Indian food is known for being pretty vegetarian-friendly (though it’s friendly to meat-lovers too, with dishes like goat curry and chicken tikka masala). There are always warmly spiced vegetable curries, lentil soups and plenty of meat-free appetizers on the menu at an Indian restaurant. Whenever I order Indian food (which is as much as possible), I order something with paneer, a firm Indian cheese. Paneer is similar in texture to firm tofu or conventional (not fresh) mozzarella, but very mildly-flavored; it’s slightly nutty. It takes on the flavors of the spices in the dish its being used in, and it doesn’t really melt so stays firm in the dish. Basically, it’s great.
Here’s the thing about Indian food — there’s a common misconception that it’s something to be eaten in restaurants, only. Not true at all. It’s pretty easy to make at home, and to start, you’ll only need a few basic spices.
Bal Arneson’s Green Beans With Paneer in Tomato Sauce is one of the simplest, meat-free recipes out there, Indian or otherwise. The only slightly exotic spices involved are coriander, mustard seeds and cumin, and those should all be available in a large supermarket. As for the paneer, you can find that in an Asian or Indian grocery store, or regular supermarket with a robust international section. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can make your own.