Veganism is the practice of abstaining from all kinds of animal-based products not just in the diet but also lifestyle in the form of clothing and other products. The lifestyle choice has been gaining momentum in the last few years. It condones cruelty towards animals, which is why the people who follow it stick to a plant-based diet. Ethical vegans also avoid anything and everything tested on animals.
In India, most people are Lacto-vegetarians, a diet that includes vegetables and dairy products, but lately, a lot of people have embraced veganism for reasons such as health and to adopt a more sustainable life change.
Indian sweets can be made vegan
Indian desserts are made predominantly with milk and milk products such as cream, ghee, milk and milk solids (khoya and mawa). Replacing such a heavy reliance on milk products is daunting, but vegan-friendly ingredients such as coconut cream, soy milk and nuts, give you the opportunity to make delicious vegan versions of traditional Indian desserts.
Here are some vegan-friendly dessert recipes that you can make at home by simply replacing dairy products with vegan-friendly ingredients.
Chef Alok Verma, Executive Sous Chef, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu says, "The idea behind giving a vegan treatment to classic desserts is to redeem the dessert’s reputation which is already there in the culinary world from last so many years. These complex looking desserts can be easily made vegan. The simplest way of converting a dessert into vegan is to replace milk or dairy product with something non-dairy such as coconut cream, soy milk or almond milk."
Here are some Indian dessert recipes made using only vegan ingredients:
1. Vegan Kaju Katli Recipe
This classic Indian dessert is traditionally made with kaju (cashew), milk, ghee and sugar, decorated with silver varq. It is similar to barfi and is a popular Indian dessert that is doled out on festivals, weddings and other special occasions.
Here is a vegan version of one of this most-loved Indian dessert:
- To prepare vegan kaju katli, grind 2 cups of raw cashew nuts in a mixer with ⅓ cup of water. Strain the ground mixture and keep it aside.
- To make the sugar syrup, mix ½ cup of sugar with an equal amount of water and boil it to a single thread consistency.
- Add the ground cashew to the sugar syrup and cook till it pulls away from the pan.
- Pour the mixture on a flat tray and spread it evenly with a rolling pin.
- Once cool cut it into the required shape.
2. Vegan Kaju Kesar Pista Roll Recipe
Kaju kesar pista roll is another Indian dessert that is served on most festive occasions. Made with cashew, pistachio, saffron, condensed milk and butter, the long cashew rolls are filled with pistachios and are a delight to have.
Here is a vegan version of this Indian dessert:
- To make this vegan Indian dessert, grind 2 cups of raw cashew in a mixer with ⅓ cup of water. Strain through a fine strainer and keep it aside.
- Now prepare the sugar syrup by boiling ⅓ cup of sugar in an equal amount of water and about 6 strands of saffron, till you get a single thread consistency.
- Add the ground cashew paste to the sugar syrup and cook till it comes off the edges of the vessel.
- Blanch ¼ cup of pistachios in hot water, crush them and add a little sugar syrup to it. Cool and keep aside.
- Transfer the cashew mixture to a flat tray.
- Roll with a rolling pin and then spread the pistachio mix on the flattened cashew layer.
- Carefully roll and keep it to cool for a while.
- Once cool, slice it as required.
3. Vegan Gulab Jamun Recipe
You will come across a lot of variations of this juicy and sugar syrup-filled delight in the forms of pantua and kala jamun. What makes this dessert the perfect indulgence is that a single bite offers the goodness of mawa and decadent aromas of the rose-flavoured sugar syrup.
Here’s an interesting recipe for making vegan gulab jamun:
- First mix all the dry ingredients - that is 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs, ¼ cup of all-purpose flour, a pinch of cornflour, a pinch of baking powder, 1½ tablespoon of ground cashew powder and a pinch of salt.
- Add a little bit of oil and enough water to the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
- Grease your hands with oil and make small round and even dough balls.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, pour oil to deep fry the dough balls. Fry the gulab jamuns in medium hot oil, until they turn golden brown.
- Make a sugar syrup of one-string consistency by boiling ½ cup sugar, 1 cup water, few crushed cardamom pods and a dash of lemon juice.
- Place the gulab jamun in warm sugar syrup, leave it for an hour to absorb the syrup and then serve.
4. Vegan Crème Brulee with Almond Sable Recipe
If you want to try something other than the traditional Indian vegan desserts, then you can make a crème Brulee with almond sable using tofu, soy milk and lemongrass as primary ingredients. Though this recipe involves an elaborate method of preparation, the end result will leave you asking for more.
Steps to make this modern Indian vegan dessert:
- Start by blending ½ cup of silken tofu (has a softer consistency when compared to regular tofu) until very smooth.
- Bring 250 ml of soy milk to a boil with a pod of vanilla and a lemongrass stalk.
- In a bowl, whisk ½ cup of caster sugar and 5 egg yolks until pale.
- Pour the infused milk into the bowl, add tofu puree and mix well to combine.
- Pour the mixture into individual ramekin bowls and bake at 160⁰C in a water bath until set.
- Chill the mixture before serving.
- Sprinkle some sugar and caramelise with a blow torch until golden brown.
- To prepare the almond sable, beat together 150 ml of coconut oil, ½ cup of sugar, few drops of vanilla extract and some salt, until well combined for a couple of minutes.
- Stir in 1 cup of almond flour and knead by hand until the dough is formed.
- Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into rectangular shape cookies.
- Bake the cookies until set and very lightly coloured It should take 16 to 20 minutes. Serve with crème Brulee.
Inputs from chef Rajesh Shetty, Executive Chef, Travel Food Services, Mumbai and chef Alok Verma, Executive Sous Chef, JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu