Of bread, milk & cookies

Prasanna and Hema of Dainty Breads. Photo: M. Periasamy   | Photo Credit: M_PERIASAMY

The millet route

Dr. Eswar Iyappan, CEO, Genius Nature Herbs Pvt Limited

Eswar Iyappan can identity good quality millet just by looking at it. “It should look dull and unpolished. And, if you keep it longer and it gets infested with bugs, it is an indicator of good quality produce that is free from pesticides,” he says.

He worked in the herbal domain as an assistant medical officer (siddha) in Kodumudi before starting his company in 2008. “I handled export of more than 100 herbal raw materials, including tulsi, sirukurinjaan, avarai…. it was an eye opener. Some of our consignments to the U.K., South Africa and the U.S., were rejected because of the presence of impurities like yarn, and mica in the products. This was largely because of poor hygiene at farms,I learnt that going organic should start right from the sourcing of raw materials” he says. Eswar learnt early on that going organic was important.

Today, the seven-year-old company located on Siruvani Main Road near Madhampatti makes millet-based cookies, ready-to-eat mixes, soups made from vallarai, fenugreek, manthakkali, and moringa, millet porridges, herbal teas, herbal supplements, cosmetics, and more. “Our products have no chemicals, emulsifiers, addictives, colouring or flavouring agents,” he says with pride. While millets, soups, teas, are available across south India, the herbal extracts, and over 50 varieties of dietary supplements in the form of capsules with moringa, garcinia (kodam puli) extracts…are exported to 60 countries. “It is the profit from the overseas market that helps us sustain the business. The local market is still very nascent, as the products have a limited shelf life. But the good thing is people are switching over to millets,” he says.

Village diet, a porridge powder made from 26 mini millets is one of his premium products. I taste it, and it is light, filling, and is bursting with goodness. “Every 100 gm only has 25 calories. It is a healthy start to your day. We substitute sugar with mountain honey, palm sugar or adimaduram herb.” Eswar serves us rosemary tea sweetened with adimaduram. It is refreshing and flavourful.

The product line-up has multi-grain kichadi mix, pongal mix, ulunthu kazhi, thinai payasam, saamai biriyani…“Thinai, saamai, varagu, kudiraivaali, kambu, and raagi have low glycemic index that controls blood sugar level and are high on fibre, proteins and vitamins, especially vitamin B” he explains. Eswar gets his raw materials from 50 reputed farmers in Tamil Nadu, who own organic-certified farms. He sources herbs from farmers in North India. “Pest control is a challenge. Organic farmers go in for bio-pesticides that are neem based, or extracted from garlic and chillies.”

Eswar says sourcing quality raw materials increases the expenses by 25 per cent, but they still go for it.

He insists that organic terrace gardens should be there in every home. “The vegetables we get in the market have alarming levels of pesticides. Consumers should take the extra effort to go organic. You might have to spend Rs. 2,000 more per month but the health benefits are immense,” he says.

He says parents have a big role in weaning the younger generation from fast foods and junk food.

“The sodium content is extremely high in packed foods. We have woken up after the Maggi episode, but there are so many other edible products that come with dangerous levels of chemicals and preservatives. We can make our own desi noodles with millets. Parents should get innovative while packing lunch for children. There are so many nutritious snacks one can make from millets. Our forefathers consumed millets as their staple food. They ate rice only on festive occasions,” he says.

To know more, call 0422-2616100/ 99423-22222

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Breads with a difference

Prasanna Nandakumar and Hema Selvapathy of Dainty’s breads

When cousins Prasanna Nandakumar and Hema Selvapathy came together to start a baking unit, they ensured that they made adulterant-free products. It’s been seven months now and their Dainty’s brand of bakery items, including different varieties of bread, and cookies are available at 120 stores in the city. Prasanna says it is tough as their products come at a premium and with limited shelf life.

“In packaged food industry, the new age consumer is one of the main stake holders along with the government, farmers, and companies that manufacture packaged foods. Awareness and change in mindset is needed. For the new age consumers, going organic is the new cool. So, branding our products has become important in order to reach out,” he says

Prasanna says most bread manufactures add chemicals to achieve processing efficiency and to improve shelf life. “They use potassium bromide for dough strength and kneading efficiency. It’s a carcinogen that is banned in all developed countries. I learnt about it as I worked in the market research department of the FMCG industry in Bangalore and in France. Dainty's bread packets carry a note on this. We have substituted the chemicals with natural enzymes. One kg of potassium bromides costs Rs. 180 while one kilo of enzymes comes at Rs.7, 500. Good health comes at a premium and consumers have to support us.”

Hema says it was tough to market wheat bread when they made it gluten-free and without any maida content. “Some of our consumers said it tasted like saw dust. We changed the recipe, added minimal maida and they like the taste now. But, we use a brand of maida that is bromide-free so that we don’t have to use any chemicals to purify the flour.”

The problem they face is shelf-life. Prasanna says any bread that is free from preservative and chemicals has a shelf life of just two days.

“With the addition of Calcium propionate the breads can last from seven to 21 days. Though, we get plenty of returns of our bread because of expiry date, we don’t want to take this route. We want to encourage people to consume what is available locally that is fresh and healthy. That is the only way forward.”

Call them at 0422-2222199/ 96556-12121.

Milk, fresh from the farm

R. Shankar of Sai’s Milk

Shankar, an engineering graduate who has worked in India and abroad, took the organic route to supply farm fresh milk. His brand Sai’s milk goes straight to homes and institutions in the city from his farm. And, it is adulterant-free.

“Cow’s milk are packed in sachets immediately after milking, and transported to consumers in R.S. Puram, Saibaba Colony, Ramnagar, and Race Course within a few hours when the milk is still warm,” he says.

R. Shankar and his brother R. Hari Hara Sudhan tend to 120 cows at their three-acre farm in Keeranatham. Shankar supplies 860 litres of milk a day in Coimbatore city.

“We source fodder from organic farms in Thondamuthur and Boluvampatti. Initially, it was difficult as the conversion period for farms to switch to organic cultivation took a minimum of three years. Right now, we grow organic feed at our farm. We also make vermicompost manure.”

He says packed milk contains alarming levels of chemicals. “It is shocking that many private companies use synthetic colour powder (to get that yellowish tinge), skimmed milk powder, caustic soda, and peroxides to preserve the milk and increase its quantity. All leading private milk suppliers churn over two lakh litres of milk every day. It is impossible to empty such huge quantities in a single day. So, the milk we get is three to four days old, loaded with hydrogen peroxide,” he explains.

Unprocessed milk stays fresh for just about four to six hours.

“All the chemicals come into the picture once you start processing. We just filter the milk, pack it and supply it. We don’t mix water. Our customers are welcome to test it at any laboratory for quality. You can judge the quality of milk in the curd. Your hands should turn greasy.”

To know more, call Shankar at 99943-39150/ 94876-10994.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 5:05:02 PM |

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