There is a famous English saying ‘Old wine in new bottles!’ This suddenly reminded us of the packaged dishes of the ‘heat and eat’ system that many domestic and foreign companies have launched in the market. In bygone times, preserved sweet and non-sweet foods were available in tins to enjoy the pleasure of one’s favorite taste. This technology seems prehistoric today. Storing food in salt water or oil would alter its taste and so tin containers are used today only for butter, cheese, sardines or the wildly expensive caviar.
Even fruit salad or pineapple is not in need of it today. Tetrapak made it possible decades ago to make milk, fruit juices, etc. last for months without a refrigerator or freezer. The next step in technological advancement is retort packing. Cooked food can be eaten after special preservation process by heating it slightly while eating. There is no need for chemical preservatives or artificial added flavours. After the packaging revolution, you can eat anything from mustard greens to makhani dal, butter chicken, shahi paneer, sambar etc. whenever you want.
In Europe and America, a complete meal usually consists of only one dish, which is considered balanced and tasty. The task of heating food in the microwave and watching TV can be completed. Therefore this type of food was named ‘TV dinner’. In the western industrial society, no one takes the trouble of preparing fresh food, hence the market for hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza-pasta, fried chicken, fish, sandwiches etc. has been hot. In India, whether roti or rice is given priority in the food plate, it seems incomplete without dry vegetables, bhaja and tariwali vegetables. For this reason the practice of ‘heat and eat’ has not spread here. Realizing the importance of regional flavors, big companies have resorted to Khichdi, Biryani, Dal, various varieties of Paneer, Aloo-Chole as well as Goa’s Vindaloo Punjabi Butter Chicken. This is where the real problem arises.
Certainly a pan-Indian taste has become popular in recent years. While South India is no stranger to tandoori spices and cheese, North Indians have adopted idli, vada, dosa, tamarind curry leaves. But most of the customers like to eat these dishes freshly prepared in front of hot eyes with strong spices. The old wine looks pale in these new bottles. The recipe is balanced as much as possible to appeal to Indian, foreign and NRI alike.
The consumer sees only a distant relationship between the name printed on the label and the food item. To change the taste of the mouth, traditional old flavors can be tried in a new form once, but not the second time. This is the reason why potato tikkis, golgappas, samosas, pindi chaat have been winning over the street vendors. Adds life to the familiar traditional dishes of India – Tadka, Chounk, Baghar. Where is the fun in eating packaged food? We feel that there is a need to bring that phrase to the forefront in the world of taste. Only new wine can show its magic in new bottles. Old tastes are not easily acceptable to the new generation!