With the onset of the festive season across the country, sweet cravings can wreak havoc upon the strictest diet plans, and before we know it, its a lost battle and we’re already binging on sweets!
How can one resist the lure of gujiyas, barfis or kaju katlis during Diwali? However, even as our sweet tooth goes haywire during this time, it is essential to take care of what we consume, especially if the sweets or snacks are purchased from outside.
In fact, the NCR belt is already under the scanner of the Delhi government’s food safety department after receiving adulteration complaints from the public against leading sweet shops ahead of the festive season.
In their crackdown against adulterated sweets in the region, the concerned authorities are giving special focus to milk and milk products.
“So far, food safety officers have picked up 80 Khoya samples and 200 milk based products quality check. The special drive is being conducted to make sure that no adulterated milk and milk-based sweets reache [the] consumer,” said a senior food safety official to India Today.
Further, in a survey conducted by SPECS (Society of Pollution and Environmental Conservation Scientists) in 2015, about 90 per cent of sweets and snacks in multiple North Indian cities were found to be adulterated, to varying extents.
While it is possible to reach out to your local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and lodge complaints against defaulters, the process can get quite tedious and time-consuming.
But fret not, for we have some incredibly easy hacks that you can try at home to ensure your Diwali binging ends on a safe and sweet note:
Milk adulteration in India is a thriving business that comes at the cost of the health of unsuspecting customers. From seemingly water which is mostly harmless, to potent additives like chalk, urea, soap and even chemical whiteners, you cannot be sure if the milk you are consuming or using to prepare certain food items is pure or not.
We have rounded down on three most commonly used additives in milk, namely water, urea and detergent. To test for water, what you can do is run a few drops of milk down a smooth, inclined surface.
Because of its density, pure milk would slither down slowly with a trail left behind. On the hand, if water has been added to milk, it will run down quickly without leaving behind any trace.
For the detergent test, you need to water down the milk sample and shake it vigorously. If you see an unnatural amount of lather formation, the milk is unquestionably adulterated. To check for urea, add few teaspoons of milk in a cup and mix it with a teaspoon of either soya powder or toor daal (pigeon pea) powder. Next, dip a litmus paper into this mixture and if the colour changes to blue, do not use the milk, as it definitely has urea in it.
To check the purity of ghee, you will have to go the extra mile and get some hydrochloric (HCL) acid. With this test, you’ll be checking if the ghee contains animal fat or not. All you need to do is add a bit of sugar and HCL, and if the mixture turns reddish, the ghee is adulterated.
Khoya is what makes sweets taste divine, but if your luck is bad, it can also make you sick to the stomach. While there are testing kits for khoya adulteration already available at medical stores, you can avoid the trip with these simple DIY hacks. One of the most common additives used by manufacturers is starch and to test its presence at home, you will need a few drops of iodine solution.
First, boil a sample of khoya in water and after this mixture cools down, add the solution. If the colour changes to blue, the product definitely has starch in it. Yet another way to figure out if khoya is pure before purchasing is to rub some of it on your palm. If it is greasy and leaves behind a slight saccharine taste, go for it!
Kaju Katli without vark or varak (silver-leaf foil) on top is how one can kill the festive spirit with just one small step. Interestingly, the practice of decorating sweets with silver or gold filigree foil is native to South Asia, and while these precious metals are tasteless but edible, these play a key role in raising the aesthetic appeal of these mouth-watering delicacies.
Sadly, there are adulterations even in vark these days, with aluminium being the most frequently used additive.
How one can find what is real and what is fake? This is how: try observing the sweet first—if the foil is cracked all over, it is definitely adulterated, for pure vark will spread out effortlessly over the surface of the sweet.
To confirm your suspicion, try rubbing some of it between your fingers. If it doesn’t disintegrate easily and instead rolls into a ball, what you have on your fingers is aluminium and not silver.
So this Diwali season, we hope your celebration goes in tandem with your health and with these few hacks, the festive season remains ‘sweet’ for you!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)