Veggie Thali

The dilemma of the vegetarian dinner guest(s)

Not so long ago I decided to cook dinner for some friends, mainly Caoimhe because she had cooked for me so many times.  Caoimhe is in love with a Spanish man. So of course he was also invited, he is a nice Spanish man who in fact has also made dinner for me (he cooks very well).

He is also a vegetarian Spanish man, but it’s ok he eats fish.

Sylvia also came along because I owe her about 10,000 Guinness and Chocolate muffins. To be fair she contributed with her excellent Sea Salt and Caramel Chocolate Cake

As I was already cooking for a vegetarian I thought well I might as well cook for 2, and I invited Babs along. Then I realised that Babs is a real veggie and doesn’t eat fish.

And so my challenge – after alot of googling I finally settled on this. I did involve me visiting an authentic Indian food shop for some of the ingredients but that is all part of the experience!

It turned out quite nicely actually, although I added some chicken dish after I saw the disappointment on Colin and Sylvia’s faces that there would be no meat. Everyone was happy.

It looks a bit challenging at first and there are moments when it feels like you are juggling a bit, but in fact it’s actually very simple:

Lemon Rice

  • 1 Lemon, zest pared and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 cardomom pods, bashed
  • 1 mugful basmati rice
  1. Cook the lemon zest and spices in a little oil until fragrant
  2. Add the rice and stir well
  3. Tip in 2 mugs of water and 1 tsp salt, bring to simmer, put  on a lid and cook until water is absorbed and rice cooked
  4. Add a splash of lemon to serve


  • 250g red lentils
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • oil
  • onion grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, shredded
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  1. Put the lentils and tumeric in a pan and add water to cover by 2cm.
  2. Season and simmer for about 20 minutesuntil tender, adding more water if needed.
  3. Heat some oil in a pan then cook the onion, garlic and chilli for a few minutes.
  4. Add the garam masala, cook for a minute then stir into the cooked lentils.

Saag paneer

  • 1 x 250g block paneer, cut into cubes
  • groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, grated
  • a small chunk root ginger, finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 300g spinach, washed and chopped
  1. Fry the paneer in a little oil until golden.
  2. Add onion, ginger, garlic and spices, and cook until softened.
  3. Add the spinach and a splash of water and cook until wilted.

Onion raita

  • 1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • a handful mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful coriander leaves chopped
  • 200ml natural yogurt
  1. Mix everything together just before serving and season

Aubergine and tomato curry

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • oil
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp black onion seeds
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • a handful coriander leaves
  1. Fry the aubergine and tomato curry by frying the onion in oil until soft.
  2. Tip onto a plate,
  3. Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the aubergine in batches until browned all over and tender.
  4. Add another slug of oil to the pan and fry the spices for 30 seconds, add back th eaubergine and onion, plus the cherry tomatoes, and cook everything until the tomatoes have burst.
  5. Season with salt and scatter with coriander leaves.