19 best vegan Indian recipes for an authentic taste of India

February 29, 2024

Explore the origins of veganism in India and unlock the rich flavours of its cuisine as we take your tastebuds on a culinary journey across the continent to discover the best vegan Indian recipes.  

It can be comforting, spicy, nutritious, and best of all, delicious — Indian food is undoubtedly one of the best-loved cuisines around the world.

The United States, Canada, Australia, and many countries in Central Europe are known to be big fans of Indian food and curries, however, it is the United Kingdom that famously has the strongest love affair with the food of India. The UK celebrates National Curry Week every October, and even small British villages often have an Indian restaurant.

But is it a cuisine that is friendly to the vegan community? In short, absolutely. Many Indian dishes are traditionally vegetarian and vegan, while almost all of them are very simple to make plant-based.

And if you’re feeling like rustling up some outrageously tasty vegan Indian food of your own at home, here are vegan Indian recipes that are easy to make, and cover the large spectrum of Indian cuisine including baltis, kormas, vindaloo, and even how to make your own vegan naan bread.

Veganism and vegetarianism in India

The Indian subcontinent has the world’s richest history of meat-free diets and cooking. The earliest records of vegetarianism are found among Hindus and Jains in India. A great influence on this is Ahisma, the ancient Indian principle of nonviolence to all living beings. It still strongly influences modern-day Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

India also produced the Kural, one of the earliest books on ethics and morality, which has several chapters on veganism and moral vegetarianism. South India in particular strongly leans towards vegetarianism, and many South Indian restaurants around the world offer completely meat-free menus.

Recent polls show that India is rapidly embracing veganism and plant-based diets. that a recent YouGov poll indicates 60 per cent of respondents are open to trying a . Many of the poll respondents also agreed that a is a healthy diet, that it prevents animal exploitation and damage to the environment, and that it is an easy lifestyle to maintain.

Many of those who took part in the poll believe India’s strong history of eating meat-free will play a key role in the success of veganism in the country. Mr Prashanth Vishwanath, Country Director at Veganuary India, said to India Today that “The Indian public has voted for change, and helped by Veganuary’s range of free resources and guidance, they can exercise their choice to transition into a healthier plant-based lifestyle.”

Hopefully you’re now feeling inspired to join in this incredible lineage of plant-based cuisine, so here are a hand-picked selection of incredible Indian recipes you can try at home.

Sweet Potato Kadhi Pakora

What’s Kadhi, I hear you ask? It’s a traditional Indian gravy, which varies in flavour depending on which part of the country you try it in. This recipe is a Northern Indian style Kadhi, with savoury, spicy and sour notes that will make your tastebuds sing. Pakoras have been around in Indian cuisine for a very long time and can be found in recipes that date back to 1130 CE.

They can be a delightful snack, starter, or, in the case of this dish, a key component of a main meal.

Combined with the taste of the sweet potato-based pakoras, we think you’ll want to revisit this deliciousness many times over. The protein in the gram flour (from our good friend chickpeas) and the soya yoghurt means you also get a lovely hit of from this dish.

Vegan Tofu Saag Paneer

If your vegan senses are tingling at the sight of the word ‘paneer’, fear not, because this is a fully plant-based version of the Indian dairy dish. A favourite recipe among Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati-speaking areas, this is a healthier version as we swap the cheese for protein-packed tofu, also giving you a lovely dose of calcium, manganese, iron and vitamin A.

It’s also a meal Popeye would struggle to resist thanks to spinach making up such a big component, meaning you’ll also get lots of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, and . This is a versatile option as it can be served as a main course, or a smaller dish as part of a thali. Just increase or decrease the ingredients as needed.

Vegan Curried ‘Goat’

Which of these vegan Indian recipes deserves to be called the goat? Well, the way in which this recipe mimics meaty flavour and texture with soya chunks gives it a pretty strong claim, all without harming any animals.

Did you think curried goat was exclusively part of Caribbean cooking? Because it actually originated in the Indian subcontinent, going on to become a staple in Southeast Asian and Caribbean cooking.

And it’s no longer a culinary flavour vegans or plant-curious eaters need to miss out on, thanks to the ever-versatile use of . That means this is a great dish to have on a workout day to replenish your muscles. The traditional curry sauce is wonderfully thick and oozing flavour, and can be as mild or spicy as you wish.

Vegan Turmeric Dosa Filled With Coconut Dahl

It was mentioned earlier that South Indian cuisine leans heavily into vegetarian and plant-based cuisine, and the dosa is one of the most popular foods across the world to come from this part of India. Dosa is a savoury crepe, often served like a wrap to contain ingredients such as spiced potato, chutney, dahl and many more variations. They are so comforting, healthy and satiating.

And they’re not hard to make, once you know how it’s done. This fantastic recipe doesn’t require any specialist or traditional equipment and only takes 45 minutes of your time. The coconut dahl filling is to die for — get ready to become a dosa convert for life.

Vegan Lentil Balti With Rice

One of many Indian curries that have become so beloved across the United Kingdom, there is now a recognised ‘British Balti’ that is distinct from the original North Indian version of the meal.

Originally enjoyed across India and Pakistan, it was a Pakistani restaurateur who first brought the balti to the people of Birmingham, leading to a cluster of Balti Houses in the city known as the Balti Triangle.

The beauty of the Balti is that it’s a , traditionally prepared in a ‘Balti bowl’. You can use a regular saucepan, though, for this cracking dish which unleashes the power of lentils, a big staple ingredient in Indian cooking.

Vegan Vegetable Korma with Pilaf Rice

Korma is an anglicisation of the Hindustani word ‘qormā’, which refers to this cooking style that dates all the way back to the Indo-Persian Mughal Empire. It continues to be one of the most popular Indian dishes to this day, and is another firm favourite in the UK.

Korma refers to ‘braise’, the traditional cooking technique that creates a sauce that is both mild, creamy and with a lovely hint of sweetness. You may have had it down as an Indian dish that requires dairy yoghurt, but for this version we are swapping the dairy out for coconut milk. A healthy teaspoon of will give you a lovely energy boost.

Vegan Carrot Bhajis

I’m yet to meet a single soul who doesn’t love an onion bhaji — besides being comforting and delicious, they can be enjoyed as a starter, side dish, snack, or finger food at a party. They are a traditional staple of Punjabi Pakistani and Gujarati, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada and Telugu cuisines throughout the Indian subcontinent.

As well as onion, these bhajis also use carrots to increase their factor. There’s also a yoghurt dip to prepare, which will put the the bliss levels up dramatically.

Creamy Vegan Coconut, Kale, Spinach and Chickpea Curry

The love affair between chickpeas and Indian cooking is practically Shakespearean, producing staple dishes such as chana masala, and appearing in almost every veggie thali across the land.

Besides being so tasty in a curry, packed with nutrients, fibre and protein, on top of being a highly affordable food. Win, win win.

Try throwing them into this dish which will only take you 30 minutes. It’s so creamy, and the masala, ginger and turmeric flavour profile will lead your tastebuds on a merry sing and dance.

Vegan One-Pot Curry with Jackfruit - vegan Indian recipes

With the huge surge of people going vegan or adopting more plant-based meals into their diet in the last ten years, is one of the foods that has become a very trendy item in the West, having already been a staple ingredient throughout Asia.

Thankfully that trend is yet to fizzle out, and with good reason – besides its amazing ability to mimic food like pulled pork, it’s also a wonderful source of fibre, protein, vitamin C, B vitamins, and antioxidants. This dish packs in loads of vegetables so will be super satiating, while only containing 329 calories. Serve it with rice to ensure you’re full for several hours afterwards.

Vegan Chickpea Makhani

First off, if you’re feeling completely daunted by the image for this one, you don’t have to serve this in a pineapple. Only if you fancy doing it and wowing your friends, loved ones, and yourself! Makhani translates to ‘butter’ in Punjabi, but, again, fear not, as we’ll be using delicious cashew cream here.

Chickpeas, spinach, onion, and the healthy fats in the cashews mean you can look forward to a lovely afterglow after tucking into this dish.

Vegan Keema Naan Bread - vegan Indian recipes

For non-vegans, not having a naan bread with your curry almost feels tantamount to a crime. The name is Indo-Persian, and means “bread baked on hot pebbles”. Sadly for the plant-based types among us, naan more often than not uses ghee, butter, or dairy yoghurt.

It’s time to switch that up with this incredible vegan naan bread recipe, cooked in the keema mince style. The mince is made using TVP (textured vegetable protein), one of the highest and healthiest sources of plant-based protein. Once you try this naan, which swaps the dairy for plant milk, you will never crave a non-vegan naan ever again.

Vegan Green Bean & Roasted Potato Curry

As if potatoes weren’t already the best thing in the world, they also happen to be one of the best vegetables for Indian cooking — anyone who has tucked into a Bombay aloo or a saag aloo is sure to agree with this factual statement. Green beans are also a wonderful match for curries — paired together and you have a vegan curry that’s incredibly rich in protein, , and vitamins.

The curry paste for this meal combines ginger, chilli, coriander, cumin, turmeric and garam masala. There’s no need to keep the receipt for this one, you’ll want to revisit it time and time again.

Vegetable Dhansak - vegan Indian recipes

Dhansak is an Indian dish that hails from the Parsi community, descended from Persians who settled in medieval India. Hence the fact that it is a dish with combined Persian and Gujarati elements. It has traditionally always used a mixture of lentils and vegetables.

While Dhansak would often combine said lentils and vegetables with a serving of meat, the button mushrooms instead provide a delicious texture, and there’s protein a-plenty from the peas and red lentils. The sweet and spicy notes make this an irresistible meal to whip up in around half an hour.

Tantalising Vegan Tempeh Vindaloo - vegan Indian recipes

If just seeing the word vindaloo is already giving you the spice sweats, this is, indeed, the entry on this list that may have you feeling like you’re starring in an episode of Hot Ones. It’s brought to us by the legendary vegan cooking duo BOSH! If you’re feeling spicy, this is the one for you.

The vindaloo is a truly international dish — it originated in Goa, southwestern India, where it was cooked by local chefs who based the idea on a Portuguese cooking style named ‘carne de vinha d’alhos/meat in garlic marinade’ when sailors visited the Indian coastal area with their preserved food ingredients.

Adding lots of Indian spices, it became what we now know as the vindaloo. In fact, the version found in British Indian curry houses is even spicier than the Goan original

Veggie Curry and Vegan Peshwari Naans

If the vegan naan recipe left you wanting more flatbread goodness in your life, don’t you worry. If you love a sweet naan, these vegan peshwari naan breads might just be a game-changer for you, especially for anyone who misses having them from their pre-vegan days. They are fluffy and will hit your sweetness pleasure centres with aplomb.

This curry is ticking every conceivable nutrition box with vibrant ingredients like butternut squash, chickpeas and peppers. A fantastic dish to impress friends and family with.

Vegan Chickpea, Spinach and Peanut Butter Curry - vegan Indian recipes

We tip our hat to all the Indian chefs throughout history who have ensured spinach ends up on more plates throughout the world. Because the hype around this leafy green’s nutrition profile is not hype, it’s a brilliant source of Vitamin A, C, K1, folic acid, iron, and calcium.

Pairing it with the peanut butter flavours of this recipe almost guarantees converting die-hard spinach sceptics into superfans of this super-vegetable. Plus, this mouth-watering meal will only take 30 minutes of your time to make.

Fragrant Lentil Curry - vegan Indian recipes

We’re rolling the red carpet out once more for lentils for this tantalising curry from plant-based chef Gaz Oakley.

Besides being one of the most popular vegan chefs out there, he is a brilliant advocate for the health and fitness benefits of a vegan diet, so it’s no surprise that this dish is packed with superfood herbs and spices like cumin and turmeric and the fantastic protein source that is lentils.

Quick Vegetable Biriyani

Biryani has always been a dish that is easily adaptable for vegans and vegetarians. It’s another recipe that holds historic roots in Persian cooking, before becoming an Indian staple meal.

With cashews, warm spices such as cinnamon and saffron, and brimming with lots of veggies, I’m struggling to not drool over my keyboard as I type these words. This brilliant biriyani recipe comes courtesy of Grace Regan, the founder of the UK’s first vegan curry house in Walthamstow.

Vegan Butter Chicken With Tofu

Because it wouldn’t be a vegan recipe roundup without making an appearance, would it now? And, boy, are you in for some creamy goodness with this creamy vegan butter chicken recipe.

The ‘chicken’ is completely cruelty-free, of course, thanks to the ingenious way the tofu is prepared. This recipe can be put together in under an hour for a group of four, and you won’t hear any complaints from your guests.

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