Sunday, June 17, 2012

Want an Idli for 2017?

Imagine Idlis that can last forever. Wistful, but this sizzling idea could become a reality if the latest advances in food technology in the US are anything to go by.

In fact, long lasting food has been termed one of the 10 great ideas that are changing our lives. The signs of food posterity are already there. In 2002, the US Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate made the ideal sandwich with a filling of barbecued chicken and glycerol and sorbitol to absorb the water. It was then wrapped in a packet with chemicals which removed oxygen and put in polypropylene and foil.
Nasa recently reported making a bread pudding which could last four years, while the Pentagon made cake that can stay spongy for five years. No, it wasn’t the wine suffused Christmas cake that lasts a whole year even in the hands of the most ordinary cook.

Cut to desi food. Can Indian food with its generous doses of oil and spices be palatable after years? “Why not,” asks Darly Thomas , head of technology transfer and business development at the Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute. “Though it hasn’t been tried, it’s possible to do so chemically. Besides, if it can be done in the West, why can’t we?”Be it Indian or continental food, what’s important is to see that the water content is reduced, microbe activity is nil and packaging material air-tight.

The signs are already there. McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of McCain Foods Canada which specializes in frozen French fries and potato products, even launched an India specific product this month – McCain Idli Sambar Combo Pack. MTR, which has been supplying to the army, and ITC, too, are upgrading to cater to the Indian palate.

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