Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Dal Makhani
Day in and day out I get queries from many troubled housewives and anxious young chefs as to what Jain food really is, and about how to cook it? Even those who have been ordering Jain food instead of Asian vegetarian meals on flights, admit that they don’t really know what Jain food is. Many think that Jain food is simply vegetarian food cooked without certain root vegetables. Only a handful of people actually know that cooking Jain food involves complying with many, many more rules.

Jainism is not just a religion, but a beautiful way of life. The Jain scriptures clearly define the ways and means to live life, including clear instructions about what foods should be eaten and even what type of water should be drunk. The scriptures delineate how and when food must be prepared and consumed, and even specify when one should fast, how food should be preserved for later use and so on. Jains believe that all living beings have souls. Hence, killing of any living creature, be it a plant or a human being, is considered an act of violence.

The Jains have divided all foods into three broad categories: tamsik, rajsik and satvik. Tamsik foods involve killing of animals and countless bacteria, and when eaten they trigger lust, anger and other negative feelings. Rajsik food is prepared to satisfy the human senses of taste and flavour, and for nourishing the body. These foods include fried and fatty items, which are not easily digestible. Satvik food is prepared with ingredients, which cause least amount of violence. These include grains, lentils, fruits and certain vegetables. Satvik food is believed to stimulate morality, compassion, bliss and spirituality.

Jains avoid root vegetables such as carrots, yam, beetroot, onions, ginger, garlic and potatoes. Root vegetables or kund mool are distinct from fruits and other vegetables, because the entire plant as well as the bacteria residing in the soil are killed when they are uprooted to be consumed. Bahu beej, or vegetables and fruits that contain many seeds, such as eggplant, are also avoided. In an effort to minimize violence towards living beings, including plants and even bacteria, Jains renounce root vegetables as they advance in their spiritual journey.

For each of you, Jain cooking can be a revelation. You’ll realise as you cook that it is indeed possible to cook delicious meals even without using ingredients like potatoes, onions and garlic, which we otherwise take for granted!
So, if you have Jain friends coming over for dinner or in-laws who are very particular about their Jain meals, then simply whip these delectable JAIN RECIPES and win all their praises...


Tasty and appealing, these colourful capsicum rings are the perfect complement for a hot cup of tea.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 5 minutes. Serves 4.

3 medium capsicums
1 cup grated paneer (cottage cheese)
½ cup boiled, peeled and mashed raw bananas
6 tbsp finely chopped mint (phudina)
3 tsp finely chopped green chillies
3 tsp corn flour
Salt to taste
Corn flour for coating
Oil for deep frying

1.Cut the stems of the capsicum and de-seed them.
2.Cut them into 10 mm. thick rings and keep aside.
3.Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, except the capsicum rings, and mix well.
4.Stuff this mixture in the capsicum rings, pressing tightly.
5.Press each rings between your palms to make sure the stuffing does not fall off.
6.Coat the capsicum ring with cornflour form all sides and deep fry in hot oil till they are golden brown.
Serve hot sprinkled with the chaat masala.


Cooking in accordance with Jain rules only seems to add to the taste of the ever popular Makhanwala!

Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 15 minutes. Serves 4.

2 cups mixed vegetables (French beans, raw banana, cauliflower, peas)
3 tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato sauce (no garlic, no onions)
½ cup coconut milk
2 tsp cornflour
2 tbsp cashewnut powder
3 peppercorns
2 cloves (lavang)
25 mm. (1”) cinnamons (dalchini)
2 to 3 cardamom (elaichi)
3 whole dry red chillies,broken into pieces
3 tbsp butter
Salt to taste

1.Boil a vesselful water and immerse the tomatoes in it for one minute.
2.Remove, de-skin and de-seed tomatoes and chop finely. Keep aside.
3.Heat the butter in a pan, add peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and red chillies.
4.Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till mashed.
5.Add the sauce and boiled vegetables and mix well.
6.Dissolve the cornflour in the coconut milk and add to the gravy.
7.Add the ½ cup water and bring tc a boil.
8.Add the salt and cashewnut powder. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Serve hot garnished with chopped coriander.


The world famous Dal Makhani now in a Jain style.

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 20 to 25 minutes. Serves 4.

¾ cup whole urad (whole black lentils)
2 tbsp rajma (kidney beans)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
2 green chilles, slit
25 mm. (1") stick cinnamon (dalchini)
2 cloves (lavang)
3 cardamoms (elaichi)
1 tsp chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
¼ tsp (dry ginger powder) soonth
1½ cups fresh tomato pulp
¾ cup (150 grams) cream
3 tbsp butter
Salt to taste

For the garnish
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp butter

1.Clean, wash and soak the whole urad and rajma overnight. Drain and keep aside.
2.Combine the dals and salt with 2 cups of water and pressure cook till the dals are overcooked. Whisk well till the dal is almost mashed.
3.Heat the butter in a pan and add the cumin seeds.
4.When the cumin seeds crackle, add the green chillies, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and sauté well.
5.Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder, dry ginger powder and tomato pulp and cook over a medium flame till the oil separates from the tomato gravy.
6.Add the dal mixture, ¾ cup of water and salt if required and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
7.Add the cream and mix well.
8.Serve hot garnished with the coriander and butter.

Handy tip: You will require 4 medium tomatoes to make 1½ cups fresh tomato pulp.


Parathas just got more interesting. An unusual combination of cabbage and paneer for the filling adds a novelty value to this dish!

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: 30 minutes. Makes 5 parathas.

1 cup whole wheat flour (gehun ka atta)
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp melted ghee
Oil for cooking

For the stuffing
1 cup grated cabbage
½ cup crumbled paneer (cottage cheese)
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tsp finely chopped green chillies
Salt to taste

Other ingredients
Whole wheat flour (gehun ka attta) for rolling
Ghee for cooking

For the stuffing
1.Sprinkle salt over the cabbage and keep aside. After 10 minutes, squeeze out the water.
2.Add the paneer, coriander, green chillies and salt and mix well. Keep aside.

How to proceed
1.Sieve the flour with the salt.
2.Add the ghee and mix well.
3.Add enough water to make a soft dough.
4.Knead well for 3 to 4 minutes.
5.Divide the dough into 10 equal portions.
6.Roll out each portion of the dough into a round of about 100 mm. diameter with help of a little whole wheat flour.
7.Spread a little stuffing on one round and cover with another round. Press the sides well.
8.Cook on a hot tava (griddle) on both sides using a little ghee until pink spots come on top.
9.Repeat with remaining dough and stuffing to make 4 more parathas.
Serve hot.


Nags said...

hmmm.. have never tried out jain food.. maybe i shud give it a shot this weekend. by the way, i bought the small book on 'potatoes' by tarla dalal :) and its awesome!

Pragyan said...

Jain food sounds interesting. In the age of South Beach, Low-Carb, etc diets, this needs to be talked about more since it seems to address the same concerns. Thanks for the info.

Mansi Desai said...

We are following :paryushan" right now, so this is great help! Me and my husband are not so strict, but since my in-laws are here, I have to cook separately for them:)

Namrata said...

We can cook World Cuisines the 'Jain' way. Almost any dish can be cooked Jain with a little innovation and balancing of spices. At home, we do not use roots, however, we are not deprived of any dish. Please feel free to write to me for ideas and recipees on Jain menu

Bill said...

That was one of the more understandable summaries that I've ever read, on the definition of Jain food.

Anonymous said...

Namrata..how does one write to you...your profile doesn't seem to be shared

Jain Recipes said...

It is so simple to prepare. It delicious and healthy.

Hetal said...

hmmm thank you for this information it helps in understanding the importance of jain food. I have collection of your books, I must buy your jain food book too.

vijaya said...

Thank you mam for giving so many jain receipes and a lot of information about jainismm, actaually we are brahmins and in our house old people do not use onion/garlic and more over due to diet restrctions cannot eat potato and all those things and ur blog is very very helpful, thank u so much