Indian Restaurant Goes Vegan

Coriander's, a popular Indian restaurant, is seizing the plant-based food trend by patenting and trademarking a vegan version of its most popular dish.

For the past four months, Coriander's has been developing a vegan recipe for its butter chicken curry, substituting meat for soy.

Gaurav Soni, managing director, said the addition of vegan options is in response to the significant amount of people who convert to a vegan diet every day.

With the traditional butter chicken tallying up to 40 percent of the restaurant’s total sales, it was logical to offer a vegan equivalent. However, developing the vegan dish took a lot of research with head chef Pankaj Kumar trialling many variations before creating the right recipe.

Made with soy pieces, fresh capsicum juice, cashew gravy, tomato and soy milk, the dish has been hugely popular for Coriander’s four Christchurch restaurants.

Soni said three out of the four locations sold out within four days of launching the new dish.

The next step, Soni added, is to make a vegan butter chicken with fresh vegetables instead of soya.

After taking over the business a year ago, Soni and his partners have doubled the revenue of their city restaurants, and have recently franchised the Rolleston site to a former manager.

The company also has plans to franchise into Wellington and Auckland, as well as opening a new restaurant at Prestons, Christchurch.

Globally, the shift to plant-based food has created new takeaway food business models. Water Drop Vegetarian Café manager Qian Cao said there has been a lot of interest in plant-based diets, and they have noticed an increase in customers since opening in 2007.

Cao said it is getting easier to become vegetarian, with so many meat alternatives available. Some of their most popular are spring rolls and vegetarian dumplings.