Society

Deepa M makes healthy baby food, noodles and sevai with millets

Deepa M with her various products

Deepa M with her various products   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Deepa M on how she began making healthier alternatives to baby food, as well as noodles and sevai, with millets

It was the task of finding appropriate baby food for her son that set Deepa M on the entrepreneurial path. Armed with a post-graduate degree in Food and Nutrition from Chennai’s Women’s Christian College, she studied the nutrition labels of various brands but found them “loaded with preservatives,” she rolls her eyes. “So I decided to make my own.”

The pause after this statement is filled with the background noise of chatter and vehicular movement, as we sit in the forecourt of Prozone Mall. Wasn’t that a rather rash idea, I ask hesitantly. “Not really. It was only a question of applying what I had learnt in college.” This happened back in 2013 and, since her classmates also worked as nutritionists, Deepa got them to approve her samples and finally zeroed in on what is now called Some More Complete Health Mix. “I would make around five kilos because neighbours, friends and relatives also bought it from me.”

This health mix is made of millets, red rice, pulses and legumes and dry fruits, with all ingredients being from organic farms in Tamil Nadu. The millets are sourced in Theni, explains Deepa, and the other ingredients from a local source in Tirupur. “The farthest is Chennai. All the items are native and organic.”

Millets are good for one’s health

Millets are good for one’s health   | Photo Credit: Ch Vijaya Bhaskar

From this health mix, Deepa moved to noodles and sevai. “Both are popular tiffin items,” she smiles. Again what troubled her was that available options were mostly made of maida. So she began experimenting and came up with 10 variants of noodles all made from millets and whole wheat flour. “No additives or preservatives,” she emphasies, adding, “Even the masala that comes with the noodles is my formulation.” After her PG, she did a course in food processing, which she used to develop these products.

In the past seven years, Deepa has developed three baby food items, which retail under the brand name First Spoon. The Health Mix, Millet Noodles and Millet Sevai are sold as Some More products. “The Health Mix actually began as a weaning food for babies. Now it is a complete easy-to-digest meal.” Her second product was derived from khichdi: rice, wheat and dal mix. “I now have 24 products,” Deepa says proudly; 10 variants each of sevai and noodles and two more baby food products.

Her latest product under First Spoon is a Ragi Banana Mix made of sprouted ragi flour, dried and powdered nendrampazham, pottukadalai (fried gram) and cardamom. “Ragi is a source of micronutrients and the nendrampazham is full of prebiotics, which is good for gut health.”

Deepa works on the R&D and product development with a food scientist on her team. Once the formulation is ready, she looks for manufacturers. “I prefer to work with small-scale entrepreneurs. I am very particular about hygiene and the process of manufacturing, so I conduct periodic checks.”

Cook and see
  • The Complete Health Mix is pretty easy to cook. For one glass (250 ml), only around 1.5 teaspoons of the mix is required. Cook it with water and add milk. Even without additional sugar/jaggery, the drink is faintly sweet with an after taste of cardamom. If you’re looking for a porridge-like consistency, then a little more of the mix will do the job.
  • I prefer another iteration: cook with water, pour buttermilk, mix well. Add a light garnish of finely chopped small onion, green chillies and coriander leaves. Finish with a tadka of mustard. It makes a truly delicious summer drink. One glass is quite filling and keeps you feeling comfortably full for quite some time.
  • For someone used to commercial brands, the taste of the Red Rice Noodles takes some getting used to. The masala has a distinct home-made aroma and flavour. Add a cup of vegetables when you cook them and one packet makes a comfortable meal for two people.

Once the product is ready, she looks after the marketing. Apart from her own websites, her products are available on Amazon and D Mart. She is in talks with Reliance and Big Basket to scale up the availability. “I hope to enter the hypermarkets soon,” she smiles. “It doesn’t take much time to launch new products but I can’t do both that and the marketing.”

Asked about reactions from her family to her business ventures, she candidly admits that there wasn’t much support initially. “My husband runs his family business and my father had his own as well. So their attitude was: ‘why do you want to work?’”

But she refused to let this deter her. “Once I proved myself and started contributing to the family income, they have come around. Now I am able to travel only because they help look after my son who’s now in class 6. We have to be persistent. One can’t say ‘I don’t have family support’ and give up,” she says firmly.

For more info visit www.somemorefoods.com and www.firstspoon.in or call Deepa on 8675678885

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 1:20:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/deepa-m-makes-healthy-baby-food-noodles-and-sevai-with-millets/article31048935.ece

Next Story