Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The battle of the oats Part 2 - Britannia vs Quaker Oats

After reviewing the [Saffola and Horlicks oats earlier](http://chowchowbath.com/2014/03/16/the-battle-of-the-oats-part-one-horlicks-vs-saffola/), I wanted to review Britannia and Quaker in this post.

I did have a Britannia and Quaker oats packet the former of Strawberry flavour and the latter of Raisin and Kishmish flavour.

The original I intended to review was Strawberry and Lemony veggie mix but I realized thats not a correct comparison. Furthermore, I had received a free pack of Britannia Oats which was well past its due date of 6 months from date of manufacture (in this case April 2012) - so I didnt want to get food poisoned. Just to give it a fair chance, I also checked for a new pack at the store - but no store stocked Brittania anymore. Also a search for Britannia Strawberry oats shows up images for Quaker and Horlicks which shows where Britannia is in terms of sales figures or popularity perhaps.



Given these technical difficulties, I will continue the review only on Quaker Oats instead.


Quaker Raisin and Kishmish flavour has Raisins and sugar added along with lots of other spices. It also had nature identical colouring and flavouring substances that are permitted. (I still do not understand what these contain so far, but you can [take a look here](http://www.understandingfoodadditives.org/pages/ch2p1-2.htm) to make your own assumptions)

The sugar present is 15.7g of every 100g, so for this sachet of 26g, the amount of sugar in the foodstuff is about 4g which is negleigible and okay to eat in my opinion for one serving.


Unlike previous Oatmeals, this one is prepared with milk instead of water - obviously a milk meal tastes better as compared to water oat meal for this flavour.


I generally do not have much confidence on the taste part of foods that originate out of the country, but I must say Quaker has perfected the taste behind a good oatmeal much like Saffola and they are more spot on with respect to their Oats. You just need to eat Quaker to believe the taste and quality. The meal is satisfying, filling and generally not too much of sugar or spice - just balanced out a whole lot.


Since the review focussed only on Quaker, and further the raisin and Kishmish flavour - the verdict is a big go from my side. Go for it, and you will be surprised your kids will slurp it up too so quickly that they must rename their brand Quicker instead of Quaker! :-)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The battle of the Oats! Part one: Horlicks vs Saffola

Today I'm here to let you know a little bit about Oats (or oat grains) which we consume in plenty these days. The history of Oats dates back to 2000 B.C (ok, so that's enough of believeable history behind it). Oats not only provide energy but also have all the essential nutrients that the body needs as specified below


What is interesting about Oats is that it can make different type of meals today including idlis, oat grain cereal, with milk, upma, and the likes. Only your imagination is left to where you can go with oats based meal preparations.

Some of the essential benefits of oats include:

* Lower cholestrol levels
* Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
* Prevention of heart failure
* Cardiovascular benefits for postmenopausal women
* Enhance immune response to infection
* Stabilize blood sugar
* Substantial lowering of type - 2 diabetes
* Protection from Breast cancer
* Childhood asthma prevention
* and many more ....

Naturally this is a market that both Marico (owners of Saffola) and GSK (owners of horlicks) wanted to exploit in India. Here we compare Oats from both manufacturers.

A little bit on taste. This is the single largest reason why people will like or dislike oats in this country. Irrespective of whether or not we are used to all other types of food or are diet conscious, if the oats don't taste good, they will find their place in the dustbin. And Oats are supposedly very bland. Extremely bland so to say. For some (maybe like me) it also induces a nauseous feeling enough to pack it out of the house.

In this wavelength both Horlicks and Saffola have tried to make oats taste better by including lots of varieties such as Southern spice or Masala, or curry and pepper, etc. We do have some others such as raising and kesar, etc but lets stick to the topic.

A brief inspection of what the materials contain revelaed the following:

> Horlicks

* ginger powder
* red chilli powder (hell, yeah!)
* onion powder and asoefatida
* tomato and wheat flour ingridients
* vegetable protein (processed or whatever)
* nature identical (but unnatural) coloring and flavoring substances and acidity regulators

And our king of king substance - sugar! This has about 2.38 grams of sugar per 100g of pouch, but the pouch I used was 28g net weight, so we can say negligible amount of sugar.

> Saffola

* 72% oats (yea, what about the remaining 28%? :) )
* [maltodextrin](http://http://voices.yahoo.com/what-maltodextrin-bad-you-9054329.html)
* 5% cashew nuts (obvious this is the pongal variety)
* Salt and Sugar
* Hydrolized vegetable protein
* Wheat flour and the rest same as horlicks.

And for the sugar each 100g had 3.2 grams of sugar. I used the 40g pouch so roughly less than half of that amount of sugar.

> Preparation

Simple - put the oats in bowl, add water enough to hold in the pouch (packaging) - heat for 3 mins in oven while stirring. Do not let the oats to spill out. That's all.

> The verdict

Alright, technical jargon aside, shall we come to what matters to us after the diet stuff? - The taste of course!

> If you want it in one single statement - The Horlicks was sent to the dustbin, and the Saffola was sent to my stomach.

A litte more in depth - horlicks lacks any kind of proper taste in spite of adding so many substances and it still remains very bland and almost inedible beyond a point. It tends to get pasty and linger on in the mouth presenting a sticky layer which causes discomfort in terms of taste.

Saffola have managed to pull off an impossible taste for their Oat meal. The curry and pepper that I tried was almost close to Tamilnadu style pongal made a bit spicy with black pepper. So much so that it leaves an absolute tingling sensation that black pepper does until the end of the meal. Eating it really piping hot makes the experience only so much more dramatic.

Horlicks would be liked by many people as well, but for me any oat meal makers challenge is to provide taste without compromising on the materials being added to null and void the oat benefits.

In our next series we pitch Quaker oats with Brittania to see how they perform.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My first trip to Tiruvannamalai

I had to check out, analyze and provide my opinion to my dad on the project called Viviza Grande by [Shrisha Infra](http://shrishainfra.com). It was a clear Sunday morning and due to my inability to wake up too early, I could only get out of Bangalore by 8:30am. Still due to almost negligible traffic, I was able to quickly hit the elevated tollway, and exit Karnataka peacefully.

For those to whom this route is home ground, you can only sympathize with me the feeling when you enter Hosur - this town kind of drags you down in terms of speed so you lose some time getting out towards Shoolagiri so much so that we had to make that customary stopover by Shri Krishna Inn, which is famous for its piping hot idlis and dosas which are quickly served. Not to forget to mention the filter kaapi :)

After that customary stopover we headed and reached Krishnagiri in no time due to great roads. The trauma started after we took that right turn to Tiruvannamalai road. Before I go forward, let's look at google's map suggestions. There were totally four routes which we'll take a look now.

**Bangalore-Hosur-Krishnagiri-Mathur-Uthangarai-Chengam-Tiruvannamalai : 196km, about 3 hours and 35 min**

This is the route we chose as default since my dad had visited before and suggested the same. But after krishnagiri, I was appalled at seeing the condition of the road as we moved on.

At many places due to infrastructural works going on, only 50% of the road was motorable and in that as well there was two way traffic. Besides, whatever was left of that 50% was only 25% of tar road and the rest was broken gravel not fit for motoring really. Its unfortunate that these road works only allow us to only travel at 40-60kmph thereby consuming an additional 2 hours of time to reach destination. It took a total of almost 6 hours for us to reach there. Lack of sanitation facilities, or tender coconuts along the way or any eateries made our life only that much more difficult.

There is a particular stretch between krishnagiri to uthangarai, where even the mobile data signal is not present which makes it difficult for us to gather the maps using smartphones. Offline maps are highly recommended. The GPS alone is not enough to latch onto where you are as the phone also expects cell towers to be present nearby.

Also some parts of this road was a breeze to drive on, and it gave a picture of what this road would be like by another year or two. But these stretches were short lived and the euphoria was abruptly put to halt each time dumping the vehicle into sudden trenches in the road which is not at all good. The absence of warning signs and direction boards only made it worst to traverse not knowing where roads would lead.

Add to it the government buses of Tamilnadu who just wanted to speed up along the dusty stretches to prove a point on how much dust they could rake up forcing other vehicles to keep their windows closed at all times. God forbid you keep your window open by mistake and you are going to have lots of road debris inside the vehicle and potentially all over your face as well :)

Some of these stretches were only full of stones and driving on that was utter rubbish with japanese sedans such as my sunny. Perhaps vehicles like Bolero would do better !

After nearly two hours the car had been transferring all the road abnormalities to the steering and the pedals and inturn to the hands and feet and left me completely shaky by the time we reached the destination.

We quickly took a look at Shrisha's Viviza Grande project. Priced reasonably at this time and being equidistant from the central areas of Tiruvannamalai the project is one that shows a good amount of professionalism in the thoughts that have gone into its design. In this post I will not concentrate on the real estate specifics such as whether the papers are proper or other such info, but the project does have many parks designed as per scientific rules, drip irrigation, lots of tree lined avenues which would be a fantastic place if maintained properly for next 10-20 years.

Every plot has a water and electricity supply to the plot neatly, and the entrance lighting is managed with solar panels. Tiruvannamalai being hot, this bodes well for harnessing solar energy. The project also provides a great view of the mountain from almost every plot which is a divine experience for many.

After having a rather late lunch at the Chola restaurant, I bumped into the drivers of the volvo bus from Bangalore who also echoed to me that the route that I had taken was rubbish and there were better ways to get back to Bangalore. One of the suggestions was to go to Vellore and then hit the tollway back to Bangalore. But that meant a good road with another hour more of driving.

**Tiruvannamalai-Vellore-Krishnagiri-Hosur-Bangalore : 283km, about 4 hours and 15 min**

It was almost 100km more and total drive time was 4 hours and 15 mins which was tempting. The guy also spoke about Harur but was skeptical whether the route would be any different from what I had come through earlier.

The harur road was about 4 hours, and about 50 km more.

**Tiruvannamalai-Harur-Kannamangalam-Krishnagiri-Hosur-Bangalore : 248km, about 4 hours**

I tried following the road through and to Harur, but the first right turn my google phone told me to take was less than 20 feet by width where a sedan could never make it. I was terrified and decided that a known devil is better than unknown angel. Knowing Vellore was more by distance that was out of the list immediately. The only way back was through the same hell. So after driving upto Chengam, Google showed me a right turn even though going straight I would have taken the road back to Dharmapuri.

**Tiruvannamalai-Chengam-Singarapettai-Bargur-Krishnagiri-Hosur-Bangalore : 215km, about 3 hours and 36 min**

Somehow unknowingly I decided to take that right turn and was plesantly suprised that the road condition had improved by leaps and bounds. This is when the route map of going via Tirupattur turned out to be one more option for me. Adding about another 50km, but having a difference between hell and heaven, this perhaps was the most useful decision I had taken. The next 50km was close to a drive on an airport tarmac more or less with little to no traffic on the road on both directions, and beautifully winding roads which made driving a bit thrilling as well. Finally catching a sunset at Krishnagiri, we headed back to Bangalore for what would be a body-pain filled tired night.

> Familiar to Thine ears are the sweet songs of votaries who melt to the very bones with love for Thee, yet let my poor strains also be acceptable, O Arunachala!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Premium Kulfi review

So guys, I had a chance to visit Tiruvannamalai for the first time in my life in 35 years (wonder why I never had the opportunity to go there so far). We ate at the Chola restaurant, which is where the Karnataka Volvo buses to that place stop over for lunch.

It's here that the menu had ice creams and/or kulfi. Since I noticed that it was not a brand that I knew, the restaurant staff suggested that I eat one since it was supposedly good in taste. The product itself was shipped to different places from Chennai.

I bought one and had it to my heart's content. It costs about Rs.85 which is quite highly priced for a kulfi product. There are other cheaper ones like the ones from Amul for example (the pista variety) or even our very own Adigas. It is best before 18 months from the date of manufacture for obvious reasons (assuming its stored at -18 deg C). Also since its a milk based products, there were no surprises in the ingridients found - Milk, sugar, and all the nuts you can think of - Cashew, almonds, pista and the cardamom spice for flavouring. The contents do not indicate any artificial flavouring so that's a plus. For every 100g, it provides 200 KCal of energy and roughly amouting to about 10% of fat and 15% of sugar. Personally I feel that 15% of sugar is actually very high and can be lowered to about 5% even though end result of the product may not be that sweet.

From the packaging I could make out that the contents were about 60ml of packaging so you can work out the rest of the math on above figures accordingly.

Coming to the design of the product, one of the most interesting things I found is the stick on which the kulfi itself is wound around and frozen - it seems to be made of bamboo or something of that sort. One of the most annoying factors of kulfi is the stick which is either the ice cream stick or a more thinner longer stick which kind of disintegrates by the time you start finishing up eating the stuff. Full marks to premium for including a really premium base on which the kulfi is set.

The kulfi itself is very rich and nice to taste, and is pretty solid for quite a while and does not drip within minutes like the ones you find from Adigas or Amul. It takes a while to really show any melting signs which only means you get longer to savour the stuff in your mouth without worrying about the rest of it dripping away to glory.

All in all, Premium is really a product that sticks to its name - from the packaging, the foundations on which the milk product is frozen on top of, and the taste itself. Go get yourself one, and I promise you, you will come back to this blog and thank me!

Personally I always like kulfi to ice creams for some good reason :) Premium kulfi - asli punjab di maharaj!

**Oh and did I miss to say that you can order this kulfi online at the company website if you'd so wish!? http://www.premiumkulfi.co/**

I bought mine from my friendly neighborhood Multiplex as usual. You must be able to find it anywhere pretty much.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Juspure coconut water review

So I happened to go shopping as usual to my favorite haunt "Multiplex" in HSR Layout, and this time felt like picking up some tender coconut juice. Now I know what you would tell me upfront

> if you want tender coconut go buy one directly on the street

Obviously it is no doubt the most healthiest, but then the idea here is to review products in the market. So let me go on.

This product is called **Juspure coconut water** and is made by *Zydus Wellness Inc*. I kind of feel these names are so funny - Wellness Inc! It says the coconut water is made from the freshest coconut available.

A glance at the ingridients reveal that there are allowed preservatives, and coconut water that is not processed in anyway. While I was happy that the ingridient list did not read **_sugar_**.

The question then remained only about the actual taste of this product. The opinions can be really subjective. But I must say here that the product tastes ridiculous! You may ask how do I judge so, but you need to understand that there is another brand called Cocojal which is the undisputed leader in tender coconut water packaging. In comparison Juspure is really really bad so to say.

The Verdict?

> I won't venture out to buy one again