Cold-pressed and Zuluk

A professor whose college was razed down became a mushroom entrepreneur (read millionaire). And a robotics engineer bringing back grandma's cold-pressed oils to kitchens are among the stories in our newsletter this week

Rashmi Pratap
New Update
Cold-pressed and Zuluk

Cold-pressed and Zuluk

Dear Reader,

Sometimes I wonder how little we know about the food we consume. We don’t know how much pesticide has gone into our veggies, fruits, grains or pulses unless we buy them from certified organic sellers. Our edible oils are no exception. 

For making these oils, the seeds are roasted and run in high-speed crushing machines. When the oil comes out, it has a minimum of 120 degrees temperature and all the health benefits are drained due to the high heat. The other method is to add chemical solvents to separate the fats from the seeds, which also leads to a loss of nutrients and flavour.

However, in the bygone days, members of the oil-making community in each village extracted oil by crushing seeds using ox-driven stone mills. It kept the temperature below 50 degrees, which preserved the essential nutrients, aroma, density and flavour.

Robotics engineer Sibi Manivannan and his Trichy-based startup Gramiyaa are bringing back the traditional cold-pressed method of oil extraction but on a larger scale. Gramiyaa produces 30,000 litres of cold-pressed oils per month using the traditional stone mills inside its modern facility in Trichy, writes my colleague Narayani.

With automation, one person can crush 20 kg of seeds in 45 minutes in one mill. In four years, the company has reached Rs8-crore turnover and is eyeing Rs12-crore revenues this fiscal, about half of it from exports. Gramiyaa employs traditional oil-maker families, who had earlier quit the profession and taken up daily wage work due to a lack of demand for handmade oils. It’s a win-win for all!

Last week, I spoke to Nidhi Katare, who once taught in a private college in Gwalior and is now a successful mushroom farmer and entrepreneur. She prepares spawns (mushroom seeds) of three varieties in her 1500 sq ft lab and they are bought by farmers from across India. 

Nidhi also cultivates oyster mushrooms and sells them in dried form to pharma and food companies besides providing consultation and training to farmers. Yet to me, the most interesting part is her journey from teaching to agri-entrepreneurship. Do look it up!

As we celebrated the 77th Independence Day last week, my colleague Mona wrote about ten lesser-known women freedom fighters, who valued the country more than their lives. The quantum and duration of our struggle are so vast and prolonged that it’s impossible to learn about every contribution towards freedom. We can only make attempts to know more about our freedom fighters.

Mahatma Gandhi’s charkha and Khadi are synonymous with our independence. But the Khadi we know is struggling for survival, bogged down by genetically-modified cotton varieties, lack of support to spinners and weavers and other factors. Ananthoo, the Founder of India HandMade Collective and Tula Organic Clothing wrote a column for us on this handmade cloth’s present, past and future. And it’s very insightful!

Our Sunday story is on Zuluk, a hamlet in Sikkim that offers a panoramic view of the entire Kanchenjunga range in the eastern Himalayas. Once part of the ancient Silk Route, it is now an emerging tourism destination with virgin forests and the Zuluk road with 32 hairpins.

And in the Money section, Karan has written about five investment options for senior citizens, especially those who don’t have pensions to support them in their twilight years. 

Happy Reading!





How this robotics engineer set up Rs 8-crore cold-pressed oils business in 4 years; empowers traditional oil makers


How this Gwalior professor became a successful mushroom entrepreneur


Ten lesser-known women freedom fighters of India