Mock meats a new food trend
From jack fruit patties to soyabean chops or a ‘vegetarian’ chicken and fish – options for those seeking alternatives to meat are now available dime a dozen.
Euphemistically termed mock meats, such food preparations are preferred choices across a cross-section of people ranging from newly turned vegetarians to those forced to curtail meat intake due to dietary restrictions.
“I feel the trend of serving mock meat is catching up, not as a substitute but rather a healthy alternative to meats as these products have almost similar nutritional value in terms of protein intake etc,” says Anurag Mathur, Executive Chef, Jaypee Vasant Continental.
Simple plant-based products are used to substitute meat in popular dishes and make them fit for even the strictest vegetarians.
“For people who are turning vegetarian after years of gorging on meat, for people who don’t eat meat due to ethical reasons but don’t want to miss out on the experience and even for those who don’t want to stand out in a crowd of non-vegetarians, mock meats are a godsend,” says Mathur.
Products popularly used as mock meats include wheat gluten, tempeh, tofu etc besides packaged substitutes of fried prawns etc.
“Tofu is used in abundance in our Chinese specialty restaurant Ano Tai in main course items and one of our highest selling vegetarian burger in our coffee shop Eggspectation uses a vegetarian patty made out of tofu,” says Mathur.
Vegetarian prawns, lobsters and crabs are spotted on the menu of ‘Chi Ni’ the new mini restaurant at Dusit Devarana.
“…We are using special mock meat or soya meat sourced from Malaysia. The menu has almost 70 per cent vegetarian dishes. So you get to have veg fish, veg prawns, veg chicken. It’s a ‘fish’ but purely vegetarian,” says Nishant Choubey the restaurant’s chef.
Participating in a recent cooking demo organised at the Le Creuset art kitchen, the chef dished out self designed recipes like ‘crispy muri asupara maki roll with black kuru’ and ‘paneer stuffed with orange jam’ recipies he describes as ‘new world cuisine.’
Quinoa, a Peruvian ingredient, is getting very popular among the health conscious population, says Choubey who claims to have cooked for celebrities such as Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Hritik Roshan.
Coconut, eggplant or mushrooms are other popular substitutes that can be replaced for meat.
To cater to the market for mock meat companies like Godrej Nature’s Basket are stocking up an extensive range of Mock Meat.
While the chicken products are largely soya based and completely vegetarian, the crab and lobster alternatives are made with premium sear fish.
They offer a large selection of Veg Chicken Burgers, Veg Chicken Strips, Veg Hot dogs, Veg Sausages, Veg Schnitzels, Veg Polony and even Veg chicken Mince.
“The preparation that goes into mock meat recipes is similar to that of regular meat dishes. The difference being that the meat is substituted with other ingredients like soya chunks, mushrooms, different types of lentils, beanpaste, and various other fresh vegetables,” says Chef Sukanta Das of Tamra by Shanri-La’s Eros Hotel.
This, says Das, is a growing trend amongst consumers as majority of people have opted to turn vegetarian due to health and environmental reasons, which consequently has resulted in this becoming a major trend in the food industry.
“The demand for the same increases during festive seasons,” says the chef who rustles up an array of mock meats- Soya chap, soya tangdi, soya cutlets, and soya Daliya ki seekhs.
“Veggie burgers are also popular and are made up of different beans and vegetables,” he says.
Chefs and home-based cooks are using coconut, eggplant or mushrooms as popular substitutes for meat.
Chickpeas are a great whole-food alternative to mock meats and combine with quinoa to create chickpea cakes, that taste like the real thing.
Ahimsa Food based in Delhi claims to be the first company that began manufacturing products that look and taste like meat but are cent per cent vegetarian.
The catalogue of their products includes Indian, continental, Latin American and Chinese with products like Fajita fillet, Szechwan morsels, king prawns, salami and sausages.
“The aim is to have products that are healthy, environment and soul friendly. Most of our products are lacto vegetarian though we are increasing the range of vegan products,” says Yasmin Ahmad Jadwani, who founded the company.
Meanwhile Chef Mathur of Jaypee hotels says “Overall the trend of mock meats seems to catch up for coming years.”