Vegan Indian Cuisine at Arya Bhavan

India FlagArya Bhavan
2508 W Devon Ave.
Chicago, IL 60659

Indian food is certainly vegetarian, but things like ghee and paneer make it less friendly for vegans. However, Arya Bhavan is a perfect go-to restaurants for those who are vegan and want to indulge in some Indian food. We went with our cousin, a vegan as well as a  big Indian food fan. The menu was quite extensive, and featured both North and South Indian favorites including a wide selection of naans, dosas, dals and paneers as well as some non-traditional salads. The menu could possibly be overwhelming, but the waitress/owner Kirti was more than happy to give recommendations. For those who really can’t decide, there is a vegan buffet on Friday nights, and throughout the weekend. Our vegan dining companion was especially excited about the vegan mango lassi, which was declared delicious.

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We ordered three dishes and shared among ourselves. Of course, we also selected a garlic naan, which was quite tasty. For our first dish we tried something new, Northern Indian dumplings, Malai Kofta ($12) served with a cashew gravy, which had a nice kick to it. The second dish, Dal Bunzara ($12) was composed of sauteed lentils in a cumin, green tomato and onion sauce. We also tried one of our staples, Palak Paneer ($12) with vegan cheese and spinach. Our favorite dish was actually the one most unusual to us, the Malai Kofta dumplings, which had a great texture, and we sopped up the last of the sauce with our naan. The vegan paneer was a pretty good rendition, though we’d probably stick to the dairy version elsewhere.

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Overall, the service was a little haphazard (ironically, they were in the process of hiring a new waitress while we were eating). However, we did not feel ignored. The waitress/owner/chef/jack-of-all-trades Chef Kirti, who waited on us was one of the most passionate owners we have ever come across, and she was fully committed to providing healthy, tasty foods for those with all sorts of dietary needs (perhaps a little too healthy…. since she warned us the barfi dessert was too fattening). It was refreshing to see someone so dedicated to her food mission!

For those with even more exacting food needs there is even a raw food buffet on Monday nights, and most dishes can also be made gluten-free. There is something for everyone at Arya Bhavan, from traditional dishes to regional specialties, from dishes that are naturally veggie-only to ones that have been created specifically for vegan palates. We were happy to find a place the pleases vegans and omnivores alike!

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