• New vegan home-style Indian food at Whole Foods

    August 4th, 2009mr meanerstores, whole foods
    basus homestyle masala at whole foods, available from TODAY at Santa Monica and Fairfax outlet

    basu’s homestyle masala at whole foods, available from TODAY at Santa Monica and Fairfax outlet

    One of my earliest memories was helping my grandmother prepare Indian food in her kitchen. I recall the brightly colored spices and the wonderful aroma while the pots bubbled away, and became hooked on the food of that nation at a very young age. Years later, I asked her for the recipe of her potato and pea vindaloo as she gave me a bewildered look and said “Well, there isn’t really a recipe. You take the ingredients, combine and cook them in the way you were shown, and hope for the best!”. You see, my grandmother lived the first 30 years of he life in India, and was taught to cook Indian food by many families in their kitchens and around their stoves.

    As an ex-pat Englishman living in Los Angeles, I’ve always missed the taste of real Indian food. West Coast Indian cuisine rarely has the depth of authenticity and complexity of flavors that Indian and British people love so much. I think it’s because there are fewer resident Indian families to share their techniques, and even fewer Indian restaurants of quality. I had even taken to creating my own curry recipe as a facsimile of what I was used to back home.

    Imagine, then, my interest when we received an invitation to a tasting at Whole Foods for a new range of vegan Indian home-style food. For sure, Whole Foods is creeping up on the vegan community in SoCal. From their early adoption of Daiya vegan cheese to an entirely new range of vegan Indian food, Whole Foods is rapidly becoming a one-stop-shop not only in the grocery department (like it always has been), but increasingly in the Prepared Foods section. Yeah, you can get a kick-ass vegan pizza and now some amazing vegan Indian food on your way home from work and at reasonable prices!

    Indian food is a combination of several things, the most important of which is the base “Masala” (meaning sauce and spices), in which one cooks the vegetables and proteins. Then there’s the carbohydrate portion, usually rice and/or bread. The key to tasty Indian food is in the Masala, which for Whole Foods is provided by Basu’s Home-style, a small family-run business headed by Basu Ghosh and his son Robin. Basu hails from Calcutta in Bengal, one of the regions of India that has the most incredible traditional food. Bengali cuisine is the intersection of aromatic spices and sweet flavors. It’s not uncommon to find raisins and even pineapples in a Bengali dish, all bathed in a glorious masala, served over rice.

    I’m delighted to let you know that Basu’s Homestyle has not only brought some amazing masalas to Southern California, but has delivered a kick-ass selection of them to Whole Foods, allowing the wizard chefs of Prepared Foods to create some amazing dishes.

    clockwise: basil vindaloo with peas and mushrooms, tofu apple masala, vegan curried beef with basil vindaloo, channa dal, peanut masala with roasted red potatoes.

    clockwise: basil vindaloo with peas and mushrooms, tofu apple masala, vegan curried beef with basil vindaloo, channa dal, peanut masala with roasted red potatoes.

    Our tasting was a smorgasbord of contrasting tastes that came together in a way rarely experienced this side of West Bengal (or East London, take your pick). From the Basil Vindaloo through the Peanut Masala with Roasted Red Potatoes, we were spell-bound with the flavors. Whole Foods even invented a “Vegan Curried Beef with Basil Vindaloo” – Indian flavors paired perfectly with Gardein, raisins and apples using Basu’s masalas.

    vegan curried beef with basil vindaloo using gardein beef strips and basu's masala

    vegan curried beef with basil vindaloo using gardein beef strips and basu's masala

    Also, I’m really impressed with the way Basu’s and the chefs at Whole Foods have taken traditional, family-style masalas and combined them with non-traditional ingredients like tofu, Gardein and apples. Truly an amazing and interesting way to create tasty vegan Indian food.


    We were pleased to meet with Basu and Robin during the tasting, and hear their stories about how Basu and his family members from India perfected the masalas in his kitchen at home! They made multiple batches, tested them and modified the formula so that the sauces could be made commercially in large orders yet still have a home-style taste. They then repeated the process to “veganize” the two masalas that had non-vegan ingredients.


    robin ghosh (left) and his father basu, owners of Basu's Homestyle

    About the best vegan pizza is now available in Whole Foods, and I can 100% assure you that the best Indian food in Los Angeles is now also available at your local Whole Foods for sale by the pound. Fill up that container, I promise you won’t be sorry! Whole Foods told us that the West Hollywood outlet (Santa Monica and Fairfax) is rolling out he program TODAY, and the other stores will get with the program at various stages throughout this week. If in doubt, call ahead.


    Oh, and talking of pizza, Basu’s masala and chutneys are available on some specialty vegan pizzas as well. Yeah, a “basil vindaloo sauce with daiya cheese, zucchini, carrot, and fresh basil” pizza is available (think that through — what an amazing and innovative idea!)…

    vegan indian pizza: vindaloo basil masala, daiya cheese, zucchini, basil and carrot.

    vegan indian pizza: vindaloo basil masala, daiya cheese, zucchini, basil and carrot.

    as well as a “channa dal with fresh cucumber, red onion, tamarind chutney” pizza. We’re talking perfect Indian flavors, mixed with stuff we vegans love on top of a delicious pizza.


    Basu’s mission statement says it all: “If you could visit our home in India, this is the food you would be served.”, and my grandmother was right: there is no recipe for Indian food. The only good Indian food is prepared by the family, and for the family.

    Let’s show Whole Foods and Basu’s how much we love vegan Indian food.

    Tags: , , , , ,

27 responses to “New vegan home-style Indian food at Whole Foods” RSS icon

  • this looks amazing. on your recommendation I had the vegan pizza from wholefoods last week and it was the best pizza I had since being a vegan. now I will be driving to wholefoods from santa monica at lunchtime to try the Indian curries. thanks for the story.

  • I want that curried beef right now for breakfast.

  • i was wondering what i should do for lunch today

  • QuarryGirl rocks! Thank you!

  • That vegan indian pizza looks so incredible. I didn’t even know the Weho Whole Foods had Daiya!

  • i don’t even like indian food but this stuff looks SO GOOD. especially that first pizza!

  • bryan.. last time i went to that WF they looked at me funny when i asked if they had the daiya cheese

  • scott: they definitely had it last week when we were there. (thursday night.) it tasted great on the indian pizza!

  • Do they have vegan Naan bread?

  • Wow, that looks so great. I wish my WF had that.

  • I just went to this very Whole Foods on my lunch break (a normal occurance), and by chance chose pizza, and was convinced by an employee to give the basil vindaloo pizza a try– HOLY COW. I have been known to hate zucchini with a passion, but somehow, this amazing basil vindaloo made me LOVE IT. Go, get this pizza NOW.

    The wonderful employee also brought me over to the hot bar area where this delicious looking Indian food is, and told me all about this Quarrygirl post. She was really cool. And this food looks amazing. Guess what I’ll be having for lunch tomorrow? Om nom nom.

  • veronica: we must have been there at the same time! i just finished my amazing lunch. that vegetable masala is totally incredible. i will be back again this week!

  • yummmm!!!! I’m eating the vindaloo basil pizza as i ‘speak’ and it’s sooooo good.. this is my first vegan pizza and it is 100% amazing.. (by the way I bought the entire thing) and i also tried the peas and tofu and garbanzo = YUM Thanks for the recommendation:) You’ve made my transition to veganism (was a vegetarian for years) a breazeeeeee !

  • i’ve been reading this blog for awhile now, and as much as i appreciate the consistent updates on everything that whole foods is doing, it would be rad if some smaller independently owned natural foods stores would get some props. whole foods destroys communities in terms of their ability to outcompete locally owned businesses. the money that consumers spend at these chain megastores flows right out of the local economy into the hands of corporate bigwigs. i’ll bet that if the co-op in santa monica had the same amount of media buzz that your prominent blog offers whole foods they would be able to accommodate suggestions from vegans even better than they already do. just a thought. and thanks in general (aside from the whole foods porn) for giving me more food options than RFD when visiting LA.

  • Melissa: we’re happy to write about Santa Monica coop, and would if:

    a) there was anything interesting there
    b) they had more parking
    c) they asked us to

    and, there’s nothing wrong with corporate bigwigs! Socialism depends on us for existence.

    Forget RFD – they are worse than bigwigs – they are a small business that puts fame over service. Don’t eat there again!

    Been to Vinh Loi Tofu? If not, you should!

  • Oh..oh..oh…

    How do I get them to provide another food section with Saag Paneer (That’d be Daiya Paneer)? I’m not above begging.

  • I want that vegan Indian pizza RIGHT NOW!!! That’s it, I’m booking another trip to LA and we’re all going on a pizza tour. I’ll fast for two weeks before if I have to.

  • I have a better idea of a caption for the picture of the owners:

    Robin (left) assists his father Basu (right) subdue a wild dog that entered their home recently!

    Seriously, though, my girlfriend and I ate so much vegan curries from WF tonight I can hardly move. Love you, quarry Girl, and big thanks to the makers of the food. we loved every bite.

  • I wonder when this will be hitting the Tustin location. Looks delish.

  • I love Indian food and everything you pictured and mentioned looks absolutely delicious. Can’t wait to try it!

  • When will this be available at the other Whole Foods? I really want to try it!

  • Are you kidding me?! Our Whole Foods SUCK in N. California!

  • When can we get this in the Redondo Beach store?

  • I called the Venice store about this product, the store was clueless about this product. Who do I need to talk to to get them to carry it in the Venice Store.

  • Writers wanted for freelance work: You must be vegan, must enjoy writing about food, must be good with a digital camera, and must enjoy meeting and interviewing people. We are looking for freelance writers in the following areas: Los Angeles, Orange County, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Email veganwriters@yahoo.com to get involved.

  • This looks rather delicious!!

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

Leave a reply