Want To Eat Jackfruit Mock-Meat? Here's Who Can Offer

Food start-up Better is all set to launch the product in March which tastes exactly like meat

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It is hard to put a finger on the point in time when veganism created an impact in India, but it surely has. On a sunny February morning, the trend was clearly visible at an event where the topic was Earth and sustainability. Many stalls were offering everything from vegan face mists, cakes and brownies, to animal-friendly leather covered journals.  

Plant-based brand Better's upcoming products

Lately, people have opted to consume and use products coming from plants due to increasing carbon-emission levels or to have a healthy body, among many other reasons. This plant-based lifestyle is veganism. 

Tucked in between two stalls was Better, a brand offering curries and spreads for the plant-based folks.

Keertida Phadke, a former brand developer at L'Oréal S.A, is all set to launch a jackfruit-based mock meat brand in March. The start-up will launch keema, typically made from goat’s meat, Chettinad-style currey, and a tandoori curry.

Mock-meat, usually made from soy, taste exactly like meat. It is either used as a substitute for non-vegetarian folks who are trying to adopt a vegan lifestyle or looking for healthier alternatives.

Chettinad and tandoori curry could probably act as replacement for the usual chicken gravies. All the ready-to-cook variants come with a spice mix and retail for INR 225. The products will be available on online platforms including Amazon, and grocery-delivery platform BigBasket as well as a few gourmet stores including Nature’s Basket.   

“Jackfruit is actually trending in the West right now. All over New York, typically around the coast where food innovation is really big such as SF (San Francisco). Even Europe, Germany, some part of London. People are using raw jackfruit, which is typically used to mimic pulled pork. This works very well in Mexican-style pulled pork or shredded chicken dishes, which works very well with tortillas. You put some vegan cheese and mock meat on some nachos and it tastes great,” said Phadke.

After working with the Paris-headquartered personal care giant, Phadke went to New York to study gourmet cooking. “In the West, Jackfruit is now being considered as a super food as it is low in calories and high in fibre. But the ingredient is difficult to process even for a professional chef like me. Even now I’d prefer going home and eating my mom’s jackfruit curry,” she said.

Founded in 2019 by Phadke and Karan Bajaj, a former employee at AirBnb, a homestay platform, Better will follow up with vegan cheese spreads, and cottage cheese-like tasting tofu. Tofu is a soymilk-paneer or cottage cheese of sorts, which is a great dairy-replacement packed with protien, but has a peculiar taste, which is not very acceptable to the Indian taste palate. “We are working on a tofu, which would taste more like paneer,” said Phadke.  

Soy-based mock-meat brand GoodDot, Mumbai-based Urban Platter, and Café House are a few among the plethora of other brands Better will be competing with.

India is also home to the largest vegetarian population in the world making vegan products a niche category. But with many youngsters becoming increasingly aware and giving up animal-produced dairy products, the market, still small, seems to be growing. The average upwards of INR 200 price point might not decrease soon.