How Mock Meat, Plant-Based Options Are Currying Favour in India
Image Credit: Mock meat preparations

Time was when those looking for vegetarian substitutes for meat or poultry had little other recourse than 'Nutrela'. It's perhaps a sign of just how ubiquitous the brand, owned by Ruchi Soya, was — much like the name Xerox became synonymous with photocopying, Nutrela became the catchall term for soya chunks from various companies. 'Nutrela' is arguably even better known than the trade term for soya chunks: 'mealmaker'. 

Despite its all-pervasiveness in Indian households, Nutrela could trigger strong reactions from both sides of the "is this even palatable?" divide. Those who swore by its taste, texture and nutritional content were happy to have it dropped willy nilly into their rice, curries and more. Others, who equated it with a sponge (on its good days) or cork (on its bad ones), were understandably less enthusiastic about the practice. 

No matter which camp you identified with in the past — pro or anti-soya chunks — chances are, the range of plant-based meat substitutes now available in India will leave you impressed.

A whole mock meat platter


In the Ambient range, the brand has Gluten-Free Soya Noodles and Soya Vegget as well as others like Soya Indi-Chop, Soya Chikka, and Soya Veg Meat. The Frozen range is larger and includes Soya Seekh Kabab, Shami Kabab, Rogan Josh, Soya Chop, Veg Chicken, Soya Chikka Biryani, Soya Nuggets, Chopsticks, and Soya Bhurji. 

So, while talking about how the market is bombarded with mock meat derivatives, it is important to also focus on the aspects to keep in mind while making a transition from meat to plant-based/mock alternatives in recipes.

 Bajaj says factors like taste, texture, look and nutritional value plays an important role, concluding: “It should be easy to cook and suitable for all cuisines and recipes”.

 Abhishek Sinha emphasises that consumers have to decide on the products based on the recipe or end dish they have in mind. 

 “For example, ready-to-cook nuggets/patties/tikka, etc are easy to cook. But if they want relatively raw plant-based meat, they need to find out more as to how these products need to be handled while cooking. For this, it’s important to watch recipe videos and follow the cooking instructions the brands provide," he says. "Once they are comfortable, they can tweak as per their own recipes and requirements.”