The recipe for success can often include unexpected ingredients. Sirish Davuluri couldn’t have imagined that his engineering background in computer science followed by a business degree from Cornell University would have led to a new fermented food product with the potential for a globally reaching company named New Origin Foods. But, throw in a pregnant wife’s craving for a taste of home, the puzzle of figuring out how to re-create idli batter with the addition of nutritious vegetable purees, and a Mother’s Day brunch where friends couldn’t get enough of the spongy fermented cakes, and an idea was born.
An Indian specialty, idlis are steamed cakes about three inches in diameter with a soft sponge-like texture similar to a crumpet. The batter is made from organic rice and dal beans pounded with a stone grinder. The batter ferments much like a sourdough starter, giving it a tangy taste. Davuluri notes that traditionally the batter consists of more rice than beans, but he wanted to incorporate more protein into his version, experimenting with various bean-to-rice ratios until he was satisfied with the overall product. He then decided to add in organic vegetable purees including carrots, beets, and greens for additional nutrition and flavor.
Davuluri began selling his batter at local farmers markets, demonstrating how to use it to make idlis, crepes, waffles, and pancakes. Customers joined in the experimentation, utilizing the batter in ways Davuluri hadn’t imagined (like in muffins, for example). Beginning early this year, New Origin Food certified organic “100 percent Ready-to-Cook Batter” will be available at local grocers and health food stores. neworiginfoods.com