What Indian dishes are dairy-free?

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: What Indian dishes are dairy-free? We will discuss the variety of Indian cuisine, and finish with a recipe for dairy-free chicken tikka masala. 

What Indian dishes are dairy-free?

The Indian dairy-free dishes are a new option if you are lactose intolerant or a vegetarian and want a variety of flavors. Being a vegetarian, you probably know how difficult it can be to find a restaurant that meets your expectations. Although lately the options for those who choose not to eat meat have increased, the offer is usually limited to salads, making it difficult to find something rich and more elaborate.

You can start by trying a lovely bread called Naan, a true vegetarian delight that can be made with garlic, sesame seeds, potatoes, cheese, onion, coriander, or other spices. They are truly wonderful to begin your venture into this vegetarian culinary adventure.

Another excellent choice is the exquisite vegetable patties or Samosas, something moderately spicy for the palate and that will surely remove you from your conventional vegetarian comfort zone. 

It is also advisable to start with an Onion Pakora: appetizing chickpea flour and onion croquettes that are worth trying. However, one of the favorites is the Alu Tikki, croquettes stuffed with ground potatoes, Garam Masala – Indian spices – and coriander, in the Indian style.

You can also try a multiplicity of atypical main dishes, such as the Saag Mushroom: mushrooms prepared in an Indian-style spinach stew. Very, very rich. Or for the brave who like spicy, a Vegetable Jalfrezi: a mix of fresh mixed vegetables, cooked with spices and herbs from India.

Another extremely tasty option is the Malai Kofta: fresh vegetable meatballs of grated potato with dairy-free cheese in a mild coconut sauce.

And if you want to crown your day with a dessert, we recommend an original Gajar Halwa: a carrot, almond, and cardamom sweet. Or an Indian-style brownie, the Choc Brownie: a smooth dark chocolate cake with walnuts and chocolate shavings.

What are some other examples of dairy free Indian dishes? 

Dairy-free dishes or vegan dishes are common in Indian households. Here are a few examples: 

  • Chana masala.
  • Kitchari.
  • Dosas.
  • Samosas and Pakoras (as appetizers)
  • Basmati rice.
  • Idlis.

Are dairy products important in Indian cuisine?

Indians consume a lot of dairy products for several reasons. Most pragmatically, many of them are vegetarians for religious reasons, and milk is an easy source of protein. 

Moreover, if the cow is sacred in India and if it is forbidden to kill it, it is mainly because we consider that it is better to have a cow producing a lot of milk for several years, rather than an animal providing a little meat for a few days. 

In addition, milk is truly part of the Indian collective imagination. It has very positive connotations in Hinduism, in which the gods love dairy products: Krishna, the most famous of them, is a cowherd and he loves butter!

In what forms are dairy products consumed in India?

It’s quite diverse. The Indians eat raitas every day, a kind of small yogurt salad with vegetables or fruits that accompany all the dishes of the “thali” (Indian meal). They also use milk to make desserts, such as rice pudding with spices. In the north, they prepare pastries with “khoya”, a paste of condensed milk. 

As for drinks, the Indians drink milk daily, especially in milk tea (“chaï”) or coffee with milk and spices. They also consume a lot of “lassi”, a traditional drink made from yogurt, as well as “buttermilk” or “buttermilk”, this liquid resulting from churning. Children, for their part, love “rose milk”, which is nothing more or less than grenadine milk!

What about the famous ghee?

It is absolutely essential in Indian cuisine. It is an ancient way of preserving butter. Prepared in this way, it keeps longer than French clarified butter. Cook the butter for a long time, until all the whey is “toasted”, then filter. 

This produces a fat which, like oil, can be stored at room temperature for many months and does not burn during cooking. Ghee is used everywhere, especially since it is considered an excellent fat for health according to Ayurvedic medicine. On the flavor side, it gives an ultra-gourmet nutty taste to all the preparations. 

Dairy-free curry chicken tikka masala

For the recipe of this chicken Tikka Masala without lactose, we can use either coconut milk (which we can find in supermarkets and some exotic food stores) or soy or lactose-free cream. 


In a bowl, we mix the yogurt with all the spices (garlic, onion, turmeric, ginger, curry, cumin, salt, and black pepper). We cut the chicken into medium pieces, add it to the yogurt, mix well and leave it to marinate covered in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking (better if we do it the night before).

In a wok with a little oil, sauté the crushed chili a little, and add the chicken marinated with all the yogurt. Sauté over medium heat.

When the chicken is already colored, optionally add a handful of dried fruit (raisins, walnuts, and crushed almonds) and the fried tomato. We continue to fry everything for a couple more minutes.

Finally, add the coconut milk and let it reduce for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens. We improve with salt or spices (cumin or curry).

Serve with basmati rice.

Other FAQs about Dairy free that you may be interested in.

Is Chinese food dairy-free?

The bottom line

The Indian cuisine is rich in dairy-free and vegetarian dishes. The vegan cuisine of India is rich in variety, dishes, and influences, and is distinguished by the great use of spices. Hindus love dishes filled with fresh ingredients bursting with colors and aromas, and that is why even meat recipes are unthinkable without vegetables.

On a physical level, the easy digestion of green diets or the many properties of vegetables and fruit such as antioxidants or vitamins, confirm the many benefits of a vegetarian diet. 

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!