India has an awfully wealthy culinary heritage with recipes that return a whole bunch of years. With its 28 states and eight union territories, every area brings one thing to the desk. Nevertheless, as various as Indian meals could also be, there are various dishes which might be generally made all through the nation, all crafted with a household’s distinctive spin to make one thing acquainted style really unique and welcoming. We’re not going to try a deep dive into Indian meals (as a result of that may require an encyclopedia or two), however we’ll break down the necessities.

Observe this information if you’re consuming Indian meals anyplace—even in India—so you understand precisely what to ask for to make sure your meal is vegan. For the sake of comfort, we’re classifying the meals from India into the 4 completely different areas they originate from: North, South, West, and East. Do not forget that inside these areas there could also be variations, however with this information it is possible for you to to maneuver your method by way of the labyrinth of fashionable Indian delicacies. 

India: a vegetarian paradise

India is a good place for vegetarians, because it’s extremely populated with people who abstain from meat. Some surveys go as far as to assert that 30 p.c of the inhabitants follows a vegetarian weight loss program.


Whereas as much as a 3rd of residents don’t eat meat, dairy is kind of widespread in lots of conventional Indian diets. This plentiful use of dairy is a reasonably current phenomenon—for hundreds of years, it was unattainable for most individuals as a result of its excessive value.

Spices are additionally a necessary a part of the culinary tradition—they’re important to the distinctive taste of Indian meals. It’s not unusual to get pleasure from a dish crafted with 15 or extra spices at a time. Whereas spices like turmeric, cumin, and chilies are used all through India, the way in which they’re used differ in response to the area the dish originates from. Right here is your primer damaged down by area. 

North India

The panorama of North India spans hilly vacation locations which might be a part of the Indian Himalayas, the grassy fertile plains of rivers, and the Thar Desert.

The meals that comes from this various space echoes these varied climatic sentiments. North Indian savory meals makes use of extra warming spices like cumin and cinnamon and is dependent upon recent inexperienced chilies so as to add fairly a bit of warmth.

This sort of meals additionally has a repute for being very heavy on dairy (particularly cottage cheese—known as paneer and cream), eggs, and even meat. Regardless of this dependence on animal-based components, it’s not off the desk for vegan eaters—you simply should know what to order. 

Staple North Indian vegan dishes embody flatbreads or rotis both roasted on the pan or fried into puffy pooris comprised of wheat flour served with a facet of a legume-based gravy made with chickpeas, kidney beans, black gram, or pigeon peas and a dry vegetable dish like pan-fried spiced potatoes (aloo) or okra (bhindi).

Many occasions, the rotis are was parathas that are often stuffed flatbreads, aloo paratha being the most well-liked amongst them. Whereas butter or clarified butter (ghee) is usually used to cook dinner the parathas, any vegetable oil might be simply substituted as an alternative.

Among the many different grains in use, rice will get a flavourful kick with spices and greens within the type of a pulav.


Chickpeas are utilized in chole and kidney beans make up rajma—each staple dishes each North Indian dwelling cook dinner makes a minimum of as soon as per week. Simmered with a base of tomatoes and onions with a great deal of spices, each are often ready vegan, even in eating places. Dal is a well-liked facet that’s eaten with rotis in addition to rice virtually throughout India in varied kinds. Created from cut up legumes, dals from North India are often yellow-colored and mildly spiced gravies which might be used as dips for rotis and parathas.

The dry vegetable-based sides are the place anybody who needs to eat vegan can simply discover one thing to select from. Widespread sides embody one made with potato and peas (aloo matar) which is usually made dry or generally with a tomato-based gravy, spiced okra (bhindi masala), and roasted greens in pickling spices (achari sabzi). Any one in every of these flavorful dishes served with rice or roti is greater than sufficient for a satisfying plant-based meal. 

These are only a few of the numerous vegan dishes one can discover in North Indian delicacies. Be aware: throughout the scope of North Indian delicacies, many sub-cuisines like Kashmiri, Sindhi, Himachali, and Rajasthani additionally function conventional vegetable-based dishes which might be straightforward to veganize if not already vegan.

South India

The south of India consists of primarily flat land with just a few hilly ranges however has an plentiful tropical shoreline. Because of this coconuts function fairly closely in lots of its cuisines since they’re grown there. These tropical fruits are most frequently used to present vegetable-based dishes their distinctive and craveable creaminess. To distinction this creamy texture, pepper and crimson chilies are probably the most generally used spices in South India. 


Rice dominates on this area, making its method into fermented batters and even noodles (sevai/idiyappam). Pillowy tender rice truffles (idlis) full of lentils and savory breakfast crepes (dosas) are two fashionable morning meals, each usually served with a barely spicy coconut chutney.

Craving extra? Crispy deep-fried savory lentil donuts (vadas); a tender porridge comprised of damaged wheat and greens (upma); and a flavored rice of tamarind, spices, greens, and lentils (sambar) are among the many different vegan-friendly dishes. Dairy within the type of yogurt abounds within the delicacies right here, however typically talking, South Indian delicacies is mostly probably the most vegan-friendly of the areas.

West India

The delicacies from this a part of India has been influenced equally by the North and South however brings its personal depth of flavors. Very like the South, the West of India finds itself influenced by its ample shoreline. Whereas recent coconuts are generally utilized in many vegetable dishes that originated nearer to the coast, the mainland prefers to make use of peanuts as an alternative. Additionally pulling from the South, rice is extraordinarily prevalent within the delicacies of the West, however wheat has made its inroads right here as effectively.

An on a regular basis meal in West India will include dry vegetable dishes often known as sabzi or shaak, plain or flavored rice, skinny flatbreads made with completely different grains known as roti, phulka, or bhakri; and daal comprised of completely different lentils. All of those are typically vegan.

Sprouts are additionally a typical function and are served as scrumptious gravies (missal, usal) with a facet of native Indian bread (pav).

East India

Delicacies from the East is a combined bag of types with Indian flavors but in addition some influences from neighboring nations.

Mustard oil is the first oil used right here and supplies a pungent taste to all the things it touches.

Whereas this delicacies isn’t as vegan-friendly as the remainder of the nation, there are nonetheless many historically made vegetable dishes which might be naturally vegan.


In Bengali delicacies, dry sabzis are roasted in mustard oil with a particular 5 spice combine. Rice and wheat-based rotis are additionally staples right here in addition to vegan-friendly dals.

As you enterprise additional east, Southeast Asian influences begin to pop up with dishes like steamed dumplings known as momos and even pickles made with bamboo shoots and an Indian model of tempeh or natto known as axone.

Indian desserts and snacks

Maybe the toughest factor to seek out vegan in Indian delicacies is dessert. Desserts are often seen as an indulgence and, because of this, dairy finds itself creeping into virtually each dessert in India. There could also be some conventional desserts which have escaped the intrusion, however these are typically a uncommon discover.

Snacks, nonetheless, are plentiful on the subject of vegan choices, and Indians love their snacks. These savory treats are sometimes deep-fried to supply that craveable crunch issue. From samosas and chalkis to banana chips and stuffed balls of wheat flour (kachori), you’ll find vegan-friendly snacks throughout the nation. 


Widespread vegan avenue meals like pani puri, bhel puri, sev puri, vada pav, samosa pav, dhokla, and patra can be discovered on snack menus.

Professional tip when consuming out: whereas these meals are naturally vegan, it’s higher to substantiate and state that you simply don’t eat dairy. Say you’re allergic—it’s probably the most simple method to make sure the kitchen doesn’t use dairy when getting ready your meals. 

When you’ve learn this and puzzled “What about curry?” … right here’s a enjoyable truth: the phrase ‘curry’ is a misnomer used to explain all Indian gravies; it’s not used as generically in India in any respect.

For extra on vegan Indian delicacies, learn