Soya chunks curry aka meal maker curry is a delicious Indian dish made with soya nuggets, spices, onions, tomatoes and herbs. This vegan mock meat curry is the ultimate comfort food! Super delicious, easy to make and is sure to please everyone. If you love something tasty and meaty without having to eat the real meat, this is absolutely for you! Serve it over rice, pulao, jeera rice or with roti, paratha, naan, it simply tastes the best with anything!
If you are new to Indian foods, you may be wondering
What are soya chunks?
Soya chunks are textured vegetable protein made from defatted soya flour, after extracting soya bean oil. Also known as nutri-nuggets, meal maker, soya nuggets, soya vadi, these are a kind of mock meat that is immensely popular in India.
They are considered healthy, protein rich and a good alternate to those who want to refrain from eating meat. Soya chunks are used in various dishes like curries, pulaos, fried rice, biryani, appetizers and stir fry dishes.
However since these are highly processed it is advisable to eat them in moderation. Also using organic soya chunks or at least NON-GMO is highly recommended.
How are soya chunks used?
Since these are dehydrated and defatted product they need to be soaked well in hot or warm water until softened. Then they are squeezed off to remove the soaked up water. Soya chunks are finally rinsed well a few times and then used.
About this recipe
This soya chunks recipe will give you a simple yet delicious and flavorful curry made with just pantry staples. It is made much the same way as any other curry but with a higher amount of spices, as meal maker tastes bland and require more spices.
This curry has the typical South Indian flavors infused, with the addition of curry leaves. However you may easily tweak it to for North Indian flavors with the use of kasuri methi.
I have used coconut to make the gravy which can be easily substituted with cashews, soaked & peeled almonds or coconut milk. The color of your gravy will differ based on the ingredients used.
My Mom always made soya chunks gravy to serve as a side with vegetable pulao, ghee rice, peas pulao, biryani and kuska rice. Her soya chunks curry always had bay leaf and many other whole spices in it to mimic the strong non-vegetarian flavours.
So you may experiment with bay leaf, cloves and cinnamon for stronger flavors.
How to make soya chunks curry
Preparation for soya chunks recipe
1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a large pot, add 1¼ cups soya chunks. You can add more or less it is just fine. Let sit till they turn soft. Meanwhile chop onions and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Do not leave the soya chunks for long time as some brands of chunks turn soggy.
When they soften, drain them and rinse. Squeeze off the excess water from the soya chunks. You will see frothy liquid and it is just normal. Repeat the rinse in fresh water and squeeze again. Repeat the rinse and squeezing off cycle a few times to remove the frothy liquid. This reduces the chances of tummy upset or digestive problems. Keep these aside in a bowl.
2. Pour 1½ to 2 tablespoons oil to a hot pan. Add cumin and mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add 1 sprig curry leaves, 1 slit chili and 1 cup onions. Saute until onions turn golden.
3. While the onions fry, grind 2 medium tomatoes (1 cup chopped) and 3 to 4 tablespoons coconut to a smooth paste without adding water. If you do not have coconut, use 1/3 cup thick coconut milk or add 10 cashews or 10 almonds or 2 tbsps almond meal or 2 tbsps roasted gram. Set this aside.
4. When the onions turn golden, add 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste. Saute until it begins to smell good.
5. Pour the tomato paste from the blender jar. Saute this until the mixture turns thick and the raw smell from tomatoes has gone.
6. Slide the onion tomato masala to a side and add
- soya chunks
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
7. Saute all of these till the meal maker blends well with the mixture for about 3 to 4 minutes.
8. Pour 1¼ cup water and mix well. If required add more water to make a slightly runny gravy. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat. Cover and cook till the meal maker are soft cooked for about 5 to 8 minutes. If using larger chunks you may cook them a little longer. Taste test and add more salt. When the curry is done, you see it thickens and specks of oil float. Add coriander leaves & turn off the heat.
It is best to serve soya chunks curry after 1 to 2 hours of preparing as they soak up and absorb the flavors. Serve soya chunks curry with Veg biryani, pulao, jeera rice, ghee rice or biryani rice/ kuska.
Whole spices: I have used mustard and cumin seeds in the tempering. For flavour variations, you can instead use 1 bay leaf, 2 cardamoms, 2 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon piece and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds. If using these spices you may skip curry leaves.
Onion and tomato masala: For a smoother consistency of the curry, you can also saute onions until golden, followed by chopped ginger garlic for a minute. Then add tomatoes and coconut. Saute until mushy. Cool and blend. In this case you have to use half more cup of water.
Ground spices: I have also made this recipe several times with kitchen king masala, meat masala and chicken masala. You can try out with any of these to mimic flavors of a meat curry. You need to adjust the quantities as the spice levels vary.
Coconut: Substitute coconut with 1/3 cup thick coconut milk or cashews or almonds or even with fried gram (roasted chana dal). All work well and cashews are our favourite here.
For extra flavour, marinate soya chunks with ¾ teaspoon ginger garlic, ½ teaspoon red chilli powder & ½ teaspoon garam masala. You can rest them for 30 minutes to 1 day in the refrigerator. Saute the soya chunks for 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon oil first and Keep aside. Ensure the raw smell of ginger garlic has gone. Later add them to the simmering gravy.
Serving: Soya chunks curry is best served after 1 to 2 hours as soya chunks soak up and absorb the flavors. You can also make this ahead and refrigerate.
Combinations: Soya chunks and green peas is one of the popular combos in many households. You can add some boiled green peas or even potatoes to this recipe.
Soya chunks if eaten in moderation are healthy since they are a good source of plant protein. However eating it often makes it an unhealthy food as they are highly processed. Too much of protein can also cause stomach upsets.
No! Eat them only 1 to 2 times a week. If you are a meat eater, consume them in place of meat. Consult your dietician for a personalised advice.
Soya chunks can be used to make biryani, pulao, fried rice, curries, stir fry dishes, snacks like cutlets, patties and many more. You can also replace meat chunks in any recipe with soya chunks.
Ideally they need just a 10 to 15 minutes soak to hydrate and soften them. But if you are someone having a trouble digesting protein, then soak them in luke warm water for 3 to 4 hours. Oversoaking in boiling hot water makes them too mushy.
The main benefit of soya chunks is the ease of cooking. They taste delicious & make a good meat substitute. Also they are high protein.
Soya chunks curry (meal maker curry)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 1¼ cup soya chunks (meal maker / soya nuggets)
- 1½ to 2 tablespoons Oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 pinch mustard (optional)
- 1 sprig curry leaves or bay leaf
- 1 cup onions finely chopped (1 large or 2 medium)
- 1 green chili slit (optional)
- 1½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala or meat masala or chicken masala
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon coriander powder (optional)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves finely chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes (2 large)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons coconut or 10 cashews or ⅓ cup thick coconut milk
Preparation for soya chunks recipe
- Bring 3 cups water to a boil, switch off the stove.
- Add soya chunks and leave them in hot water till they soften.
- Debris settles down, discard the water and squeeze off the water from the chunks.
- Rinse them in cold water twice and repeat squeezing off the excess water. You will get frothy water from the soya chunks, it is just normal. Set this aside for later use.
- If you are using large chunks you can cut each one to two.
- Grind the tomatoes and coconut to a smooth paste.
How to make soya chunks curry
- Heat oil in a pan. Then add mustard and cumin seeds.
- When they begin to splutter add curry leaves, onions and green chilies.
- Fry till the onions turn golden.
- Add ginger garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears.
- Add the tomato and coconut paste.
- Fry till it thickens and begins to leave the sides of the pan.
- Add red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, and salt.
- Saute everything well until the spices begin to smell good, for about 3 mins.
- Next transfer the soya chunks. Saute them for 3 minutes stirring often, till the meal maker are coated well in the masala.
- Pour 1¼ cup water and mix well. Bring it to a boil & simmer. If the curry is too thick add more water.
- Cook on a low flame for about 5 to 8 minutes, till soya chunks are cooked well. The oil begins to float on top when the curry is done. Add coriander leaves and mix. Turn off the heat & let rest for at least an hour so the soya chunks soak up the flavors well.
- Serve soya chunks curry with plain rice, variety rice or roti. We usually squeeze some lemon juice and serve with raw onions, cucumber and carrot slices on the side.
- You can replace garam masala with kitchen king masala or meat masala. For North Indian flavors simply add 1 teaspoon kasuri methi at the last step and use bay leaf instead of curry leaves.
- It is important to use coconut or cashews as it thickens and won’t let water separate in the gravy. If you do not have coconut you can use ⅓ cup thick coconut milk. Blend it with tomatoes. Other options are to use roasted gram (roasted chana dal).
- You can also marinate soya chunks with ¾ teaspoon ginger garlic, ½ teaspoon red chilli powder and ½ teaspoon garam masala. You can rest them for 30 minutes to 1 day in the refrigerator. Saute the soya chunks for 5 minutes in 1 tablespoon oil first and Keep aside. Later add them to the simmering gravy.
- Soya chunks , potatoes and green peas make a very good combination. You can add about ½ to ¾ cup green peas and 1 medium boiled and diced potato.
- For a healthier and more nutritious dish you can add carrots, peas, cauliflower and bell peppers to the curry. Saute the veggies separately or grill them in the oven or air fry them. Add them to the gravy once it almost done. In this case reduce the soya chunks to 3/4 cup.
- Soya chunks curry is best served after 1 to 2 hours as soya chunks soak up and absorb the flavors. You can also make this ahead and refrigerate.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This soya chunks recipe is from the Archives. First published in October 2014. Updated and republished in May 2021.