What Does Indian Food Taste Like?
Heat and strong spices are the building blocks of Indian food. It's warming, spicy and earthy with tons of potent flavor and often sweet and smoky qualities.
Spices and herbs frequently incorporated into Indian dishes are cardamom, coriander, hot pepper, turmeric, ginger and tamarind. Most of these seasonings are found in curry powder, a major component of homemade Indian foods.
Possibly the most well-known texture in Indian food is the creaminess. Curries are hugely popular, and they're rich, thick and deliciously velvety. Even non-curry items like saag paneer (greens with homemade cheese) can be creamy with pureed ingredients.
Softness is another big texture in Indian food, as in soft naan (a flatbread), rice, and tender-cooked meats and vegetables. Many Indian diets are vegetarian, however, though not necessarily vegan.
While some restaurants in the U.S. cater to the spice-sensitive American palate, Indian food is pretty much always spicy. The exceptions to this rule typically include certain condiments like raita, a cooling cucumber-yogurt sauce.
Some foods are milder than others. Korma, a creamy coconut curry, is usually a safe bet for a gentler meal. When in doubt eating out, ask if the spice level can be reduced.
This is definitely a debatable subject. Everyone has their own opinion on what the best Indian meal is, but we can tell you what some of the most popular vegan ones are.
Note that it's a good idea to ask first to make sure that what you're ordering is not made with animal or dairy products, including ghee, a clarified butter.
Here are some of the most famous (often) vegan Indian dishes:
- Chana masala (chickpeas stewed in a tomato sauce)
- Pakoras (vegetable fritters)
- Samosas (vegetable-stuffed pastries)
- Baingan bharta (a roasted eggplant dish)
- Vegetable biryani (rice with mixed vegetables)
What Should I Eat at an Indian Restaurant?
As a vegan, if you stick with the meals mentioned above (making sure to double-check the ingredients), you should be O.K. But there are tons of vegan Indian restaurants in existence, too. If you go to one, you can have anything on the menu.
Otherwise, we can tell you some of the items you should steer clear of at a traditional Indian place:
- Anything with meat, paneer or ghee listed in the ingredients
- Mango or any other type of lassi (a yogurt-based beverage)
- Naan (often made with dairy)
Are you ready to make some mouthwatering Indian meals for dinner? Watch these videos for vegan cooking tips and recipes.
In this video, Vegan Richa makes a plant-based version of palak paneer, the famous spinach and cheese dish, using tofu instead of cheese.
Here's what you'll need to make it:
- Cooking oil
- Tofu (firm is best)
- Garam masala
- Garlic powder
- Kala namak (optional)
- Vegan milk
- Chili pepper
- Sugar or maple syrup