Walk into any Asian grocery store and you will be met with a visual delight if it’s well-stocked with Indian vegetables and produce. There’s something in seeing such abundance of glistening fresh vegetables that excite me and immediately I have visions of dishes to be eaten with them.
There is a vast array of cuisines and dishes that can be made from Indian vegetables, alone or with additions of poultry, meat or fish. Endless combinations and amazing curries! I implore you to try a new one, at least 1 a month and cook something with it that is out of your comfort zone! Be a little adventurous…be there and do it!
Listed below is a glossary of the most common Indian vegetables that you will come across in your day-to-day shopping trips to both mainstream supermarkets and pockets of Asian grocery stores that are dotted around the country.
I have in a previous post called
Let’s talk about Bengali vegetables, discussed in detail the various unusual Bengali vegetables which are not so readily available.
In this page I have endeavoured to list the most common and readily available Indian vegetables that you will come across and with them their Hindi names which are most commonly used and known by in the UK.
Having had an allotment for some years and growing my own vegetables I couldn’t help but put them in their classification groups! Old habits die hard!
Below the glossary of names is a section on tips in how to get the best out of buying your veg!
HERBS Dill-Suwa Coriander- Dhaniya Fenugreek- Methi Mint- Pudina Curry Leaves-kadi patta
Bell peppers– Shimla mirch
Chilli – hari mirch
Onion – Pyaaz
Ginger – adrak
Tomato – Tamatar
Aubergines – baingan
Cocunut – Naariyal
Lime – Nimbu
Okra – bhindi
Mattar – Peas
Flat Green Beans – Sem
French Beans – Faras Cluster beans – Gavar Cow pea -Lobia
Cabbage – Patta ghobi
Cauliflower – Phool gobi
Pumpkin – Kaddu
Bitter Melon – Karela
Ivy guord – Thendi
Cucumber – kheera
Ash gourd – Petha
Spine Gourd – Kantola
Snake Gourd – Chichinda Ridge Gourd – Tura
Plantain – Kacha Kela
Corn – Makai
Mustard Leaves – Sarson ka saag
Malabar Spinach – Pui Saag
Amaranth leaves – Chauli
Spinach – Palak
Mushroom – Khumb
Taro – Arbi
Turnip – Shalgom
Carot – Gajar
Potato – Aloo
Radish/Daikon – Mooli
Salad radish – Moongra
Beetroot – Chukand
Elephant Yam – Sooran
Sweet Potatoes – Shakark
How to pick your vegetables:
As a general rule, whole produce is preferable to highly processed, since processing can reduce the level and effectiveness of the compounds that make plant foods so important for good health.
Colour and variety are the key to getting a good mix of all the beneficial elements that vegetables bring to the table. Choose a rainbow of colours—the deeper the better—because colour is one of the best indicators that a food is rich in phytochemicals. Each colour provides its own benefits.
Vegetables should look fresh, with no bruises or punctures; leafy vegetables should be free of insect damage, root vegetables not shrivelled or decayed. Buy only what you need for a period of a few days to a week (fresh vegetables are perishable.
Fresh, frozen, canned—how do they compare nutritionally? While canned foods are often thought to be less nutritious than fresh or frozen, research reveals that this is not usually the case. Aside from the higher sodium content of most canned foods, their nutrition numbers tend to be quite similar to fresh and frozen produce (all produce loses significant amounts of nutrients during storage and cooking).
While it’s true that fresh-picked produce stored for a short time under good conditions will provide the most nutrients, the availability of fresh local produce varies by region and season.
The important thing is to eat lots of vegetables, in whatever form you can get them. Choose fresh, when it’s available, but don’t hesitate to opt for frozen or canned vegetables. Just watch the sodium in canned vegetables.
Take advantage of the changing abundance of produce from season to season. While most vegetables are available year-round, they will be most flavourful when they are in season and grown locally.
· Choose dark, leafy greens like spinach, chard and mustard greens—for daily eating. They’re packed with vitamins C and K, folate and fiber, along with carotenoids and other phytochemicals.
· Buy cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts) to serve at least once or twice a week. These vegetables contain phytochemicals that may, in particular, help protect against certain cancers.
· Mix it up with orange, red, blue and purple vegetables—carrots, tomatoes, pumpkin, beets, citrus, yellow squash, etc.
· Think outside the colour box. Usually opt for green peppers? Try yellow, red, orange or purple bell peppers. Think cauliflower is always white? Not broccoflower, which looks like cauliflower but is green like broccoli. Red may be the traditional colour of tomatoes, but yellow or orange tomatoes make a nice change.
· When choosing lettuce for salads or sandwiches, opt for darker green leaf or Romaine lettuce. They’re richer in nutrients than iceberg lettuce.
· If you want to buy vegetables, look for signs or stickers indicating where the produce comes from. Local often taste better than produce that’s been shipped long distances (and grown in ways to be able to withstand shipping). And buying local supports local farmers and the local economy.
· Stop at the freezer for frozen vegetables without added salt.
· For convenience, go canned—but check the sodium and sugar content. Choose reduced-sodium or low-sodium canned vegetables. Canned tomatoes are particularly convenient, and for cooking they’re actually superior to the fresh tomatoes available in many supermarkets.
· Choose an exotic and unusual vegetable! Be adventurous and do some research. Cook it, try it, you might discover something you truly love!
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