When Bal Gill started up new Indian vegan punjabi food company V-Giyan in Wendlebury near Bicester back in 2020 everyone thought he was being overly ambitious.

The pandemic was about to kick off and the hospitality industry was closing down. But the Oxford entrepreneur has proved them all wrong by doing a roaring trade, and business is booming.

“Now that gardens are being opened we can scarcely keep up – people want to offer something different to their guests”

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Since we last spoke, Bal has employed seven staff to keep up with the demand for his delicious curries, starters, pickles, dips and sides, from his regular customers all over Oxfordshire.

Aloo Tikki with Green Chili and Mint Chutney and Punjabi bhaji’s (aka pakoras)

“V.Giyan’s success has been amazing. We have grown by 60% between January and March alone and are often fully booked at weekends,” Bal says.

He spends months concocting the recipes, analysing each traditional Punjabi dish to replicate without the more traditional dairy-rich ingredients. 

And with new dishes being introduced all the time, particularly the newer meat-alternatives – such as “Just Like Chicken” Tikka Masala, the Tandoori Vegan Prawns, the Just Like Mirchi Chicken” Curry, the Spicy and Aromatic Vegan Malai Kofta and a new one we were lucky enough to trial Just Like Mutton, he is converting even the more carnivorous diner to V-Giyan’s charms.

vegan Tandoori prawns

“To begin with a lot of my clients were ordering just for themselves, but having introduced more of the meat alternatives, orders for couples and larger parties have come flooding in,” he says.

“Now that gardens are being opened we can scarcely keep up, because people want to offer something different to their guests. They have learnt during lockdown that takeaways don’t have to mean junk food,” Bal says.

vegan momos

We tried the lot – bags of starters poured in the door which we enjoyed as a rule of six outside. The Aloo Tikki with Green Chili and Mint Chutney – crisp and spicy potato patties with a bite – the Punjabi Deep Filled Samosas with Tamarind Chutney which were generous and unctuous with diced onion, potato, pea and cumin filling and fried in vegan ghee, the Tofu and Vegetable Spring Rolls.

The Punjabi bhaji’s (aka pakoras) were a massive hit and disappeared in seconds. Filled with potato, onions, spinach, freshly chopped herbs and ground spices, their golden batter is made from chickpea flour, which we dunked in the mango chutney.

Just Like Chicken” Tikka Masala

And the Steamed Achari Vegetable Momos with Toasted Sesame, Tomato and Soy Sauce, were a revelation, immersed in a sweet, spicy sauce.

Throw in a Protein and Garlic Kick Tofu Saag (not first date material), the Vegan Dal Makhani, Grated Cucumber & Coconut Raita, Oxfordshire Chili, Lemon, Carrot and Garlic Pickle, Homemade Tamarind Chutney, Homemade Mint and Green Chili Chutney we dined out on a Punjabi feast of epic proportions.

Our favourites – the tandoori prawns were a big hit, just the same texture and crunch as real prawns, the Just Like Chicken” Tikka Masala was right up there, but the new lamb dish won hands down.

V-Giyan only uses biodegradable packaging

There are no additives or preservatives in any of the food and everything has been cooked from scratch, slowly and authentically, and all the packaging is 100% recyclable – V-Giyan is very mindful of its carbon footprint too.

V-Giyan means science, knowledge and wisdom in Hindu and you can tell. I highly recommend it to everyone.

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KATHERINE MACALISTER


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