VEGAN INDIAN FOOD & PLANT-BASED MENU OPTIONS
If you're looking for hearty, flavorful vegan options then Indian should be at the top of your list. You'll find that most Indian restaurants offer a plethora of vegan options, and they're a great place to dine with both vegan and non-vegan friends.
Here's some high-level suggestions on how to enhance your plant-based Indian experience:
Northern and Southern Indian are two completely different experiences. North Indian cuisine, which is more popular in American culture, is generally made up vegetables, breads, and sauces. Whereas South Indian cuisine is mostly spicy dry food made with dals (lentils).
South Indian food is slowly staking its claim in the popularity contest, though. Dosa is a one of their sought-after dishes, so much so that a lot of foodies are calling it the next Ramen.
Chana Masala, Aloo Gobi, Vegetable Vindaloo, and any type of Daal are always sure-fire hits.
Make sure the restaurant uses vegetable oil instead of ghee (clarified butter) in their curries. If not, most will accommodate and cook your dish from scratch.
The only other ingredients to watch out for are yogurt, cream, and paneer (cheese). Most of the menu items should be labeled accordingly so it's not hard to dig.
Naan bread is usually not vegan. But most places offer substitutes like chapatti and rotti.
Here's a general overview on some plant-based menu items that you should expect to see on most Indian menus. But this isn't an end-all-be-all list. Make sure to tell your server you're eating a vegan meal and they will always be happy to point you in the right direction.
Vegetable samosas - wheat flower shell, filling usually made with peas, potatoes, carrots, and onions, curry
Vegetable Pakoras - classic Indian finger food made with potatoes, onions, spinach, and traditional spices (chili, garam masala, coriander)
North Indian Entrees:
Chana Masala - chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, coriander seed, garlic, chiles, ginger
Aloo Gobi - potatoes, cauliflower, Indian spices (turmeric)
Aloo Mutter - potato & peas cooked in onion & tomato sauce
Okra Masala - fresh diced baby okra cooked with onion & tomatoes
Masoor Daal - red lentil stew made with ginger and spices (coriander, turmeric, cumin)
Tofu Tikka Masala - This dish is traditionally made with chicken but you can often find it with tofu, tomato, onion, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, coconut (just make sure the sauce isn't made with cream)
Vegetable Biryani - mixed veggies (usually carrots, green beans, potatoes, and cauliflower)
Vegetable Vindaloo - another classic Indian dish made lots of spice and mixed veggies (zucchini, carrots, green pepper, cauliflower, etc)
South Indian Entrees:
Sadha Dosa - plain crepes made out of rice and lentil flour
Paper Dosa - thin and long lentil crepe
Masala Dosa - crepes filled with potato and onion
Rava Dosa - thin wheat and lentil crisp
Onion Rava Dosa - thin wheat and lentil crisp with onion
Chappathi Kuruma - thin wheat bread with vegetable kuruma
Daal - based in lentils and spiced with turmeric, cumin, garlic, and onion
Chapati - whole wheat flour roasted bread
Pav Bajji - five types of vegetables and special spices
Hand-picked favorites from the BLOK founders:
For protein-packed options we love Chana Masala and anything made with lentils (daal or dal)
For hearty, veggie-packed options our go-to is Vegetable Vindaloo and Aloo Gobi