Did you know some of our favourite Indian dishes are rich in vegan protein? I’m a non-vegetarian practicing veganism for 30 days. More on that later, but today is Day 4 of my #30DayVeganChallenge and I’m feeling slightly uncomfortable. When our body is deficient in protein, we are likely to notice symptoms like anxiety, depression, muscle pain, constant tiredness and breakage of nails and hair.
I’ve been eating eggs and dairy everyday since I was six months old, so lack of both is a bit of a shock for my body. I started reading up about vegan, plant based protein sources and I realized that if I increase the intake of some of my favourite Indian dishes, I would actually get most of the protein I need per day. The daily protein requirement is estimated to be around 1 gm per kg of my body weight.
Listed below are some of the protein rich vegan sources, which are already a part of a standard Indian diet. All I’m going to do is increase the quantity and frequency of these dishes in my daily routine. I am also introducing Soy Milk and soya chunks in my diet to compensate the protein dose I was getting from eggs and dairy products such as cheese, curd, buttermilk and milk.
#1 Dal Chaaval
The combination of lentils with hand-pounded rice is considered to be complete protein for our body. Lentils are rich in methionine and low in lysine; while rice is high is lysine and low in methionine, making the dal-rice combination golden for our daily protein intake. Tempering Dal with fat such as cold pressed coconut oil helps absorb the vitamins in dal-rice that are fat-soluble. So adding some kind of fat to your dal-chaaval is important.
#2 Mixed Sprouts Chaat
Sprouts of chana, moong and other beans are rich in proteins. Enzymes are activated and they become even more nutritious once they sprout. These beans have the potential to become a whole plant, so they are loaded with nutrients. Mixed sprouts, when tossed with raw salad including onions, tomatoes and green chillies make the combination rich in protein, vitamins and minerals. Add raw herbs and mint chutney to the chaat to make it tasty and healthier. This is a great option for an evening snack, for 4 to 6pm hunger pangs.
A cup of chickpeas has about 13g of protein in it. Punjabi Chhole curry is prepared in north india by soaking and boiling chickpeas with salt. Chickpea curry is eaten in different ways all across India. Chickpeas are rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and magnesium for your heart’s health! Chhole should be cooked with ginger or asafetida (hing) to ease digestion. It is also a good idea to sprout the chickpeas before making chhole for maximum nourishment from the meal. Chickpeas also regulate blood sugar. There are also some great Kebabs which you can make with leftover chhole!
#4 Green Peas / Matar ka Nimona
Recently, I had shared a recipe for matar ka nimona in a bread bowl. This recipe contains yogurt but in its place you can add any souring agent such as tamarind pulp or dried mango powder to finish. Green peas are rich in protein and fiber, they are also good for Type II diabetes patients. Lightly sautéed peas are full of nutrients and easier to digest than chickpeas. Get recipe here.
#5 Rajma Chaaval
Kidney beans are a protein staple that is being eaten in India for centuries. They are soaked overnight, boiled with salt and ginger before cooking in an onion-tomato based gravy. The protein in rajma combined with protein in rice make up for a protein rich diet for vegetarians.
#6 Palak Sarson ka Saag
Spinach is rich in proteins and mustard greens are rich in Vitamin A, K and C. When making saag it is better to lightly sauté the greens in fat rather than boil them. Boiling the saag in water will result in loss of all the water-soluble nutrients in the process. Palak Sarson ka saag prepared without boiling can do wonders to improve our health and immunity.
#7 Badaam ka Halwa
Rather than over cooking the almonds, I have a simpler way we can enjoy a more creamy and less tideous badam ka halwa. 1 cup Almonds are first soaked overnight, the allow them to dry completely for a day. After they are dried, grind them with a tablespoon of coconut oil until the paste is smooth. Mix honey or jiggery syrup and enjoy! Almonds are rich in protein and halwa made in this way is very nutritious and delicious.
#8 Til- gud ki Vadi
Along with iron, magnesium, potassium, white sesame is also rich in protein. So including the little chikki and vadis made in festivals are actually good for vegetarian protein. The quantity of protein for the day can be compensated with tit bits such as these vadis to make up for the daily protein requirement for vegans.
#9 Amaranth Laddoos (Ramdana laddoo)
Ramdana or popped amaranth grains also contain protein. They are very nutritious and although they cannot provide the major chunk of protein in a vegan diet, its contribution in a vegan diet helps in compensating for the protein requirement per day.
#10 Whole Masoor Dal Sabji
Puy lentils or whole masoor dal is even given to lactating mothers in India for its nutritional benefits. These protein rich lentils can fulfill a major chunk of protein requirements for vegetarians per day. One cup (198g) of lentils has nearly 18g protein. This means that I generous serving of cooked masoor dal will help me meet my daily protein requirement.You can find a great European style soup made with leftover whole masoor dal here.
#11 Soya Matar Sabji
There has been a lot of debate about the benefits and harmful effects of soya. We must make sure that the source of soya is organic, non-GMO when we use it in everyday cooking. My standard homemade vegetarian meal consists of more carbohydrates than protein, by including soya matar sabji or tofu matar, where both ingredients are rich in protein, I will be able to make up for the protein needs of my body to avoid symptoms like anxiety, depression, hair loss and muscle pain.
#12 Moong dal Chila
This is by far my favourite breakfast preparation made with lentils. Whole moong dal is soaked overnight or sprouted, then grind and made into pancakes with coconut oil. It is served with a raw chutney made of fresh herbs such as coriander leaves and mint. This makes this a filling, healthy breakfast, packed with protein and nutrients. This recipe can also be used to make paniyarams or wadas along with tomato chutney.
I am increasing my protein intake with these dishes, I hope it will help you too. I will share the overall impact on my health after these plant based replacements were increased in my diet. If you have any feedback to share please write in comments section below.
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