Spot the Fakes: Enjoy Mawa and Mithai Without Milawat This Diwali
Simple kitchen hacks to expose food adulteration this Diwali!
Diwali mithai’s are not for the faint hearted - brimming with mawa, fried in ghee, glistening with vark. Even though the calorific value of Diwali is vulgar, the sugar content extreme, no Indian can ever say no to a mithai at this time of the year. Sometimes, it seems the whole purpose of the festival is to get a collective sugar rush.
But if it was just a sugar and a calorie rush for a couple of days, we’d happily take the blow. Last year, a survey done by SPECS (Society of Pollution and Environmental Conservation Scientists) found that 90% of sweets and snacks in multiple cities of North India were adulterated.
So what do you if you have to gorge on Diwali mithai but can’t afford to come down with a serious case of Delhi belly?
Milk mixed with water is fine but during the festival season, it’s often adulterated with chalk, urea, soap and chemical whiteners! *Shudders*
Vendors are pretty shameless at this money-minting time of the year and have no qualms in palming off toxic food.
In 2015, the FDA seized a heavy duty consignment of mustard oil adulterated with engine oil in Nashik during Diwali. Khoya has been found with traces of paper, starch and other items.
Universally favourite besan laddoos are commonly adulterated with kesari daal - no this ain’t some high-grade protein, it’s animal feed unfit for human consumption.
Rasgullas can be made with all kinds of spurious synthetic and paint milk. And the shimmering vark is often replaced with aluminium foil. So what’s our sweet tooth supposed to do? Ditch the mithai or toil in the kitchen? Neither, if you follow our smart mithai guide.
How To Spot Adulterated Milk
Test 1- Water: This one’s pretty simple even by my lazy standards. And you don’t have to wait for Diwali to test the milk quality. Take a few drops of milk and place them on a slanting, smooth, polished surface. Pure milk will glide down slowly leaving a trail behind while adulterated milk will slip pretty fast leaving a clean slate.
Test 2: Urea- the most common adulterant. Take a teaspoon or two of milk in a cup and add a teaspoon of soya powder or toor dal powder. Shake it till it mixes uniformly. After a couple of minutes, dip a litmus paper. Moment of truth. If the paper turns from red to blue, it indicates the presence of urea in milk. Discard.
Test 3: Detergent – Water down milk and shake it vigorously. If it lathers, there’s detergent. Puke! Preserve the sample and wash the leftover milk down the drain and complain to the local FDA.
How To Spot Adulterated Mawa
Test: Starch - Often the prime culprit which makes you sick in the tummy post-Diwali. Mawa testing kits are available at chemist’s shops but its basic chemistry if you want to do it at home. Boil a sample of khoya in water, let it cool, then add a few drops of iodine solution. A blue colour indicates presence of starch.
Test 2: Simplest kitchen hack of ‘em all, trust your granny to know this by heart. Sample a bit before buying for some tartness or rub a little on your palm - purchase only if it leaves your hand greasy with tastes slightly sweet.
How To Spot Adulterated Vark
The Indian FDA states that the chandi or silver in the vark must be 99.9 percent pure if it is used as a food item. Of course, 99.9 percent purity is impossible to ask from miscreants looking only at profits during festivities.
Test: Aluminium coating - Look carefully at the mithai - pure vark will spread out smoothly on the surface. If it’s breaking, it’s shady. To confirm, rub a bit of the vark between your fingers. Silver is so fine that it will disintegrate but aluminium will roll up into a ball.
How To Spot Adulterated Ghee
Test: Animal fat in ghee - Add a little sugar and some hydrochrolic acid. If it turns crimson, it ain’t pure.
Always remember to buy sweets from reputed shops. And don’t hesitate to shoot an email to your local FDA if you suspect any substandard crappy stuff, and of course make noise on social media so others are warned too.
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