There was a time when Indian curries were shunned by consumers out side India because of the spices used heavily in these preparations. Chilli which provides "heat" to Indian curries was the main villain tolerance to pungency is confined more or less to India and Mexico. But over a period of time Indian chefs have mastered the preparation technology to change the sensory profiles of products to suit every taste perception amongst their clients. The vast varieties of Chilli with varying capsaicin content which are now available have made this possible. Other ingredients like Turmeric, Asafoetida and some intense odiferous cooking aids also made Indian foods anathema to many consumers who have to adapt to these flavor notes, if Indian foods are to be consumed. Now comes the news that Indian curries are being targeted as non-healthy food adjuncts because of their high salt content.
"Commenting on the results of a survey on salt levels in curries and other Indian products published today by lobby group CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health), BHF policy manager Mubeen Bhutta said: "The level of salt in some of these curries is frankly outrageous, but it's often tucked away behind unhelpful food labels where it¹s difficult to spot." According to CASH, some supermarket ready meals contain more than twice the amount of salt adults should safely consume in one day. In its survey of more than 780 Indian ready meals, breads, pickles and cooking sauces sold in UK supermarkets and takeaways, CASH also found large discrepancies in the salt content between equivalent products at different retailers and catering outlets. For example, Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself Chicken Korma with Pilau Rice contained 0.91g salt per portion, whereas Lidl's Kan Pur Garden Chicken Korma with Pilau Rice contained 4.5g of salt per portion".
The aggressive campaign in the United Kingdom against salt in every day diet has led to setting a target of 6 gm of salt intake for healthy living and naturally Indian foods, rich in salt, are "sitting ducks" for criticism by modern nutritionists. Keeping in tune with the time, manufacturers of Indian foods will have to come out of their past hang over regarding the popularity of their "creations" and make serious attempts to reduce salt dramatically in their products, if not to be left behind in the market place.