Now you can relish a traditional seasonal corn dish of Himachal Pradesh throughout the year!
The experts from the Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Nauni in Solan district have evolved a technique to make available the frozen ready-to-cook dish locally known as 'Kachol' or 'Kacholtu' that too without adding preservatives.
Solan-based entrepreneur Preeti Kashyap with the technical guidance of the university has launched it. She joined the university in 2019 in the Department of Food Science and Technology for a one-year diploma programme in fruit and vegetable processing and bakery products.
While pursuing her studies, she took up her idea with the Chief Minister Start-Up Scheme of the state. On approval, she was allotted the Department of Food Science and Technology as her incubator to refine her idea and develop it into a marketable product.
Scientists led by Devina Vaidya, comprising Manisha Kaushal and Anil Gupta, provided the input in the product development, the university said in a statement.
Preeti got the idea after seeing her grandmother preparing the traditional dish.
As the availability of the raw material was limited only to a few months, the product could only be made for fresh consumption.
The dish is prepared from fresh corn mixture, which was often is steamed on tree leaves and served with ghee.
She did extensive testing to increase the shelf life of the product as earlier it was only available during the availability of corn.
She said the university scientists helped her solve the problem of binding and extending the shelf life to nine months as frozen food and that too without the use of any preservative or external flavours.
Besides, several tests, including moisture and sensory tests, have been undertaken to increase the quality of the final product.
"It is very encouraging to see young entrepreneurs coming ahead to popularise traditional food items so that more and more people get to taste them," Vice-Chancellor Parvinder Kaushal said.
He said that the university is encouraging students to take up entrepreneurship in the argi-horticulture and allied disciplines where they can utilise the knowledge gained at the university to transform people's lives through their innovative products.
Manoj Vaidya, nodal officer of the university's incubation centre, said since the inception in 2017-18 the university has enrolled eight incubates.
Two incubatees have managed to launch their product and set up their startup while the prototypes of three incubatees are in the final testing phase.
The startup scheme of the state government envisages practical exposure, orientation training, entrepreneurial guidance and handholding to potential entrepreneurs whose projects are approved.
Once a project is recommended by the host institution and approved by the empowered committee, monthly support is provided as a sustenance allowance for one year.
The Centres support startups and innovation by providing mentoring services, access to their labs and other facilities on a free-of-cost basis.
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