Food historian explains growing interest in camel milk

The Christmas basket we received this year had an unusual and exotic delicacy. There was a box containing handcrafted, single-origin camel milk chocolates. Dark chocolates came in different flavors and were incredibly appealing, especially those fortified with nuts and coffee beans.

Truth be told, we tasted camel milk on a visit to Bikaner a few years ago, but we didn’t really fall in love with it due to its slightly salty, slightly sour and tangy taste. But the bite this time did what the initial sip couldn’t.

For centuries, camel’s milk has been a staple diet for people who shared the harsh desert habitat with the animal. Traditionally eaten fresh (not boiled) or in fermented form, it has also been used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of illnesses from tuberculosis to gastroenteritis. What then explains the sudden revival of interest in camel milk?

The pandemic has sparked interest in superfoods that boost immunity, and camel milk appears to be a perfect fit. Camel milk producers claim their supply contains five times more vitamin C and 10 times more iron than cow’s milk.

They also cite scientific studies which have found higher levels of sodium, sodium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, niacin than in cow’s milk, considered the gold standard in India. (However, they concede that the levels of thiamine, riboflavin, folacin, vitamin Bt12, pantothenic acid, vitamin A, lysine, and tryptophan were relatively lower than those found in cow’s milk.)

Camel milk is low in fat but with a high percentage of unsaturated fatty acids, it is described as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antihypertensive, antithrombotic and more. Not all claims have been proven by laboratory tests and it is advisable not to treat camel milk as a broad spectrum miracle cure.

What should not be overlooked is that it appears to have properties that can significantly help control blood sugar levels and fight insulin resistance.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a specialized UN agency, issued a cautious certificate that “From all the data presented, it is clear that the camel produces nutritious milk for consumption. human.

Those concerned about the state of the environment argue that camel milk production is more sustainable than dairy cattle farming and promises to fight malnutrition globally.

Today, camel’s milk creates ripples far beyond the desert regions of Arabia, Bactria and India.

Camels reached Australia in the mid-19th century, and Afghan camel drivers helped explorers map an expanse of arid desert nearly 3,000 kilometers from Darwin in the north to Adelaide in the south. Today their population exceeds one million with camels roaming the wilderness and efforts to slaughter them have not been successful. Enterprising Australians turned to camel breeding for milk production and export.

Stricter food and drug differentiation laws in the United States had in the past inhibited the marketing of camel milk. Consumption of raw milk was considered risky and unpasteurized camel milk was taboo. Advances in food processing and packaging technology have overcome most of these problems.

Chefs around the world are experimenting with this exotic ingredient to create irresistibly tempting foodie dishes and are designing products for the F&B industry that will soon cease to be a niche product – a passing trend – and may well claim a significant share of health. mass food market.

Michelin-plated Indian chef Nishant Choubey uses camel milk tofu and never tires of telling his East Asian guests that people with lactogenic intolerance are safe to indulge in it.

Aadvik, the pioneering Indian company that developed artisan chocolates, also produces camel milk powder which can be reconstituted as needed and milkshakes flavored with camel milk ghee. Iconic Amul also markets camel milk as a special “health benefit” product.

The “desert ship” in the years to come may well be identified as the “mobile dairy farm!”

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Written by Pushpesh Pant, Delhi-based food historian. The story has been changed slightly for style.

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