Thursday, July 31, 2008


Can you imagine eating and enjoying the above classical delicacies of India, sitting on top of a volcanic crater 10023 ft above sea level in Hawaii, 2600 miles west of Los Angeles, in the midst of Pacific Ocean? It was made possible by the modern food technology developed in India, manufactured by the processed food industry and being exported to USA regularly. For the information of those who are not familiar with Hawaii, it is useful to note that it is the 50Th state of USA, comprising 5-6 islands, in the Pacific Ocean, born out of violent volcanic eruptions millions of years ago. Hawaii always evokes excitement amongst tourism folks, especially those fond of beaches and water sports. Millions of tourists visit one or more of these islands which has a Polynesian cultural background though assimilation into mainstream America has created modern infrastructure and good quality life. For food technologists, Dole Fruit Company is synonymous with pineapple processing which had its origin in Lanai, one of the Islands in Hawaii where huge pineapple plantations and fruit canning facilities flourished during the first half of 20Th century, making them the world's largest suppliers of processed fruit and vegetable products. Of course the increasing costs of cultivation and dearth of labor shifted the epicenter of Pineapple processing to Philippines and Thailand, again driven by the vast experience of Dole Fruit Company. To day Lanai is still a private island with less than 200 s.miles area owned by David Murdoch who developed it into a fine tourist destination with super luxury hotels and a private airport. Only wealthy tourists venture into Lanai which is better known for the lavish private wedding of Bill Gates, the multi billionaire founder of Microsoft Company, about seventeen years ago, probably because of least access to this area to journalists across the world. Coming to the Bisibhele bath episode, Haleakala crater is considered as world's largest dormant volcano. This volcano has not rumbled or spewed lava since 1790 but has been classified by geologists as "active but not currently erupting'. This crater lies on the eastern side of the island Maui, a 1800 s. miles volcanic land which is attracting millions of tourists from all parts of the world because of its calm beaches, panoramic views and salubrious climate all year round. A scenic, winding road 35 miles long takes one to the top of the crater which is an environmentally protected area with no commercial activities. Though the drive up and down does not take more than 3 hours and plenty of restaurants and eateries are available in the plains, many visitors take packed foods along with them to have pleasure of a 'party' on top of the world at the summit of the crater in the midst of the biggest ocean in the planet. During a recent visit by group of Indians to the summit, it was a sight to see servings of several products from MTR Foods stable that included Bisibhele bhath, Aloo Parotha and Paneer Palak which was unique because the Indian Food Technologists and Entrepreneurship made this possible. The pioneering 'Retort Pouch Technology' developed by Defense Food Research Laboratories at Mysore enabled the pioneering entrepreneurial giant MTR Foods to market more than three dozens of highly perishable ethnic Indian foods with shelf lives of 1-2 years. Though Indian stores are standard fixtures in many parts of USA, there are places like Hawaii where neither Indian restaurants nor Indian grocery stores exist making it hard for hard-core vegetarians to enjoy their holidays. With the pioneering efforts of MTR Foods, there are a few others like ITC, Priya, Kohinoor, Ashoka etc who offer Indian ethnic foods in 'ready to eat' format to the benefit of Indian immigrants and tourists. The Indian stores and restaurants are doing a great service in
popularizing Indian foods outside India and it is encouraging to see these ambassadors of Indian culture and ethos through traditional foods, are continuously upgrading their presentation format making them on par with western food markets and eateries.Their contribution enables Indians feel that wherever they are, it is like back home.


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