The Best Vegetarian Travel Foods to Keep With You Forever

In childhood, whenever we used to travel long distances by train, we used to carry our food for the entire duration of the journey. Be it breakfast in the morning or lunch or dinner. Even after this, the attendants selling various snacks in the train used to catch the eye of us children. Moreover, the hustle and bustle and beauty of the railway stations was unique.

Vendors of different delicacies were hawking from all sides. Somewhere there were fruit carts, somewhere tea vendors would enter the train compartments and entice the passengers. Somewhere fresh spicy dishes were being prepared, somewhere local sweets were being sold. For example Agra ka Petha at Agra railway station, sweet rabri at Bhopal station, Mathura ka peda at Mathura station. Vegetarians never faced any problem of food during train journeys.

Seeing the size of bananas getting smaller while travelling from North India to South India, being attracted to oranges seeing their different shapes and colours at Nagpur station, mouth watering after seeing Jhalmuri available at Bengal stations, eating Dosa at Manmad station, all these are my favourite travel memories of childhood. All these seemed very interesting in childhood.

It is not possible that we do not taste such delicious dishes available at stations and in train coaches. Even then we used to carry our basic food with us. In my family, my favourite travel food was potato dry curry and puris. In my house, cardboard boxes used for sweets were kept safely for this purpose. Travel food items were neatly stored in them. After this use, they were discarded. Depending on the climate, potato dry curry and puris made in oil could easily last for 2-3 days.

In our childhood, the source of drinking water was always the public tap at the railway station. At that time, water was not available in bottles like today, nor were there water purification devices in homes. The way food can be ordered from any restaurant in any station using a mobile, such facilities were probably seen only in science fiction movies.

Today in the third decade of the 21st century, there is a flood of food items and options to order them for travel. At present, the number of food centers at airports and railway stations has increased so much that it has become almost impossible to see them all in the limited waiting time. Now there are many options available to order various food items through mobile. Before reaching the station of any city, you can pre-order any favorite food item from any favorite restaurant of that city. Even before you reach that station, the distributor is present there equipped with your ordered food.

But nowadays there is a huge decline in the quality of food items and ingredients used in them. Due to their adverse effects on health, I have now started carrying food from home again while travelling. Looking around me, I realized that I am not alone in this project. I found that many travellers like me have now started carrying food from home again. All of them have started experiencing the joy of their childhood again.

Best Homemade Travel Food for Vegetarians

Before writing this edition, as per tradition, I asked my Twitter family what are their favorite homemade and safe travel foods. As expected, I got an excellent response from the readers. I have presented those answers here in a systematic manner.

Thepla and Khakhra

Many thanks and blessings to all the vegetarian Gujarati friends and relatives for inventing these absolutely travel friendly dishes. I knew about theplas but I started using them as travel food when I lived in Goa. There were some Gujarati women in my neighbourhood who used to make theplas and sell them bundled with pickles.

Thepla - The most popular travel food Thepla - The most popular travel food
Thepla – The most loved travel food

They are very convenient, safe, tasty and nutritious for travelling. Theplas easily last for 4-5 days. They can be made more tasty and nutritious by using different flours and vegetables. They are easy to eat in any situation while travelling. Theplas are a complete meal and do not require any additional garnishing.

Khakhras have become more popular and easily available than theplas. These are available in almost all types of retail outlets. Earlier, Khakhras were usually available in large sizes which used to break quickly. But now Khakhras are available in small sizes which are easy to carry while travelling and also to eat while sitting in bus, train etc.

These are drier than theplas and require a drink like water, tea etc. with them. But if you are a vegetarian and are travelling for a long period to a place where only non-vegetarian food is available, then do include khakhras in your luggage. Being dry, their taste does not change for a long time.

Usually pickles and chunda are eaten with khakhra and theplas. Do not forget to keep them along with you.

Potato curry, puri and pickle

These are easy to make and do not get stale for a long time. Like theplas, you can eat these directly from the containers in which they were packed. Fried puris taste delicious when they come out of the pan. Their specialty is that they taste equally delicious even after cooling down.


Being a North Indian, I love eating puris with mango pickle.

There are many options to eat with puris, like potato-cauliflower or potato-pea dry vegetable. Puris can also be made in many types, like ajwain puris are my favourite. You can make masala puris, spinach puris, fenugreek puris, pumpkin puris etc.

Parathas – Easy Travel Food

Nowadays I like to take parathas with me on my trips. These parathas are a little different. To keep these parathas soft for a long time and to prevent them from getting stale, I knead the dough with milk instead of water. This keeps them soft for a long time.

Parantha with butter Parantha with butter
Parantha with butter

To make these parathas easy to eat while travelling, I do not carry parathas and bhaji separately. I pre-fill the parathas with all the masalas, even pickles. You can also fill them with dal. I do not fill them with bhajis like potato, cabbage etc. as this makes the parathas moist.

Fill these parathas with your favourite stuffing and enjoy them while travelling. These are a perfect meal for vegetarians travelling.

Dry Upma

I discovered this great travel food when I was traveling to Hong Kong. Hong Kongers are mostly non-vegetarians. Vegetarian food is not easily available there as per our taste. So I needed to carry a lot of food, especially for dinner. After a day of traveling, when I come back to my room, I don't like going out again for dinner.

While touring Hong Kong for the day, I mostly relied on vegetarian pizzas and dumplings but for dinner, I had prepared a mixture of upma. I opened a packet of the mixture, poured boiling water over it and covered it for 3-4 minutes. Delicious homemade upma was ready to eat!

Yes, this is the same Upma mixture for which we have to shell out a huge amount of money on domestic flights.

At present, many companies make such mixtures, like MTR, which are easy to carry along. Otherwise, you can also make them at home. Prepare the dry mixture by roasting wheat semolina and adding mustard seeds etc. You can also add fried onions, green chillies, curry leaves etc. to it after making them crispy. You can also add mixed pulses and cashews fried in ghee. Add salt and sugar as per requirement. Make small packets of the dry mixture prepared in this way and take it along with you. To eat, you will only have to add boiling water to it.

Similarly, you can also prepare dry mixture of Poha and take it with you. Apart from being tasty, it will also prove to be a nutritious food for the journey.


I discovered Sattu during my road trip to Bihar. Fine powder of roasted gram is called Sattu. A nutritious drink is made by adding water, salt, sugar or jaggery as per taste. It is drunk cold.

Nutritious Sattu Nutritious Sattu
Nutritious Sattu

If available, you can also add lemon juice, finely chopped onion and green chillies to it.

Sattu is a drink that you can make according to your taste. It is easy to carry. For summers, it is a tasty and nutritious drink that keeps the stomach calm for a long time.

Sattu and Malpua have also been mentioned in the Mahabharata. In those times too, travellers used to carry Sattu and Malpua with them. Thus, the practice of carrying food with you on journeys has been going on since ancient times.

dry fruits

There is a desire to keep eating something to pass the time during train or bus journeys. Similarly, while visiting and seeing the destinations, one has to keep eating something to maintain energy.

dry fruits dry fruits
dry fruits

Dry fruits are the best option to satisfy this hunger in between meals, such as almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts etc. They keep the stomach calm for a long time and maintain the energy of the body. They are very easy to carry.

When soldiers etc. climb difficult routes, they always keep dry fruits with them.


Whenever I travel by road, I fill my vehicle with a variety of fruits. In India, there are many fruit vendors on the roadside who sell a variety of fruits through their shops or carts. The further you go into the inner parts of the city, the more local and fresh fruits will be available.

Banana is a fruit that can be a great alternative to any food. I remember, during a road trip, we completely lost our way. All of us were vegetarians. There was not a single shop where vegetarian food was available. Bananas helped us at that time. We bought a lot of bananas and satisfied our hunger with them.

Tomato and butter sandwich

While visiting any destination, if you do not expect to get any vegetarian food, then you can buy tomatoes, butter and bread from any big shop and prepare your own sandwiches. If you have other vegetables, cheese, chutney etc. available for filling inside them, then you can use them too. The pleasure of a sandwich made by your own hands will be unique.

Tomato Sandwich Tomato Sandwich
Tomato Sandwich

travel food selection

The vegetarian travel recipes I have compiled in this edition are selected on the following basis:

  • Nutrition
  • Taste and pleasure of eating
  • Easy to tie and eat.
  • Protected from dripping and flowing
  • Long-lasting

Apart from these, do you know of any other vegetarian dishes which you can take with you on long journeys?

Translation: Madhumita Tamhane

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