Vegan Alternatives to Popular Indian Dishes

When it comes to popular Indian dishes, there are alternatives to suit dietary requirements. Here are some vegan alternatives to try out.

Vegan Alternatives to Popular Indian Dishes - f

The result is a flavourful and filling vegan meal.

When it comes to popular Indian dishes, there are vegan alternatives to ensure you can still enjoy the rich flavours.

Within Indian cuisine, it varies from region to region but in most cases, Indian food uses vegetables and fragrant spices.

But there are several Indian specialities which utilise meat and they tend to be extremely popular.

Dishes like chicken tikka and lamb vindaloo present layers of flavour and while they are enjoyed by many, vegetarians and vegans miss out.

However, there are meat-free substitutes which can be used to recreate these types of dishes.

They offer the same flavours and even textures just without the meat.

Here is a selection of vegan alternatives to your favourite Indian dishes.

Seitan Vindaloo

Vegan Alternatives to Popular Indian Dishes - vindaloo

Vindaloo is one of the spiciest curries around this vegan version is no exception.

Seitan may be unfamiliar to those who do not follow a vegan diet.

It is made from wheat gluten and it is ideal for this dish as it has a meaty texture and even looks like meat. It is cooked in a spicy and tangy tomato-based curry.

The result is a flavourful and filling vegan meal.

While seitan is an ideal substitute for vegans, it is not suitable for those with coeliac disease given that it is made from wheat gluten.


  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1-inch stick cinnamon
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 green capsicum, chopped
  • 1 8oz pack seitan, drained and cut into bitesize pieces
  • 1 15oz can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt

For the Vindaloo Paste

  • 1 small onion
  • 3 fresh serrano peppers, halved and seeded
  • 1-inch ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup vinegar (cider or white wine)
  • 2 dried hot red chillies, soaked in water for 15 minutes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Blend all the ingredients for the vindaloo paste in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, cinnamon, and cardamom pods. When the mustard seeds pop, add the carrots, green peppers and seitan and cook for three minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the vindaloo paste and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, lemon juice, sugar and salt to taste.
  4. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add more water if necessary. The curry should not be too dry.

This recipe was adapted from One Green Planet.

Tofu Palak Paneer

Vegan Alternatives to Popular Indian Dishes - palak

Palak paneer is a popular dish among vegetarians, however, this dish is the vegan alternative.

Typically, tofu is not used a lot within South Asian cooking but the growing trend of veganism has seen the ingredient being used more and more.

When incorporated into this dish, it has a similar texture to paneer and as it is cooked with various spices, vegans will hardly taste the difference.

What makes it even more appealing is that it is an excellent source of calcium and iron.

It also has more fibre, magnesium, zinc and folate than paneer and meat products.


  • 2 tsp oil
  • 200g block of firm tofu
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • A generous pinch of black salt (optional)
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper

For the Spinach Curry

  • 60g spinach, washed and chopped
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup almond or coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp soaked cashew nuts (15 minutes)
  • 4 Garlic cloves
  • 1-inch ginger
  • 1 Serrano chilli pepper to taste
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • ¼-½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp raw sugar or maple syrup
  • ¼-½ tsp garam masala
  • Cashew cream
  • Chilli flakes (optional)


  1. Add the oil to a pan and place on medium heat.
  2. Cut the tofu into cubes and add to the oil. Cook for three minutes, stirring gently. Add all the spices for spiced tofu and stir to coat evenly.
  3. Partially cover and continue to cook for 10 minutes on low to medium heat.
  4. Meanwhile, wash the spinach and add it to a blender. Add all the ingredients for spinach curry to the blender except the garam masala. Blend until smooth. Add the puree to the tofu and mix well.
  5. Add garam masala to taste. Cover and cook on low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Taste and add more salt and spices as needed.
  7. Drizzle the cashew cream over the dish, add the chilli flakes and serve with naan, roti or other flatbread.
    Add pepper flakes for extra heat.

This recipe was inspired by Vegan Richa.

Mushroom & Tofu Keema

Vegan Alternatives to Popular Indian Dishes - keema

In Indian cuisine, keema is usually associated with any type of minced meat. However, in this vegan alternative, it is the mushrooms which provide the meatiness.

Chestnut mushrooms have a dense, meaty texture when they are cooked and it is these that are used in this dish.

They are cooked with tofu and almonds as their protein content alone is low.

Mushrooms are a popular choice as a substitute for meat but, as mentioned, they have nowhere near enough protein as meat.

The finished dish looks very similar to the meat version of keema sabzi made with peas.


  • 650g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 200g smoked tofu, chopped
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 Onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 4cm fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 Garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 3 Green chillies, finely chopped
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 200g peas
  • 3 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 15g fresh coriander, finely chopped


  1. Use a food processor to coarsely mince the mushrooms. Place into a bowl.
  2. Mince the tofu in the same way and add to the bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan for about 30 seconds. Fry the onions for 10 minutes until translucent and browning. Add the garlic, ginger, and chillies and fry for another 2 minutes.
  4. Add the almonds and fry for four minutes until they slightly darken.
  5. Sprinkle in the ground spices and salt and mix to combine. Now add the mushrooms and tofu and mix again. Leave to cook for another 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs. Serve with toasted bread rolls, chopped red onion and lime wedges.

This recipe was inspired by Meera Sodha.

Vegetable Biryani

Vegan Alternatives to Popular Indian Dishes - biryani

Biryani has had a long history as it highlights classical South Asian cuisine and is a speciality all over the Indian subcontinent and across the world.

There are different types of biryani which contain chicken or lamb but a mixed vegetable one is a perfect alternative for vegans.

It will still take centre stage on any table it is served on.

It can be made using a variety of vegetables and the dish is packed full of flavoursome spices. You can use whatever vegetables you like when preparing the meal.

Compared to the meat version, this alternative is quicker to make as the vegetables do not require prior marination. Each vegetable provides its own flavours which are enhanced by the spices.

It is ideal alongside a vegan curry or condiment.


  • ¼ cup onions, grated
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables of your choice, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 cup rice, boiled to almost done
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt, to taste
  • A handful of coriander, to garnish


  1. Heat oil and add the cumin seeds in a rice pot. When they sizzle, add the onions and ginger-garlic paste. Fry until brown.
  2. Stir fry the vegetables over a low heat until they have slightly softened. Add coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric, chilli powder and green chillies. Cook for five minutes then mix in the lemon juice and half of the coriander.
  3. When the water has evaporated, remove half of the vegetables and layer with half of the rice.
  4. Cover with the rest of the vegetable mixture and the rest of the rice.
  5. Place the lid on the pot and allow it to cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. Once done, garnish with the coriander and serve.

This recipe was adapted by NDTV Food.

Quorn Meat Paratha

to Popular Indian Dishes - paratha

Parathas are known as one of the most popular types of bread within Indian cuisine.

They are filled with various ingredients such as minced meat, however, fillings like potato and cauliflower are great vegan alternatives.

They follow the same cooking preparation as regular parathas.

The dough is formed and divided before the filling is incorporated. It is then placed on a griddle and cooked until golden.

The result is a delicious accompaniment to a main meal or a tasty snack.

This particular recipe is made with Quorn Meat, a popular substitute among vegetarians and vegans.


  • ¾ packet of Quorn mince
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • A handful of coriander, chopped
  • 1½ cups of whole wheat flour
  • Water as needed
  • 1 Red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 Green chilli, chopped
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil


  1. In a saucepan, add the onion and tomato and fry until softened. Stir in the Quorn meat and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat.
  2. Stir in the chopped coriander, chilli, masala, salt and garlic. Allow it to cook until any moisture has evaporated.
  3. Meanwhile, add flour to a mixing bowl and knead into a dough adding water as needed.
  4. Take a small handful of dough and form into a ball. Sprinkle some flour on the rolling board and roll one ball into a medium-sized square.
  5. Sprinkle some of the Quorn mixture into the centre of the square.
  6. Fold the edges towards the centre so the Quorn is covered by dough and continue rolling out into a larger square shape.
  7. Heat the paratha on a griddle and when bubbles begin to appear, flip it over. Spread olive oil over and cook until golden spots begin to appear.

These are a selection of recipes which are suitable for vegans.

These vegan alternatives ensure that no one misses out when it comes to enjoying some of the most popular dishes within Indian cuisine.

Many of these are fairly simple to make so what are you waiting for, try them out!

Dhiren is a journalism graduate with a passion for gaming, watching films and sports. He also enjoys cooking from time to time. His motto is to “Live life one day at a time.”

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