Sunday, June 01, 2014

A Challenge to Mad Men: sell idlis to Scandinavians

History suggests consumers will adapt fast. In 20 years, miracle cures for the old will come from Japan, the best web apps from India and couture from China. And cornflakes, once a cutting-edge food, will be rivalled by congee and dosas, sold in boxes by a global brand. Asian capitalism will change the world—even, maybe, what it has for breakfast.
That is how the leader in the latest issue of The Economist ends.  (And, without any glaring grammar issues, might I add!)

That leader is then followed-up with a special report on Asian businesses.  As is always the case with the special reports, this one, too, is an informative one.

But, even as I was reading those concluding sentences that referred to congee and dosas, I got distracted with the thought of food.

So, of course, I had to go to the kitchen, open up the freezer:

No dosas.  But, I did have frozen idli and vada.  (Any guesses on what I might have for lunch?)

The first step has been accomplished--there is now a flourishing, and rapidly growing frozen food market for the Indian tongue.  A contrast to when I was fresh-of-the-boat many years ago.  Ironically, it was in those initial years that I craved for "real" Indian food, because I was not that far removed from the foods of the old country.

In the town where I now live, even the regular grocery store carries pretty much all of the raw materials I would ever need for the "Indian" cooking that I do.  And, the Indian grocery store at the nearby town has the frozen idli, vadai, dosai, masaala dosai, pakoda, ...

The next step for these frozen-food businesses is to diffuse into the larger market.  If cornflakes and pizzas can be regular foods in India and elsewhere, then why not the idli-vada combination for a hot breakfast even in the Carlson household in Stockholm, right?

Add yogurt and it becomes one heck of a nutritious breakfast.  Idli is made by steaming a dough of lentils and rice that is allowed to ferment overnight.  A wonderful combination of carbohydrates and protein with healthy bacteria that make digestion easy.  Because it is steamed, no worries about the unhealthy fat either.  If you eat idlis with yogurt, then the probiotic bacteria of the yogurt become an additional healthy dose to start the day.

No wonder then that the two centenarians in the extended family, who lived until 101 and 102, ate idli with yogurt for breakfast every single day for decades.  With coffee, of course!

Thankfully, the 100th birthday was not celebrated with idlis for everybody ;)

Father's uncle ...He added one more and then called it quits


Ramesh said...

What blasphemy. Even a non foodie like me is going to blanch at the thought of frozen idlis & vadas. If your mom even heard a whisper of this abomination, she shall order you "back home" pronto ! I have half a mind to tell her :):)

Having idli with yoghurt every day ???? (now I am turning into a real food critic). If ever there was a conclusive argument why living till 100 is not a great idea, this is it :)

Hurrraayyyy ! The grammar Nazi has been defeated :):)

Sriram Khé said...

Sorry to disappoint you, my friend, but my mother will be pleasantly surprised to know that I love idli/vadai so much that I buy the frozen varieties. You will do me a huge favor here by talking with them about this and confirming to them that the old country is always in my heart and my gut too ;)

Speaking of grammar, notice how simpler the American spelling is with "yogurt" without the wasteful additional "h" that you Queen's English people use? hehehe ;)