World Vegan Day | Here’s how to veganise your favourite Indian dishes
Replace your paneer with tofu in dishes like palak paneer and cow's milk with almond milk or others in milk-based desserts | Representative image by Freepik

World Vegan Day | Here’s how to veganise your favourite Indian dishes

From the delectable malai kofta to the humble curd rice, everything can be veganised if you have chosen the cruelty-free lifestyle. Here’s how to do it

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Indian food is one of the most popular and sought-after cuisines in the world, with the spices and condiments that give the dishes their distinctive flavours and fragrances to satiate the taste buds.

But if you have chosen to be a vegan and follow a cruelty-free lifestyle, do you have to give up on your favourite Indian dishes that use a whole lot of milk and milk products like ghee, paneer, and yogurt? Not really. On World Vegan Day (November 1), here are some tips on how to veganise your favourite Indian dishes.

What is veganism?

Vegans are those who abstain from the use of all animal products, particularly in their food. They avoid consuming meat, eggs, and dairy products. Some vegans take it even further and try to avoid using animal products and animal-tested products. They are motivated by their concern for the welfare of animals.

By eliminating all animal products, a vegan diet that is not properly planned could lead to nutritional deficiencies that could cause serious health issues. The diet would have to be strengthened with fortified foods or dietary supplements.

Before we dive into vegan alternatives for dishes, let us first look at what to substitute certain ingredients with.

Ingredient substitutes

Fresh cream: You can substitute fresh cream with cashew cream or coconut milk or cream. Use sweetened condensed coconut milk instead of condensed milk for desserts.

Ghee: Vegan butter serves as a good substitute for ghee. Some Indian cooks use vegetable oil instead of ghee.

Honey: You can use maple syrup or agave nectar to replace honey.

Meat: Instead of meat, you can use pulses like beans, chickpeas, lentils, and split peas in appetisers, soups, dals, and curries.

Cow’s milk yogurt: A good replacement for cow’s milk yogurt is plant-based yogurt, which is widely available. Coconut yogurt is also something that can be experimented with.

Best vegan substitutes for some Indian dishes

Vegan Raita: It is made with unsweetened full-fat plant-based yogurt. The ingredients include cucumber, garlic, clove, fresh ginger, fresh cilantro, fresh mint leaves, lime, ground cumin, garam masala, cayenne pepper or Indian red chili powder, and kosher salt.

Punjabi Palak Tofu: This favourite Punjabi dish can be prepared by using tofu instead of paneer and vegan butter instead of butter. This can be eaten with rice or roti along with some vegan raita for a healthy and delicious meal.

Rajasthani Malai Kofta: This vegan kofta curry can be made with no cream, yogurt, or ghee. Instead, use popular vegetables like carrots, potatoes, capsicum, bottle gourd, and peas, with some green chillies and salt for flavour, and use minimal oil.

Vegan Butter Chicken: What do you replace chicken with? Tofu! And prepare a delicious sauce with spices, tomato, onions, garlic, and cashew to give it a creamy, buttery flavour. This will have a perfect mix of sweet and spicy.

Peanut Curd Rice: This South Indian curd rice is made from peanut yogurt. You can also prepare it with other vegan yogurts like coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, or rice milk. And it will be just as creamy.

Cashew Milk Kulfi: This vegan variant uses cashew and coconut milk instead of milk and condensed milk. Fill it with dry fruits, and it will be just as tasty and creamy.

Maharashtrian Almond Milk Sheera: This dessert which is famous in homes across Maharashtra uses almond milk as a substitute for cow’s milk and vegetable oil instead of ghee.

Tofu Tikka Masala: A delectable replacement for chicken tikka masala. Marinate tofu chunks in a homemade spice blend and a creamy vegan yogurt, then broil until charred, and coat it with a tomato-onion gravy.

Vegan Palak Paneer with Tofu: Use tofu instead of cheese, and club it with a fragrant, creamy spinach curry.

There are a host of recipes for vegan dishes available on the web. Get adventurous and make this day extra special.

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