Updated: Oct 16, 2020
Indian food is naturally vegan friendly. Indian cuisine is diverse and varies dramatically from from one region to another. I am from the southern part of India and I can can tell you certainly southern Indian food is mostly vegan. Because we never use cheese or cream in any of our dishes. I know what you are thinking. What about Paneer butter masala or Dal makhani or Chicken tikka masala? All these dishes are from the northern part of india. We do use ghee (melted and clarified butter) in southern indian cuisine. But most recipes do not require ghee and even the ones that require ghee are often substituted with oil. Let's dive right into the topic.
1. Chana masala
This dish is a crowd pleaser. I have never seen anyone in my life who doesn't like channa masala. This dish is made with chickpeas,onion, tomato, spices, and ginger & garlic paste. I would suggest you to check with the waiter in the Indian restaurant to make sure that they did not add any dairy product in the dish. Once I visited an Indian restaurant with my friend (who is a vegan) so I picked this dish for her. We wanted to make sure that it contains no dairy product. He came back from the kitchen and told it contains cream. Traditionally channa masala is not made with cream, so I wanted to let you that some restaurants might add cream in this dish.
2. Masala dosa
This is one my most favorite vegan breakfast item. I am from Southern part of Indian , so I had the privilege of getting to have this mouth watering dish for breakfast at least once or twice a week. Masala dosa is a crispy rice and lentil crepe stuffed with potato masala. Dosa is most popular in the southern part of India. If you travel to India, you will find this item on the breakfast menu on almost all the restaurants. To make the dosa we use oil and to make it more special we use ghee (melted and clarified butter) When you order dosa you can request the waiter to make the dosa using oil instead of ghee.
3. Idli and sambar
Idli is the ultimate comfort food. It is served with sambar (lentil and veggie soup) and a wide variety of chutney. Some of my favorite chutneys are Onion chutney, tomato chutney, peanut chutney, coconut chutney, mint chutney etc. Idli is a steamed rice cake made from fermented batter, so it is very easily digestible. And the sambhar is lentils cooked with spices in a tamarind based curry.
Samosa is a very popular Indian appetizer. It was the most requested item on my Indian cooking class menu. Samosa contains potato filling wrapped in all purpose flour sheets and deep fried. It tastes divine with sweet tamarind chutney and mint chutney.
5. Aloo paratha
Aloo paratha is mashed potato flavored with spices stuffed inside whole wheat bread and cooked on a skillet. It is served with raita, which is finely chopped onion or cucumber mixed with yogurt. You can avoid the raita and eat the Paratha by itself. It will taste absolutely delicious
6. Lentil curry
Lentils and vegetables are used in majority of Indian dishes. Lentil curry is a very simple dish made with lentils and some seasoning spices. But this simple dish can make a heartwarming meal when served with a bowl of rice and some veggies.
7. Aloo gobi
Aloo means potato and Gobi means cauliflower. As the name implies the major ingredients in this dish are potato and cauliflower. It can served with rice / naan bread / roti.
8. Medu vadai
Medu vadai is a savory lentil fritter. It is made with urad dal (it's a kind of lentil). The lentil batter is mixed with finely chopped onion, chilis, curry leaves. The batter is made into a circular disc with a hole in the center and deep fried in oil. Medu vadai is usually served with sambar(lentil soup) and coconut chutney.
Pakora is made with chickpeas flour and onions. Chickpeas flour is made into a thick batter, mixed with thinly sliced onion and deep fried. In India pakora is usually served as a snack with tea or coffee.
Bajji is very similar to pakora. It is also made with chickpeas batter. There are many types of bajji such as onion bajji, potato bajji, plantain bajji etc. Thinly sliced potato/ onion/ plantain are dipped in the chickpeas batter and deep fried. Bajji is served with coconut chutney. I personally love eating bajji with tomato ketchup.
Hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Please share your questions and comments about Indian food and culture in the comment section. I would be happy to answer them. If you would like to learn to cook Indian food, please click here to sign up for my private virtual cooking class.