Soy Sauce Saga: Unveiling the Healthiest Pick!

Soy Sauce Saga: Unveiling the Healthiest Pick!

Soy Sauce Saga: Unveiling the Healthiest Pick!

Soy sauce, a dark liquid with a salty, savoury taste, has surprisingly become a staple in many Indian households. Though not traditionally used in Indian cuisine, it adds a depth of flavour to familiar dishes, particularly when preparing Chinese-inspired treats like noodles, fried rice, or Manchurian delights, and other recipes such as barbecued foods. However, is soy sauce truly the healthy addition it seems? While often praised for its potential health benefits, there’s more to this condiment than meets the eye. Many people are unaware that the thickness and colour of soy sauce are a fascinating window into its age, revealing a world of hidden complexity beneath its seemingly simple surface. In this article, we will explore soy sauce, how it is prepared, the factors impacting its healthiness, and equip you with the knowledge to choose the best option for your taste buds and health.

                                                                                                                       Richa Pande

Origins of Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is believed to be one of the oldest seasonings that humans have been using. Its origin can be traced back to prehistoric times when it was likely used to preserve food and prevent spoilage. In the sixth century, when Buddhism was introduced to Japan from China, a new vegetarian seasoning was also introduced. This paste was made from fermented beans and is considered to be the earliest version of soy sauce, replacing the previous preparation that involved fermentation with fish in Japan. During the 14th century, Japan developed its distinct culture and soy sauce underwent significant advancements, resulting in a seasoning that had an ideal balance of major flavour-enhancing proteins, amino acids, sugars, and alcohol. Back in the 1600s, the Dutch and Japanese brought it over to Europe through trading.


How is it made?

There are two different methods used to prepare soy sauce. One involves fermentation with microorganisms, while the other uses chemicals to break down the ingredients. However, the chemical method is not considered traditional or authentic, and the resulting product is believed to be of lower quality.

The traditional method of making soy sauce is a meticulous and slow process that requires patience and expertise. It involves four main ingredients – soybeans, wheat/barley, salt, and koji, which is a mold (Aspergillus oryzae). The soybeans are soaked and cooked, while the wheat is roasted and crushed. Then, the mixture is inoculated with koji spores to start the fermentation process, which can last for months or even years. During fermentation, the koji breaks down proteins and starches into umami-rich compounds. The mixture, known as moromi, is stirred regularly and the temperature is carefully controlled. After fermentation, the moromi is pressed to extract the liquid soy sauce. This can be done using traditional wooden presses or modern equipment. The raw soy sauce is then filtered, pasteurized, and sometimes further aged to develop deeper flavours. However, modern methods prioritize faster production and often involve hydrolysis, where soybeans are treated with acid or enzymes to speed up the umami development. Additives such as colour, flavourings, and preservatives are also frequently added to mimic the taste and texture of traditionally fermented soy sauce. Apart from the production process, ageing plays a crucial role in the character of soy sauce. Soy sauces that are aged traditionally, such as Japanese tamari, are darker, thicker, and have more complex flavours due to extended fermentation. Conversely, modern methods often prioritize speed, resulting in lighter, thinner products. Additionally, the modern process produces some undesirable compounds that are not present in naturally fermented soy sauce, including some carcinogens. They can also have monosodium glutamate added to them for flavour enhancement and may contain high levels of sodium due to their high added salt content.

FSSAI’s Specifications for Soy Sauce

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) plays a crucial role in ensuring public health by enforcing strict regulations for various food products, including soybean sauce. These regulations are designed to ensure consistency, quality, and safety for consumers across the country. A compliant soybean sauce must contain wholesome soybeans with completely deactivated trypsin inhibitors to ensure proper digestion. Salt and nutritive sweeteners are the foundation of the sauce, while spices and condiments are allowed to add depth and complexity to its flavour. Preservatives may be used to ensure extended shelf life and product stability, but only those approved by the FSSAI. Specific food additives may also be incorporated to enhance certain properties of the final product. The FSSAI’s regulations prioritize microbial safety and require adherence to stringent standards to ensure a shelf-stable product suitable for consumption. Apart from ensuring safety, specific characteristics define high-quality soybean sauce, such as a concentrated and flavourful product with a tangy taste and at least 1.0% total nitrogen content. Proper packaging is also mandated to preserve the product’s integrity and quality, with containers required to be well-filled and occupying at least 90% of their water capacity.

Check the labels!

While picking soy sauce from the market, one must be careful. Opt for traditionally prepared pasteurised soy sauces. They might be expensive but are better for health and taste better. Traditionally prepared gluten-free alternatives are also available in the market. If you are choosing chemically processed soy sauces, make sure you pick a brand that has low sodium content, and no added monosodium glutamate. It can be labelled as E621 on the back. Also, from the ingredient list, you can check the amount of soy in the sauce. If you plan to prepare recipes for children, pick a soy sauce that doesn’t contain Disodium inosinate i.e. E631. Pick the brand with more soy content than salt and sugar in the product. People with gluten intolerance can check if wheat/ barley was used in the preparation of this soy sauce. If wheat or barley is mentioned in the ingredient list, gluten-sensitive people must avoid it. Always prefer soy sauce packed in glass bottles over the ones packed in plastic bottles.



Brand 1- Ingredient List Glass Packaging

Brand 2- Ingredient List Glass Packaging

Brand 3- Ingredient List Glass Packaging

Brand 4- Ingredient List Glass Packaging

Brand 5- Ingredient List Glass Packaging

Brand 6- Ingredient List. Available in both Plastic and Glass Packaging

Brand 7- Ingredient List Glass Packaging

Brand 8- Ingredient List glass Packaging

Soy sauce, when left unopened, can retain its quality for a span of 2 to 3 years. However, upon exposure to air, its flavour begins to diminish. Once the bottle is opened, it’s crucial to store it properly to maintain its optimal taste. Refrigeration is key in preserving the freshness and flavour of soy sauce after opening. By keeping it chilled, you can extend its shelf life and ensure each use delivers the rich, savoury taste it’s known for.

Sabudana Unveiled: The Tapioca Tale and Beyond

Sabudana Unveiled: The Tapioca Tale and Beyond

Sabudana Unveiled: The Tapioca Tale and Beyond

Sabudana holds a special place in the hearts and traditions of millions. These small, translucent globules have become synonymous with fasting seasons in India, particularly during religious festivals like Navratri, Shivaratri, Ekadashi, and Saawan season. During these periods of abstinence from certain foods, sabudana emerges as a dietary staple, offering sustenance and culinary delight. In this article, we will discuss the origins of sabudana, its nutrient profile, and some labelling and handling tips that can enable informed food choices.

By Richa Pande

It is crucial to recognize that despite the common reference of sabudana as ‘sago’, sabudana is not the same as sago pearls. Sago pearls are derived from the Sago Palm Tree, while the sabudana we consume is made from Tapioca Tubers. In various countries like Australia, Brazil, and India, tapioca pearls made from cassava and cassava roots are also referred to as sago, sagu, or sabudana, but they are not obtained from the sago palm tree. Tapioca pearls and sago pearls differ from each other, even though both are starchy in nature. Sago is a starch obtained from the pith of the tropical palm tree known as the sago palm tree. On the other hand, tapioca pearls are made from the starchy part of the cassava roots, a starchy tuber plant originally found in South America but now grown worldwide in tropical regions. The consumption of ‘Tapioca Pearls’ in Kerala, India, is believed to have been popularized by the royal family of Travancore during the colonial era as a response to famine. The tapioca was extensively washed, and over time, this processing technique led to the creation of sabudana. The extraction process of sabudana involves harvesting the starchy parts of the plants, chopping, pounding, and thorough washing to separate the starch granules from the fibrous residue. After washing, the starch is left to settle, and excess water is drained off. The wet starch is then further processed to remove impurities and obtain the fine, pearl-like granules, which are eventually dried, packaged, and sold. Sago pearls are usually white, while tapioca pearls come in a variety of colours. Tapioca balls are sometimes bleached to achieve a white appearance.

Sabudana is a naturally gluten-free food, making it an excellent option for individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. With approximately 330-350 calories per 100 grams, sago is mainly derived from carbohydrates, and offers minimal protein and fat content, with less than 1 gram of each. As Sabudana is rich in carbohydrates, it serves as a quick source of energy. It is particularly beneficial for individuals who need easily digestible foods, such as those recovering from illness or experiencing digestive issues. It contains approximately 11% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for zinc per 100 grams.

Sabudana is a versatile ingredient that can be used to prepare a variety of delicious dishes. Here are some popular recipes made from sabudana:

  • Sabudana Khichdi:A classic and popular Indian dish made with soaked sabudana, peanuts, potatoes, and spices. It is a common fasting food and can be enjoyed for breakfast or as a light meal.
  • Sabudana Vada:These crispy and flavourful fritters are made from soaked sabudana, mashed potatoes, peanuts, and spices. They are deep-fried to perfection and served with chutney or yogurt.
  • Sabudana Kheer:A delightful dessert made by simmering soaked sabudana in milk with sugar and cardamom. Garnished with nuts, it’s a perfect sweet treat.

Labelling Tips

  • Consumer awareness on sabudana labelling starts with checking the ingredient list on the packaging. Look for products that have a simple and clear ingredient list, preferably with minimal additives or preservatives. Ensure that the primary ingredient is “Tapioca “. Avoid items that have ambiguous terms or generic descriptions like “starch” or “pearls” without specifying the source. Additionally, be cautious about any allergens or potential cross-contamination mentioned on the label to ensure the product is safe for consumption if you have a food allergy. Being diligent about ingredient scrutiny empowers consumers to make healthier and more informed choices when selecting sabudana products. When consuming sabudana during fasts, ensure that the label does not include any allergy warnings about the product being processed in machinery used for cereal products like wheat.
  • When checking the label, also look for terms like “unbleached sabudana.”
  • Look for quality mark logos such as Agmark, or ISI (Indian Standards Institute), which indicates that the product complies with specific quality and safety standards. These logos provide reassurance about the product’s authenticity and adherence to regulatory guidelines. By incorporating these two practices, consumers can make well-informed choices, ensuring both the quality and safety of the sabudana they purchase.

Handling Tips

Proper storage and handling of sabudana are essential to maintain its quality and prevent spoilage. Here are some storage and handling tips for sabudana:

  • Store in a Cool, Dry Place:Keep sabudana in an airtight container in a cool and dry area, away from direct sunlight and moisture. Excess humidity can cause the pearls to stick together or become mouldy.
  • Protect from Pests:Ensure the storage container is tightly sealed to prevent pests and insects from contaminating the sabudana.
  • Check for Expiry Date:Always check the expiry date on the packaging before purchasing. Use the oldest stock first to maintain freshness.
  • Wash Before Use:Before using sabudana in any recipe, wash it thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear. This helps remove excess starch and ensures the pearls do not clump together during cooking.
  • Soak Properly:If the recipe requires soaking sabudana, use an adequate amount of water, usually 2 to 3 times the volume of sabudana, and soak it for the recommended time to achieve the desired texture.
Unravelling the Secrets of Ghee

Unravelling the Secrets of Ghee

Unravelling the Secrets of Ghee

With a fascinating history that spans through the ages, ghee goes beyond a mere addition to our plates—it demands our attention as discerning consumers. In this article, we will uncover its ancient origins, explore the diverse range of types available, and delve into the unique nutritive compositions that set them apart. Along the way, we will carefully evaluate the pros and cons of incorporating ghee into our diets, unveiling its potential health benefits and important considerations to keep in mind. Get ready to embark on a journey that will deepen your appreciation for this culinary gem, as we unravel the remarkable world of ghee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Richa Pande

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been used for centuries in traditional cooking and healing practices. It is made by simmering butter to separate the milk solids and water, leaving behind a golden, pure fat with a rich, nutty flavour. Ghee is highly regarded for its high smoke point, which makes it ideal for high-temperature cooking. It is also known for its potential health benefits, such as being a source of some essential vitamins, aiding digestion, and potentially possessing anti-inflammatory properties.

Ghee has a fascinating history that spans centuries and traverses different cultures. Its origins can be traced back to ancient times, with early references found in Indian Ayurvedic texts dating back over 5,000 years. Ghee holds a prominent place in Ayurvedic medicine and Indian culinary traditions. It was revered as a sacred substance and was used for various rituals, as well as for its healing properties. Ghee’s popularity spread to neighbouring regions and cultures, including the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Over time, ghee became an integral part of many cuisines worldwide, celebrated for its flavour, shelf stability, and versatility. Its rich history and cultural significance have cemented ghee as a timeless ingredient, treasured for its culinary and holistic attributes.

Ghee is a versatile ingredient that offers a multitude of benefits. It serves as a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins which contribute to maintaining healthy skin, supporting immune function, and promoting good gut health. With its high smoke point, ghee can withstand high cooking temperatures without breaking down or producing harmful compounds, preserving its nutritional properties and imparting a delicious flavour to dishes. In Ayurvedic medicine, ghee has been used for its digestive benefits, stimulating the secretion of stomach acids and aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Its lubricating properties may also provide relief from constipation and promote regular bowel movements. Ghee contains butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid known for its potential anti-inflammatory properties. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases, as well as the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids present in ghee. Furthermore, ghee is lactose-free and shelf-stable, making it suitable for those with lactose intolerance and offering a longer shelf life compared to butter. Last but not least, ghee adds a delightful, nutty flavour to both sweet and savoury recipes, enhancing the overall culinary experience with its unique aroma and taste.

Buffalo Ghee

Buffalo ghee is a type of clarified butter that is derived from the milk of buffaloes. It is highly regarded in various culinary traditions, particularly in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Buffalo ghee has distinct characteristics that set it apart from other types of ghee. Buffalo ghee is known for its rich and intense flavour profile. It has a strong, slightly tangy taste that adds depth and complexity to dishes. The aroma of buffalo ghee is robust and distinctive, often described as earthy and nutty. In terms of its nutritional composition, buffalo ghee is a source of fat-soluble vitamins. It contains higher levels of fat compared to other types of ghee, making it a dense and energy-rich ingredient.

Cow Ghee

Cow ghee is a type of clarified butter made from cow’s milk. It holds a prominent place in various culinary traditions, particularly in South Asia. Cow ghee is widely valued for its unique flavour, rich aroma, and numerous potential health benefits. To make cow ghee, butter is traditionally prepared from cow’s milk, which is then heated and simmered to remove the water content and separate the milk solids. The resulting golden liquid is strained, leaving behind pure cow ghee. One of the distinct characteristics of cow ghee is its mild and subtle flavour profile. It has a delicate, buttery taste with a hint of nuttiness. This makes it a versatile ingredient that can enhance the flavours of both sweet and savoury dishes.

Bilona Ghee

Bilona ghee is a traditional and artisanal form of ghee-making that has been practiced for centuries. It involves a meticulous process where curd made from whole milk or cream is hand-churned using a wooden churner or bilona. The manual stirring or whisking of the curd helps separate the butterfat from the buttermilk. The separated butter is then slow-cooked over a low flame, allowing the milk solids to caramelize and settle at the bottom. This slow-cooking process imparts a distinct aroma, rich flavour, and golden colour to the ghee. Bilona ghee is highly regarded for its superior taste, nutritional benefits, and the traditional craftsmanship involved in its production. It is cherished for its purity, quality, and the traditional touch it adds to dishes. The labour-intensive and time-consuming nature of bilona ghee-making makes it a revered and sought-after product, appreciated by those who value the authentic and artisanal approach to ghee production.

Grass-fed Ghee

Grass-fed ghee is a type of ghee made from the milk of cows that are raised on a natural diet of grass and pasture. Unlike cows that are fed grains or confined to feedlots, grass-fed cows produce milk that is rich in essential nutrients and beneficial compounds. One notable advantage of grass-fed ghee is its higher content of vitamin K2, a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in bone health, cardiovascular health, and proper calcium metabolism. Vitamin K2 is found in greater quantities in the milk and butterfat of cows that graze on fresh, green grass. By consuming grass-fed ghee, individuals can potentially increase their intake of vitamin K2, which is known to have important health benefits. Grass-fed ghee not only offers the traditional qualities of ghee, such as a high smoke point and rich flavour, but also provides an additional nutritional advantage through its naturally occurring vitamin K2 content.

A2 Ghee

A2 ghee is often marketed as a healthier alternative to regular ghee, claiming to be made from the milk of cows that produce A2 type beta-casein protein. However, the notion that A2 ghee is superior is largely a misleading marketing strategy that preys on consumer concerns. Firstly, ghee, by its very nature, is clarified butter where the milk solids, including proteins, are removed during the manufacturing process. This means that ghee, regardless of the type of milk used, contains negligible to no protein content. Therefore, claims about A2 protein in A2 ghee are baseless. Furthermore, the exaggerated prices of A2 ghee compared to regular ghee only add insult to injury. Consumers end up paying more money for a product that offers no significant nutritional advantage or health benefits.

Herbs and Spice Induced Ghee

Adding herbs and spices to ghee is a popular practice that enhances both the flavour and potential health benefits of this versatile ingredient. Turmeric ghee combines the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric with the nutritional richness of ghee. Brahmi ghee may support cognitive function and memory. Garlic ghee infuses the distinct flavour and potential immune-boosting properties of garlic. Shatavari ghee is believed to promote hormonal balance and female reproductive health. Ashwagandha ghee is known for its adaptogenic properties, potentially reducing stress and promoting overall well-being. Incorporating these herbal-infused ghee variations into your diet can be a flavourful and convenient way to enjoy their potential health benefits.

Smart Consumer Practices: Tips for Buying and Handling Ghee

When purchasing, handling, and consuming ghee, there are several important tips that consumers should keep in mind to ensure they make the best choices and derive maximum benefit from this versatile ingredient. Here are some essential consumer tips:

Quality and Purity

 Look for ghee that is made from high-quality ingredients, preferably sourced from organic, grass-fed, or pasture-raised cows. Check for certifications or quality seals to ensure the authenticity and purity of the product.

  • AGMARK Certification:AGMARK is a quality certification mark issued by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). It verifies the quality and purity of ghee products according to specific standards, including fat content, acidity, and sensory parameters.
  • ISO Certification: Ghee manufacturers can obtain ISO certification, which demonstrates compliance with international quality management system standards. ISO certifications such as ISO 22000 or ISO 9001 indicate that the production processes, quality control, and food safety measures are well-established and maintained.
  • Organic Certification:Organic ghee can be certified by organizations such as the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) or the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). Organic certification ensures that the ghee is made from organic milk obtained from cows raised without the use of synthetic chemicals, hormones, or antibiotics. 


Choose ghee that comes in airtight, light-proof containers to preserve its freshness and prevent oxidation. Glass jars or tin containers are preferred over plastic containers, as they are less likely to interact with the ghee.


Store ghee in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Refrigeration is not necessary, as ghee has a long shelf life due to its low moisture content. However, if you live in a hot climate, refrigeration can help maintain its quality.


Use clean, dry utensils to scoop or measure ghee. Avoid introducing moisture or contaminants into the container to prevent spoilage.

Cooking Temperatures

Ghee has a high smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods such as sautéing, frying, and roasting. However, avoid overheating or burning ghee, as it can lead to the formation of harmful compounds. Use medium to low heat for longer cooking durations.

Portion Control

Ghee is calorie-dense, so it is important to consume it in moderation. Consider your dietary requirements and consult a healthcare professional if you have specific health concerns.

Always Read Food Labels

Reading labels empowers consumers to be aware of the nutritional content of products and make conscious decisions that positively impact their health and well-being. Consumers must be vigilant and prioritize reading food labels, specifically comparing the values of saturated fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA).Pick a brand with lesser saturated fats and more PUFA content.


The Worst Food Additives for Children

The Worst Food Additives for Children

Food additives such as colourings, preservatives, chemicals in food packaging, and so on can have a negative impact on children and cause issues such as hyperactivity and disruptive behaviour. This is due to children’s lower body weight than adults, which serves as a reference point in determining the permissible limits of food additives. In order to restrict your child’s exposure to certain food additives, we have developed a list of these additives, foods that typically contain them, and how to recognise them.

Richa Pande

Food additives are used to keep food fresh, prevent spoilage, and improve its flavour, texture, and appearance. However, some evidence suggests that these additives may have a negative impact on health, particularly in children and the elderly. Similarly, chemicals found in some food packaging could be hazardous to their health. Thus, it is important to educate ourselves about these additives and chemicals and take measures to reduce our exposure to them.

Common Food Additives that can be harmful for kids

Artificial food colours

Food colours are used to enhance the appearance of food products. However, there have been numerous concerns raised in recent years about potential health consequences. According to certain research, food colours such as Blue 1, Red 40, Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 can induce allergic reactions in some people. Many food colours have been related to hyperactivity in children, however another study suggests that this may be due to some children being more sensitive than others. It has also been proven that if children diagnosed with ADHD cut synthetic food colours from their diet, they show decreased ADHD symptoms.


Some food preservatives are also linked with causing hyperactivity in children. A recent study indicates Sodium Benzoate, a preservative commonly used to preserve fruit pulp and purees, jams, pickles, margarine, olives, fruit yogurts, canned vegetables, and salads, etc. can also cause hyperactivity in children.

Always go through the ingredient list in the food labels, and avoid picking the products for your children that have these food additives

  • INS 102 or Tartrazine
  • INS 104 or Quinoline Yellow
  • INS 107 or Yellow 2G
  • INS 110 or Sunset Yellow
  • INS 122 or Azorubine
  • INS 124 or Ponceau Red
  • INS 127 or Erythrosine
  • INS 128 or Red 2G
  • INS 129 or Allura Red
  • INS 132 Indigotine
  • INS 133 Brilliant Blue
  • INS 142 Green S
  • INS 151 Brilliant Black
  • INS 200-203 sorbates 
  • INS 210-213 benzoates 
  • INS 220-228 sulphites 
  • INS 280-283 propionates 

Nitrates / nitrites

They are commonly used in cured and processed meats as a food preservative and to enhance the meat colour. It has been found that they can interfere with thyroid hormone production and the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen in the body. They have also been linked with gastrointestinal and nervous system cancers.


It is an artificial sweetener present in several sugar-free beverages and some vitamin supplements. It has been found to have negative consequences on the child’s neurological development and to cause increased frequency of mood disorders and frequent headaches.

Antioxidants like BHA and BHT 

They are commonly present in butter/oil blends, edible oils (may not be listed on packaging), milk powder, chewing gums, etc. and they can cause symptoms like dermatitis, fatigue, aggressive behaviour, insomnia, and headaches in children.

How to avoid these food additives?

It is crucial to note that these food colours are mostly present in ultra-processed foods, and their consumption in a balanced diet should be limited regardless. Always choose whole foods because they include more key nutrients and are naturally free of food colouring.

Chemicals found in Food Packaging that are harmful for kids 

  • Bisphenols A (BPA) – They are found in the lining of food cans, soda cans, plastic food ware with the number 3 or 7, etc. They can act like the hormone oestrogen and interfere with puberty and fertility. Bisphenols can also increase body fat, and cause problems with the immune and nervous system. 
  • Perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs) – They are commonly found in cardboard food packaging, microwave popcorn bags, wax pastry bags, and commercial household products such as non-stick pans.

How to avoid exposure to chemicals in food packaging?

Avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic containers. Avoid preparing infant formulas, and storing pumped human milk, in plastic containers whenever possible. Use glass or stainless steel cookware. Avoid plastics with recycling codes 3, 6, and 7.

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