Today in my third part of How to Order Vegan we’re going to cover some but likely not all, Indian food. There are so many types of Indian food that I doubt I could get it all. I mean the country does have a billion people in it so, probably they’ve created more types of food than my tiny brain can comprehend.
However, I am going to try to give you some advice for ordering in Indian restaurants or Indian fusion restaurants. The great part of this is that a large part of the population of India is vegetarian. It is part of their largest religion to honor animals and not to consume them. This usually means it’s not too hard to find vegetarian and vegan food in Indian places.
*All the delicious things at Namaste Cafe.
That said there are a few things to look for:
-Indian breads such as roti & naan are amazing. Many of them are made with butter. If you ask you can generally find out easy enough and they can be made with oil instead. Some also contain milk products so you’ll want to check on that as well.
-Ghee is a clarified butter commonly used in Indian cooking. Many vegetarian dishes contain Ghee so make sure to check that your dish is free of butter.
-Paneer is a word for types of cheese used in Indian cooking. It is a popular vegetarian dish but if you’re looking for something vegan you'll want to steer clear.
-Most curries and Chana type dishes, Chana Aloo and Chana Masala, are based in coconut milk. Which is delicious, healthy and accents spices. So if your dish looks creamy and you are told it’s coconut milk, you are in the clear.
*Chana Saag from Gorkha Palace.
-There are many ways to garnish Indian dishes. Chutneys are remarkable mixtures to dress up food. You will want to look out for yogurt based ones. A lot of them are made with coconut milk but if it’s creamy, I’d double check.
*Tremendous pile of food from New India in Austin, Texas.
*Side note: Indian food can be HOT as HELL if you want it to be. If you’re more on the mild side, be warned when asked about spice level. Hotter can be VERY HOT. I love it but I know not everyone wants to melt their face off.
*Art by The Playful Indian.
-If you can get it vegan, you should have Dal soup. It is wonderful. It can be hard to come by vegan as the lentils are often cooked in ghee beforehand.
-I don't feel that I need to get into the "avoid meat part" of this too much. I think you know that is the first step. The last bit I can suggest is that appetizers are one of the best parts of Indian food. Getting to stuff your face with pakoras and samosas is about as wonderful as appetizers can get. I have never had this happen personally, but I have been told that on occasion the breading is made with diary or chicken stock. If you have have any questions about this, ask your server. They will either know or will go find out for you.
With that, I heartily encourage you to explore Indian food. It is unmatched for aromatic magic as far as I am concerned.