A month of vegetarian meals

By 16:55

The Gujaratis just finished their holy month of Shravan. I’m sure all of them are feeling purer, closer to God and no doubt healthier with their vegetarian diet. While I was on a vegetarian fast this month, people kept complementing me on how well I was taking it. Apparently, I hadn’t complained about my lack of meat the way some people were already not looking forward to meat-less fast of Purtassi. The reason I did so well was because I had tasty meals. I think veg meals tend to be bland and tasteless so here’s a list of meals you can make if you’re just started Purtassi or you’re planning on giving your body a break from the meat for a while.

A photo posted by McGill SHHS (@mcgillshhs) on

1. Vegetarian pizza
You can’t go wrong with a crispy pizza base. Just about any topping will taste nice. If you really need to mask your vegetables, try this for supper.

2. Vegetarian burgers
You can find way of making a vegetarian burger patty. Make it out of potatoes, lentils or even a mix of courgettes and carrots. Put it in a bun with the usual burger relishes and it’s an ideal dish for your burger fix.

3. Gram dhall and brinjal curry
I once ran out of inspiration on what to cook so I called my mother and she gave me this idea - a delicious curry that I grew up and totally forgot about. I was so focused on vegetables that I forgot all about the tasty things you can make with different types of lentils and dried beans.

4. Butter beans curry
Another favourite coming out of Durban is beans curry. The dried variety takes a long time to cook but a can of butter beans is the perfect substitute. Eat this with roti and you’ll be licking your fingers clean.

5. Dal makhani
Dal makhani is one of my go-to vegetarian meals whenever I dine at an Indian restaurant. I love the creaminess and smoky taste of this dish. I decided to perfect it at home and made some naan to go with. My guests loved it!

6. Polenta lasagne
If you’re looking for a low carb alternative to the usual lasagne sheets, try substituting the lasagne layers with polenta. I think it’s a pretty acquired taste but if you’ve got other saucy layers, this will be a hit with the family.

7. Vegetable lasagne
I think kids are the ones that miss meat the most. Why not take their favourite meals and veg it up. For my meat-free lasagne, I made a three bean ragout which was a perfect substitute for the mince layer.

8. Rice stir fry
I like stir fries. I usually add noodles to the dish but sometimes rice is a really refreshing take on it. Think egg-fried rice and add your ingredients to a wok. The wok transmits a flavour of smokiness that other pots and pans just don’t give.

9. Aloo gobi with peas
Now that my fast is over, I realised that I did really well by not relying on potatoes. After all, that is most people’s saving grace when fasting. Potatoes never taste bad. Add them to a cauliflower and peas curry and you’re got a delicious Indian curry ready in no time.

10. Bean enchiladas
Wraps are a pantry staple in our house. We use it when we run out of bread for lunch and for Mexican style dinners like this. Make a bean ragout, add it to your wraps and spoon the ragout all over the dish. Top with cheese and slices of jalapeno. Mexican supper sorted!

11. Chickpeas curry
I ate this curry at a North Indian restaurant but its super easy to make at home too especially if you’re using the canned chickpeas. It also makes a great lunch idea if you have any leftovers. Serve it on rice and pack it in a lunchbox with a spoon for a great sandwich alternative.

12. Mushroom and spinach mac and cheese
I seem to always do mac and cheese wrong. It’s either I overcook it or I just don’t like it. Maybe this version was tastier because I added in vegetables that I like. As a friend once said, when fasting, mushroom it up!

13. Baked beans pasta
A can of baked beans is a staple that I have in my pantry all the time. It’s not just a breakfast item when whipping up an English breakfast, it can also be used as a quick pasta sauce. Chuck it in the oven to heat up and dinner is served effortlessly.

14. Mushrooms on toast
I love serving creamy sautéed mushrooms on slices of toasted ciabatta as finger foods when entertaining. It doesn’t mean you can’t have that for supper. We just used ordinary whole wheat bread for the toast.

15. Melanzane alla parmigiana
The husband does not like aubergines but he could eat this dish as a main. I find the layers of aubergines and tomato sauce quite rich so I have it with a side salad when chicken is not an option.

16. Kadhi kitchri
This is a gujarati favourite. I don’t really enjoy this dish but that’s why there are fried potatoes to mask the yogurty taste. 

17. Paneer matter
Another curry. This time with peas and cubes of paneer cheese in a tomato-based gravy. It’s pretty easy to make cook up a few naans and that’s definitely what you should eat this curry with.

18. Falafels in pitas
Making falafels is a bit touch and go for my husband and I. Sometimes they are perfect and other times they crumble up. We tried a baked version that seems to have held its shape really well. At Woolworths you can pick up tsatsiki, hummus and mini pita breads. Assemble and enjoy.

19. Butternut soup topped with croutons
We usually make soup as a starter but this is a simple meal that doesn’t require much work or supervision. Pop butternut in the oven, blitz when cooked and season over a slow simmer. Serve with crunchy croutons for texture. 

20. Mushroom tart
Oh how I love puff pastry. You can do anything with it. It’s perfect for jam turnovers or a cheat pot pie. Top sautéed mushrooms, rocket and feta on this flaky pastry and you’ve got a light weekday meal.

21. Veg breyani
Durban style veg breyani is so dear to my heart. Drown it in dhall and you’ll absolutely love the creamy dish that’s healthy for you with the veggies and spices.

22. Spaghetti and quorn meatballs
I must be honest here. The quorn meatballs did not taste too good – possibly because I’m not too much of a fan soya. If you like soya, you might enjoy this. Add the meatballs to a tomato sauce and toss in some cooked spaghetti. I transformed the meatballs in tomato sauce into lunch by adding it in a French baguette. I topped it with cheese and chucked it under the grill. Take that Subway!

23. Mushroom risotto
Mushroom risotto is not as hard as it seems. Swop out the chicken stock and wine for vegetable stock and don’t forget to add in lots of parmesan. It takes about an hour to cook but tucking into a comforting bowl of mushroom risotto is so worth it.

24. Panzanella salad
This salad was a hit at the last braai we had. See…carbs are awesome in anything.

25. Dhall, rice and aloo fry
A pauper’s meal but I love it. If you are really craving meat at this stage and the food doesn’t taste too good, that’s what Indian condiments are for.

26. Quesadillas with mixed vegetables
I sometimes take quesadillas for lunch. The crunchy wrap with a delicious layer of some softened veggies is a nice change when you’re bored on the usual cheese and tomato sandwich.

27. Toasted cheese sandwich
I learnt about this little sandwich from a friend. Spread Nandos sauce on a slice of bread, add creamed style sweetcorn, cover it with cheese and top it with another slice of bread. Cook it like you would any grilled cheese sandwich and you have a delicious mess that is so fun to eat.

28. Baked beans and soya sausage
A favourite weekend breakfast is sausage and baked beans. You can serve this with soya instead and serve it any time of the day. I enjoy it with plain white bread.

29. Mugh
Another lentil based dish. This soupy meal goes really well with roti or rice. Ask for green mugh at any Indian grocery store and half of cup of this moong dhal is enough for two people.

30. Burritos
Burritos are awesome because you just need a wrap and some leftovers. I rolled my burritos in foil so the wrap didn’t fall apart while I ate it.

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Good luck! I you’d like me to hit you up with a recipe for any of these, just let me know. 

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