On its Industry Day in September, the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, will showcase technology to help people operate switchboards using a mobile phone, software to make ride-sharing more efficient and a 5G MIMO radio. But one project promises to stand out — mock meats. At the event on September 21, the project will be served with a side of eggs, sausages and salami — albeit all plant based.
Over the past six months, researchers at the top institute have been experimenting with various material to develop a plant-based substitute for eggs. Having come up with a substitute they are satisfied with, they will now move on to ‘chicken’ sausages and salami. Once they achieve that target, they will start looking at replicating the taste and texture of more complex meats such as fish, mutton and beef.
The idea is to offer high-protein vegetarian and vegan options to those who either are vegetarian or have turned so because of ethical and health reasons.
Across the world, mock meats have been gaining popularity as a niche product aimed at a very specific buyer. Most mock meats, however, use soy proteins as their base. At IIT-Delhi, the main source is the humble moong bean.
“We started off with eggs because they have more acceptability in the general population. A lot of people, who do not eat meat, would eat eggs. Launching the brand with such a product made sense,” said Dr Kavya Dashora, assistant professor at the Centre for Rural Development and Technology, who is heading the research.
Her team includes Poonam Desai, food advisor, along with whom Dashora and several students have spent hours perfecting the recipe. “We tried out chickpea flour (besan) and refined flour (maida), but finally settled on moong beans as it has the best protein content and was able to match the texture of an egg the best,” said Desai, as she prepared yet another batch of scrambled eggs in a makeshift kitchen in a laboratory in the institute.
The project is being funded by Rahul Dewan, founder of Four Pursuits Ventures, which funds innovation.
“So far, close to 100 people have tasted the end product over a period of 3-4 months and they are happy. The product that has been developed is more nutritious than an egg. We will eventually move into other spaces as well,” Dewan told The Sunday Express.
According to Dashora, the protein content of an egg is around 4% while that of a mock egg is around 8%. The team has sent products to independent bodies to set a benchmark nutritional figure of the product. “We are waiting for the test results. The product is industry-ready and the process of deciding packaging and branding is ongoing. The plain scrambled egg version should be ready to hit the market soon,” she said.