I finally laid my hands on Nestle's Probiotic dahi. You know, the one with 100 crore friendly bacteria which will help my digestion.
Noble cause, but I'm afraid you can only digest what you swallow and I could take no more than 3 spoons of the stuff. It looked strange. It tasted strange. Ordinary dahi will do just fine, thank you.
Whatever Nestle might believe, I don't think we are ready for biologically enhanced curds... yet. Heck, we aren't even fully ready to embrace bazaar ka dahi!
I mean for centuries now, we Indians have been dutifully culturing our curds. No doubt we noticed the tetrapacked variety in foreign supermarkets and enjoyed them. But that's yogurt.
Dahi is different. Dahi is roz ka khana and that's something you take for granted. It's the stuff you expect, by constitutional right, in your humble kitchen. Must you really pay for it?
Well, yes, say the companies. And commerce creeps in to every crevice of the Average Indian Home. The market for bazaar ka dahi is estimated to be 40-50,000 tonnes. Which sounds like a lot but is still a tiny, tiny drop in the ocean of dahi we consume on a daily basis. But of course, with time, that will change.
Proposition 1: Convenience over careful planning
Thought dahi jamaana was easy? It's a fine art! Kam samay rakho, dheela reh jaata hai. Zyaada samay rakho, khatta ho jaata hai. The stuff our moms did without us ever knowing - I tell you!
Proposition 2: What's the price?
This is where the slip up lies. I wouldn't mind picking up dahi every two days, along with my loaf of bread. But at Rs 15 for 400 gms most bazaar ke dahi are priced on the high side. An entire litre of cow milk costs Rs 19-20, so in effect you are paying a 100% premium for your baahar wala dahi.
And while price may not matter to yuppie couples and singles who are simply grateful that such a convenience exists, your average housewife will slot bazaar ka dahi into the 'rainy day category'. Something to buy only during emergencies.
But the even bigger block is this: the bazaar ka dahi does not 'taste the same'. At times, it's good. But often it's not. The consistency, the texture, the smell, the taste - it is just not uniform. Of course, it's the same story with ghar ka dahi. But hey, when you pay for it, and it's slightly sour or a little bit watery - heaven help. Humko nahin chalega!
And that, ultimately, is the problem with this probiotic thingy. The dahi we sampled was a bit 'loose'. And whether imagined or otherwise, it tasted 'different'.
As much as we all care about health, I think most consumers believe dahi is healthy in any case... So why bother to go probiotic? Unless you have a specific problem such as lactose intolerance.
Meanwhile, companies plod on. Trying to convert us to a commercially produced 'just like home experience'. Here's another other example:
Krd Rys : pre packed South Indian style curd rice or thayir sadam. This is the world's first 'branded curd rice offering' from Hatsun Agro. Currently available in Tamil Nadu.
Methinks the average curd rice eater is a bit of a finicky eater so it's gonna be an uphill journey. Unless the taste and freshness exceeds expectations...
Might do better as a 'snack offering' in the ignorant-about-the-real-taste north Indian market!
P.S. Just realised I'm writing about dahi just on the day when there are dahi handis being broken all over Mumbai. Divine coincidence :)