Mindy Kaling isn’t strictly plant-based, but she has been experimenting with more recipes lately thanks to her vegan pal, fellow actress Natalie Portman.
The Late Night star frequently shares her favorite recipes on Instagram, and in March 2021 she posted a video of herself whipping up plant-based butternut squash soup, inspired by Portman’s vegan lifestyle.
“One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat less red meat. I want to follow in the footsteps of my very healthy, awesome friend Natalie Portman, who is vegan and does great recipes online, and I want to do something similar,” she told her 5.8 million Instagram followers at the time.
Kaling added that she opted to make soup because she was looking for something simple, and loves the cozy dish. “There are some really good nutritious [soups] that are also vegan,” she said, noting that plant-based soups have “less impact on the environment and less impact on my waistline.”
As The Mindy Project alum pointed out, Portman, who has been vegan for many years and is even raising her children on a plant-based diet, loves to share recipes on her own Instagram account. In the past, the Black Swan star has posted videos of herself making vegan matcha donuts, sweet potato falafel, and other treats.
Mindy Kaling Vows to Eat Less Meat
In February 2021, several weeks before she shared her vegan soup recipe, Kaling opened up about her decision to curb her meat consumption. “My new year’s resolution this year was to eat less meat,” she explained. “I love red meat but I know that it’s not good for me, and I just don’t need to be eating as much of it for health reasons, environmental reasons, all the good reasons.”
With her new mission in mind, the Massachusetts native embarked on a vegan food taste-test, during which she sampled plant-based poke and a meatless hot dog. The clear winner for Kaling was the Impossible Umami Burger, which features a vegan patty topped with cheese.
Though the meal wasn’t completely plant-based, Kaling was a fan. “This is freaking great,” she gushed. “This Impossible Burger tastes better than real meat. This is freaking delicious. Umami, you killed it, this is so good!”
Mindy Kaling’s Favorite Vegan Recipes
It’s clear that Kaling has enthusiasm for trying new plant-based foods in her mission to cut down red meat consumption for her health and for the environment. When it comes to vegan recipes, the star doesn’t limit herself. Some of her favorite vegan (and vegetarian) recipes are classic Indian dishes, and she also loves dairy-free ice cream and veggie-packed morning smoothies. These incremental changes are worth celebrating, as even a slight reduction in meat consumption is better for the planet, and kinder to animals. Here are some of Mindy Kaling’s favorite vegan recipes.
1 | Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
After being inspired by Portman to cook more vegan food, Kaling shared her butternut squash soup recipe, which doesn’t include any meat or animal products. Instead, the comforting dish is made with squash, shallots, vegetable broth, a touch of maple syrup, avocado oil, and coconut milk. To give the soup a bit of spice, Kaling tossed in some garlic, cinnamon, curry powder, and sambal oelek.
“It’s delicious,” Kaling said after taking a bit of her creation. “By some crazy happenstance, this tastes perfect. Natalie Portman would love this!”
2 | Banana Ice Cream
Kaling whipped up dairy-free banana ice cream in August 2020, as the refreshing treat was having a moment on TikTok. “Just trying to see what all of this banana ice-cream hype is about,” she wrote on Instagram.
In the accompanying video, Kaling blends together frozen bananas, cacao powder, and some peanut butter. “I’m not going to just eat banana ice cream,” she said as she dropped a heaping spoonful of PB into her blender. “I don’t measure it, I just eyeball it. It’s ice cream, guys. C’mon!”
3 | Masala Dosa
In November 2019, Kaling made masala dosas in her kitchen with Vice President Kamala Harris, who was running for president at the time.
The pair worked together to make the vegan Indian staple, which consists of a dosa. Kaling described them as “kind of like a sourdough crepe” filled with spiced potatoes.
As they cooked together, both Harris and Kaling discussed their older relatives, who are vegetarians. “South Indians, it’s all vegetarian. So when we were growing up and we’d go to India, my grandfather was a little mischievous,” Harris recalled. “My grandmother [didn’t eat any meat.] If it had a mother, it was not getting eaten.”
Similarly, Kaling noted how her family is full of “very good Hindu vegetarians.”
Her cousins, however, would take her out for fast food and split a lamb burger. “But no beef or anything,” she clarified, noting that the meaty meal was a secret from her grandparents.
As for the vegan masala dosas? Harris approved. “The flavor is very nice,” she declared as she took a bite, telling Kaling. “You’re such a good cook.”
4 | Chana Masala
In June 2019, Kaling cooked chana masala, a type of chickpea curry that is made in multiple ways across India. She made the dish with onion, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Then, she added her own touch: ketchup and sambal oelek, an Indonesian chili paste.
“I know it’s been awhile, but Chef Mindy is back and today she’s getting *ethnic*. I’m trying out one of my fave Indian dishes, Chana Masala, using a @buzzfeedtasty recipe because it’s super easy and I like super easy,” she wrote on Instagram. “It’s delish, and light, and healthy but tastes good.”
Written by Samantha Leffler
NEW YORK CITY, NY | Samantha Leffler is s writer and editor who writes about food, health, and entertainment. She was previously the Food Editor at Us Weekly. Her work has appeared in BuzzFeed, MarthaStewart.com, FoodNetwork.com, Cosmopolitan, The Hollywood Reporter, and other outlets.
Written for and originally appeared on LIVEKINDLY
Top photograph via Lars Niki Getty Images for AMPAS