The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Food of goddess, far & wide
- JU and mithai store working towards Kalighat prasad for export

The Kalighat temple prasad is set to go places, thanks to researchers in Jadavpur University (JU), busy developing a technology to manufacture and package the peda and the sandesh.

Scientists of the university’s food technology department, who have already completed research on improving the quality of Bengali sweets like sandesh, rosogolla and mishti doi, are now trying to devise a method — “more hygienic than the traditional process” — to manufacture high-quality prasad and despatch it far and wide. According to plans, the prasad will be of “rich food value”, acceptable to “the health-conscious” Indian devotees abroad. The sweet offerings from the abode of the goddess will be sealed in special packets, also to be designed by the JU team.

Utpal Roy Choudhury, head of the food technology department, says the prasad project was undertaken at the behest of a sweet-manufacturing group, keen to export the special sandesh and pedas. “We found the proposal interesting because the prasad is very popular. Once we can ensure good-quality prasad, many people will be able to include at least a small healthy item into their daily food chart,” observes Roy Choudhury.

The study is “not just focussed” on the Kalighat prasad. “Our aim is to develop a technology for making good-quality prasad to be offered to the deities in all temples,” clarifies Roy Choudhury. “And a special technology is required if the prasad has to be kept fresh for a long time, enabling its export. Certain factors, like maintenance of quality of the ingredients, like chhana and kheer, are also being taken into consideration.”

Rajesh Gupta of Gupta Brothers started working on this idea after devotees of the Kalighat temple approached the mithai store “informally” with the proposal.

“We found the idea exciting, as there is a demand for prasad among Indians settled away from home. So we approached Jadavpur University’s food technology department and requested them to begin the study,” explained Gupta.

The project is still in the preliminary stages and no formal communication has transpired with the temple authorities. But if the project is given the go-ahead, Gupta plans to approach the temple for space on the temple premises, where the prasad can be made, to ensure “hygiene and quality” standards are maintained. Then, it will be offered to the Goddess.

Members of the Kalighat Temple Committee, however, said the matter was “sensitive” and a "final decision cannot be taken till all aspects have been discussed".

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