Coconut sugar to replace processed sugar, a Himalayan pink salt that contains 84 minerals to replace table salt, raw banana flour to serve as a gluten-free replacement of wheat flour and healthy beetroot powder to replace those harmful food colours in homemade cakes and muffins!
Founded by two Mumbaikars, Anuja Jadhav and Chirag Aggarwal, Kokos Natural sources and sells a wholesome range of indigenous, organic alternative ingredients, made by farmers across the length and breadth of India.
While Jadhav is an electronics engineer with an MBA from London, Aggarwal, who is also her school friend, worked with a city-based e-commerce firm. In 2016, the duo quit their well-paying corporate jobs to help India choose alternative ingredients while empowering farmers.
Doing away with pulses and masalas, they aimed to find Indian replacements to western superfoods.
“Imagine a middle-aged man, say 50 years of age, has grown up eating upma, poha, sheera and dosa for breakfast. Is it fair to ask him to suddenly replace this with quinoa bowls, oatmeal, muesli or smoothie bowls? Here is where we give them a simpler solution so that they do not have to compromise on their favourites. Rather, replace the ingredients with far healthier and more nutritious (Indian) alternatives like raw banana flour, organic coconut sugar and Himalayan pink salt, cassava flour, beetroot powder etc.,” says Anuja.
The journey to finding these healthy replacements to compete with internationally popular superfoods has been anything but easy.
While all it would take for you to buy these alternative foods online is a mere combination of clicks, the amount of ground research to find and source them, required several tours in Indian states and long interactions with farmers.
One such tour, in the outskirts of Coimbatore, the duo tackled their first challenge–to replace processed sugar, which from tea to sweets, has become an intrinsic part of the Indian diet.
Speaking to Midday, Anuja describes the long and laborious process of making organic coconut sugar, saying, “They first harvest the sap of the coconut tree from the flowers and collect it in matkis. The sap is then heated because the evaporation process lowers the moisture content of the nectar. Once the sap has cooled and dehydrated, it is then ground into granules.”
They noticed how the farmers put their heart and soul into making this beautiful sugar. But the biggest impediment in the process was their limited reach to sell this sugar. And so, Kokos Naturals decided to help them widen their reach through the country.
“These farmers deserve to make their produce a part of every kitchen in India,” say the duo.
So if you think the price of selling 25 gm of coconut sugar at Rs 150 is a little high, remember the amount of labour that goes into it.
Similarly, when the duo visited Tamil Nadu in search of raw banana flour, they came across a farm owned by a farmer family of 12 members.
“We saw their process and realised that these people worked round the clock to produce excellent quality of banana flour and at the same time, they ensured that the quality was kept consistent. Having looked at this passion and dedication, we decided to join hands with them and work together,” says Anuja.
Need a quick rundown of the benefits of these alternative healthier products against their processed counterparts? Here’s all you need to know:
Himalayan Pink Salt
- A healthy alternative to table salt, the colour of the salt varies from pink to white to red, depending on the iron content.
- It is hand-mined from the Himalayan Mountain range cutting through China, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan and India.
- Protected from today’s pollution because of its pristine environment, Himalayan pink salt is said to be the purest form of salt on Earth.
- It has 84 minerals required by the human body and has lesser sodium intake per serving in comparison to table salt.
Tropikoko Organic Coconut Sugar
- Its sweetness is similar to cane sugar, and it is the best substitute sweetener without any health hazards.
- It is good for anyone with diabetes, gallstones, cancer and heart disease.
- This coconut sugar is obtained from the Coconut Nucifera grown in abundance in South India, South East Asia and Hawaii.
- It is minimally processed, unbleached and contains no preservatives.
Natural Raw Banana Flour
- It is a gluten-free replacement of flour.
- It has a light texture, high fibre content, low sugar content, low cholesterol and is free of chemicals and preservatives, acting as a substitute for wheat and whole wheat flours.
- Can be incorporated into every meal of the day.
- Can be preserved from six months to a year, if stored in a place free from moisture and excess heat.
- Despite being high in carbohydrates, cassava flour is a good source of fibre (compared to many starches, which tend to be stripped of their natural fibre content during preparation) and is a rich source of nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and folate.
- Unlike tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch), cassava flour uses the entire root instead of just a separated starch, so it keeps the fibre, protein, starch, vitamins, and minerals that would otherwise be lost.
Natural Beetroot Powder
- Loaded with a similar quantity of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients as the raw beetroot, the powder is rich in antioxidants, dietary fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, folate and manganese and naturally rich in nitrate.
- You can use beetroot powder in soup, curry and gravy extra nutrition without altering the taste of your recipe.
- You can also use beetroot powder as dry coating of many edibles and snacks.
- Use it simply as a food colour or in cakes and muffins as well.
Kokos Natural was recently awarded the Best Startup of the Year in the Organic Sector by The Associated Chambers of Commerce & Industry of India.
“Our Indian farmers have been striving to provide us with the most natural and healthy produce and we, as a society, must enhance and enrich the farmer community as much as we can,” says Anuja.
Visit their website here to know more.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)