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Getting the mix right

Horse dung in garam masala or detergent in milk, Indians are meticulous about their food adulteration.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2012 20:44 IST
Hindustan Times

No one, but no one can accuse us Indians of any lack of imagination when it comes to value addition. Indeed, we go to great lengths to ensure that most of our products are just a little different from the same found in other countries. The latest such innovation comes in the form of an iron tablet which contains 193% more than the labelled quantity of free iron particles that it actually sticks to magnets. What this will do to your insides is another matter altogether.

But such minor matters have never prevented us in our attempts to give a little twist to common and garden items. Take the case of dried horse dung in garam masala. It takes time and energy to find a horse, gather the dung, dry it and mix it in the garam masala. Or the quantities of detergent found in milk. Such things require a whole adulteration set-up. Once in a while we get caught out.

Like the consignment of pepper containing an assortment of dried berries and which was sent back by an African country to which it was being exported. And let us assure you, it is not easy to procure metanil yellow to give turmeric that extra glow. This penchant to adulterate is so much a part of our psyche that the law actually permits a quantity of rat droppings in milled flour. So do keep that in mind when you eat your rotis tonight.

But we are pleased to inform you that this trend is catching on. Not so long ago, a doctor in the West was found injecting cement into ladies who wanted a fuller bottom. On occasion, we tend to do no more than palm off powdered chalk tablets as painkillers. Or make a little petrol-kerosene cocktail to set your car roaring off in the manner of Michael Schumacher. The clever adulteration of tar and other building materials ensures that roadwork goes on at all times, providing employment to our brethren throughout the year.

While you mull over this, we’ll take a little break for tea spiked with detergent.

First Published: Feb 05, 2012 20:42 IST