Sachin Kumar founded Sattuz, a startup that seeks to restore the status of an underrated superfood which once loomed plenty in some Indian kitchens
Sattu cha peeth (Sattu’s atta or flour) was a popular evening snack at my grandmother’s home when I was younger. Mixing Sattu (roasted and ground gram) with sugar and water to form a paste was also a simple, and nutritive solution for my mother during those days. It can also be made from barley or by mixing both barley and gram. But living in a nuclear family, I would only get to enjoy my grandmother’s delicious homemade goodies when she made a trip to visit us during vacations. And eventually, it was forgotten.
However, I recently learned that Sattu cha peeth is, in fact, a superfood and would also be served to warriors of Shivaji Maharaj who assisted in Guerrilla warfare, as well as the soldiers in the Chinese Tang Dynasty and even those in the Mauryan Empire.
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A humble superfood
An underrated staple for centuries, confined to the pockets of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi and Bihar, this superfood is making a comeback in Indian homes.
“We want to replace the energy and flavoured drinks in the market with the nutritious Sattu,” says Sachin Kumar, founder of the startup, Sattuz. Based in Madhubani, Bihar, Sachin launched the startup in 2018 under the company Gorural Foods & Beverages.
“It is a staple snack in my family, where my mother and wife still make Sattu regularly,” Sachin says and adds that the only problem was getting “the proportion of ingredients right” for the perfect taste. “Completing a traditional food marketing workshop in 2015, I decided to experiment with it as a product,” he says.
It was after many trials that a final mix was prepared. “After which we decided to take it to the market,” Sachin says.
Speaking to The Better India, the founder of the startup mentions that another “common problem” is also that children find Sattu boring compared to the other items available in the market.
“With more research, understanding of the market and procuring government approvals from FSSAI, we introduced Sattuz three years later as a product with three flavours jal jeera, chocolate and sweet,” Sachin says.
Priced at Rs 20 a sachet and Rs 120 a box, Sattuz comes with a paper glass, a sachet and a spoon. “You just need water to mix it up. It can be a healthier alternative to carbonated drinks. Moreover, the ready-mix is hygienic, gluten-free, vegan and completely preservative-free,” he adds.
Sachin explains that the sugar and salt present in the sachet act as natural preservatives for the product.
The Bihar startup that floated with a soft loan from IIM-Calcutta claims to be the first to receive funding from Indian Angel Funding (IAF) and Bihar Industry Association (BIA).
“We are the first Bihar startup to receive the funding from IAF and BIA, and to work with 8-10 farmers providing them employment opportunities as well,” he adds.
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Sachin claims his business generates Rs 1.25 lakh every month. He says, “We are selling the product online pan India and are also planning to put it on the shelves of some cafes. We are at a breakeven stage and planning to expand further.”
However, the company still faces many hurdles. “ As a product, Sattu, is not very well-known, apart from the Central and Eastern regions of India. There is still a lot of awareness to be done. Studies show that carbonated drinks are very successful in India but, we are still struggling to sell traditional drinks like Sattu, lassi and buttermilk,” he laments.
The founder adds that the company is in the process of launching a series of products like Sattu paratha (flatbread), kachori (snack) and litti (baked or fried flour ball) in the market.
Sachin explains, “There is another perception that Sattu can only be consumed during summers. But the fact is that it can beat any time of the year. Hence, the range of options. The sachets can also be used to make laddoos (sweet delicacy) by heating and mixing it with milk and ghee.”.
If marketed well, Sachin says, the “true nutritive potential” of the product can get recognition outside India as well.
“We are also in talks with stakeholders in Singapore, US and UK. Meetings were already held but the lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic halted our plans and we hope to strengthen the Indian market and reach abroad soon,” a hopeful Sachin comments.
Though Sattu is known as a superfood for its power-packed high nutritive value, nutritionists advise a word of caution. “Sattu is a superb food as it has a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is known to increase metabolism rate and also help cancer patients,” says Kamal Palia, nutritionist and dietician at the Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.
Kamal recommends that Sattu be consumed in its purest form. “The homemade Sattu is the best as it does not have any flavours or chemicals added to it. The ones available in the market may contain artificial flavours, and thus the possibility of chemicals infused in them is higher,” she adds.
Speaking further, the food expert advises one to check the shelf life of the product. “Sattu made at home will last for a couple of weeks to a month. But, if the same product lasts longer, it may contain preservatives,” Kamal adds.
Sattuz can be ordered on 8877005678.
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