The truth about pastas

12:46 PM

Ek, ek do teen char…each time I hear the start of that song in the latest Sunfeast pasta treat commercial I cringe.
I had a plan to look for it online and share it here, but this is the one of all the pasta treat long line of idiotic commercials that is nowhere to be found in cyberspace so let me describe it for you:

The picture perfect upper middle class Indian family is in their bright open space kitchen/dining area, Daddy, older sister and younger brother are all seated at the table while mommy is in the back drop working in the kitchen serving Pasta treat pastas, the second the food hits the table our model little family all break into a song “Ek ek do teen char…” while swinging their body from right to left in rhythm and poking into their bowls absentmindedly with their forks as if they were poking a blob or a jelly fish. All of this with a giant horrifically fake creepy grin plastered on their face.

Mommy dances in the kitchen while preparing more pasta and at the end of the ad she is seen singing in the supermarket picking up a pack of the brand pasta with the same creepy grin on her face.

After being irritated by this latest ad even more that all the other previous instalments all put together I felt compelled to write a blog about it, but then since I never ever tasted the stuff before I decided that before writing I should do my research and enrolled myself into the role of my own guinea pig.
I picked up a pack in their “pizza style” flavour which cost 18 rupees, and added a pack of Del Monte plain regular fusili pasta and a pack of Bambino ribbon noodles to my shopping cart.
back home I turned the pack of Pasta treat over to read the nutrition facts for 89g and then checked both regular pasta packs for their own details and did the calculation to have the values for 89g instead of 100g on these, both regular pastas in the two different brands have the same nutritional value and here are the comparison between Pasta Treat and normal pasta:

Sunfeast pasta treat pizza style:

Calories: 306
Fat: 4.9g
Protein: 9g
Carbs: 56.4
of which sugar: 9.1g

Regular pasta from any brand:

Calories: 318
Fat: 1g
Protein: 10g
Carbs: 67
of which sugar: 2.8g

Understands that as part of their advertisement gimmick ITC claims pasta treat is easy to make and nutritious. What I unfortunately didn’t check was that in the 89g pack there is far less pasta than that, the taste maker pouch account for what I would estimate 20g so that means that the pasta facts are counting the taste maker in on the Sunfeast pack. And a few gram more or less of pasta isn’t making much of a difference, what is alarming is that you get a lot of sugar and added fat in something that is supposed to be nutritious and therefore associated to “healthy” to any unsuspecting consumer.
Looking at the ingredient list, I saw an awful lot of starch flour mix, added preservative, colour and flavours all bearing a E-something number as part of the taste maker powder.

The next logical step is cooking the stuff, and what always puzzled me is their claim of it being easy to make and taking just 8 minutes…for the reccord ANY pasta takes that amount to cook if you cook 2-3 serving at once. The pack also mention “the Original instant pasta” which again is misleading since as I said every pasta out there cook the same. The pack contains a tiny handful amount of baby finger thick fusili pasta, which strikes me as a rip of considering both the ads on TV and the picture on the pack show much thicker and bigger fusili. Cooking the whole thing takes the 8 minutes indeed, and you see the water turn into sticky goo under the influence of the taste maker powder. the smell is definitely pizza like, with a rich smell of cheese, tomato and oregano, but the colour is a revolting orange. DH peeked into the pan right before serving time and said “Ewww it looks like maggots”
And sadly he is right, it looks like maggot infested…umm vomit?

I poured my stuff into a bowl and realised that it would barely fill one tiffin box compartment and is definitely a 306 calories heavy kiddie size serving. Ignoring the maggots comment I start tasting the stuff…BLECH…enough said!
it’s gooey, sticky, nothing even taste natural, and you have that sick generic red chilli after taste that you find in any ready made stuff around here.
My daughter begged for one pasta, but made a face, and refused to eat another (and she LOVES the pasta I usually make) getting the ridiculously thin pasta on my fork really feels like the poking displayed in the commercial (even though on TV they have used bigger pastas to make it look appetising) and after downing the stuff I still felt hungry…that normally doesn’t happen when I eat my home made stuff.
Clearly the product is marketed at the Indian consumer that has little knowledge of continental cuisine and markets it as easy. The sad fact is making 4 servings of regular pasta with a yummy home made sauce with fresh ingredients will not even take you much more time, just a little more mess on the cutting board. Let me share how I make my own pasta and tomato sauce and how I manage the time spent in the kitchen doing it.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

-250g of any type of pasta you like
-3-4 medium tomatoes diced
-1 cup of button mushroom sliced
-2 cloves of garlic crushed
-2tbsp tomato puree to thicken the sauce
-Italian herb mix (Keya is doing a great one)
-1tbs olive oil
-freshly chopped basil (optional) to garnish

1) Fill a big pan with 2-3 litres of water and add a teaspoon of salt and bring it to a boil. while the water heats, chop all the vegetables and peel the garlic.

2) Once the water is boiling, add your pasta, and cook for 8-10 minutes until pastas are soft. meanwhile finish chopping the vegetables, and heat one table spoon oil in a flat bottomed deep frying pan, sauté the garlic for a few seconds, add the mushrooms and sauté some more for 30 seconds, add the diced tomatoes, and cook while stirring for 4-5 minutes until the tomato starts giving their juice but still has a few chunks, add the herbs, salt to taste and tomato puree, cook for another minute.

As crazy as one might think it is…this is IT by the time you finished making your sauce the pasta will be cooked, all you will have left to do is drain the water, present pasta in bowls and top with your freshly made sauce.
And if you don’t like mushrooms, you can just about add any vegetable you want, you can add cumin seeds if you want, add chilli powder if you want more heat, garnish with olive slices, the tomato sauce stays the same.

Oh and for the sake of the research, I checked the price of a pack of sunfeast benevita 500g pack of plain fusili : 95 rupees, which once divided to reflect the price of 89 grams of pasta makes it 17 rupees, which comes even cheaper than the 18 bucks you ended up shelling for the Pasta treat version which doesn’t even contain all that weight in pasta. And bambino pasta has a far more affordable range which would bring your price of pasta per serving way down.

One thing though, tasting that revolting crap that is Sunfeast Pasta Treat I can understand why pasta is considered Junk Food by many around here, clearly ITC and Maggi aren’t the best ambassador of continental cuisine.

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  1. Swathi1:25 PM

    Which olive oil is good? The one's available at the store near my place is leonardo olive oil. And exactly how much herb mix did you add?

  2. Leonardo is good that's the one I use. As for the herb mix, I would say add a teaspoon or two, more if you really like the seasoning to be strong :-)

  3. Swathi9:19 PM

    Thanks. Cannot wait to make it. Also can you please put up the recipe for roast chicken(whole) and brownies because the many recipes on the net were just disasters. I just cannot find the right recipe. Please if its not really a problem. :-)


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