As many an article on this site could tell you, Indian food is diverse and often plant-forward and spice-forward; however, the menus of many Indian restaurants could have you convinced otherwise. I enjoy a good plate of chana masala and palak paneer just like everyone else, but there are just some regional specialties that I wish others could try. Here are 5 regional Indian dishes I wish restaurants served more often:

1. Mishti Doi

This whipped yogurt-based dessert from West Bengal is delicately flavored with a simple sugar caramel and topped with almonds and pistachios and will have you salivating from the moment you see it. Every time my Hindu temple serves this Indian dish as part of post-service lunch or dinner, the temple cook makes sure to save an extra portion for me and many of the other volunteers. What I did not know, though, is how astoundingly easy it is to make.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The term "curd" in India refers to plain yogurt, NOT cheese curds. Unless otherwise indicated, please do not make this substitution!

2. Banana Stems

Many cultures in South and Southeast Asia use the banana stem and flower as a key ingredient in simple curries and stir fries. I enjoy these preparations very much, but my favorite way to eat banana stems is in a traditional South Indian dish called morkootu, banana stems (or any vegetable of choice, really) in a tangy buttermilk-and-yogurt gravy. Once you start eating, you won't be able to stop. 

3. Kadhi Pakora

Continuing with the yogurt gravy theme (hey, I'm South Indian, it's in my genes to like yogurt!), this North Indian dish combines crispy chickpea flour fritters, often with veggies inside them, with another incredibly creamy and tangy spiced yogurt gravy. I could eat this all day. 

4. Yam Curry

Elephant's foot yam is easily one of the most underrated tubers, but it's one of my favorite tubers, perhaps even more than potatoes (and if you know me, you know I LOVE potatoes). You can buy these at any Indian grocery under their indigenous name, suran. To prepare this tuber, begin by blooming some mustard seeds in canola oil as part of a tadka and coat the sliced yam in turmeric powder, chili powder, and plenty of salt. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the seasoned yam to the pan and roast just as you would any other potato. Trust me, you'll be wishing you knew about this Indian dish earlier.

5. Pan-roasted Taro

This is one of my favorite South Indian dishes ever; I love it so much that I even wrote one of my college application essays about it. Taro has been cultivated in South and Southeast Asia for millenia, and the roots are the essential ingredient of the Hawaiian staple poi. You can eat both the leaves and the roots, but my favorite way to eat the roots is in this simple dry curry; it has a depth of flavor beyond that of any roasted potato. 

(IMPORTANT NOTE: The taro plant contains high concentrations of oxalic acid crystals, which can irritate the skin and throat. DO NOT eat any part of the taro plant raw, and always use gloves when handling raw taro.)

So next time you decide to go out to eat at an Indian restaurant, check to see if the restaurant serves any of these dishes. Better yet, make these yourself the next time you pop by an Indian/Asian grocery store; these are perfect vegetarian dishes that are all easily veganizable. Trust me, your dinner rotation won't regret it.