Maccas to ditch plastic straws by 2020

Julia Carlisle
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Australians will soon be slurping their McDonald’s thickshakes through paper straws after the company announced it would phase out plastic straws over the next two years.

Environmentalists say the move is a step in the right direction.

A trial of paper straws will start in August in two outlets, the fast-food giant announced on Wednesday, and the change will roll out to all 970 restaurants nationwide by 2020.

McDonald’s says the trial is part of a larger, long-term global effort to identify viable, sustainable alternatives to its single-use plastic straws.

“We know plastic straws is a topic our customers are passionate about and we will find a viable solution,” McDonald’s Australia supply chain director Robert Sexton said in a statement.

Greenpeace Australia applauded the decision.

“It’s wonderful McDonald’s is making a commitment to reducing consumption of single-use plastic and we look forward to seeing more detail around this proposal to see the overall impact,” Greenpeace spokesman Simon Black told AAP on Wednesday.

McDonald’s announcement follows Starbucks’ decision last week to eliminate plastic straws from all its store within two years, citing the environmental threat to oceans.

The Macdonald’s paper straws are the same as those it’s trialling in the United Kingdom, a spokeswoman told AAP.

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The growth of Australia’s organic market

Dominica Sanda
(Australian Associated Press)

 

ORGANICS ON THE RISE IN AUSTRALIA

* More than 35 million hectares (10 per cent) of all of Australia’s agricultural land is under certified organic management.

* Australia’s organic market is valued about $2.4 billion.

* Number of certified organic operators in Australia was about 4028 in 2017, a seven per cent increase on 2016.

* US, China, South Korea, Japan and Singapore are Australia’s top five export destinations for organics.

* Australia’s organic grocery market is valued about $1.1 billion.

* Additional 384,000 households bought organic foods in 2017 compared with 2016.

* Nearly half of all shoppers recognise the Australian Certified Organic logo.

* Two-thirds of those buying organic say they started for health reasons.

Data from the Australian Organic 2018 market report.

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Australian food going back to the future

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Fire up the DeLorean, it’s time to go to the greengrocer, butcher, baker and fishmonger on a virtual back-to-the-future shopping trip.

That’s the vision for the nation’s food consumption as outlined at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics’ Outlook conference in Canberra on Tuesday.

KPMG’s global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot believes people will increasingly revert to individual food suppliers which they’ll access through apps in the next 10 to 15 years.

“We’ll go back to the future where people will buy from a greengrocer, a baker, fishmonger and butcher – all the different suppliers – but they won’t physically go around to those shops,” Mr Proudfoot told the ABARES conference.

There’ll also be scope for people to look at where their food is produced up close, but not necessarily personally.

“We can put any consumer anywhere in the world in the centre of any farm using virtual reality,” Mr Proudfoot said.

While farmers are facing growing challenges from technologies which can manufacture food in petri dishes rather than paddocks, unprecedented opportunities to engage with customers are emerging.

Mr Proudfoot said machines which create beef from cell technology could one day sit alongside coffee makers on benchtops, as food trends compete into the future,

With a range of ethical, social and health concerns driving consumer choices, building trust between farmers and customers is becoming increasingly important.

“We need to go back to transparency and trust,” University of Adelaide associate professor Rachel Ankeny said.

Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, is also emerging as a tool for farmers, commodity buyers and consumers.

AgriDigital is a ledger using Blockchain which creates a tamper-proof record of transactions.

“The fact we can use Blockchain to do real-time exchange of currency as well as assets is quite transformative,” AgriDigital co-founder and chief executive Emma Weston said.

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Australian food going back to the future

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Fire up the DeLorean, it’s time to go to the greengrocer, butcher, baker and fishmonger on a virtual back-to-the-future shopping trip.

That’s the vision for the nation’s food consumption as outlined at the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics’ Outlook conference in Canberra on Tuesday.

KPMG’s global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot believes people will increasingly revert to individual food suppliers which they’ll access through apps in the next 10 to 15 years.

“We’ll go back to the future where people will buy from a greengrocer, a baker, fishmonger and butcher – all the different suppliers – but they won’t physically go around to those shops,” Mr Proudfoot told the ABARES conference.

There’ll also be scope for people to look at where their food is produced up close, but not necessarily personally.

“We can put any consumer anywhere in the world in the centre of any farm using virtual reality,” Mr Proudfoot said.

While farmers are facing growing challenges from technologies which can manufacture food in petri dishes rather than paddocks, unprecedented opportunities to engage with customers are emerging.

Mr Proudfoot said machines which create beef from cell technology could one day sit alongside coffee makers on benchtops, as food trends compete into the future,

With a range of ethical, social and health concerns driving consumer choices, building trust between farmers and customers is becoming increasingly important.

“We need to go back to transparency and trust,” University of Adelaide associate professor Rachel Ankeny said.

Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, is also emerging as a tool for farmers, commodity buyers and consumers.

AgriDigital is a ledger using Blockchain which creates a tamper-proof record of transactions.

“The fact we can use Blockchain to do real-time exchange of currency as well as assets is quite transformative,” AgriDigital co-founder and chief executive Emma Weston said.

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Australia leads the world in red meat

David Sigston
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Australians are world leaders when it comes to exporting, and eating, red meat.

An industry report released on Wednesday by the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) sheds light on the value of meat exports to the economy.

The State of the Industry 2017 report, the first of its kind, estimates the industry contributes upwards of $18 billion to the national GDP.

Australia was the largest exporter of beef in 2016, and the second largest exporter of sheepmeat, making it the third-largest livestock exporter overall.

What Australians don’t export, they eat.

The report said Australians consume four times the average amount of beef and six times the amount of sheep compared to the rest of the world.

RMAC independent chair Don Mackay said the industry is an essential part of the Australian economy and culture.

“No industry has a more important place in society than an industry that feeds its people and sustains and improves their way of life.”


AUSTRALIA’S RED MEAT BY THE NUMBERS

* $18bn to the GDP

* 405,000 direct and indirect jobs

* 3rd largest livestock exporter

* World’s largest exporter of beef

* Second largest exporter of sheepmeat

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New player on the world chocolate stage

Shae McDonald
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Vanuatu may not be known for its chocolate but the tiny island nation is about to become a significant player in the industry with a little help from its Australian neighbours.

Cocoa producers and the founder of the not-for-profit company behind the label Aelan are travelling to Paris this weekend for the International Cocoa Awards.

Two of its four varietals, named after the islands where the produce comes from, have been ranked in the top 50 samples in the world even though many of the farmers had not tasted chocolate before.

Aelan also won three silvers and a bronze medal at the recent New Zealand Chocolate Awards.

Founder Sandrine Wallez said the success of the product had been so rapid her concern now was that the small-scale business wouldn’t be able to keep up with supply.

“My worry is that we don’t have enough cocoa,” she told AAP.

“We need to train more people.”

The volcanologist launched Aelan in June 2016 as part of not-for-profit organisation Activ she established in 2008.

Ms Wallez sources the cocoa from about 150 farmers and produces about 12 tonnes of chocolate per year.

Oxfam wants to distribute the bars in its Australian stores from next year, while there has also been interest from New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Ms Wallez said to keep up with demand, the farmers needed to produce more beans, its humble production facility needed expansion and she had to source a warehouse in Australia to reduce the shipping costs from Vanuatu.

Ms Wallez said this would also lead to the farmers being paid more, which is what the whole venture was about.

“It’s generating more income to the Vanuatu economy,” she said.

“But it’s also a window of what can be done.”

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and University of Adelaide has been instrumental in making the Vanuatu chocolate story such a success.

ACIAR agribusiness research program manager Dr Rodd Dyer told AAP it had spent the past decade helping farmers make simple changes to improve quality and increase production.

The University of Adelaide also put Ms Wallez in touch with chocolate makers at Haigh’s Chocolates and Margaret River chocolatier Baden and Co, which have helped grow her business.

The venture is now working with Melbourne chocolate maker Matt Watt to come up with a range of new flavours that incorporate other local produce like ginger, turmeric and canarium nuts.

* The writer travelled to Vanuatu with the support of the Crawford Fund.

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New player on the world chocolate stage

Shae McDonald
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Vanuatu may not be known for its chocolate but the tiny island nation is about to become a significant player in the industry with a little help from its Australian neighbours.

Cocoa producers and the founder of the not-for-profit company behind the label Aelan are travelling to Paris this weekend for the International Cocoa Awards.

Two of its four varietals, named after the islands where the produce comes from, have been ranked in the top 50 samples in the world even though many of the farmers had not tasted chocolate before.

Aelan also won three silvers and a bronze medal at the recent New Zealand Chocolate Awards.

Founder Sandrine Wallez said the success of the product had been so rapid her concern now was that the small-scale business wouldn’t be able to keep up with supply.

“My worry is that we don’t have enough cocoa,” she told AAP.

“We need to train more people.”

The volcanologist launched Aelan in June 2016 as part of not-for-profit organisation Activ she established in 2008.

Ms Wallez sources the cocoa from about 150 farmers and produces about 12 tonnes of chocolate per year.

Oxfam wants to distribute the bars in its Australian stores from next year, while there has also been interest from New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Ms Wallez said to keep up with demand, the farmers needed to produce more beans, its humble production facility needed expansion and she had to source a warehouse in Australia to reduce the shipping costs from Vanuatu.

Ms Wallez said this would also lead to the farmers being paid more, which is what the whole venture was about.

“It’s generating more income to the Vanuatu economy,” she said.

“But it’s also a window of what can be done.”

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and University of Adelaide has been instrumental in making the Vanuatu chocolate story such a success.

ACIAR agribusiness research program manager Dr Rodd Dyer told AAP it had spent the past decade helping farmers make simple changes to improve quality and increase production.

The University of Adelaide also put Ms Wallez in touch with chocolate makers at Haigh’s Chocolates and Margaret River chocolatier Baden and Co, which have helped grow her business.

The venture is now working with Melbourne chocolate maker Matt Watt to come up with a range of new flavours that incorporate other local produce like ginger, turmeric and canarium nuts.

* The writer travelled to Vanuatu with the support of the Crawford Fund.

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Aldi takes more market share from Metcash

Petrina Berry
(Australian Associated Press)

 

German discounter Aldi is taking a bigger share of the $100 billion Australian supermarket sector as IGA and Foodland fall further behind, new figures show.

Industry market researcher IBISWorld has analysed the supermarkets’ latest revenue figures and has found IGA and Foodland supplier Metcash has lost more ground as Aldi continues to successfully expand into WA and SA.

IBISWorld’s latest report on the supermarket industry, released on Wednesday, says Metcash has a 7.5 per cent market share, while Aldi now has 8.6 per cent.

A year ago Metcash had a 7.2 per cent share and Aldi was at 7.9 per cent.

IBISWorld senior industry analyst Nathan Cloutman says while Metcash’s portion of the market has increased, it will continue to fall further behind Aldi.

“The collective revenue from Metcash-supplied supermarkets has declined in 2016/17 and is expected to decline in 2017/18,” Mr Cloutman said.

“Aldi is rapidly expanding in the industry, in particular the company’s move into WA and SA in 2016 has helped the company boost its market share recently.”

Mr Coultman said Coles was also feeling the pressure from an expanding Aldi and a more buoyant Woolworths during the 2017 financial year.

Woolworths continues to lead with 36.8 per cent of the market, while Coles has a 30.9 per cent share.

The report said Metcash’s attempts to increase revenue through advertising and discounting, including matching the prices of Coles and Woolworths on a core basket of goods, have had “minimal success.”

“The chain’s profit margins have declined over the past five years, as price discounting strategies have lowered profit margins across many of its stores,” IBISWorld said.

Competition is likely to further intensify after the German supermarket chain Kaufland confirmed it will expand into Australia, and on expectations Amazon’s pending arrival will eventually include its online supermarket business.

Other players in the sector include Costco, which has an estimated two per cent market share, Foodworks chain owner Australian United Retailers which accounts for 1.8 per cent and SPAR Australia with 1.5 per cent.

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We need to lead world on GM crops: senator

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

 

A new WA Liberal senator has used his first speech to parliament to call for Australia to become a world leader in genetically modified crops.

Senator Brockman said politicians should ensure the fear campaign, which demonises GM crops as dangerous and unproven, was not allowed to overwhelm the possibilities offered by the technology.

“Genetically modified crops have been demonstrated to be safe for human consumption and good for the environment,” Senator Brockman told parliament on Tuesday.

“Australia can and should lead the world in this field. We have the expertise; we have the funding.”

Senator Brockman, who was former chief of staff to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, filled the vacancy created by the retirement of Chris Back.

From a long line of farmers, Brockman wants new ways of driving private sector investment in rural and regional areas.

“We need the billions of dollars in Australian superannuation accounts to look beyond the cities and invest in rural and regional opportunities,” he said.

He said a percentage of research funding should be directed into reproducing scientific studies.

“If a study cannot be repeated, it cannot be trusted,” Senator Brockman said.

Before working for Senator Cormann, Senator Brockman was a policy director for the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA and a farm manager.

 

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Australian teens commonly skip breakfast

Sarah Wiedersehn
(Australian Associated Press)

 

It appears Australian children and adolescents commonly skip breakfast, raising concern among public health experts.

Analysis of the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity survey has found 13.2 per cent of the boys and 18.6 per cent of girls were breakfast skippers.

The unhealthy habit increased with age, from five per cent of boys and 11 per cent of girls aged 2-3 years, to 25 per cent of boys and 36 per cent of girls aged 14-17 years.

“Most breakfast skippers only skipped breakfast on one out of two days, suggesting that few Australian children and adolescents are going without breakfast every day and occasional skipping is more common,” wrote the authors of the study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Of those who did report eating breakfast, 36 out of the nearly 1600 surveyed only consumed a beverage for breakfast on one day, and five consumed only a beverage on both days.

Previous research has linked skipping breakfast with poor diet quality, higher BMI and poor cardiometabolic health.

One explanation for this is that skipping breakfast results in snacking on high energy foods.

“Our findings are consistent with a New Zealand study of 5-14-year-olds that reported breakfast skippers had higher intakes of unhealthy snack foods,” the authors wrote.

Not eating breakfast could also result in a child missing out on important nutrients, say the authors.

“Our results also support findings from an Australian study of 2-18-year-olds that reported those who skipped breakfast on two 24 hour recall days had significantly lower intakes of calcium and higher intakes of total fat than those who ate breakfast on at least one day.”

While more studies are needed, the researchers say interventions to increase breakfast consumption among skippers would be best targeted at adolescents, particularly girls.

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High carb diet worse than high fat: study

Sarah Wiedersehn
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Health experts have controversially called for an overhaul of dietary guidelines after a large international study found a diet high in carbohydrate is associated with greater risk of premature death, not a diet high in fat.

A study of more than 135,000 people from 18 countries, published in the respected medical journal The Lancet, found diets high in carbohydrates were associated with a 28 per cent higher risk of death, compared to low carbohydrate diets.

Diets with a high total fat intake were associated with a 23 per cent lower risk of death, compared to low fat.

“Total fat and types of fat were not associated with cardiovascular disease, myocardial infarction, or cardiovascular disease mortality, whereas saturated fat had an inverse association with stroke. Global dietary guidelines should be reconsidered in light of these findings,” the authors concluded.

The current guidelines recommend that 50-65 per cent of a person’s daily calories come from carbohydrates, and less than 10 per cent from saturated fats.

The study found the average global diet consisted of at least 60 per cent carbohydrate.

In light of the findings, lead author Dr Mahshid Dehghan at McMaster University, Canada would like the carbohydrate recommendation reduced.

“The current focus on promoting low-fat diets ignores the fact that most people’s diets in low and middle income countries are very high in carbohydrates, which seem to be linked to worse health outcomes,” Dr Dehghan said.

“A certain amount of carbohydrate is necessary to meet energy demands during physical activity and so moderate intakes, of around 50-55 per cent of energy, are likely to be more appropriate than either very high or very low carbohydrate intakes,” he added.

The study conclusions have received a mixed reaction from Australian health experts.

Dr Alan Barclay is a consultant dietitian and nutritionist and a Research Associate at the University of Sydney, and says it is an observational study which only shows associations, not proven causes.

“The conclusions of the paper are overstated, a major overhaul of existing dietary guidelines is not warranted based on this additional evidence,” said Dr Barclay.

Professor Amanda Lee – a senior advisor at The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre – says a major limitation of the study is that it does not mention what foods the macronutrients came from.

The experienced nutritionist suggests that it’s carbohydrate from added sugars and refined grains that is “problematic” and said the findings may not translate in Australia.

“The upper levels of intakes of carbohydrate reported in the study are much higher and the lower intakes of fats are very much lower than consumed here,” Prof Lee explained.

However, Professor John Funder at the Hudson Institute of Medical Research says what the study shows is that fats – saturated, mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated – are not the “no-no” most people have been brought up to believe.

“So go for dairy, olive oil and even the occasional wagyu beef burger, have lots of grains, fruit and vegetables, and lay off the sweet stuff – especially the empty calories in the 16 teaspoonfuls of trouble in sugar-sweetened soft drinks,” Prof Funder said.

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What you need to know about Vitamin C

Sarah Wiedersehn
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Vitamin C

* Most animals produce their own vitamin C but humans and other primates do not.

* Is found widely in fruits and vegetables, in Australia some 40 per cent comes from vegetables and 19 per cent from fruits

* Fruits containing Vitamin C include blackcurrants, guava, citrus, and kiwi fruit

* Vegetables with Vitamin C include broccoli and brussels sprouts

* The Australian bush food terminalia ferdinandiana is the richest source

* Cutting, bruising, heating and exposure to copper, iron or mildly alkaline conditions can destroy ascorbate

* It can also be leached into water during cooking
Recommended Daily Intake

Children

1-8 yr 35 mg/day

9-18 yr 40 mg/day

 

Adults

19-70 yr 45 mg/day

The Top Five Foods High in Vitamin C

1) Guava

2) Blackcurrant

3) Red capsicum

4) Chilli powder

5) Orange peel

(Source: National Health and Medical Research Council, Dietitians Association of Australia, Foodworks)

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Melb Winter Night Market breaks records

Caroline Schelle
(Australian Associated Press)

 

One of Melbourne’s iconic winter events has attracted more than 80,000 people in its first fortnight, smashing previous crowd records.

The weekly Winter Night Market held at the iconic Queen Victoria Market in the city’s CBD saw crowds more than double 2016 figures, with more than a million visitors expected by the end of the August.

The market has been running in the city for the past six years.

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Bring home memories of India in its dishes – two recipes for you

Toni Mason
(Australian Associated Press)

 

The one place I cannot resist when I’m in a new country is the local supermarket, and my recent trip to India was no different – although I did get some strange looks from puzzled locals.

That’s how I ended up with an idli steamer, idli being a savoury cake popular for breakfast throughout southern India.

I’m yet to use my idli steamer, and it could well be destined for the garage along with the other kitchen gadgets I’ve purchased in good faith, only to abandon months later (hello, breadmaker!).

But I still love to seek out the K-Mart or Big W equivalent in foreign lands for the thrill of the familiar next to the strange – tea-towels next to incense burners, or T-shirts cheek-by-jowl with wreaths of artificial flowers for Ganesh, Shiva or other house deities.

I once even forced my then-boyfriend to lug home a toilet roll holder from a shop in Italy, because it was so beautifully designed.

On the first morning of my trip to India, I’m delighted to be served idlis, when the luxurious Leela Palace Hotel in Begaluru lays on a typical south Indian breakfast for our group.

The soft bun-like bites are made from ground rice and ground chickpeas or lentils, fermented and flavoured with fenugreek seeds, and are used for mopping up the juices in the generally-vegetarian dishes that accompany them.

It’s the grinding and fermenting of the ingredients that’s so far held me up in the production of my own idlis, given that you’re supposed to grind the ingredients cold (a mechanical grinder will heat up and start to cook the rice and pulses).

The batter is generally prepared the night before, and is then cooked in the steamer, in little cups that remind me of an egg poacher my mother had when I was a child.

Once considered the staple of the southern states, idlis are now on offer throughout the subcontinent and are so prevalent that the purchase of the steamer (at a really reasonable 900 rupees, or about $A20) seemed to be the ideal not-a-souvenir to take home to Australia.

While they can be made at home, the majority of urban Indian households these days would eat them at a restaurant, and in Bengaluru our group visits one of the best places to sample them – the Mavalli Tiffin Rooms or MTR.

Jam-packed with locals who sit on benches in ante-rooms waiting to be called to their tables, the restaurant fails to offer a menu, rather bringing a range of its best-loved dishes to our table, including dosas (crispy pancakes), vadas (savoury doughnuts) and halwa (sweet rice studded with nuts).

The star of the show is the local coffee, made with evaporated milk and frothed by being poured from glass to glass by the dexterous waiter.

It’s piping hot and fragrant, rounding out the flavours from the brunch menu, which in south India is typically based on chilli, ginger, garlic, onion and tamarind, with a range of other spices including turmeric, coriander and cumin.

After shoving in as much as we can fit, we’re invited down a precariously-steep staircase for a look into the kitchens, where a host of barefoot men are performing feats of culinary artistry with scant regard for occupational health and safety.

Our guide from Unventured Tours explains to us that the restaurant was opened in 1924, when one of three brothers who’d left their small village on the coast to seek work as cooks in Bengaluru decided to corner the market in coffee and idlis for local workers.

MTR is now into its third generation and has restaurants as far afield as Singapore and Dubai, catering for the Indian diaspora, which begs the question: when are we likely to see a branch in Australia?

After we’re whisked round some of Bengaluru’s magnificent sights, including the historic Bengaluru Fort with its huge doorways to allow elephants to pass in and out, the Leela brings us back to the topic of Indian cuisine. We enjoy a short cooking course, where one of the hotel’s many excellent chefs shows us the different bases, known as sambals or chutneys, that are used to begin Indian dishes.

Fresh and dried ingredients are chopped, fried and stirred in various combinations at three cooking stations set up on the table in front of us, before meats or vegetables are added to the slowly-bubbling mixtures.

Some bases begin with coconut oil, others with ghee. Some are given a kick with crumbled, dried whole chillies, others with chilli powder and fresh green chillies. Still more are given flavour and texture with fresh tomato and chopped green beans, bought from the markets that morning. Some use plain water; others dal (cooked lentils), coconut milk or stock.

All of them offer a unique flavour platform that allows the added meats or vegetables to shine. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, a trip to India will surely leave you with a better appreciation for the wonderful spices that go into the country’s complex dishes.

But maybe leave the idli steamer on the shelf.


RECIPES

GARAM MASALA

Cinnamon 50g

Green cardamom 200g

Cloves 50g

Black cardamom 50g

Bay leaf 50g

Pipili (long pepper) 50g

Dry Red Rose 200g

Black pepper 50g

Cumin seeds 100g

Nutmeg 100g

Star Anaise 50g

Dry Ginger Whole 50g

Black Cumin 50g

Sandalwood powder 10g

Mace 150g

Method: Mix all the ingredients together and make a fine powder. Store in an airtight container.


GOSHT ROGAN JOSH

Diced lamb 1kg

Red onion sliced 200g

Tomato 150g

Turmeric powder 5g

Deggi Mirch chilli powder 50g (substitute 50g paprika and chilli powder to taste)

Coriander powder 30g

Cinnamon Stick 3g

Green Cardamom 3g

Cloves 3g

Bay leaf x 2

Ginger Garlic paste 50g

Refined oil 200ml

Salt 40g

Garam masala 20g

Method:

Heat refined oil , add cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, allow to crackle. Add the red onion, saute until golden brown. Add ginger garlic paste, cook well before adding lamb and browning. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and stir in well. Add chopped tomato and one cup of water, simmer till the meat is tender. Add salt and garam masala and simmer further for 5 to 8 minutes. Finish with chopped fresh coriander


IF YOU GO

GETTING THERE: Jet Airways flies daily to Bengaluru from Singapore, and Qantas flies direct daily to Singapore from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

STAYING THERE: : The Leela Palace Bangalore is a five-star independent hotel represented by Preferred Hotels and Resorts. It offers every luxury the traveller could imagine, with rooms from around $A325 per night. Ask the concierge about cooking classes, tours or anything your heart desires.

PLAYING THERE: Tours of Bengaluru with Unventured cost INR 2500 ($A55) and can be booked through their website at https://unventured.com/package/bengaluru-markets-pete-walk/ or similar tours can be arranged online from around $A60.

MTR (Mavalli Tiffin Rooms) can be found across Bengaluru but the oldest location is at 14 Lalbagh Road.

* The writer travelled as a guest of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, The Leela Palace in Bangalore, and Jet Airways in association with Qantas.

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Air travel’s growing hunger for good food

Sarah Motherwell
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Stomaching airline food is no longer a punchline with carriers stepping up their game to give passengers the best deal for their dollar.

But staying ahead in the increasingly competitive industry takes more than just serving food suitable to eat at 35,000 feet.

For Cathay Pacific’s head of catering Aaron Claxton, the key to success is seen in companies like Uber and Airbnb that let people decide what they want.

“You’ve got to feel you’re in control as a passenger,” Claxton said.

“Most airlines will offer two or three options. In our menu we have more than a dozen different options.

“You can’t satisfy 350 people on an aeroplane and expect everyone to eat the same thing at the same time.”

Claxton said he did not think there would be much change in the way travellers eat food over time, although preferences are refining.

He said people were more demanding as they improved their education about what they ate.

“The old adage of chicken or beef or whatever – that’s gone now. People want to know what is it you’re giving me to eat,” he said.

“Menu cards need to be descriptive, people want to know what the source of origin is, are you considering sustainability.”

If you fly Cathay via its main hub, Hong Kong, your breakfast, lunch and dinner will have been prepared at the Cathay Pacific Catering Services.

This impressive kitchen spanning 13 football fields makes an average 83,000 meals a day for about 200 passenger and cargo flights.

Its omelette station alone fries up to 8000 dishes a day.

While technology is helping boost production on the ground, it’s also helping better the experience for tastebuds in the air.

“People know food in the air tastes different but they always compare it to what you can do on the ground,” Claxton said.

He said the lower cabin pressure in Cathay’s new quieter A350, which flies Melbourne to Hong Kong direct, changed a traveller’s taste.

Cathay has also designed its own Betsy Beer to be drunk at 35,000ft, also available at the airline’s Hong Kong lounges.

Hand-crafted by the Hong Kong Beer Co, Betsy is a fruity brew on the ground crisp enough to sway even the non-beer drinkers.

Claxton said new opportunities to cook and plate first-class meals on board also made it possible to serve travellers customised fresh food.

“There are technologies that actually bring it closer to what you can do on the ground,” he said.

But even with the future fast approaching, it’s really as simple as serving good food.

“You switch on your TV now and it’s just celebrity chefs everywhere. Thirty years ago it was a middle aged housewife,” he said.

“It’s completely different but ultimately what they’re delivering on a plate is the same.

“It’s well cook food that looks great. I think that will always be there.”

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