Our Guide To Vegan Indian Food
So. you’re thinking of transitioning to a vegan diet? Indian cuisine is probably one of the easiest diets to help you slowly and easily become vegan. If you were to visit India, you would find that the locals are mostly vegetarian as culture and religion plays a big factor in their lifestyle. We hear you cry that dairy is also a big part of Indian culture/ food! This is true, but just like you can find many meatless dishes, dairy can also be easily avoided and there are so many alternatives to still enjoy Indian cuisine. Here’s our guide to vegan Indian food!
Vegan isn’t just boring vegetables!
A lot of people can be put off being vegetarian/ vegan thinking that you’re limited to just boring vegetables. Yes, true that a lot more vegetables are probably consumed in a vegan diet – but they don’t have to be boring!
Indian food brings such a diverse range of flavours and textures to those ‘lame’ vegetables. Plus, let’s not forget that there are also many lentils, pulses and grains which are super filling and oh so delicious! Have you even tried Tarka Dal?!
We at Chandra Foods are obviously major foodies and of course, with our Indian background, we naturally favour towards Indian food! So, we’ve put together a guide to Vegan Indian Food. A little breakdown of some of the Indian favourites and how you can make these classics vegan friendly.
The reality is that most Indian food, is naturally vegan… and when you kick some of that dairy out too – you pretty much have a vegan friendly diet!
Vegan Indian Food – The lowdown on some key ingredients!
Ghee – so this is one you need to avoid when vegan! Ghee is basically clarified butter, (butter which has had its milk solids removed)
Ghee is traditionally used in a lot of Indian cooking – as part of the base for curries, as well as slapped onto breads like naan and roti.
No drama though guys, ghee can easily be replaced with sunflower/ vegetable oil! You can still enjoy those curries!
Just to let you know… We use sunflower oil in most of our products making them vegan friendly!
Paneer – Another one to avoid is the Indian cheese called paneer. Paneer is a fresh, unsalted cheese made by curdling hot milk with a citrus, like lemon juice.
There are many dishes that Paneer can be made into, making it a versatile ingredient for Indian cuisine. To make these dishes vegan friendly though, it can easily be replaced with Tofu!
Our favourite is Chilli Tofu AKA Chilli Paneer
This dish is amazing as a starter or even as a main when you fancy those Indian flavours without the fuss! Cooking the tofu in fresh garlic, ginger and green chilli. The dish is then intensified with tomato and soy sauce, giving the tofu a delicious coating whilst adding peppers and onions for that extra flavour. We like to add cashews to our chilli tofu just because we love a little crunch, you should try it out!
Indian classics – what to keep an eye out for
You wouldn’t normally worry about bread being vegan friendly, however, in the Indian world, naan bread is one you may need to double check.
Traditionally naan is made with yoghurt, therefore making it not so vegan friendly! There are recipes out there which avoid yoghurt so keep an eye out for those. If you are eating at an Indian restaurant, just check in with the chef. Even if they make it without yoghurt, just remind them to not paste your naan with ghee either!
The alternative to naan would be roti which is made with wheat flour. Again, just watch out for the ghee!
For something a little different you could try eating your curry with our methi masala puris…
Oooh, we just love to add that crunch to our dishes!
Would it be an Indian meal without a curry? We think not!
Many traditional curries are tomato based and so you wouldn’t really have anything to worry about!
However, Indian restaurants, to adapt to Western taste buds, started adding cream/ yoghurt to the base of their curries, to sweeten and create a slightly milder curry.
Now, if you’re vegan and prefer a milder flavour – you don’t need to worry about adding cream to your curry. You can use alternative spices like cardamom and cumin to flavour your curry without adding too much heat! Plus, this avoids the dairy making it a happy vegan curry!
When you are dining out at an Indian restaurant, just be sure to ask about the base of the curry. By opting for a tomato base, you’re actually enjoying the more traditional flavours of Indian curry anyway!
Our favourite for a great vegan Indian dish
In our eyes, this dish is the one for vegans! A classic in Indian culture.
Biryani is the Indian version of a one pot meal! Fusing flavours of aromatic spices, vegetables and nuts/dried fruits to create layers of heaven!
Making biryani vegan friendly, we would create a tomato-based gravy to cook our vegetables in. Soaking up the aromas and spices so that each spoonful is full of flavour making taste buds tingle.
Biryani is a hearty meal, which is slow cooked for a few hours and then perfect to serve when you have family/friends over.
We garnish our biryani with cashews and sometimes raisins to add a little sweetness.
There you have a bitesize guide to vegan Indian food!
It really can be a simple transition from the traditional Indian diet where most dishes are vegetarian! Just keep an eye out for the dairy being used and you’re good to go!
Whether you’re thinking of moving to a vegan diet, or maybe you’re already vegan and thinking about a trip to India, we hope this guide settles any doubts you may have had about Indian cuisine in the vegan world!
And of course, we’re going to remind you – most of our products at Chandra Foods are vegan friendly, enjoy!