In the good old childhood days, when we made long journeys by train, we carried our food for the whole journey. Yes, the food, fruits, and chai vendors popped up at every station. If there was Agra petha at Agra station, there was Sweet Milk at Bhopal Station, and Mathura Peda at Mathura Junction. Travel food for vegetarians was never a problem.
We used to love observing the size of Bananas going shorter as you move south. Picking up oranges at Nagpur, Jhalmuri at Bengal stations, or eating Dosas at Manmad station are some of my fondest travel memories.
While we did eat outside food, we carried our staple food along with us. In my family, dry potato sabzi and poori were my favorite travel foods. Neatly packed in old cardboard sweet boxes that could be disposed of once used, Poori and aloo sabzi survived easily for 2-3 days depending upon the weather.
Water was always from the public taps in railway stations. Bottled water was yet to become mainstream and food delivery apps were in the realm of science fiction.
Switch to the third decade of the 21st century, we are flooded with food options while traveling. There are more outlets than we can explore at airports and railway stations. Add to it the food delivery apps that deliver you anything you wish to eat. But, the quality of food is deteriorating so fast that I have again started carrying my own food. I discovered that I am not alone, many people have started doing it again – going back to their childhood ways.
Best Travel Food For Vegetarians
As usual, I asked my Twitter family, what is their favorite food to carry along. Here is a list that came up:
Theplas and Khakharas
Bless the vegetarian Gujjus for inventing these absolutely travel-friendly dishes. I knew Theplas but discovered them as travel food when I was based in Goa. Gujarati ladies in our neighborhood used to sell a pack of 5-6 Theplas with a bite of pickle inside them. It was perfect to pack one such pack per person. Theplas easily last for 4-5 days. Just pull out one, roll it, and eat it. A complete food that requires no paraphernalia.
Khakharas are even easier to find now. Every supermarket has them. Earlier, they used to be larger in size, breaking easily. Now, you can find them in small shapes that are easy to consume on the move. They are dry in comparison to Theplas, but if you are a vegetarian traveling to primarily non-vegetarian countries, they are a must-pack in your luggage.
Chundo is a classic pickle to go with both Thepla and Khakhara.
Aalu Puri with Pickle – Travel food for Vegetarians
As I already mentioned, this is an easy-to-make and long-lasting food. Like Theplas, you can just eat them out of the box you carry them in. Fried puris taste as good when they are cold as they do when they come out piping hot from the frying pan.
As a North Indian, my favorite go-to pickle with this combo is Mango.
You can have your own variations of this combo like you can have Gobhi or Peas or Matar added to the sabzi. Ajwain Puri tastes very good. You can have Palak or Pumpkin puri if you have enough time to prepare them before travel.
Paranthas are my current favorites to carry for my travels. Now, these paranthas are slightly different as I want them to be soft enough and last a little longer. So, I make the dough using milk instead of water, and that makes them soft.
I do not want any complicated packing, so I stuff all the masalas, even the pickle masala inside the Parantha. I avoid usual stuffings like potato or cabbage as they tend to become soggy.
Stuff your favorite stuffing and keep eating paranthas on the go. A complete and fulfilling meal – perfect travel food for vegetarians.
I discovered this wonderful travel food for vegetarians during my Hong Kong visit. As you know, it is a primarily meat-eating region and it is not easy to get vegetarian food. So, I had to carry ample stuff, especially for my dinner as I tend not to step out for that.
So, during most days, I could manage vegetarian pizzas and dumplings, but at night I used to just open a packet of single-serving pack of Upma powder. Add hot water to it and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes. Upma is ready to eat.
Yes, it is the same Upma that we pay a huge amount for on domestic flights these days.
Some companies like MTR have a single-serve pack that is easy to carry and use. Otherwise, you can simply roast rava at home along with Kadi Patta, Cashews, and spices as you like with a bit of ghee. Pack them in small packets in one box. All you need to have is some hot water and maybe a spoon.
Another healthy and hot meal to eat during travels.
I discovered Sattu on a road trip in Bihar. Sattu is nothing but finely ground-roasted chana. Just add water, salt, sugar, or jaggery as per your choice and you have a fulfilling healthy drink in your hands.
If you have access, you can add lemon juice, finely chopped onions, and fresh green chilies.
Feel free to try your own version of Sattu. It is easy to carry, and a healthy and comfortable drink, especially in summer. Epic Mahabharat also mentions Sattu and Malpua as the two foods that travelers used to carry with them. So, this is an age-old living tradition.
Nuts – Travel food for Vegetarians
For snacking, just carry a box of nuts – almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts. You can add your seeds if you like. Easy to eat and they keep you charged for a long time.
Remember, many combat professionals carry only nuts with them.
On a road trip, I love to keep my car stuffed with fruits. In India, you can pick them up on the road. The more interior you go, the more local and fresh fruits you get, generally. You don’t need to wash them or cut them to eat, making them travel-friendly.
Bananas are the wonder food that can substitute a meal easily. I remember once we were completely lost during a road trip. All of us were vegetarian and we could not find a single shop selling vegetarian food. Bananas came to our rescue. We simply picked up all the bananas we can and gorged on them.
Tomato, Butter Sandwich
If you do not find any good vegetarian food, just walk into a superstore. Pick up tomatoes, butter, and bread – make your own sandwich. If you find additional items to put in, try them and enjoy.
My criteria for including travel foods for vegetarians in this post include:
- Healthy vegetarian meal
- Easy to pack and eat, no dripping, flowing kind of items
- Last for a reasonable amount of time
- Tasty – you feel happy eating it
Do you have any more ideas for vegetarian food well suited for travelers?