Moina Of MO’s Superfoods Fermented Her Probiotic Business Amidst Milk Champagne Explosions
- IWB Post
- May 9, 2018
“I suffered from muscle inflammation and nerve problems a decade ago but when I included kefir and other fermented foods in my lifestyle, I was pain-free and full of energy for the first time in years.”
This is how the owner of Mo’s Superfoods Moina Oberoi cured herself and launched the probiotic foods start-up from her parent’s kitchen. Moina is the first Kefir producer in our country. Kefir is a popular probiotic yogurt drink from Eastern Europe. Trained in Ayurvedic cuisine, macrobiotic cooking, healing foods, and sustainable farming at The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, Moina currently aims at perfecting her Kefir flavors in India.
To get the intrinsic details about brewing this business, we spoke to consultant chef Moina Oberoi.
Every kid has a love-hate relationship with milk. Tell us about your equation with it.
That is true, I never liked drinking milk. In fact, I grew up in a boarding school where they served horrible powdered milk which scared me to death. I am also lactose sensitive so tend to only have milk in a fermented form like curd, kefir, cheese, etc.
The story of almost every kid’s life!
After returning from America, you began working on Kefir out of your parents’ kitchen. Share with us the kitchen disasters that occurred while creating Kefir products?
Fermenting Kefir in Mumbai is like growing Christmas trees in the tropics; it can be done but with a lot of attention till they get resilient to the environment. After my kefir started to set well in Mumbai’s sporadic and humid weather, I decided to take part in a Wellness event where we made some date and flaxseed kefir. Not having tested this before the kefir started to get excited with the date sugar and by the evening the bottles were exploding. It was a sticky mess but we had a good laugh about it. No wonder they call it the champagne of milk.
Where do you get your ingredients from? Are they imported?
The kefir culture is a set recipe of good bacteria specifically made for MO’s kefir. This is imported from Italy. The rest of the ingredients like the milk, natural mango puree, organic palm sugar, honey, etc. are largely from Maharashtra itself.
How do you ensure your raw materials are organic and of good quality?
We don’t use 100% organic material. The word organic is very complex. But we do guarantee good quality ingredients. I have closely worked in the organic and natural foods space for 10 years now and the only way to really know the authenticity of ingredients is by meeting the suppliers in person and asking a lot of questions. More than the questions about the product you get a sense of their sincerity and level of understanding and connection to their product from the first 10 minutes of the conversation. Occasionally, we even get the ingredients lab-tested to make sure.
How to consume kefir to extract its maximum benefit?
Kefir is consumed like any yogurt drink. It is great to be consumed as the first thing in the morning during breakfast or even as the last thing at night before sleeping, but any time of the day is good.
The quantity is dependent on your body type and general gut health as everybody’s body type is different. If you have a regular healthy gut you can have a full bottle a day or more; if you have a serious health condition or an unhealthy gut we recommend you to start with half a bottle and increase it gradually.
If you heat kefir, or any probiotics for that matter above 60 degrees Celsius you are likely killing most of the bacteria before they reach your mouth. We recommend having kefir cold or luke warm for the beneficial bacteria, however, the nutrients are still present.
Which new flavor are you planning to introduce in your kefir?
We will hopefully be launching a kefir Chaas and a blueberry flavor soon.
Blueberry Kefir! Sounds interesting!
Other than directly consuming it, how can the Kefir be put to use?
You can drink from the bottle as it is, or also use it as an ingredient! You can add kefir to your cereal; use it in salad dressings, fruit smoothies, green smoothies, dips, and raitas. Dairy kefir can make a great base for soups and stews or recipes that would otherwise call for regular buttermilk, sour cream, heavy cream, or yogurt.
How about applying it to the face, I wondered!
Who was the first one to taste your Kefir?
I was making kefir for myself much before I started selling it. The first person to have had my homemade kefir was my mother. The first person (other than me) to have the new and improved kefir was my dairy technician and my production team.
Is your family a fan or they are forced to like it?
My mother is a big fan. She has been enjoying kefir with me from the first day I started making it at home till now.
Are your products advisable for:
- Lactose intolerant people
- Pregnant women
- Diabetic patients
- Glutton allergic
Yes absolutely, kefir is good for all of the above and more. It has 90% more probiotics than curd, for example, which has the ability to enhance your immune system. This makes kefir help with several ailments directly or indirectly related to gut health.
As probiotic products are about ingesting beneficial microorganisms, are people initially skeptical about them? How do you educate them about the advantages of these products?
People seem to be very open to trying out anything natural that might have health benefits, as there are no side effects attached to them.
We try to interact with as many customers as possible on a one-on-one level during events and promotions. Especially if a customer has questions or concerns I always make it a point to take the query personally and spend the time to talk to them about the importance of gut health and probiotics.
What was the first probiotic product you consumed and the positive changes you observed in your health?
The first probiotic product apart from curd that had a significant result on my body was kefir. I had several other probiotic foods before kefir from natto, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso (one of my favorite) but kefir had a lasting impact on my system.
At what age can one start drinking Kefir and what is the optimal quantity for different age groups (children, teenagers & adults)?
You can start giving your baby kefir from the age of 1 year onward. Kefir is especially great for growing kids as it plays a large part in building their immune system. However, it is great for adults of all ages, particularly the older generation as it has been proven to reduce the risk of age-related ailments such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
This article was first published on October 18, 2017.