We are a nation of predominantly meat-lovers.

Our devotion towards the protein runs so deep that even our staple daal chawal needs to be accompanied with a meaty side of kebabs; and although meat is a substantial source of protein we forget that vegetables play a large part in maintaining a nutritious, well-balanced diet.

They are one of the most versatile food groups which can easily be altered to suit everyone's palate. Bonus, they can be eaten raw or cooked.

As someone who spent time living on her own, I particularly enjoyed cooking up experimental dishes with veggies because a) they're a comparatively cheap food and b) they save plenty of time in the kitchen - no time or patience to clean and defrost meat.

Not that I ever found a reason to step foot in front of the stove before, but I feel when you're living alone having a kitchen all to yourself is a fun challenge, (plus you don't have much of an option unless you want to burn a hole in your pocket!).

Majority of the time the trials served me well -- though I must confess I am no expert in the culinary arts, but there is a sense of achievement that accompanies a satisfying meal for an amateur like me and I hope these dishes serve you well as they did me; fast, easy and delicious.

Here are some tried and tested veggie recipes from my kitchen to yours. Please note, these recipes serve one, unless stated otherwise (add/subtract as needed):

1) Sautéed onions, spinach and tomatoes

A trick I learned to making veggies flavoursome is sautéing them - works like a charm. This recipe is one I make on a daily, changing it up a little here and there and each time it turns out fantastic.

Ingredients:

1 chopped onion

2 tomatoes

a handful of spinach

1/2 teaspoon powdered coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste

3 tbspoons oil of choice

salt to taste

Method:

Chop the vegetables as desired.

Add oil and garlic in a pan. Then add cumin and the onions. Once the onions turn transparent add the tomatoes. Cook till the tomatoes become tender, add the spinach and powdered coriander and cook for a couple of minutes - don't let the spinach overcook.

Serve with naan or mashed potatoes!

2) Stuffed capsicum with eggplant

An air-fryer is your best friend and you'll soon find that for most recipes this appliance is a God send. If you want to cook something super fast with little to no effort, this is an investment you must make.

Ingredients:

1 large capsicum

1 eggplant

1 large potato

1 tomato

1/2 chopped onion

1/2 cup butter

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Put the potato to boil.

Cut the eggplant in half, sprinkle some salt on top and let rest for 15 minutes.

Turn the air-fryer on and let it heat for 10 minutes before putting the eggplants in.

Wipe the eggplants firmly with a paper towel and cook in the air-fryer for roughly 20 minutes on 350°C.

Cut the tomato in cubes and after 12 minutes of the eggplants cook time, add the tomatoes in the airfryer and let them cook alongside.

Put a fork through the potato, once soft, mash it till there are no chunks. Add butter, salt and pepper till the texture is creamy as desired.

Chop the capsicum in half, remove the stem and stuff with the mashed potato. (You can also put the capsicum in the air fryer for a few minutes before stuffing it with the potato if you prefer.)

Remove the eggplants and tomatoes from the airfyer once done.

Put the tomatoes in a pan, softly mash them with a fork to make a paste, chop the onion and add to the pan. Let them simmer for a few minutes, till the consistency is slightly thick, add a pinch of salt.

Generously pour on top of the stuffed capsicum and serve with eggplants. (Optional) Garnish with basil and thyme.

3) Eggplant raita

Another go-to recipe which never fails me. I can never have enough of yogurt, in fact my dinner often times is thanda doodh wallay ka dahi with a fresh, garam, garam laal attay ki naan! That aside, this recipe checks all the boxes for a fulfilling light meal.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups yogurt

2 or 3 large eggplants

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic paste

1 garlic clove - chopped

1 tablespoon salt

Parsley to garnish

Method:

Cut eggplants into slices, sprinkle salt on each slice and let rest.

Roast the cumin on a pan till slightly brown, then add to a grinder to form a smooth powder.

Whisk the yogurt till its desired consistency, add a pinch of salt, garlic paste and powdered cumin. Mix well.

Take the eggplant slices, press firmly with a paper towel to remove moisture and salt.

In a frying pan add the oil and chopped garlic clove. Add the eggplants a few at a time and fry till they're slightly golden brown on each side. (Optional, toss the eggplant slices in an air-fryer for 5-7 minutes).

Place the eggplants on a plate covered with paper towel to soak the excess oil.

Once all the slices have been fried, layer them in the yogurt. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

4) The veggie & fruit blend

I am not sure everyone will take a chance on my 11-ingredient morning smoothie recipe, in fact some might even hurriedly scroll down but I've had many a convert after giving this smoothie a try! It's not particularly delicious but it is incredibly nourishing and that's its power.

Ingredients:

1 cucumber

1 banana

1/2 an apple

1 beetroot

1 lemon

1 carrot

a handful of spinach

a few slivers of ginger

some fresh mint leaves

some fresh parsley

(Optional) 1/2 a grapefruit

(Optional) 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

(Optional) choice of nuts - chopped

Put the lemon aside. Peel and chop the remaining ingredients as needed, and add into the blender. Squeeze the lemon on top, pour 5 tablespoons of water - or more if you prefer it runny.

Blend. Add ice cubes. Blend some more.

Pour into glasses and top with chopped nuts. This will make 3-4 servings easily. Refrigerate it to last a good two days.

For this recipe you can add and remove veggies and/or fruit depending on your taste and the changing seasons. The best part about this smoothie is that it is super versatile and can even be made with yogurt!

5) The ol' kachumber salad

Simply the easiest and fastest way to add sabzi to your regular foods. Whether you're having daal chawal or pulao or karahi, everything tastes good with kachumber salad on the side - and some raita.

Ingredients:

1 onion

1 tomato

1 cucumber

some fresh parsely

1/2 a lemon or 1 tbs lemon juice

(Optional) salt & pepper to taste

(Optional) yogurt

Chop all the veggies, gently mix them together in a bowl, sprinkle some salt and pepper, if desired, squeeze/pour lemon on top. Give it a quick mix. Top with parsley.

To make into a raita, simply add yogurt and cumin powder to the bowl of chopped vegetables minus the lemon juice.

Can be eaten immediately or stored in the fridge for later.

Bonus recipe: Banana pancakes

So enough of sabzi, let's make some delicious 2-ingredient pancakes which hardly require any prep or ingredients!

Ingredients:

1 large banana

2 eggs

2-3 tablespoons oil of choice

(Optional) 1/4 cup Greek yogurt/ maple syrup

(Optional) 1/4 cup crushed whole wheat biscuits

(Optional) vanilla essence

(Optional) powdered cinnamon/ chocolate chips/ nuts

Method:

Mash the banana till there are no chunks, add the eggs and whisk.

In a non-stick pan, add the oil and add 2 tablespoons of batter in the pan for each pancake. Cook for a few minutes and gently flip. Continue till the batter finishes.

You may need to keep adding oil the pan after a couple of pancakes.

Stack the pancakes, add a generous dollop of Greek yogurt/maple syrup on top and sprinkle with crushed biscuits/nuts to add texture.

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