Image source: Vegan Indian Recipes
Ethnically-inspired dishes are a great way to experiment with new foods, spices, and flavors, and to shake up your meal routine. Indian dishes, in particular, are known for their intoxicating blend of spices and hearty ingredients, making them a great choice for cooking novices and culinary experts alike.
Another great thing about Indian cuisine is that it features some of the most plant-powered dishes around! With staples like lentils, chickpeas, potatoes, cauliflower, and other vegetables, some of your favorite Indian dishes are probably already vegetarian, if not vegan/dairy-free.
Aside from meat-based dishes, the main ingredients to watch out for, both in Indian restaurants and in your own cooking, are "ghee" and cream. When cooking at home, simply substitute a vegan margarine or plant-based oil (e.g. olive or canola) for ghee in recipes. When dining out, be sure to ask your server what type of oil or butter is used in preparation. Likewise, watch out for dishes with creamy sauces (e.g. Masala and Curry), which may sometimes be made with cream or other dairy-based ingredients. Again, the best way to be sure of ingredients in a restaurant is to ask your server.
At home, it's relatively easy to substitute a soy or coconut-based creamer (or full fat coconut milk) for the cream in your recipes. We've put together quite a diverse collection of Indian-inspired recipes. From dips and breads to entrees and desserts, you're sure to find a new favorite in the mix!
1. Indian Radish Pickle
Radishes in our backyard are a harbinger of spring, they are the first to surface actually, right along side the asparagus and the not to forget the green garlic that we have been foraging this year. The preferred Indian radish is the white daikon, but this lovely red and simple radish wooed and converted me a long time ago. It pretty red tones made quite a believer of this non-radish eating girl. This year in fact, the kids have been growing radishes in their little patch.
Quick Radish Pickle Prep Time: 1 day (to let the pickle mature)
Cook Time: 15 minutes Makes 1 and 1/2 cups (about 2 small jars)
- 20 red radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/3 cup oil (preferably mustard)
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon panch phoron (Bengali 5-Spice Blend)
- 2 limes
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Place the radishes and the salt in the colander for about 20 minutes.
- Heat the mustard oil for about 1 and a 1/2 minutes until the oil is smoking.
- Add in the mustard seeds and wait till they crackle.
- Grind the panch phoran to a powder.
- Add in the radishes and reduce the heat to low.
- Cut the limes and squeeze the juice in a separate container.
- Add in the turmeric, ginger and chili powder and toss to coat and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add in the lime juice and the ground panch phoron and the sugar.
- Add in the sesame seeds, stir well and turn off the heat.
- Let the radish pickle cool thoroughly.
- Store in small jars. They can be sealed or stored in the refrigerator for up to six months.
2. Mung Beans and Root Vegetable Curry
Mung beans are an Indian staple and are great for the liver, gall bladder and for detoxing the body. Therapeutically, they are considered one of the most important beans. They have the capacity to cleanse the heart and vascular system and to reduce toxicity. You can most likely find sprouted mung beans at your grocery store and are great to throw on salads and may be easier to digest then the cooked kind. If you're looking for a more grounding and hearty dish, whip out those Indian spices and get to work!
3. Khajur Gajar Halwa (Carrot and Date Pudding with Coconut and Cardamom)
The beauty of root vegetables, such as beetroot and carrots, are celebrated in many sweet and savory ways in India. The most common of the sweets using carrots or beetroots are called halwas or puddings. Gajar Halwa is a traditional carrot fudge pudding that is enjoyed thoughout the year. This dairy-free (vegan) version needs less attention than the traditional version and tastes just as delectable.
4. Vegan Tofu Tikka Masala
Tikka masala is a popular North Indian entrée that is usually served with naan and basmati rice. The most popular of tikka masalas is chicken tikka masala, so much so it is the national dish of Britain. But, here's an equally tasty, healthy and authentic tofu tikka masala for you, we promise you won't miss the chicken or paneer. Paneer is Indian cottage cheese which doesn't melt at high temperature and extra firm tofu replaces paneer beautifully in this vegan recipe, you can also make your own tofu at home. Don't get intimidated by the list of spices, the beauty and flavor of authentic Indian food is in the variety of fragrant spices. Also here's a tip for beginners, buy the spices from the bulk section of your local grocery stores. Some of them even carry organic spices in bulk, it's cheaper, fresher and is not going to clutter your pantry. Enjoy this Tofu tikka masala with a side of naan and fragrant basmati rice, make sure to stock on enough Malbec to wash it all down.
5. Tempeh Do Pyaaza (Tempeh in Spicy Onion Curry)
"Do Pyaaza" literally means double onion. This Indian curry is a popular curry used in meat preparations. The earthy spices and the onions will remind most Indians of the roadside small shops serving greasy chicken or lamb curries. This recipe replaces that meaty memory with a vegan/dairy-free version, that is even more yummy and heavenly! Each bite tingles the tongue with a different spice. The tempeh can be store-bought or made at home or replaced with seitan, tofu, mushrooms or vegetables like potato, cauliflower. Serve hot with any Indian Flat Bread (Roti, Chapati, Naan) or Basmati Rice!
Want more vegan, dairy-free and meatless versions of your favorite recipes? Read these articles by One Green Planet on Yahoo below:
1. 5 Popular Egg Dishes Made Without Eggs (We're Not Kidding!)
2. All You Need to Know About Tempeh (with 5 Tasty Recipes!)
3. Learn How to Make Yummy Pizza Without Meat or Cheese (Really!)
4. 5 Mouthwatering Vegan Muffin Recipes
5. 25 Cool Summer Vegan Dessert Recipes. Hell Yeah!
6. Summer Vegan Dessert Recipe Roundup