Making your own recipes is a fun affordable way to use up leftover veggies, or what’s on sale at the farmers’ market. Base meals around cheap staples like pasta or rice (take your own container to the zero waste shop, but eat rice up quickly, as it’s a food poison hazard, if left too long). Eating plant-based recipes is good for animal welfare, the planet and your health. It’s also a good way to replace tasteless and expensive plastic-wrapped ready-meals from the supermarket.
The Essential Vegan Indian Cookbook is a book to spice up your menu with delicate flavours, savoury spices and hearty vegetables. Create authentic Indian food at home with mouthwatering reicpes along with vegan substitutions, money-saving shopping tips and a guide to staple spices and vegetables. Recipes include Aubergine Lentil Curry, Tofu Saag, Cauliflower Tikka Masala and Vegan Ghee & Paneer.
Use palm-oil-free vegan butter. Keep these recipes away from pets due to toxic ingredients (garlic, onion, leeks, chives, mushrooms, grapes, nuts, avocado, dried fruits, nutmeg, fresh dough, green potatoes/onions, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, jackfruit and xylitol).
India is a vast sub-continent where nearly all the food is spicy, and based on easy-to-find affordable staples like vegetables, lentils and spices (if you scoff down something a bit too spicy, eat a piece of bread or drink some lemonade, rather than drinking water, that will make it worse by swishing the spices around your mouth). If you like a curry, here are some nice simple affordable recipes to try at home, followed by a few good recipe books and ready-meals – all plant-based and free from palm oil.
Red Lentil Dal (Crowded Kitchen) is as simple as it gets. All you need are sweet potatoes, fragrant spices and creamy coconut milk (choose a brand free from monkey harvesting like Biona or Nature’s Harvest). It takes 45 minutes to make a big batch, eat leftovers the next day.
Easy Balti Curry with Chickpea & Squash (The Happy Pear) is ideal for a cosy autumn evening. Quick and easy to make, you can sub the chickpeas with any canned beans of your choice. Although Balti is traditionally served in a metal dish, you can serve in a saucepan or wide-bottomed frying pan.
Indian-Spiced Veggie Burgers (Crowded Kitchen) are made with sweet potato, onion, carrot and garlic plus some lentils for protein, coriander, spices and breadcrumbs. Serve with mango chutney.
Crispy Chana Saag Samosas (So Vegan) are made with spinach, tomatoes and chickpeas, along with garlic, chilli, ginger and fresh coriander. Serve with mango chutney. If you want ready-made, Green Sisters offers the best brand made with sweet potato, peas, green beans and carrots, with authentic spices (there are other flavours including Bombay Potato & Pea and Extra Spicy).
Chai Applesauce Cake (Full of Plants) is infused with chai tea and ground spices, then topped with a not-too-sweet salted caramel glaze.
Chai Latte Cheesecake (Addicted to Dates) sets a spicy cheesecake on top of a mocha brownie base, and topped with chocolate ganache.
Plant-Based Indian Recipe Books
The Essential Vegan Indian Cookbook blends delicate flavours and savoury spices with hearty vegetable. Cook regional favourites and traditional dishes like aubergine lentil curry, tofu saag, cauliflower tikka masala and carrot halva.
Plant-Based India offers 100 beautifully photographed recipes from a medical doctor, who has updated his grandmother’s Mumbai recipes. Recipes include shāk (spiced vegetable dishes), rotli (flatbreads), bhāt (rice dishes), pālak Tofu, vegan nān, gujarati dal and chocolate chāi Mousse with Berries.
Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen was hailed as one of the best Indian cookbooks ever. Get this to know absolutely everything. Richa’s online e-book Diwali Sweets contains 15 recipes. Just $5, all profits go to animal sanctuaries.
Plant-Based India offers nourishing recipes by Sheil Shukla, who combines his Indian heritage and medical background to create healthier plant-based versions of favourite dishes. With beautiful photographs, recipes include:
- Courgette Dumplings
- Citrus Fennel & White Bean Salad
- Butternut Squash & Mushroom Biriyani
- Rotli (whole wheat flatbread)
- Gajjar No Halvo Baked Oatmeal (spiced carrot oatmeal pudding)
- Mango Lassi (mango smoothie)
Instant Pot Vegan Indian Cookbook makes it easy to whip up cuisine that looks like it took hours to make. Using a simple multi-pot, use everyday basics to make:
- Spinach Dal & Perfect Basmati Rice
- South Indian Lentil Stew
- Vegetable Biryani
- Semolina Halva
- Saffron Rice Pudding
- Indian-Style Fudge
Vegan Curry Spice Kits
Spices are the mainstay of Indian cuisine, but you don’t need to buy dozens, just a few will suffice. Buy in small amounts so they don’t go musty, and use them up in your favourite recipes. Whereas fresh herbs are usually best, dried spices usually give excellent results. Keep spices away from pets (use a letterbox guard is ordering online) as some are toxic to pets including nutmeg and mace). Some curry kits are sold with ‘cook’s candles’ to eliminate odours, but these should not be burned near pets, especially cats, birds, ferrets or reptiles.
The Teaspoon Club is a lovely little company that sells spice kits with pre-measured favourites, all in compostable and easy-to-recycle packaging. A tree is also planted with each order, in the country each spice kit comes from (say Indian or Mexico).
Boom Kitchen makes the best vegan curry kits, using a secret homemade spice mix and Indian restaurant gravy base. Just add water and throw in the pre-measured spices, and add a few cupboard staples (vegan meats, oil, garlic, tomato, onion, pepper, salt) for the best curry you ever ate. The range includes Karma Korma (that donates to clean water charities), Tikka Tarka Masala, Magic Bhuna, Jalfrezi Heatwave, Mellow Moroccan, Ayubowan Sri Lankan and Lady Naga Vindaloo.
Spice Pots are beautifully packaged tins of spices, use to make starters, side dishes, salads, mains, sauces and marinades. The gift set includes a recipe booklet to make Tandoori Masala Mushroom, Pea & Spinach Curry and Goan Lentil Daal. The set includes korma curry powder (mild heat), bhuna and tandoori (medium heat) and goan curry powder (spicy heat).
The Cheeky Food Co’s Spicy Superfood Sprinkles are made by a London woman whose recipes are inspired by her 45 Indian relatives! The set includes Silly Sesame (roasted seeds, garlic & chilli), Pecky Peanut (chilli & cumin), Nutter Coconut (with garlic spice) and Hot Chilli (dried chilli, garlic & coconut).
The Indian Vegan Grocery
- Punjaban Vegan Curry Sauces were developed for the founder’s son, after he went off to university. She would send them to him – and they were so popular, he would sell them on campus, in return for beer money! Choose from Vegan Butter Chicken Curry Sauce, Classic Punjabi Curry Sauce or Tasty Tamarind Curry Sauce.
- Hodmedod’s Organic Dhal is made with locally-grown fava beans, in a delicious creamy sauce with herbs and spices. You can add water to make this a soup, or use it to create a tasty cooking sauce. Made with rapeseed oil (contains mustard). The company name means ‘snail’ or ‘hedgehog’, depending on whether you live in Suffolk or Norfolk!
- Meridian Organic Korma Sauce is made with coconut instead of cream, and ideal for a mild curry (or choose a more spicy Tikka Masala (spicy tomato and coriander). Both are made with almond butter, so you get a dose of protein in there too.
- Geo Organics Balti Paste is made with organic ingredients. Just mix with chopped onions, tinned tomatoes and vegan meat for a delicious curry, in no time. Or use marinated tofu and vegetables.
- Bhuna Curry Paste is ideal with vegan meats or vegetables.
- Korma Curry Paste is good with vegan meat or marinated tofu and veggies.
- Madras Curry Paste is a naturally veggie dish. Or tikka masala curry paste
- Organic Lentil & Chickpea Dahl has plenty of spice and seasoning. Just warm up in a pan and enjoy a dahl-licious side to bring flavour.
Ready-Made Vegan Indian Meals (delivered)
Chef Akila makes and sends delicious vegan meals, ready to cook straight from the freezer (you can even order a vegan curry box and add a coconut rice pudding for dessert). Also find ready-made vegan Indian meals at Dabba Drop (London) and Delhish or Vegan Punjabi (both Oxford).
Allplants frozen Indian meals are delivered to your door. Just choose a box of 6 meals (there are over 30 international and local choices). You use the pre-paid envelope to send back packaging via nearest CollectPlus. This is a fabulous company that is changing the way that Britain eats. The Indian homemade chef-prepared meals you can choose from are below. If you find these meals expensive, think outside the box. You could eat half one day and top up with spuds and veggies or good bread, then eat the rest the next day. Choose from:
- Tofu Saag Paneer
- Butternut & Spinach Curry
- Mushroom Chickpea Korma
- Caull Tikka Masala
- Bjaji Dhal
If you live in London, DabbaDrop can deliver (by bicycle) plant-based meals to your door. The offerings include:
- Beetroot Thoran with Pickled Cabbage
- Sweetcorn & Pumpkin Curry
- Fresh Green Dal
- Vada (a lentil street snack)
- ‘Gassi’ Curry
- Roasted Cumin & Red Chilli Dal
V-Giyan Punjabi Food Delivery (Oxfordshire) lets you build your own plant box, and it’s all delivered fresh in biodegradable packaging in Buddha bowls that are also leakproof and microwave-safe, with heating instructions displayed on each dish. Ingredients are all bought locally, and profits help to support Viva! animal welfare charity.