Did you know that India has the highest percentage of people who have adopted vegetarianism in the whole world?
This huge percentage, ranging between 38% to 45%, can probably be attributed to the cultures and religions of India. For example, during most Hindu festivals where one is required to fast, one of the principle factors is vegetarianism!
Suppose one were to eliminate the concept of fasting from the ideology and talk only in practical terms. In that case, chances are that when out with friends or family, at least one person on the table will have a vegetarian diet preference, and out of consideration for that person, one would have to end up ordering a dominantly vegetarian meal.
Gastronomically tuned folks would understand the dilemma of the poor meat lover in such situations and have, therefore, come up with alternative dishes that are entirely vegetarian or even vegan (foods made with only plant-based produce) but taste exactly like the succulent meat dishes we all love binging on!
Here are a few of our favourite "disguised” vegetarian dishes. So accurate are their 'covers' that you won't be able to tell them apart from their meaty originals!
Let's begin with the dishes closer to home, shall we?
Vegetarian Galouti kebab
Galouti Kebab literally translates to meat that melts in the mouth. It originated in Lucknow in the Kitchens of the Nawab, who was a renowned foodie. Back then, though, they were prepared using only minced meat!
Now, however, this delicacy has a delicious vegetarian avatar too. Made with kidney beans (rajma), soya chunks, and sometimes even mushrooms, this vegetarian variant of the famously non-vegetarian dish is sure to keep your taste buds and you satisfied.
Soya tikka masala
Chicken lovers will probably scoff at this statement, but one really has to try it to believe it! These days 'soya chaap’ marinated in chicken tikka masala tastes no different from the ‘real deal’. They're a perfect substitute for proteins in taste and texture too!
Coming to the western sphere of gastronomy, here is some fast food in their vegetarian form:
This delicious Mexican street food was originally made with skirt- steak, but as its popularity crossed borders, it found itself stuffed with tender chicken- batter coated and fried to a crisp. It is this batter-coated form that has become the staple fast food that we know and love today. With the rapid increase in vegetarianism and veganism, a dish more suitable for new age food demands was required. Enter the tofu taco! Tofu is a plant-based product and therefore suitable for vegans too.
Vegetarian Hot Dog
Hot Dogs are sausages stuffed in soft bread and topped with onion-pickle jam, mustard and/or ketchup. The vegetarian variant isn't much different! In it, the only difference is that the pork sausage gets swapped with a vegetarian alternative like soy protein, pea protein or wheat gluten. The toppings remain the same. However, you can really experiment with a hotdog and try a mixed vegetable cutlet instead of the above mentioned. Though fair warning - the texture is somewhat different.
It doesn't sound very exciting, but trust us - every bite of this burger is a flavour explosion and beyond delicious! Made with mixed vegetable patties and vegan mayonnaise, these burgers are a perfect treat to enjoy with your vegan friends.
Vegetarian “Chicken” wings
Cauliflower is a healthier and less fattening substitute for the protein in chicken wings. They remain crispy on the outside and juicy soft on the inside. Use plant-based milk (Like almond or soy milk) instead of cow's milk, and you'll have a fabulous vegan option too!
Vegetarian "Fish" Fingers
Texture is everything when it comes to fish fingers, and the one way to achieve this same texture without fish is by combining tofu and artichokes with nutritional yeast. To further enhance the flavour, soak seaweed sheets in oil before frying the tofu sticks in them. Alternatively, you can use mashed potatoes to make this dish as well.
Vegan Meatballs and spaghetti
This healthier and equally delicious alternative is sure to become a staple in your household. Especially if you have kids! Use quinoa and soaked beans (black beans or kidney beans) in the meatballs, and lo and behold - you have the same texture as the real minced meat ones. Needless to say, the spaghetti and tomato sauce remain the same.
Moving to the oriental kitchen of the vegetarian world,
Baos are delicious sweet steamed buns with spicy beef or chicken filling in it. Their vegetarian options are as tasty as the non-vegetarian ones. Simply swap the proteins with the mushrooms, and you are good to go. Another option is a fried tofu filling, but the resultant texture is much softer than the meaty and mushroom ones.
This famous Japanese seafood dish has a yummy vegetarian option that meat lovers will devour too. Sushi prepared with carrot, asparagus and tofu fillings burst with flavours and textures so much so that you might end up preferring them to their fishy originals!
Bookmark this article for the next time you have dinner with your friends who prefer a vegetarian or vegan diet! These dishes are so delicious that you might make them a regular feature in your generally meaty menu too.
How many of these dishes have you already tried out? Are there any more scrumptious tried-and-tested dishes that you would like to add to the list as well?