19 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes to Help You Celebrate Diwali

Lemon Rice

Diwali is a major festival across South Asia and in the South Asian diaspora, and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists. Diwali celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over dark, knowledge over ignorance—although the deities, rituals and stories that are associated with the holiday differ from region to region, community to community. Regardless of these particulars, Diwali is a time for abundance, including celebratory meals with friends and family, and lots of sweet treats.

Traditional recipes, like bhindi masala (stir-fried okra) and eggplant bhartha (roasted eggplant), and modern takes, from tandoori tofu to no-churn ice cream with cardamom and saffron, will make for your best celebration yet! Just a note that all the recipes in this collection are vegetarian; Diwali is a religious holiday and many abstain from meat during these auspicious days.

01 of 19

Chickpea Curry (Chhole)

chickpea curry (chhole)

Conveniently made with canned chickpeas, rather than dry chickpeas (as it is traditionally), this hearty, nutty North Indian stew can be served with naan or basmati rice.

02 of 19

Tandoori Tofu


A tandoori-inspired spice rub and smokiness from the grill flavor these tofu "steaks"—the perfect centerpiece to any vegetarian meal when served alongside grilled peppers, onions and tomatoes.

03 of 19

Indian-Spiced Kale & Chickpeas


This quick dish takes its flavor from garam masala—a ground spice mixture commonly used in South Asian cooking that usually includes coriander, cumin, cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom and cloves.

04 of 19

Baingan Bharta (Punjabi Spicy Roasted Eggplant)


This rich eggplant dish can be served with basmati rice and naan; it often tastes better the next day (if you have leftovers!).

05 of 19

Okra Fry (Bhindi Masala)


Okra is prepared in various ways across South Asia: fried, stuffed, stir-fried. Here, the vegetable is cooked over high heat in a nonstick pan to avoid any sliminess.

06 of 19

Cauliflower Tikka Masala with Chickpeas


Tikka masala isn't South Asian at all, but an invention of the subcontinent's British colonizers. Chicken tikka masala is a popular restaurant dish; this vegetarian version swaps the meat for cauliflower and chickpeas.

07 of 19

Chickpea & Potato Curry


This South Asian-style curry comes together with frozen peas and canned tomatoes and chickpeas; serve with naan to sop it all up.

08 of 19

Yellow Split Pea Sambar with Turnip, Eggplant & Okra

Yellow Split Pea Sambar with Turnip, Eggplant & Okra
Eva Kolenko

Sambar (lentil-and-vegetable stew) is eaten across Southern India. Its essential flavor comes from sambar powder, a mixture that includes coriander, fenugreek, cumin, black peppercorns, red chiles and asafetida.

09 of 19

Indian Mango Dal


Dal, an umbrella term for lentils and legumes, is central to nearly every South Asian meal. Here, yellow lentils (toor dal) and mango are cooked in a more traditionally southern Indian style—more souplike.

10 of 19

Slow-Cooker Dal Makhani


Dal makhani is a regal and rich dish—it's buttery and creamy and pairs well with naan and yogurt. For the creamiest results, use whole urad dal (versus split).

11 of 19

Daal Tarka (Spiced Lentils)

Nepali Mountain Kitchen’s Daal Tarka (Spiced Lentils)
Jenny Huang

Tadka (aka tarka) is an essential South Asian cooking technique. Spices are bloomed in hot fat, intensifying or altering their flavors.

12 of 19

Winter Vegetable Dal


This southern-Indian-inspired dal is enriched with coconut milk and a tadka of spices. Curry leaves impart both flavor and aroma.

13 of 19

Lemon Rice (Chitrannam)


Another centerpiece for a festive meal—lemony, spicy, nutty twice-cooked rice. Urad dal and roasted chana dal add texture to this colorful dish.

14 of 19

Spelt Indian Flatbread


Chapati are skillet flatbreads traditionally made from atta or finely milled wheat flour; here, nutty spelt is used instead. They are a must-have on the South Asian table, perfect for scooping up dal or vegetables.

15 of 19

Cilantro Chutney


Chutneys are also a must, and this herby green chutney recipe serves as a condiment for many snacks, street foods and sandwiches. The serrano chile gives it quite a blast of heat.

16 of 19

Inspired by lassi, a yogurt-based drink, this frozen pie recipe gets flavor from cardamom and lime zest.

17 of 19
No-Churn Cardamom-Saffron Ice Cream
Ryan Liebe

Kulfi, or South Asian frozen custard, is the inspiration for this no-churn dessert. Rather than using an ice cream maker, you whip the cream mixture to form soft peaks before freezing it.

18 of 19

Burfi is often served and gifted during Diwali. Usually made with condensed milk, it's a decadent sweet. This version uses nonfat dry milk powder and almond flour instead.

19 of 19
Cashew Cardamom Shortbread
Pooja Makhijani

These cardamom-spiced shortbread cookies were inspired by the Indian sweet kaju katli.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles