While many restaurants today include vegetarian items on the menu, ordering dishes that are vegan in nature may be slightly more difficult. The vegetarian diet merely takes out meat, poultry and fish from menu options. The vegan diet also must be free of any type of animal by-products, such as milk or eggs. Since the Indian diet is rich in natural foods and vegetables, you are in luck. Fortunately, it is possible to enjoy vegan food in an Indian restaurant by following a few simple steps.
Check the menu for vegan dishes. Many Indian restaurants list the main ingredients of each dish for the benefit of people who are not familiar with Indian cuisine. Generally, there will be at least a few types of salads and main courses that utilize no meat, eggs or dairy in the completed dish.
Scan the appetizers and soups. Most Indian restaurants will offer very basic soups, as well as vegetables that are lightly coated and fried. Ask the server what type of oil is used for the preparation. In many cases, the oil will be peanut or safflower oil, and that fits in well with a vegan diet.
Look for dishes that are labeled as vegetarian. Chances are these are not prepared with any type of animal fat and contain no meat. A quick scan of the ingredients will indicate if milk is used to prepare the sauce or gravy, as well as if eggs are used as part of the dish.
Ask for substitutions. If no vegan or vegetarian dishes are listed, ask if one of the menu items can be prepared without the inclusion of meat or dairy products. Many Indian restaurants prepare dishes from fresh ingredients as the order is placed, and many places will be more than happy to omit any ingredient that you do not want.
Solicit suggestions from the server. There is a good chance that you are not the first diner to ask about vegan dishes. Your server may be able to offer several suggestions for tasty meals that fit in well with your dietary needs or choices.
Look for dishes containing garbanzo beans, which are also known as chickpeas. These tasty beans are a staple in many Indian style recipes that contain no meat. Often, the dish will also contain no type of dairy products as well.
Be kind and considerate when asking your server about vegan options, and realize that a busy time in the restaurant is not a good time to ask your server lots of questions.