more than 80% of the country’s fenugreek. It’s also grown in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, and Uttar Pradesh.

Methi Patta