destination india

Friday, February 25, 2005

the masala punch

It seems that chili powder is not as red and as hot as we would like to believe.

It is one more Indian product that found its way into the shelves of distant lands but the truth is that they have failed to generate the necessary impact. The exporters, in order to make a fast buck in the shortest possible time, went ahead and made a hotchpotch of the whole affair. As usual, we earned a bad name. We are trying to explain away the matter by putting forth excuses that we ourselves are not convinced about. But, who bothers. Today’s problem will soon be buried under some newer problem tomorrow. We love to create them for our survival. And, we love to divert attention from the main problem by pulling red herrings across the dirty trails. As it is, some so-called experts have explained away the affair by saying – ‘our main competitors are two of our neighboring countries whose yields are falling due to the vagaries of Nature. Therefore, in order to sustain their exports, they are raising such issues to discredit us!’

Not just chili powder but other food products are also adulterated left and right.

Adding water to milk and vanaspati to butter and ghee are age-old traditions like adding stone particles to wheat and rice. The different methods of adulteration vary from place to place. Artificial ripening of mangoes and bananas is something we have known for ages. Increasing the size of grapes by the use of chemicals is also common. Recycling used garam masala ingredients like lawang, elaichi, and dal-chini and substituting dry papaya seeds in-lieu of black pepper have lost their novelty. Once upon a time there was a tremendous ruckus over the adulteration of mustard oil – at one point of time, it had totally vanished from the market! It has, since, reappeared. Coloring agents used in making sweets more attractive involves chemicals that are harmful to the body. Users are fully aware of these factors. But, we do not discourage use of such products.

By far the most difficult adulterants to trace are chemicals that are employed to increase the yield of vegetables and their sizes. Insecticides used to protect the crops and other food products also have unacceptable side effects.


  • At 7:13 PM, Blogger Grandma Braun said…

    Hi prabir ghose
    Thanks for your blog. I am hunting for information on Whole Food Products and I can see how I got to your the masala punch site, even though it is not all about Whole Food Products. Your site is very interesting. It’s about time we got some of this information. Keep up the good work.


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