India has rich traditions, cultural diversity, and diverse geography.
The country is blessed to have deserts, beaches, mountains, rivers, forests, and wetlands, and these landscapes provide uniqueness to the food grown. The fruits, vegetables, condiments, and grains vary from place to place.
This diversity has transcended to culinary cuisine as well; from dosa to momo, from dhokla to rasgulla, and from biryani to jalebi, there are hundreds of delicacies that are available in India, where each of them offers a diverse range of flavors and textures that are sure to tantalize the taste buds of any food lover.
The best part is that you don’t have to visit fancy restaurants or cook by yourself; the street food in India will provide you with many flavorful dishes. The accessibility and affordability of the food on India’s bustling streets make them extremely popular.
Suppose you are not from India and your knowledge of Indian food is restricted to Tikka Masala, Butter Chicken, Tandori Chicken, Biryani, or Paneer (cottage cheese) dishes. In that case, you are in for a surprise. There’s something for everyone to savor, including the vegans.
The growing community of foodies who have ditched animal-based food products can also enjoy many Indian vegan food options. Many Indian food items are intrinsic vegans, with slight culinary differences. In a few food items, cooks might use butter or clarified butter (ghee) in their servings, essentially made with cow’s milk. To ensure your food is vegan, ask the street food vendor to avoid putting butter or opt for another option.
Here is a small list of vegan street foods in India.
One of the favorite street food in India is known by many names, like Gol Gappa, Puchka, Gup Chup, or Pani Puri. It is a crispy hollow ball-shaped Puri filled with tangy Pani (water), made with herbs, tamarind, raw mangoes, etc. The rounded balls are added with spicy potato, chickpeas, and onions to add to the flavor.
These Puris are made with semolina, all-purpose flour carefully kneaded to make the dough. Then tiny circles are made and fried in oil to get the perfect crisp. The combination of crispy puri, spicy filling, and tangy water makes it a refreshing and satisfying snack. The humble Pani Puri is a popular street food snack across India, enjoyed by young and old.
Vada pav is made with a spiced potato patty called vada. The vada is sandwiched between two slices of bread and served with chutney and spices. It is a popular vegan street food snack in Mumbai and the rest of the Maharashtra state in Western India.
Dosa is a thin, crispy pancake made from fermented rice and lentil batter. The crisp dosa can be eaten without filling as Plain Dosa or added with spiced vegetables like spiced potatoes or onion. The one with potato filling is Masala Dosa; if it is filled with onions, it is called Onion Dosa.
It’s a popular South Indian breakfast dish with chutneys and sambar (lentil soup).
Pav Bhaji is made with a spiced vegetable mash (Bhaji) and served with a bread roll (Pav). The Bhaji dish has various vegetables and spices, making it a flavorful and healthy street food option. Pav Bhaji is a typical street food dish in Mumbai, which has gained popularity across India.
Poha is a popular Indian snack that is made from flattened rice flakes. Vegetables like peas, carrots, potatoes, and tomatoes can also be added. Poha is a typical breakfast dish in many parts of India and is also served as a snack or light meal.
Samosa is a triangular-shaped pastry stuffed with spiced potatoes, peas, and onions. It is deep-fried until crispy and served hot with chutney. It’s a popular snack in India and has spread globally.
Because of the name, people assume this to be sweet. Ram Ladoo combines a few crispy Pakoras (fritter) topped with fresh radish and coriander chutney. The Pakora is made from green gram and lentils batter (moong dal and chana dal). Ram Laddu is popular on the streets and in buzzing markets in Delhi.
Khaman Dhokla is a soft, fluffy, lightly sweet, and savory cake. The Khaman Dhokla is made from a simple combination of gram flour (besan), spices, and herbs. It is a popular delicacy in Gujarati cuisine.
Kachori is a deep-fried flour dough filled with spiced lentils or potatoes. It’s a popular snack in North India, often served with spiced potatoes and chutney (dip).
Litti is made of spiced Sattu (roasted black chickpea flour) stuffed in wheat dough balls. The balls can be deep-fried or roasted in charcoal. The Litti is often eaten with a vegetable mash with brinjal, onion, garlic, green chilies, and mustard oil, called the Chokha. The dish is widely eaten in Bihar, Jharkhand, and parts of Uttar Pradesh.
One of the most popular sweet options in street foods in India is Jalebi. The sweet treat is made with deep-fried dough soaked in sugar syrup. Jalebi is famous across India and available in most sweet shops in any Indian market.
Many other vegan street foods in India are popular and famous, but we might be unable to cover everything. If you want to recommend any particular food option, please write it in the comment.
While we have given the regions where the particular street food is popular, most of these items are available across India.
Words of Caution:
- Take your pick based on your dietary needs, health risks, and personal preferences.
- Some vendors will use their style to make the dish. Ask the vendor or cook to ensure that only vegan ingredients are present in the dish.
- Ensure the hygiene of the food is not compromised. It is advisable to consume street food in India at places with many visitors and foodies lining the shop.
- Food is a personal choice, so something popular might not be relevant or tasty.
For a visual representation of the street food in India that is Vegan, watch this video.