Deepa M on how she began making healthier alternatives to baby food, as well as noodles and sevai, with millets
It was the task of finding appropriate baby food for her son that set Deepa M on the entrepreneurial path. Armed with a post-graduate degree in Food and Nutrition from Chennai’s Women’s Christian College, she studied the nutrition labels of various brands but found them “loaded with preservatives,” she rolls her eyes. “So I decided to make my own.”
The pause after this statement is filled with the background noise of chatter and vehicular movement, as we sit in the forecourt of Prozone Mall. Wasn’t that a rather rash idea, I ask hesitantly. “Not really. It was only a question of applying what I had learnt in college.” This happened back in 2013 and, since her classmates also worked as nutritionists, Deepa got them to approve her samples and finally zeroed in on what is now called Some More Complete Health Mix. “I would make around five kilos because neighbours, friends and relatives also bought it from me.”
This health mix is made of millets, red rice, pulses and legumes and dry fruits, with all ingredients being from organic farms in Tamil Nadu. The millets are sourced in Theni, explains Deepa, and the other ingredients from a local source.
From this health mix, Deepa moved to noodles and sevai. “Both are popular tiffin items,” she smiles. Again what troubled her was that available options were mostly made of maida. So she began experimenting and came up with 10 variants of noodles all made from millets and whole wheat flour. “No additives or preservatives,” she emphasies, adding, “Even the masala that comes with the noodles is my formulation.” After her PG, she did a course in food processing, which she used to develop these products.
In the past seven years, Deepa has developed three baby food items, which retail under the brand name First Spoon. The Health Mix, Millet Noodles and Millet Sevai are sold as Some More products. “The Health Mix actually began as a weaning food for babies. Now it is a complete easy-to-digest meal.” Her second product was derived from khichdi: rice, wheat and dal mix. “I now have 24 products,” Deepa says proudly; 10 variants each of sevai and noodles and two more baby food products.