India’s street food is renowned worldwide for its bold, diverse flavours. Here are eight Indian street food dishes that are vegan.
India, a country of unmatched diversity where food and languages differ every 100 km, comes with an array of traditionally vegan food options. These range from festive dishes served during special occasions to popular home-cooked meals loved by families across the country.
But for those on the go — people wishing for a quick snack or looking to indulge in one of India’s most popular kinds of food — street food is always available on every street and in every town.
Like all other food in the country, with Indian street food, vegan options are limitless. From the intermontane valley of Kashmir to the land’s end, Kanyakumari, you can find mouth-watering goodness, deep-fried treats and sweet delights. Here are some of the finest Indian vegan street food dishes.
Also called gup chup or golgappa, this dish has almost as many names as it does flavours. It is a puffed hollow puri (a deep-fried flatbread) most commonly filled with potatoes, onions and chickpeas, seasoned with chaat masala and dipped in different flavoured waters typically made from tamarind, cumin, garlic and mint.
This street food is one of the most loved dishes across India. It is a quick-to-eat dish that bursts with immense enchanting flavours in the mouth and warms the heart.
Dosa is a savoury crepe made from a batter of rice and urad dal (black lentils), which are de-husked and soaked overnight. It originates from South India and is customarily consumed as a breakfast dish. This dish has proliferated all over India and has become one of the country’s favourite street foods.
Dosas have a diverse profile too, from the classic masala dosa, to set dosa made with urad dal, poha and rice, to the delicious potato-filled dosa. This is usually paired with a healthy sambar, a lentil-based vegetable stew, and coconut chutney.
Samosas (or singaras) are deep-fried, cone-shaped flaky pastries made from all-purpose flour (maida) and filled with a spiced potato and lentil mix. It is undoubtedly one of the most globally recognised Indian dishes. Every Indian restaurant outside of India has this delicacy as a popular item on its menu.
It is usually paired with ketchup, tamarind chutney or a mint and coriander chutney. For chaat lovers, samosa chaat is one of the most common street food variants, consisting of smashed samosa with an assortment of sweet, sour and spicy chutneys and crispy wafers.
A healthy, herby vegan street food, Kelli chana is made of chickpeas, chilli peppers, coriander, onions, chives and black sesame seeds. This simple, protein-rich snack is sold on the streets of Imphal, capital of the eastern state of Manipur.
Legend has it that a woman named Kelli sold this moreish snack under a tree and a crowd started to amass to taste her dish and it won the hearts of Imphal residents. A variation of this snack can be found all over India. One of these is chana jor garam, which is made with brown chickpeas (kala chana) instead of chickpeas. This snack is often served in lotus leaves, contributing to the earthiness of the dish.
Momos, an Indian variant of dumplings, originated in Tibet and are made with a steamed or fried maida wrap stuffed with mildly spiced cabbage, green pepper, carrots and onions. Each dumpling is then dipped into the momo chutney, the heart of this dish.
This chutney is a spicy tomato, ginger and chilli sauce that can be made mild or hot. Momos have taken over street carts across all of India and remain immensely popular.
Chole bhature, a traditional Punjabi dish, consists of fried bhature (an Indian flatbread made from maida) served with chana masala (white chickpeas). This dish is popular at the roadside dhabas and is usually consumed as breakfast or brunch.
This Indian street food dish is a full-course meal, and it’s vegan. It’s paired well with chopped raw red onions and, for the daring, a sliced green chilli. Although it is commonly found on street carts in northern India, it is also a platter cooked regularly in homes and a true enthusiast can celebrate this dish on International Chole Bhature Day on October 2.
A street food low in calories, khaman is a steamed savoury cake made from gram flour, tempered with Indian spices, curry leaves, mustard and sesame seeds, sugar and a chilli tadka.
This farsan (savoury) dish is generally consumed as a tea time snack or at breakfast. This spongy cake tastes best when paired with green coriander chutney and is known for its balanced flavours of sweet, savoury and spicy elements. It is a staple in western India and it’s sure to tantalise anyone’s taste buds.
Tekeli pitha is a dish inclined mostly towards those with a sweet tooth. It is a sweet rice cake from the northeastern state of Assam, made with fragrant rice, jaggery, sugar and grated coconut.
It is steamed in a kettle lid and served hot with a cup of tea or with liquid date palm jaggery. Although it is usually consumed during the Assamese festival of Bihu, you can find several street vendors selling it early in the morning in the streets of Guwahati. It is most popular during the winter season, but it’s comfort food for many in Assam who have it all-year round.