Tag: Food

Why is Muesli so expensive in India?

Photo by Ovidiu Creanga on Pexels.com

I didn’t know Muesli until I went abroad a little over a decade ago. And once I discovered them, they were my favourite breakfast item.

After moving back to India, I fell back on the comfort of delicious, warm and fresh South Indian breakfasts. Idlis, dosas, upmas, poha, sabudana khichdi (ok, the last two are not strictly South Indian), washed down by a cup of South Indian filter coffee are as different as they come from the traditional continental (European) breakfast.

Having said that, I did miss my Muesli. And when I started to hunt for Muesli in India, I realised that:

  • It is reasonably easy to find, especially on online grocery sites
  • The range is reasonably diverse
  • They cost a bomb!

To elaborate on the last point, a kilo of muesli costs between 1.5 to 2.2 pounds (I am sure they could go higher) in the UK. Even if we assume an average of 2 pounds per kilo, that translates to around Rs. 200 per kilo.

The typical price in India for a kilo of Muesli varies from around Rs. 450 to Rs. 600. It’s safe to assume an average price of Rs. 500. This makes Muesli in India 2.5 times more expensive than Muesli in the UK!

I am curious as to what could be the reasons for this steep differential. Is it that the ingredients for a Muesli are more expensive in India? Is it because the market size is small and therefore, the per unit overhead costs are higher? Or is it simply a case that manufacturers know that the target audience of Muesli consumers can afford to pay these high rates?

I am not an expert, but would love to learn more about this phenomenon. Please do comment if you have any insights.

The King of Fruits

Varieties of Indian Mangoes
Varieties of Indian Mangoes, and other fruits

I am talking about the Mango, the undoubted King of Fruits, in my humble opinion. This is a fruit native to India (as highlighted by its scientific name, Mangifera indica). The best part of an Indian summer is the pleasure of consuming the different varieties of juicy and tasty Indian mangoes.

The start of this year’s season was severely impacted by the Covid pandemic crisis. For a while, there was huge uncertainty on whether we would even get to consume any mangoes this year. But then, the logistics slowly started opening up. Many farmers started supplying directly to apartment complexes. And because of the collapse of exports, the prices have been reasonable.

The first mangoes we consumer this season were Raspuris and Sindooris. This was followed by one of the varieties most commonly available in Bangalore – Banganapalli or Bemisal. We then started receiving regular supplies of the prized Alphonso varieties, but at very good rates. Next in line was the glorious Imampasand, possibly the best variety we have had this year. This was followed by Badami and Mallika.

Each of the varieties has unique flavour characteristics. While Alphonsos are usually considered the King of Mangoes, this year we were exposed to other varieties that are equally, if not more, delicious.

It’s a shame that most of the outside world do not know about the varieties of Indian mangoes. I came across this interesting article that explains more about this King of Fruits. Happy reading, and happy mango eating!

Photo by Gowri Subramanya on Unsplash

Day 6 of Lock-down

grocery cart with item
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Yet another day went by, busy with work.

I did step out for a bit of grocery shopping in the morning. Roads were pleasantly empty, as was to be expected. The grocery store (part of a national chain) had rules in place for entry (not more than 5 people inside at a time, no entry without masks). The security at the entrance was doing a reasonably good job of enforcing these regulations. Shoppers were patiently queuing outside while trying to maintain a reasonable distance from each other.

Inside, things looked pretty normal. The supply of fruits, vegetables and essential groceries did not look disrupted. There were some items that could be classified as non-essential that were out of stock. But I was able to find almost all of what I required and was in and out reasonably quickly.

I was a very late adopter of Netflix, only starting my subscription earlier this year. But I have been enjoying watching a few of the documentaries on there lately. I am presently watching a docu-series called ‘The Chef’s Table‘. It is fascinating to see and hear more about the philosophies of famous chefs, their journeys and experiences that led them ti where they are today and, of course, to view some of their beautiful masterpieces.

Give it a watch, if you have not already done so!

Monday Reads – 02/03

Laptop with image of food
Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

History, Future, Food and Apple – an eclectic mix in this week’s set.

How German cruiser ‘Emden’ struck terror in the heart of the British Empire, and became a Tamil word – Starting with History, a fascinating story from the time of World War II and the birth of a new word in the Tamil and Malayalam languages.

Steve Wozniak – Continuing with History, I just came across this fascinating interview with the co-founder of Apple. It seems like everyone knows everything about Steve Jobs, but this was an eye-opening interview about the engineer who set Apple on the path to future success.

Superintelligence – Speaking about the future, this is a thought-provoking article on what might be the biological impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on humans, and what the end state might look like. It also asks us to think about ‘Why is it that we exist as humans?’

What Noma did next: how the ‘New Nordic’ is reshaping the food world – And finally, a long, but very informative article from the word of Fine Dining. It is interesting to see how a restaurant (and now, movement) has been so successful in establishing a region that was not really know for its food culture on to the World Map of Fine Dining. It will be great to see something similar evolve for Indian (or South Asian) cuisine.

An Ode to the Humble Udupi cafe

Udupi standing restaurant
A typical ‘Sagar’ restaurant

Though Bangalore is where I have spent the most of my adult life (across two stints), I have made no secret of the fact that I am yet to warm to the city in the same way as my home city of Mumbai. And one of the key factors in that is food.

I do not think anyone will argue that, between Bangalore and Mumbai, when it comes to food, Mumbai is streets ahead. And when it comes to street food, it is almost unfair to make any comparison – Mumbai’s exceptional street food at very reasonable prices is one of the best in the world, in my humble opinion. As one travel guide put it, Mumbai’s street food culture is more varied than many entire European / Western cuisines!

However, if there is one area where Bangalore manages to beat Mumbai, it’s to do with South Indian snacks. And specifically, the culture of ‘standing joints‘ which go by the generic names of ‘Darshinis’ or ‘Sagars’. Also called ‘Udupi‘ cafes, these typically serve hot  vegetarian South Indian snacks usually cooked in full view of the customer and served with a range of delicious chutneys and sambar at pocket friendly rates – it is the closest that Bangalore gets to Mumbai street food. Add on the exceptional South Indian filter coffee which typically costs only Rs. 10, and you have a clear winner!

South Indian filter coffee
South Indian filter coffee

And like Mumbai street food, everyone, rich or poor, businessman or working class, can be seen standing and eating next to each other. The open nature of these cafe / restaurants with no glass frontage or door also makes for a very welcoming and comfortable space for segments of people who might otherwise think twice of eating out alone.

Almost every locality in Bangalore will have one of these. For a long time, it felt like the only exception was the area where I live. We had all the varied shops and restaurants you would expect in a typical middle / upper-middle income locality, except for one major gap – an Udupi restaurant. Thankfully, the gap was filled a few months. Maybe catering to the locality, this specific outlet does not have any ‘standing only’ tables. But in almost all other aspects, it sticks to the standard template. And, as was to be expected, the place has been buzzing almost from the first day.