MENTION an egg-free vegetarian party and images of a delectable holiday feast may seem pretty unlikely. But that would be underestimating the wide range of pleasures a vegetarian kitchen can offer. Ask Veena Panjwani, the author of Creative Vegetarian Cooking (K & G Publishers, $140). 'Being a vegetarian, in fact, means enjoying a greater variety of foods than people hooked on egg or meat-centred diets,' she says. 'Just look at the range of flavours, smells, textures and colours available in plant foods. While there are over 50 kinds of edible vegetables - including peas, beans, lentils, nuts and fruits - how many kinds of meat and poultry do you have?' While an egg-less diet is a way of life for millions of people in India and China for economic or religious reasons, in Hong Kong it is still widely considered different - or even downright eccentric. Creative Vegetarian Cooking offers 250 recipes ranging from snacks and main course dishes to cakes, desserts and breads. 'The idea was to dispel the myth that we vegetarians live on salads and nut cutlets,' Mrs Panjwani says. 'Many people think that giving up meat and eggs will result in protein deficiency. That's not true. 'Vegetable combinations can, in fact, provide better quality protein than even meat.' A mother of two, Mrs Panjwani draws satisfaction from the fact that her family is healthy while living on an egg-free diet. Mrs Panjwani dismisses the idea that vegetarians have to seek out special shops. 'Most local supermarkets nowadays stock all the stuff you need,' she says. 'Some like Park'N Shop even have the spices. Actually, a vegetarian meal can be very cheap.' If diners miss the taste of meat, there are many dishes that bear a strong resemblance to egg and meat, especially in texture. The mock egg curry, my favourite, is a work of art. The main ingredient is imitation yolk, made of cheese and a dash of turmeric powder, nicely concealed in a mixture of boiled potatoes, coriander leaves and spices shaped to resemble real eggs. Fried to a crispy golden brown and served with a rich curry base, it does provide a tempting alternative to the real thing. Of course, no meal could be complete without a rice dish - the book offers more than 18 recipes, using Western and Asian ingredients in a variety of light and interesting combinations. But readers and cooks should not be misled by the author's name. It is not an exclusively 'Indian' recipe book. Far from it. The Indian recipes make up only a small part of the book. There are recipes from all over the world. What would improve the book is more information. Some explanation and serving suggestions would be helpful in introducing the recipes. There is no information about what eggs or protein contribute to cooking and baking (richness, thickening power, colour, emulsion) and what happens when one or both are left out. Experienced cooks may not need this, but it can help novices learn the whys, not only the hows, of cooking.