Brick Lane’s authentic Indian restaurants are full of vegan options thanks to the rich history of veganism in South Asian culture.
Western society is often portrayed as the leader in veganism, but South Asian cultures have embraced plant-based eating for thousands of years. Veganism is gaining global momentum as a way to reduce carbon emissions, and Brick Lane’s Indian and Bengali restaurants bring rich flavour to this more restrictive diet.
The principle of non-violence against living beings is an important belief in Asian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Although not all people from these faiths avoid eating animals, this means that South Asian cuisine boasts many delicious plant-based recipes.
City Spice won Best Vegan Curry Menu in London at the British Curry Awards in 2019, and two years later executive Chef Niaz Caan added plant-based ‘chicken’ curries for those struggling to give up the taste and texture of meat.
But Caan’s favourite dish on the vegan menu is still Chawle Achar, made with pickle, chickpeas and tamarind. “It’s a beautiful sweet-and-sour cacophony of spices, and every time you put a piece of chickpea in your mouth it melts away and the flavour explodes,” Caan says.
Even if they don’t have a specific vegan menu, all of Brick Lane’s Indian and Bengali restaurants have vegan options.
Try tasty homemade vegan starters such as Brick Lane Tandoori‘s aloo chop or fried potato fritters, and Preem’s cauliflower bhajis. If you’re looking for a saucy curry, Aladdin’s sabji bhuna, a medium spiced vegetable curry, or Taste of Jaipur’s rajma, a kidney bean curry, are sure to fill you up.
A vegan bestseller at Sheba is the shorisha pumpkin with lentils, a spicy butternut squash curry with mustard seeds. Another favourite is the begun tomato jhool, a smoky aubergine and tomato curry baked in a tandoor clay oven.
For more authentic side dishes, head to Bengal Village to try the saag bhajee, curried spinach, or to The Standard Balti House to enjoy bindi brinjal gata, an aubergine and okra stir fry.
Come to Brick Lane to try traditional vegan recipes and modern plant-based ‘meat’ curries and enjoy a delicious and sustainable meal.