- Chana Masala — India
From spicy vegetable curries to rich lentil stews, warm rice dishes, and soft, doughy flatbreads, India is a vegetarian’s heaven. Chana masala is one of India’s most iconic, versatile dishes, with plenty of variations in different parts of the country.
This dish stars the garbanzo bean (chickpea), stewed with tomatoes, onions, and a wide array of spices, from cumin to turmeric, red chillies, and coriander.
The rich, spiced gravy is often garnished with mint, green onions, chaat masala, and cilantro and served over white Basmati rice or paired with soft, warm naan. Healthy, filling, and packed with flavor, chana masala is enjoyed throughout the country for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner.
- Lobio — Georgia
‘Lobio’ is a group of Georgian dishes with beans as a key ingredient. There are many varieties of lobio, mixed in with different spices, vegetables, and dried fruits. Generally, red kidney beans are used, which are boiled with spices to create a thick, herby stew, typically served with traditional Georgian cornbread (mchadi).
Another popular dish is lobio nigvzit, a unique mixture of thick walnut sauce, pomegranate molasses, herbs, and blue fenugreek. The dish can also be eaten as a salad with mashed beans, scallions, and plums and is generally served cold.
- Futomaki — Japan
Japanese for ‘fat roll,’ Futomaki is a type of rolled sushi characterized by its large size and well-balanced ingredients. This vegetarian roll is generally around 4 centimeters in diameter, and contains sticky sushi rice and an array of colorful vegetable fillings such as carrots, mushrooms, and cucumbers rolled up in nori seaweed paper.
Both flavorful and visually appealing, Futomaki is perfect for a quick breakfast or snack or even a side dish for dinner.
- Shakshouka — Tunisia
A delicious combination of perfectly poached eggs buried deep in a spicy tomato-based sauce, Shakshouka is a staple North African and Middle Eastern dish that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
It is typically prepared in a piping hot skillet where tomatoes, bell peppers, spices, and onions are brewed into a rich sauce in which eggs are poached. Some versions of Shakshouka also contain Merguez sausage and chopped coriander served alongside a pile of Pita bread.
- Tamales — Mexico
One of Mexico’s most beloved dishes, tamales are a mixture of corn dough and seasoned fillings wrapped in corn husks and steamed to perfection. Many types of tamales are enjoyed in various areas of Mexico, from sweet to savory, spicy, and beyond.
While typically stuffed with seasoned pork and chicken, there are many vegetarian tamales that contain a creamy black bean or cheesy filling. The meat can also be substituted for saucy jackfruit or beans, and olive oil/coconut oil can be used instead of lard. Tamales are super easy to make and loaded with flavor, so you can follow this simple, authentic recipe and enjoy some delectable Tamales at home!
- Mujaddara — Lebanon
A delicious combination of lentils and rice topped with deep-fried onions, Mujaddara is a signature dish in households across the Middle East. The warm, flavorful rice is seasoned simply with kosher salt, pepper, and cumin. It’s paired with plain yogurt and soft flatbread, and typically eaten by hand. Many recipes also serve Mujaddara alongside some fresh cucumber and tomato salad, and the dish is easily adapted with various fresh herbs and spices.
- Youtiao — China
Youtiao (also known as Chinese donuts or Chinese fried dough) is a long, soft, deep-fried breadstick made from wheat flour that is typically eaten for breakfast or as a snack on the go.
Generally served alongside soy milk or rice congee, this is a slightly salted, golden brown, warm snack that both vegetarians and meat eaters enjoy in China. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, these light, chewy breadsticks also taste incredible dipped in chunky peanut butter or rich chocolate sauce.
- Doenjang Jjigae — South Korea
While South Korea is known for its meat-centered menus and delectable barbecues, the nation’s vegetarian dishes are just as delicious. Doenjang Jjigae is one of Korea’s most popular vegetarian meals. It is a fermented soybean-based stew that is light and flavorful, and it’s usually eaten as a side dish in winter.
Other ingredients like mushrooms, tofu, chilies, potatoes, zucchini, and bean sprouts are often added to the warm, earthy broth, and the piping hot, comforting stew is paired with a bowl of white rice. Some restaurants in Korea add seafood or meat to their Doenjang Jjigae, so make sure to confirm this if you’re dining out.
- Pulihora — Andhra Pradesh, India
A popular festival dish in the South Indian region, Pulihora is a vibrant yellow rice dish made of soft-boiled rice mixed in with tamarind, curry leaves, green chilies, ginger, and coriander.
The wide array of spices and turmeric-stained rice make for a spicy, salty, and tangy flavor, further enhanced with yellow lentils, mustard seeds, or roasted sesame powder. Pulihora is often eaten for breakfast or lunch and made especially for festivals or special occasions. It is distributed to temples all around India!
- Dal Bhat — Nepal
A daily staple in many South Asian countries, Dal Bhat is enjoyed in Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. The traditional Nepali food of trekkers in the Himalayas, Dal is a warm yellow lentil soup served over freshly boiled rice (Bhat), often paired with a tarkari (flavorful vegetable curry), tangy pickles, and greens. If you’re looking for a balanced, filling, and delicious vegetarian meal, Dal Bhat is an absolute must-try.