A Guide to Eating Vegan Dishes in India if you are a Traveler

Indian food has been a major draw for travelers around the world. Culinary adventures in India are one of the fond memories of your travels in the country. Influenced by many cultures, civilizations and regions, there is a variety of mouthwatering cuisines.  If you are a vegan traveling in India, you need not be worried. On offer are a multitude of vegan dishes in India for all foodies, after all, food is a way of life here.

The majority of the India’s population is vegetarian, therefore it shares common roots with vegan philosophy. If you are in doubt you can always ask your host, restaurant and your travel planner. Vegan Dishes in India are easily available in most of the Indian restaurant, hotel or even street side stalls. However the best bet is to enter only those eating joints which have been labelled ‘Pure Vegetarian’ whenever you are venturing out. If your guide knows the local language than it will be way more easier to endire that you are ordering only vegan dishes in India.

To solve all your worries while travelling, we present you a guide to eating vegan dishes in India.

Vegetarianism and Veganism are often confused in India, so here are few things to keep in mind when it comes to eating vegan dishes in India.

  • Indian food uses dairy products which as a vegan you need to avoid. Ask for ingredients of the food you eat. Regular milk can be substituted with soy milk.
  • Ghee, clarified butter is a byproduct of milk and is often used in cooking. You can ask for the ghee to be substituted with vegetable oil.
  • Yogurt, known as dahi in India is also a byproduct of milk, therefore you must avoid. Ask for the vegan varieties.
  • Some breads (Bhature, Naan) is likely be made with yogurt. You can go for the plain bread varieties. Roti, rumali roti, tandoori roti, Puri are some breads you can eat.
  • Panner (non-melting farmer cheese or curd cheese made by curdling heated milk with lemon juice, vinegar, or any other food acids.) is also a dairy product, therefore ask it to be substituted with Tofu.
  • Desserts in India also generally comprise of dairy products, ask for ingredients. Go for chocolate, coconut, jaggery and other flavorsome varieties.
  • Indian food used a variety of spices. Spices are all vegan as they are totally plant based products. Vegans need not worry about the spices.
  • Vegans can eat all types of dal (lentils). Mind the tempering of the dish. A tempering of mustard seeds, turmeric, cumin seed, and other spices in clarified butter is generally used. Avoid the flavoring or request for vegetable oil.

As we have covered the basics of eating vegan dishes in India while travelling, we introduce you to the top 15 Vegan Dishes in India. Starters, street snacks, main course, curries, desert or drinks, the vegan varieties of Indian cuisines will definitely give you a foodgasm!

Here are our recommended 15 Vegan dishes in India you should get your hands on

Samosa

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The popular Indian snack is shaped as a triangle. It is made of potato fillings and accompanied with a chutney of mint and coriander. It is one of the vegan pleasures in India. Make sure that it is not stuffed with paneer.

Vegetable Biryani:

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India has had a long tradition of Biryani. There are many varieties of biryani available in India. Try out the vegetable one. Make a request for the biryani to be cooked in oil, not clarified butter. The rice dish is absolutely divine. A huge mix of spices including nutmeg, mace, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint, is used, therefor it’s no wonder that this flavorful dish is famous for all visitors in India.

Aloo Puri:

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Puri refers to the delicious, whole-wheat, puffed bread. Aloo is a vegetable wildly and commonly used in the country. The potato (aloo) comes in a delectable spicy tomato gravy and makes the perfect dipping sauce for the steamy puris. This is one of Indian favorite delicacy mainly eaten during breakfast and one of the delicious vegan dishes to try in the country.

Masala Dosa:

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South India’s most popular dish, Masala dosa is an international name. Vegans will especially love the scrumptious dish. It is typically served for breakfast or lunch and it is completely vegan as long as you confirm that ghee (clarified butter) is not used to fry it. The thin, crispy, savory pancake made from fermented rice and dal (lentil), wrapped around a mix of curried potatoes, onions and spices. The mixture is typically dipped in chutney and sambar or a side of curry gravy.

Pakoras:

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The perfect vegan snack, Pakoras are, essentially, fritters, of a type found throughout India. They are generally made with onion, potato, eggplant, shredded mixed vegetables, cauliflower or chicken, that’s been dipped in chickpea flour and deep fried. They’re a popular appetizer and snack. Request the vegan-friendly ones. Street stalls around the country cook up some of the best pakoras.

Dal Tadka/Channa Masala:

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This dish is sometimes garnished with ghee (clarified butter), so ask them not to do so. Dal Tadka is one of the best dishes to ever come out of Punjab. Known as “yellow dal“, the simplicity of the lentil curry is what makes it so delicious. Made from onion, ginger, garlic, tumeric and of course dal (lentils), this thick, steamy yellow curry is found in most thalis. The vegan delight is simple mouthwatering. The aroma and the flavors will surely make this one of the favorite Indian dishes. Similar to the tadka but quite unique, Channa Masala stands out from the crowd. The authentic Punjabi version has been passed down for generations.

Baigan ka Bharta:

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Baingan Bharta is the simple combination of spices and herbs with Chargrilled brinjals, also known as the Eggplant. The flavorful dish is easy to cook, healthy and tasty. Vegans will undeniably love the flavorsome dish.

Halwa:

A guide to Eating Vegan Dishes in India if you are a tourist

Halwa is a sweet Indian dish consisting of carrots or semolina boiled with milk, almonds, sugar, butter, and cardamom. For vegans, this dish can be prepared with coconut milk, almonds and cardamom for a creamy and luscious dessert.

Pani puri:

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India’s beloved street snack, Pani Puri is one of the vegan delights. Also called golgappa, puchka, gupchup, the street snack is found in several regions of India. It consists of a round, hollow puri, fried crisp and filled with a mixture of flavored water (pani), tamarind chutney, chili, chaat masala, potato, onion and chickpeas.

Parathe:

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Indian dishes are incomplete without a mention of the variety of breads. Parathe are flat breads made of flour. The taste of the dish depends on the stuffing. For parathe, stuffing of potatoes, cauliflower, radish, onion, peas and various other varieties are available. This dish can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Delhi, India’s capital has a street dedicated in its old city for the delicious flatbreads. Give a try to this delight as long as you instruct them not to be cooked in clarified butter.

Misal Pav:

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One of India’s best known street food, Misla pav is a vegan’s pleasure. The dish comes from Maharashtra but is easily available anywhere in India. The dish consists of misal (a spicy curry usually made of sprouted moth beans) and pav (a type of Indian bread roll). The final dish is topped with potato-chiwda mix, “farsan” or “sev”, onions, lemon and coriander (cilantro). It is served as a breakfast dish, as a snack and also as a full meal. It other variety is Pao Bhaji. You can also savor Vada-Pav.

Indian Vegetable Bhaji (Mix Vegetable):

A Guide to Eating Vegan Dishes in India if you are a Traveler

Agriculture is an important part of India. The country grows vegetables of all kinds. The fresh vegetables find its way into the plates. Indian Vegetable Bhaji is one of the must try dishes in India. The mix of potatoes, cauliflower florets, carrot, and peas is cooked in vegetable oil with cumin seed, black mustard seed, and bay leaves. Green chilies, garlic, ginger and cilantro leaves are also added. Aloo Gobi is one of the kind of vegetable dishes. Give it a try for the truly tempting flavors.

Momos:

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Momos is a dish invented in Tibet, but in India the dish has been transformed into a vegan delight. The dumplings are available anywhere in the country. The steamed dumplings are made of stuffing of vegetables and tofu, especially for vegans. The dish is accompanied with a spicy tangy sauce. You must give a try to this mouthwatering delight.

Tofu Dishes:

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Paneer is a commonly used ingredient in Indian food. The dairy product can be substituted with tofu. Tofu can be made into delicious keemas, curries and many other flavorsome dishes.

Khichidi:

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Khichidi is one of the dishes one can have anytime of the day. This is a healthy dish made of two or more grains, usually basmati rice and dal. It is often used as a detox dish to help with digestion. This version has protein-rich quinoa for extra nutrition and flavor. If you are thinking of indulging in Ayurvedic treatments in India, this dish stimulates your treatment.

Begin you food adventures in India. Vegan Indian foods make way into the gastronomes’ hearts, give them a try on your trip in India.

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A travel writer by profession and self-professed addict to literature, momos, dancing, music and travelling, Debasree Chakraborty has all interesting things to share. Go through her penned down travel experiences and collected intelligence in her write ups. Read on!

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