Indian cuisine with all its heady flavours and aromas is perceived to be predominantly vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan. Veganism is still considered to be a fairly modern concept adopted from the west. But if we look closely, many of our desi yummies are already plant-based without any effort to veganise them.
Let’s begin with the queen of street food – the legendary pani puri! Also known as gol gappa in the north and puchka in the east of India, this crowd favourite is out and out vegan. When we talk street food, the lip-smacking samosa and kachori would perhaps top the popularity chart. These deep-fried savouries filled with spiced vegetables or lentils are as vegan as they come.
Moving on to more everyday food, the basic dal, chawal, sabzi and roti or idli-sambhar meals prepared in a majority of Indian homes are primarily plant-based. Even breakfast dishes such as poha and upma are as healthy as they are vegan-friendly.
Although many desi beverages like masala chai, lassi, buttermilk etc. are dairy-based, there’s a surprisingly long list of vegan ones! Jaljeera, and Kokum sharbat- the tangy, spicy summer appetisers that aid digestion, in addition to detoxifying the body while pumping it with vitamin C, are a refreshing alternative to the post-meal buttermilk.
Kanji, also a summer favourite, is a tangy fermented drink with a smokey aroma that tingles the taste buds with its spicy goodness. Shikanji or nimbu pani is popularly enjoyed in savoury or sweet versions across local street stalls and high end Indian restaurants.
Most sharbats like khus, rose, badam, chandan-kesar, aam panna, bel are not only soothing but also have ample health benefits. Two sugar free summer beverages that deserve a special mention for their soul satisfying wholesomeness are sattu sharbat and solkadhi. If you’re today years old without ever having tried them, it’s time to make some major life changes!
the sweet stuff
No desi meal is complete without dessert and vegan desi meals are no different. Biting into the golden spirals of a jalebi or a silver topped kaju katli brings even more joy when you realise that no animals were harmed in the making of the ongoing party in your mouth. Agra Petha or candied white pumpkin is another plant-based hit that comes in varieties like kesar, rose and the yummy angoori petha.
Include some of these in your weekly mealplan. You can even choose to end your desi plant-based meal with some unpolished saunf, anardana and a paan to pack a vegan punch.
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