Indian food is often viewed as intimidating, tedious and time-consuming due to the numerous ingredients and steps to prepare most dishes. Soaking, slow roasting, boiling, and simmering, most of the cooking methods in our cuisine require patience. With an increasingly busy lifestyle, cooking has shifted to the back burner for many. But there is a solution. It is the foray of a range of ready-to-use roasted and grounded pastes. Rrahul Topiwala, Founder and CEO, Farmous Foods Pvt. Ltd, talks about how this culinary space looks like.

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 "We source ingredients from all over India and slow cook them to perfection. One of the primary objectives of ready-to-cook pastes is to take away that additional time and work it takes to cook good, tasty Indian food at home."

With such instant masala blends, one needs to open the pack, add their choice of protein or veggies and finish the cooking process effortlessly.

Such readymade masalas have been in the Indian market for many years. They have marketed to either cook home-style classics like dal tadka and rajma or restaurant-style favourites like paneer butter masala. For instance, the most common paste we find is chicken butter masala, palak paneer, or dal makhani. It shadows the sheer diversity of Indian cuisine. What was missing was something that offers a full spectrum of regional Indian flavours!

Bengali style mustard paste, Image Source: Bhuna Pisa

Q. Where did you find the gap?

The taste of each state and cuisine our country has to offer needs to be captured. This gives consumers interested in food, culture and exploration the chance to bring new regional flavours into their kitchens and make them their own! You still enjoy the ease of convenient home cooking, but simultaneously, you can elevate your home meals by introducing the regional diversity of Indian cuisine into each meal.

Paneer Varuval, Image Source: Bhuna Pisa

Q. Do such ready-to-use spices leave room for experimentation?

Adding to that the sheer versatility of multi-purpose cooking pastes, they also allow experimentation in the kitchen. One can prepare unique global dishes with Indian flavours with ease.

Q. How are these amplifying the dynamics of cooking?

The success of any such pastes depends on their compatibility with any available ingredients, be it rice, noodles, meat, eggs, paneer or leftover vegetables. For example, if you are time-constrained, simply prepare chicken with some paste and water till cooked for a near-instantaneous Rogan Josh, shorshe jhol, Chicken Chettinad or Chicken Vindaloo.

Q. How about fusion of Indian flavours with the international ones?

One big reason that the bounty of Indian cuisine is boundless is through the melding of indigenous ingredients and flavours with a host of influences from around the world. This is a beautiful example of how cuisine is constantly evolving, and we believe we must continue to encourage this kind of culinary creativity. Using suitable ready-to-cook pastes, home cooks can experiment with any cuisine! The newly available pastes in the market are designed to easily toss Kashmiri paste into your Italian pasta and marinate an American mac and cheese with a kick of Bengali mustard paste. Likewise, go a tad more creative; try a cheesy French Au Gratin Casserole, the appetising spice blend of Chettinad.

Chicken aam kasundi, Image Source: Bhuna Pisa

Q. How aware are the Indian culinary enthusiasts? 

In the last few decades, as more people travel around the country and the world, overall interest in food has grown. People are more curious and open to trying new dishes and cuisines when travelling. As a result, they are also more open to new flavours and keen to try regional cuisines when dining out at restaurants. 

Q. Is there a room for improvement to gain similar fame for Indian food?

We now see regional cuisines from the farthest corners of the world being showcased, like Neapolitan or Sicilian food. We are yet to see this kind of interest in understanding Indian food in all of its regional diversity and nuances. There is so much to explore when it comes to Indian food. Perhaps ready-to-cook pastes will be able to change that conversation and enable consumers to approach and adopt regional Indian flavours through their own kitchens.