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Sweet spot: Bengaluru is switching to ‘clean’ sugars in cocktails, food and desserts



BENGALURU: A new trend has put the city in a sweet spot, literally. Riding the conscious-eating wave, Bengalureans are readily switching from calorie-high refined white sugar to alternatives like palm sugar, coconut sugar and jaggery in their cooking. According to department store Foodhall, Bengaluru ranks first in India in the value-added sugar segment. Mature markets like Mumbai and Delhi actually come after.

Jay Jhaveri, COO of Foodhall, notes that the value-added sugar segment makes a 60% contribution to the overall sugar sales and the switch is more evident and visible in the city. “Bengaluru makes the highest contribution to the valueadded sugar segment at 65%, which is 10% more than both Mumbai and Delhi. Bengaluru has recorded a significant 50-55% growth in palm sugar and coconut sugar sales over the past one year,” says Jhaveri.

Alternative sugars are not just entering the IT city’s households but also its commercial kitchens. Eateries and resto-bars are stirring these ‘clean’ sugars in cocktails, food and desserts.


The bar at Sanchez has switched to cane sugar syrup, organic honey and organic agave syrup for most of its cocktails. Priced about Rs 200 more than routine French sugar syrups, the alternative sugar syrups, may leave a dent in the pocket but the demands of the diet-friendly city need to be met, says mixologist Robert D. Hospet.

“Fitness freaks ask for alternative sugar in cocktails. Since the flavour profile gets earthier with substitute sugars, it helps us push our creative envelopes and innovate in this segment,” he adds.

Agrees Mayur Tekwani of Laughing Llama gastropub, “People want a nutritive balance even while partying. This prompted us to take jaggery, honey, cane sugar and brown sugar from our smoothie menu to our rum-based cocktails.”

While the menu at Toast & Tonic offers many culinary cultures, it celebrates India’s biodiversity by using local jaggery. Like a brownie uses jaggery from Mandya and an ice-cream infuses Kolkata’s traditional nolen gur (or liquid jaggery).

Watering holes like Old Fashioned Bar and Byg Brewski Brewing Company too have taken to jaggery for cocktails, chutneys and even Phad Thai sauce.

The kitchen at Mimansa has entirely done away with refined white sugar and uses jaggery, honey and coconut sugar. “Even our kitchen crew uses only honey and jaggery in their staff tea,” says founder Malika Suri.

Nutritionist Shalini Manglani notes that the trend started picking up pace in the past two years. “White sugar is empty calories which gives you energy but has no nutritional value. Powdered jaggery, palm sugar and coconut sugar are less processed,” says Manglani, yet adds a word of caution, “That is, however, no reason to double the intake of F&B made with substitute sugars. Alternative sugars are just cleaner in nature and thus easier for our system to digest.”

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