12 集

Bite On This is an A-Z podcast series produced by The Better India. This 26-episode series will follow the alphabetical order for interesting stories on topics of food.

Bite On This The Better India

    • 飲食

Bite On This is an A-Z podcast series produced by The Better India. This 26-episode series will follow the alphabetical order for interesting stories on topics of food.

    Bite On This - Kulfi

    Bite On This - Kulfi

    Did you know that the word ‘kulfi’ actually referred not to the dish, but to the container in which milk was frozen?
    “It was the metal container in which the reduced milk was stuffed with nuts and saffron, put in the ice and frozen, and served to guests,” says Ashish Bhasin. He’s executive chef at The Leela, in Gurugram.
    The kulfi travelled all over the country, becoming a summer staple as mothers carried out their experiments. The use of dried fruits and some mild spices became a part of the mould.
    While it’s still available on sticks and clay pots, it also inspires innovation in gourmet eateries that serve it chopped on dessert plates. The flavours also incorporate seasonal fruits like litchi and pomegranate as well, apart from unusual ones like tamarind.
    “The minute you say ‘kulfi’, it gives you a very Indian mind, it gives you a very Indian palette. So you feel that it can only be matched with a kesar flavour or a pista flavour, or a fruit flavour. That’s not the case. Kulfi itself is so pleasurous to eat, that it just needs to change its appearance a little bit, and people will accept it the way it is.”
    That's Parvana Mistry. She takes care of purchase and production at the Mumbai-based Parsi Dairy Farm. She tells me that apart from the regular malai kulfi, their fruit flavours like mango and custard apple are especially popular.
    In the last ten years or so, the ice cream industry in India has grown by scoops and cones, with a revenue of more than USD 1.5 billion in 2016. This number is expected to more than double by 2021.
    One factor that contributes to this phenomenal growth is the increase in disposable incomes. Consider this: previously, ice cream was a product which was considered indulgent, reserved for special occasions. But today, it is projected and perceived as a snacking option.
    “Now, the younger generation has so much more variety and so much more to look forward to other than that old cold dessert. There is a certain amount of competition in that sense. I think it’s also about us developing to the new taste also. Because kulfi is really yummy the way it is, it's just about getting it in the flavour of the generation today. It's pretty much what we’re trying to do at our end.”
    Some entrants in the cold/frozen dessert industry are soft serve, frozen custard, gelato, sherbet, sorbet and frozen yoghurt. And kulfi occupies but a small space of this landscape.
    “The sad part of kulfi is there are a few ingredients that can be used to make a kulfi just like that!” says Ajay Nesargi, a former coder. He’s done a great deal of research about common ingredients used in the food industry. 
    He continues, “As surprising and shocking to many, 70-80 per cent of our ice creams don’t even have a drop of milk in them. The basic ingredients of an ice cream are--because it has no milk--it’s got skim milk powder, which they call milk solids; the good ones add butter, otherwise, a lot of them just add vegetable oils, which includes palm oil also. To combine skim milk powder and palm oil, they use an ingredient, which is an emulsifier.”
    Emulsifiers or E-471 are a big debate today, because there is not enough clarity about whether they come from plant or animal sources.
    As common people with little information, and no time, we don’t realise that we’re consuming a bunch of chemicals in the name of edibles.
    Check out the full episode to know how Ajay’s gelato is different from the regular bowl of ice cream and where kulfi stands on this landscape.

    • 20 分鐘
    Bite On This - Jackfruit

    Bite On This - Jackfruit

    Jackfruit, which is native to South India, is grown in tropical regions around the world, but it holds a special place in the hearts of Indians. Unlike other trees which require intensive care, the jackfruit requires little effort. It grows on its own, without much fuss, and produces fruits throughout the year.

    The jackfruit, of course, was being cultivated in India around 3,000 to 6,000 years ago. With nearly 1,400 tonnes being cultivated every year, India is one of the largest producers.

    In 1498, when the Portuguese arrived on the shores of erstwhile Calicut, they saw the fruit, which was then locally known as ‘chakka’. They called it ‘jaca’, recording in the diaries of travellers, as one of the wonders of the East.

    Later, with British colonisation, it was anglicised to ‘jackfruit’.

    Its wonders remain unchanged to this day. “In the town of Panruti, people make sabzis from jackfruit. It gives a meaty texture that you don’t otherwise get in vegetarian food.”

    That’s food traveller and historian, Rakesh Raghunathan.

    Panruti in Tamil Nadu is often considered to be India's “jackfruit paradise”. There is much demand for the fruit from this town, and no part of the fruit goes to waste.

    In India, it is states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu that have professed their love for the Jackfruit by declaring it as their official state fruit. Karnataka even has a proverb: ‘Eat the jackfruit when you’re hungry, the mango when you’re full.’

    But I’m told that the love for the jackfruit in God’s Own Country, Kerala, is unrivalled, where it’s not just any other fruit—it’s an emotion. Even the seeds are quite the rage—they are either cooked or stir-fried—for a delicious, nutritious snack.

    “I have to add that I’m a Malayali and for Malayalis, jackfruit is not just something that’s part of your diet. It has a lot of cultural significance.”

    That’s Lekshmi Priya, a former writer at The Better India. Earlier this year, she wrote a viral article in defence of the jackfruit!

    However, for all the record-breaking production in our country, there are reports that almost Rs 2,000 crore worth of jackfruit goes to waste every year in Karnataka alone.

    Sree Padre believes that there is a lot of demand for the fruit, but it is not met by supply. He's the Executive Editor of Adike Patrike, (which means ‘arecanut newspaper’), a platform through which he has been advocating the jackfruit movement for the last ten years or so.

    “Farmers are still unaware that it is a profitable fruit. They are still used mainly for household consumption. The mass wastage was a primary motivation and we are letting it rot. That’s how the movement began.”

    A farmer by profession and a journalist by obsession, he’s Kerala’s global ambassador for jackfruit. His magazine carries information and articles for its 1,00,000 readers. There are inspiring stories of farmers and entrepreneurs benefitting from the jackfruit, mentions of events promoting the fruit and of course, its health benefits.

    He also sends out a newsletter and administers groups of jackfruit lovers on social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp where he shares information and recipes.

    Check out the full episode.

    • 17 分鐘
    Bite On This - Idli

    Bite On This - Idli

    In 2013, a survey called the Indian Breakfast Habits Study was conducted in four major metro cities–Kolkata, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai.
    The results shouldn’t really surprise—Chennai’s plate of piping hot idlis, steaming sambar and filter coffee was found to have the best ‘nutrient profile’.
    Made from urad dal and rice, idlis are a healthy treat because of their lightness. The nutrition is not the only advantage—they also come without fats, saturated fats or cholesterol.
    As South Indians moved around the country and the world, they introduced different versions of the idli. One man in Chennai sells at least 30 kinds of idlis in his shop in Chennai.
    And that’s not all.
    A few years ago, he attempted to create a world record by making over 2,000 varieties.
    “One day, my son was asking me to take him out for pizza. It would be expensive to go out, so I took some leftover poriyal and made him pizza idli. He loved it!” says Iniyavan.
    While Iniyavan advocates innovation for relevance in a changing world, Ram Kumar Shinde has seen the world change, all while serving idli.
    An MBA graduate, Ram decided to take over his father’s business—a food cart or bandi, as it is called in Hyderabadi. Visited by young and old, this nondescript pushcart in Hyderabad’s old city has now become a searchable location on Google Maps as ‘Ram Ki Bandi’. Swanky sedans and SUVs are often parked close by.
    While speaking to Iniyavan and Ram, I realised that idli-making is often taken for granted, and that’s because it seems so simple. Earlier in this podcast series, I’ve gushed about how chutneys complete idli and make it special.
    Because you only have to get the idli batter right, and after that, they really cook themselves under steam. The pinnacle of this ease is surely the pre-packaged mixes that give almost-instant idlis.
    “We don’t sell idli, we give idli batter. A home-maker picks up a pack of idli batter and cooks steaming idli, serves it to the family fresh, hot, and they eat it together. If the idli comes out well, she gets the credit, not me. And if for some reason, the dosa is not crispy, she can blame it on me, brand ID,” says P C Musthafa, an entrepreneur from Wayanad, Kerala. He is helping bring idli to almost every home, almost every day!
    In 2005, he founded ID Fresh Food from a 550-square foot kitchen with four cousins in Bengaluru’s Tippasandra. They had basic equipment—a mixer, two grinders and a machine to seal the batter. Their brand name, ID, stood for ‘idli, dosa’.
    Check out the full episode!

    • 16 分鐘
    Bite On This - Haldi

    Bite On This - Haldi

    When the mercury dips low, we Indians have solutions at home, right in our kitchens. Honey and ginger drops for cough and cold; ghee for nourishment; and almond milk for overall immunity.

    But there’s one element that we use for nearly everything--in cooking, for taste and flavour; as an antiseptic on injuries; and a brightening agent in our beauty routine

    Haldi or turmeric.

    Did you know that Haldi has been used in India for more than 4,000 years? Not just that, our country produces almost all of the world’s Haldi. We are not far behind in terms of consumption. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, India consumes almost 80 per cent of its Haldi crop.

    And all that cultivation is far from easy.

    Farmers have to slog in the fields for days, just to get the fields ready for planting.

    “Planting one acre of land needs 25-30 labourers to work all day. It is time-consuming and labour-intensive work, which requires the workers to be in a bent posture all day. It causes them severe back pain,” says Indrajit Balvir Singh. He’s an engineer who creates innovative agricultural implements in Aurangabad. He tells me that cultivating Haldi is quite a back-breaking job.

    The innovator in Indrajit got to work. It took him three years, and in 2009, he came up with Guru, an adjustable planter that promised to make Haldi cultivation less cumbersome.

    Haldi, it seems, is the Indian go-to for everything.

    And it came to us so naturally that we never gave it much thought until western influencers and international media called it a superfood.

    The glass of warm turmeric milk or Haldi doodh that Indians consumed painstakingly when they fell sick or got injured, got a makeover. It goes by “golden milk” or “turmeric latte” in the USA and Australia.

    The Guardian even called it “2016’s drink of choice”!

    “When the wellness movement started, people started becoming more aware, that’s the time that turmeric started gaining prominence,” says Meenakshi Bhardwaj. She sells natural and organic Haldi under her brand Aranyam Naturals in Delhi.

    She differentiates between different kinds of Haldi, and also specifies their usage. She’s confident that with modern medicine realising its value, people are also waking up to its benefits. Under Aranyam Naturals, she sells lakadong turmeric, which has been found to have higher curcumin content, a compound that has anti-cancer properties.

    We hear from a scientist who validates this property of Haldi. Ajaikumar K is a professor and scientist at the Cancer Biology Laboratory, IIT Guwahati. And for the past 18 years, his lab has been studying how natural products like fruits, vegetables and spices can prevent and treat chronic diseases.

    “Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers in the world. If there are 100 patients with pancreatic cancer, 50 per cent of them will die in six months and at least 90 per cent will die in a year.

    So go ahead, add some spice in your life!

    Check out the full episode!

    • 17 分鐘
    Bite On This - Ghee

    Bite On This - Ghee

    Tempering is a basic step in Indian cooking. Adding deep-fried whole spices, chillies, chopped ginger and garlic to capture their individual and collective flavours.

    And how does all of this happen? Well, enter any Indian kitchen and among the prized spices or mixes you will find the answer - a jar of ghee!

    Originally, it was a sign of prosperity. And it had to be made at home.

    But sometime during the mid-80s, it began to be replaced by vegetable oils. Those who could not afford desi ghee, cooked in the Dalda brand of vegetable ghee.

    I’m told that families would hide their cans of Dalda from visiting relatives or neighbours because the presence of these cans suggested that they were not a khata peeta gharana, a prosperous home.

    “If you look at our grandmothers and their traditional eating practices, they have never replaced ghee. If you look at their skin, hair, bone and spine health, they are way better than us, even if we are half their age, because what’s missing in our lives in ghee!” says Jinal Shah.

    She is a diet and exercise consultant based in Mumbai. Jinal also emphasises the strength-enhancing capabilities of ghee; for this reason, it is given to expectant and new mothers in generous amounts. It’s also a mandatory element in the diet of athletes.

    In India, ghee is more than a superfood. It is considered to be one of the most balanced ingredients that enhances the equilibrium of the mind and the body. It’s also a half-a-billion-dollar industry, witnessing a growth of 11.1 per cent between 2011 and 2018.

    We also hear from Pintu Suvagiya who quit his corporate career to pursue beekeeping, grow organic vegetables, and make natural dairy products. He sells them under his label ‘The Nature’s Way’ from his farm in Rajkot, Gujarat. Pintu tells us, “Commercial manufacturers often make ghee from malai or cream obtained from milk instead of curd. This type is faster to make and gives better milk to ghee ratio as compared to the bilona variety. But at the same time, it cannot be digested easily.”

    So go ahead, put that spoonful of ghee on your dosa and rice and have a delicious time at it!

    Check out the full episode!

    • 17 分鐘
    Bite On This - Food Art

    Bite On This - Food Art

    Cooking is what enabled the evolution of the human race and contributes to its survival. But over time, we stopped eating purely for sustenance; food also had to taste well and look great.

    Today, in its highest form, food must appeal to all five senses.

    So in this episode of ‘Bite On This’ we ask the question—is food art or science?

    For art, we are joined by iconic chef and hotelier Virender Singh Datta. In a career spanning 50 years, he has held important positions in some of the most well-known hotels in India and abroad.

    He says, “Cooking was always an art. If you give the same ingredients to two different cooks, they will come up with very different variations of a dish.”

    As for the science, we speak to Ganesh Bagler, a professor and scientist at the Centre for Computational Biology, IIIT Delhi. His lab has been researching the unique elements of Indian cuisine that make it so delicious.

    He says, “Cooking and culinary art are considered generally as artistic endeavours and rightfully so, but computational gastronomy quantifies various aspects of food and cooking, by integrating data and application of computational techniques, like statistical analysis, pattern mining, machine learning, etc.”

    We also hear from two youngsters, making food art, literally!

    Shilpa Mitha makes food miniatures with clay under ‘Sueno Souvenir’ and Oorjitha Dogiparthi uses all kinds of papers for food miniatures under ‘Oorugami’.

    Check out the full episode!

    • 14 分鐘

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