On Tuesday, on my daughter’s insistence, we picked a box of fried Semolina puffs from Samosa House in Culver City to make Pani-Puri at home. We are trying to cultivate her interest in Indian food and any time she asks for South Asian delicacies, we jump to it.
Pani-puri is a common street snack that you get on streets in India. This product – ‘Semolina puffs’ – is a necessary ingredient to make it. While the other ingredients one needs to make this dish are relatively easier to make, the puffs need to be thin and round and hollow and fried. I don’t really fry anything at home and nor do I claim to know how to make these pretty puffs!
SO – We bought these puffs from the Indian store. After dinner, packing up the unused puffs, I happen to check out the ingredients that were listed on the package.
Semolina, water, salt, rice flour, canola oil with BHT, BHA, Beta Carotene and Dimethylpolysiloxane.
I am always wary of things I can’t pronounce. I am not a food activist but I do try and eat healthy. I cook more that most people. I eat simple food with low salt and less spices.
I was curious about Dimethylpolysiloxane, so I looked it up. A bit worried with what Google came up with.
Food Babe (I generally trust her research) notes that dimethylpolysiloxane is commonly used in “vinegary-smelling silicone caulks, adhesives, and aquarium sealants, a component in silicone grease and other silicone based lubricants, as well as in defoaming agents, mold release agents, damping fluids, heat transfer fluids, polishes, cosmetics, hair conditioners…”.
Wait, what? Used as an adhesive? Used as an aquarium sealant? Why is it in my food?
Well because – Apparently, our food industry allows its use so it is more commonly used than you think. You will also find it in Chick-fil-A Chicken sandwiches, McDonalds fries, KFC Mash Potatoes, Dominos Bread Sticks….its a long list, trust me. Why do they use it?
Because it is a FDA-approved food additive and anti-foaming agent, allowed to be used in tiny amounts – and it helps prevent the splattering of oil as foods are cooked.
You will find folks cite evidence that shows that silica does not create any significant toxicological problems but I always question who did the study and which lobby did they belong to? This study for example was by Dow Corning Corporation, which describes itself as a leader in silicon-based technology and innovation! Not surprising.
There is talk about using it as a filler for breast implants but was phased out due to safety concerns. I tried to find an article that definitely declares this with a credible link/source but it was hard to find. Perhaps, filler quantity was higher in breast implants and perhaps the quantity in food is really low.
Regardless. How hard is it to make these semolina puffs without chemicals? I know many in India who make them at home and trust me, they do not use dimethylpolysiloxane! They probably haven’t even heard of dimethylpolysiloxane.
So – folks at Surati! Fix this. If I want to eat pani-puri outside in a restaurant (fast-food style!), I would not be buying your golgappa. I buy your puffs because I like to make pani-puri at home – because fried as they come, I enjoy the healthy, non-chemical taste of my home-made chatnis and filling.