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sattvic soul Mar 3rd, 2010 18:55

Vegan food in India!
If you are a vegan who is traveling to India… and are adventurous And have the ability to stomach spices… there are plenty of options available in vegan foodeasily available!!

Being a recent convert to the vegan life…I have now spent a sizable amount of time trying to figure out what are the options available in India...

The most obvious is South Indian cuisine.

Breakfast: Dosas (thin n crispy rice pancakes), Idli's (small, round steamed rice batter cakes) vada's (similar cakes deep fried), Upma's (powdered semolina dish, lightly spiced) (specify without ghee/butter to make sure). All of these are served with Sambhar ( mildly sweet n spicy lentil based gravy) and chutney.

Lunch & dinner : Rice dishes ( Bisi bele bath, Puli ogoray, Pulao), sambhars, most veggie dishes, appams (version of Dosas), veg curries, chutney's, rotti's (Crips almost dry pancakes made with rice/raghi powders, veggie stews (with coconut milk)... the list goes on and on.

North Indian Food: this is the most popular cuisine in restaurants... most dishes will have some butter ghee or cream in it so whatever u order, u need to specify.
However there are options here too! :)

Breakfast n brunch : Paratha (veggie stuffed wheat pancakes) Makke ki roti (corn pancakes), Puri* bhaji (Puri = fluffy, deep fried, palm sized pancakes served with potato dish), chole bature (chikpeas gravy served with large Puris*)

Lunch : most roti's/nan's, saag (gravy of pureed green leafy veggies), rajma rice (kidney beans n rice), Chole, veggies made with tomato paste, harra bharra kebabs, veggie pulao's and veggie biryani (rice dishes)....

Please specify No Paneer (Cottage Cheese) in your veggie gravies!!

Mahrashtrian cuisine : for the ones who can handle spice and have a strong stomach!!

Breakfast : Misal pav & usal(lentil gravy with bread), poha(lightly spiced puffed rice), bhajjia (veggie dipped in batter and deep fried), ...

Snacks : vada pav, samosa's, bhajji's

Lunch : roti's, dhal, veggies (lightly stir fried with seasoning and sometimes shreds of coconut), and my fav.. solkadi (made with coconut milk)!!

Traditional maharastrian lunches in restaurants is a little difficult to come by however... :dontgetit

Indian Chinese!! ( all Chinese restaurants in India)
If your dish is vegetarian and does not contain Paneer… It is vegan!! Anything on the menu!

There are plenty more cuisines in India… too many actually. I have listed down the popular ones that I am aware of, any one wants to add some more… Please be my guest!

In almost every part of the country there will be standard food available like Puri Bhaji’s, Dosa’s, Dhals (basic lentil gravy part of standard Indian meal) Roti’s, Steamed rice and simple veggie dishes like curries and stir fried dishes.

Also now available in Metro’s , like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore are Vegan sausages, salami’s and burger pattice!! These are available at Godrej Nature Fresh stores and a some Frozen food stores keep them. Not very sure of the other cities, but I have found it in Bandra (Mumbai) at Nature Fresh and Judes frozen foods!!

For desserts you can try our Jalebi’s and gulab jamuns!! Sorbets are also increasingly available in the metro cities…

Soya milk is fairly easily available in most stores and the popular local brand is called Sofit.

So chill and discover a whole new world of yummy food in India!!! cool: :D

jusmail Mar 8th, 2010 19:12

Thanks. Very comprehensive. Noodles also needs a mention. Only thing that is available at high altitudes.

NatashaC Mar 8th, 2010 19:46

Gulab jamuns are made with milk (powdered milk and fresh milk)! (not vegan)

kunsjoi Mar 8th, 2010 20:12

I've been a vegan for over 6 years now and half of it I've spent in India..

Here's my 2 cents:

Most north indian vegetables/curries/subjis etc consist of cream or butter or khoya or paneer. Make sure when you order a subji you tell them not to put any milk or milk product (milk, Ghee, butter, yogurt, paneer, khoya, cheese). Additionally you can tell them that you are allergic to milk and they'll be more serious about your request, otherwise most ppl will think that you're from mars! The milk allergy trick has worked for me most of the times..

Also at a lot of places the Naan consists of milk or yogurt and sometimes even eggs.. Plain tandoori roti generally is a safe choice.. but always inquire when ordering..

Indian Chinese -- 99% of the times is non vegan because of the use of Ajinomoto (which is made from Fish scales) .. So if you decide to order Chinese make sure to get it sans ajinomoto..

South Indian food is a safe bet.. Though I would say stay away from Rava Dosa.. It tends to consist of yogurt in it's batter.. I came to know about this when I was in bangalore.. Quite a few restaurants used yogurt in Rava Dosa..!! Also make sure to check whether the sambhar has Ghee/Butter Tadka.. a lot of restaurants do that..

Maharashtrian food definitely seems to be a safer choice.. most things tend to be made in Oil.. even a lot of sweet dishes are deep fried in Oil! But again make sure you check/inquire before eating..

Gulab Jamun's are not vegan AT ALL. Jalebis can be vegan depending on what are ingredients of the batter and whether they've been deep fried in Ghee or Dalda/Oil.. And that said, I would say stay away from Dalda jalebis anyway.. They are worse in terms of health impact than ghee jalebis.. I would say if you're dying to eat a desert your best bet is to make it yourself.. Soymilk kulfi, Kaju Katli, Dates Roll and so on..

And yea, last but not the least.. Sofit soymilk sucks big time! Try the imported Silk Soymilk.. much much better..

sattvic soul Mar 15th, 2010 17:24

thanks ppls!

I stand corrected!! so how do i make changes on the post?? not very tech savvy... and do not want to misguide ppl![noway]

agree that sofit totally sucks... tried making mayo out of it. eew.
but its also the most easily available.... out of the metro's?

I dont have much of a sweet tooth so didnt know about gulab jamuns!! thought it was just flour!:rolleyes:
Ajinomoto is not just msg? wow.. learn something new everyday! the way animal products are sneaked into almost all products...:mad:!! its maddening*&%^&!!

the list of indian food is exhaustive... the idea was to give the vegan traveller a list of the most easily available vegan food options!!
Please add more options... sure i missed out tooo many! ;)

rainleaf Jan 14th, 2011 04:14

i've heard that veg pulau isnt vegan,(also jeera rice) they put ghee or butter in the rice!!!!!

rainleaf Jan 14th, 2011 04:23

rava dosa not vegan- are masala dosas vegan?
I'm planning to stay a couple of month in south india during spring/summer, and was wondering, as someone said that rava dosas arent vegan... Are masala dosas are vegan?.... I'm not sure about difference between rava dosa and masala dosa...
Idlies are vegan?
are there "coconut" curries?

Golghar Jan 14th, 2011 04:54

The only way you can be sure you are getting vegan food is to prepare the food yourself or to supervise the entire procedure. You're in India after all: dietary rules are nothing novel here. Just talk your way into the restaurant kitchen.

narendra.d Jan 14th, 2011 11:40

@rainleaf: Veg pulao or Jeera rice is vegan if not prepared with Butter/Ghee.
Idli/Dosa/Rava Dosa are vegan as is, but some restaurants add Ghee as well on the side. You can ask not to add ghee.
Coconut curries, in Goa or kerala, elsewhere in south mostly coconut is used in chutney's and gravies.

rainleaf Jan 16th, 2011 17:02

Thank you for your advice, Golghar and narendra.d. I really love south indian food, so I'm happy to know it might be possible.
I was wondering, do they speak a similar language in kerala and tamil nadu (are they related or not?), or are they completely different? I was thinking to learn some basic words or phrases concerning food etc..., and i guess this is completely different than hindi?

ashwinnaagar Jan 25th, 2011 22:21

Gujarati and maharastrian cuisine is more or less vegan if you avoid kadhi,basundi,shrikhand etc.
Most veggies,daals dont use any dairy products,all chutneys,snacks,preserves too are devoid of dairy.
And these cuisines are typically sweet,sour,so people who want avoid hot fod too can sample them(depends on the cook though).

rainleaf Feb 7th, 2011 19:52

Thank you ashwinnaagar, i have never been to Gujarat, although i might have traveled through Maharastra (not sure though which cities are there?), would be nice to see some new places... Which places are nice, interesting, in those states?

ashwinnaagar Feb 8th, 2011 21:36

There are many interesting places in gujarat- patan(beautiful step wells),Modhera has an amazing sun temple, Then you have other touristic but excellent places like Kutch, Dwarka,Gir forests, Somnath.
Even ahmedabad is interesting.

mhinue77 Mar 3rd, 2011 15:03

Going to a restaurant was the first test of my veganism in India. My ignorance of Indian dishes at that time aside, there were few items on the menu which excluded dairy products.

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