Difference Between Organic & Natural Products

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Organic is a growing sector and a lot of consumers are slowing converting their kitchen to organic. Most of the stores in India store both organic and natural products and sometimes due to insufficient information on the label, the consumer is often confused.

The term “organic” and “natural”  are widely used and a lot of  consumers are not sure what it means. Let me explain to you the difference between the two.

‘Natural’ means that the product has undergone minimal processing and does not contain any preservatives or additives, but the term is not protected in any way and there is no certification. However, “all natural” term is loosely used and doesn’t have any legal definition. Natural products can also be genetically modified organisms (GMO).

Organic products are those made entirely from natural substances, which in turn have been grown eschewing the use of artificial chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. According to WHO, organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. Organic farming practices are designed to encourage soil and water conversation and reduce pollution. Farmers who grow organic produce and meat don’t use conventional methods to fertilize, control weeds or prevent livestock disease. Simply put, organic produce is grown without the use of any pesticide, synthetic fertilizer, genetically modified organisms (GMO) or sewage sludge. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs and diary products don’t take any antibiotics or growth hormones. Animal products like meat, poultry, eggs are also termed as free-range, where the animals have outside access and is not couped up in a cell.

In India, the term “organic” is not legally protected for use in retail, and organic produce can also be sold without certification. FSSAI is currently in the process of notification of organic rules for the domestic market.

The retail chain Fabindia developed a three-tier labeling system that distinguishes between so-called natural products, products from farms in conversion to organic and fully certified organic products. ICCOA, also followed similar labeling system for vegetables sourced from Karnataka. Navdanya, the NGO gives the ‘navdanya gurantee’ for organically grown products, the credibility of which is based on the reputation of the NGO rather than on third party certification.

Organic labeling can be further categorized into 3 categories:

100% organic: made with 100% organic ingredients

Organic: made with 95% organic ingredients

Made with organic ingredients: made with organic ingredients without any certification

Since organic sector is an unorganized one in India, a lot of times you will see unbranded or non-labelled packets at stores. This may be due to several reasons, repackaging by the store (who doesn’t follow any labeling norms due to small supply), small production/supply, seasonal product, applied for certification and is in transition, cannot afford certification etc.

In Bangalore, it is common to see a lot of organic stores organizing twice a week sale of organic fruits and vegetables. These are mostly not certified and are sourced from farms on the outskirts. Organic in India, is mostly promoted on the basis of trust and the intent of the producer/seller. Since, certification cost is too high most of the small producers prefer to sell their goods through small retail outlets.

 

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Reference: Organic food marketing in urban centres of India


Gado Gado with i2cook’s spicy peanut butter

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Gado gado is a wholesome and delicious Indonesian salad. This salad is filled with all the essential nutrients and what makes it so delicious is the peanut sauce, which is truly a winning combination. Gado gado is a combination of slightly boiled or steamed vegetables,  raw vegetables and hard boiled egg. Nearly any combination of raw and cooked vegetables, along with rice or thin noodles, if you like, can be used. Gado gado, is true to its name which means “potpourri”. Do not confuse the peanut sauce with satay sauce. This salad can be made vegan by negating the eggs.

For the peanut sauce, we are using i2cook’s spicy peanut butter which is a versatile product and goes extremely well with south-east Asian or South Indian dishes.

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Ingredients:

Inspired by Jamie Oliver

2 medium sliced boiled potatoes

10-12 beans boiled and cut into halves

2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into slices

carrot, raddish & cucumber sliced as per preference

8-10 tofu slices

fresh coriander leaves or micro-greens for garnish

Ingredients for the peanut sauce:

100gms i2cook spicy peanut butter

25gms i2cook coconut sugar or palm sugar

1 garlic clove

1/2 juice of lemon juice

1 tbs soy sauce

1/2 tbs tamarind paste

Note: spicy peanut butter will not require any addition of extra spice.

(all the ingredients used in this salad are all organic except the eggs which are free-range)

Procedure:

Start with prepping up with all the ingredients. Boil the potatoes for about 15 minutes in salt water. Hard-boil eggs, cut the tofu into slices (with some salt) and pan fry them in a little peanut oil until golden brown. Boil the beans in salt water for about 5 minutes and immediately transfer into ice water to retain that gorgeous green colour. Use strips of carrot and slice some cucumber and radish for that extra crunch.

Put all the ingredients for peanut sauce in a blender with 1 tbs of water and blend it until smooth. Check for seasoning.

Layer the vegetables starting first with potato and other ingredients on a serving plate or bowl and drizzle with the most amazing peanut sauce.

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Kothambir vadi with pink mustard

DSC_0882   Kothambir vadi (coriander fritters) is my favorite snack from Maharastra  which is made from fresh coriander leaves and chickpea flour. This is further steamed and pan-fried or deep fried. I prefer the pan-fried as it uses less oil and  tastes great too! I’ve given the traditional kothambir vadi an i2cook twist by adding some of our pink mustard. Pink mustard is a versatile product which is made from organic ingredients like yellow, balk mustard, turmeric powder and cold pressed soy oil. Pink mustard is a deli style mustard which contains no sugar. Kothambir vadi with pink mustard can be served as an appetizer or a tea-time treat with chai.

Ingredients:

3 cups chickpea flour (besan)

2 cups cleaned, chopped coriander leaves

4-5 green chillies (add more if you like yours more pungent)

2-3 garlic cloves 1 tbs pink mustard

1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

rock salt to taste

1 tsp ground oil and some extra for pan frying

(All ingredients used to make this dish are organic)

Procedure:

  1. Pound the green chillies and garlic into a paste in a mortar pestle.
  2. Mix corriander leaves, besan, garlic & chilly paste, mustard, sesame seeds, oil, salt, cumin powder and water in a bowl until it forms a hard dough. Shape into a log or any desired shape.
  3. Steam the log for about 20-25 minutes and check for doneness by inserting a skewer and coming out clean.
  4. Allow it to cool. Cut the cooled log into 1 cm slices. Heat about 1 tbs of oil in a pan and pan-fry the vadis in batches on both sides until golden brown and crisp. Serve hot with some i2cook’s pink mustard.

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Jaggery Production in India

Sugar industry in India is one of the largest industry after textiles. Manufacture of sugar involves a series of processing and can be a little complicated as compared to jaggery. Jaggery, on the other hand can be produced in small batches and has simple production. Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu are the leading manufacturing states in India. Jaggery follows 3 steps:

  • Juice extraction
  • Filtration & Boiling
  • Molding, Cooling & Packing

Sugar and jaggery contain  mainly sucrose, expect jaggery contains traces of mineral salts, iron & fiber. Most of the jaggery comes from remote rural places and reach the market through agents. There is one industrial use of jaggery, and that is in the manufacturing of rum. Karnataka is the only  state which  is set to become the first in the country to produce high quality rum from jaggery. Three cheers for rum drinkers ;)

Most of the processing house follow their set of proportions and heating technique and may differ from one another. The photo log should give you a clear picture of the jaggery production.

Sugar extraction

Extraction of juice from sugar canes. The sugar cane waste is turned into bio-gas

Juice pouring

The extracted juice is pumped into a large cast iron vessel. Limestone or chunnam is used to remove the impurities.

Boiling

As the liquid begins to boil the molasses is separated out. The removed molasses is usually fed to the cattle feed in India.

liquid jaggery 1

Upon boiling the juice condenses into a thick viscous liquid, which is called liquid jaggery

further boiling

Boiling is further continued to a reduced volume to form jaggery. At this stage some processing houses use chemicals to give jaggery the desired colour.

consistency check

Consistency check

pouring

Once done, the liquid is poured into a large vessel from which it is poured into the desired molds.

mold filling

Pouring into molds

Unmoulding

After cooling, jaggery blocks are ready to pack.

Jaggery is available in gold or dark brown shade. Gold jaggery uses some amount of chemical to showcase an attractive colour. A lot of commercial jaggery producers believe that the gold colour is what attracts the consumers.

Note: All pictures belong to this blog. Please consult admin before using it for any purpose. 

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Source

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/other/jaggery-and-sugar.html

http://daily.bhaskar.com/news/BAN-karnataka-to-become-first-state-to-introduce-high-quality-rum-from-jaggery-4309949-NOR.html


Coconut Sugar – the most sustainable sugar in the world!

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Coconut sugar production is a very simple one as compared to most other sugars. There is absolutely no additives and it is prepared in the most sustainable way. I’ve been talking about this wonder sugar for some time  and its benefits. I recently visited one of the farm which produces the best coconut sugar ever!

Coconut sugar is made from the  sap of the coconut tree. This sap is collected once or twice a day and comes from the stem that would normally feed a group of coconuts. Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel, an earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation. The collected liquid in the collection vessel is poured into the boiling vessel which is done first thing in the morning. This is usually done early mornings when the weather is relatively cooler  within a span of four hours. This neera or palm toddy is boiled to a desired runny and sticky consistency. This is poured into molds and dried before packing.

i2cook’s coconut sugar goes into further breaking down into powder form and is sun-dried. Coconut palm sugar and palm sugar are two different types of sugar. Please refer my blog post for further clarification on different types of sugar (with GI comparison). I use coconut sugar in my tea/coffee or in my banana bread amost every other day. I use this sugar to make some coconut sugar cookies too!

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Farmer ready with his gear

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Collection of the sap is done by snipping the stem and bending it into a collection vessel

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An earthen pot lined with limestone powder or chunna to avoid fermentation

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Boiling to obtain coconut sugar

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The final prep of pouring the coconut sugar into molds

A lot of  you may be concerned about the sap being  used only in sugar production and wondering about growing coconuts… To clear your doubt – only 10-15 trees depending on the production capacity of that particular farm is kept separate for coconut sugar production only. One of the farm would only produce 10kg per day during the first half of the day and would keep the rest of the day for other work like agriculture, cattle feed etc. The trees marked for coconut sugar production are kept closer to home for a simple reason being, closer to home means closer to production/boiling facility and also  no tension of coconut falling on anyone’ head ;)

Using coconut sugar in your diet is relatively a new concept in India and I can proudly say that “i2cook” is one of the first company to launch coconut sugar as a retail product. Coconut sugar production helps farmers to gain an extra income apart from their other agricultural practices. Coconut sugar is not only good for you but also good for the environment!


Homemade Badam Powder

I love to shop home products online and one such website that I had stubble upon couple of months ago was The Home Label by Sussanne Khan. I find their products unique and well curated. Last week the home label team sent me some lovely products for this festive season.  I used the cake stands to display my desi cardamom style cupcakes and the Moscow mule mug for my badam milk. The gorgeous copper body and brass handle mule mug is usually used to serve alcoholic beverages. This mug  tends to keep the beverage chilled for a longer period of time and I think they can work great as beer mugs. This mug holds about 500ml. I also use this mug to drink water as copper is know to have great health benefits.
Mule mug 1
I’m a firm supporter of DYI. Most of my mayo, sauces or jams are all homemade by me or my friends. This festive season, I’m planning to serve some traditional drink and I thought of serving my guests some chilled badam milk. I detest store bought badam powder as they lack the pureness and are overly sweet. I recently checked  the ingredients of one of the well known brands in India and it contained about 80% sugar only.  It is the most easiest thing to make at home and I recommend you try this once. You can refrigerate badam  powder in fridge for about two months or freeze it for 6 months. I tend to add a little turmeric powder (haldi) in my badam milk to give that nice appealing colour and like our grandma said  “haldi is good for you”.
Ingredients:
200 gms blanched almonds & lightly roasted
3 tbs raw sugar (you can add more if you like yours sweeter)
2tsp cardamom powder
few strands of saffron
1 tbs chopped pistachio (optional)
Preparation:
  • Grind almonds, sugar and cardamom until fine powder. Over grinding may turn into a paste.
  • Pour in a dish & mix some saffron and pistachio.
  • Pour the powder in an air tight container and store it refrigerated.
For making badam milk
Add a teaspoon or two of the badam powder to a glass of milk. Add some sugar if required. Add a pinch or two of turmeric powder for a soothing effect.
I’m already in my high spirits after a sip of  badam milk in my mule mug this festive season!
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Desi style cardamom cupcakes

 

Cake stand 1

 

Introducing my  Desi style cupcakes, aka cardamom cupcakes with kesar & pista frosting. These eggless cupcakes are a  great way  to indulge and without the frosting can also be guilt-free ;). I know I have your attention now!

These cupcakes are made with whole wheat flour (stone ground organic atta) and organic olive oil. These butter less cupcake are not only organic & healthy but also gives a new dimension to your dessert table for this Dussehra/Diwali.

Using local ingredients as much as possible is the best way to support honorable Prime Minister Mr Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. I used an Indian brand for cream cheese and was happy with its texture and taste. After making the frosting right from scratch, I realized that you can also frost these cupcakes with shrikhand, either homemade or store bought.

And also my company was featured in Mint this month. Yay!

 Ms Sussanne Khan’s The Home Label team sent me this gorgeous two-tiered cake stand & cake stand for my cupcakes.
 2 tier stand 4
Ingredients
187 gm whole wheat flour
150 gm raw sugar
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp baking soda
84 gm olive oil
 a pinch of salt
1 tbs vinegar
245 ml buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tsp of vinegar
Ingredients for frosting 
1 tub or 180 gms cream cheese (I used Britannia)
25 ml of cream
2 tbs of raw sugar
few strands of saffron (kesar) soaked in warm milk for that lovely yellow colour
pistachio for some garnish
Preparation
  • Measure and mix all the dry ingredients like flour, soda, salt, cardamom, sugar in a bowl.
  • Add the wet ingredients one by one  to the dry mixture and mix well.
  • Pour the cake mixture in the cupcake molds and bake at 160 degree centigrade for about 15-18 minutes.
  • Cool on a wire rack once done. Makes 20 medium sized cupcakes.
  • Beat all the ingredients for frosting until smooth in texture. Frost your cupcake garnished with some pistachio. You can also use some thick shrikhand as mentioned above in this post.

 

 

2 tier stand 1

 

DSC_05802 tier stand 3

 

 

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