Kurkure Lays, plant visit Pepsico India‘Comfort food is the food that makes us feel good, satisfied, calm, cared for and carefree. It’s food that fills us up emotionally and physically.
Finding comfort in food is a basic human experience.’
Ellie Krieger

First thoughts that swept through my head as we entered the Pepsico factory in Dhulagarh near Kolkata, a much anticipated trip into a promising kitchen. Hello Kurkure, have I missed you! It’s been a few years since I dived into a bag. One crunchy bite later, nostalgia flooded my soul, that old familiar taste that had serenaded me for several years. I was back! With an eclectic group of about a dozen ‘foodies’ flown  specially into Kolkata, we warmed up to each other over the hours drive to the factory. That drive was anything but mundane, action packed, but that’s a story for another day…Pepsico plant visit, KolkataA friend recently said to me that his entire family was addicted to Kurkure for 8 long years, and that’s quite a similar story across households in India. Kurkure, in hindi means crisp, now PepsiCos most most loved voted snacking brand in the Indian market, is a favourite with Indians across the globe. For me, a once in a blue moon guilty step off my routine.  There I was to discover that there’s so much more to the brand than just the snack. A brand that is constantly reinventing itself, attempting also to constantly improve nutritionally. It also makes great breakfast oats, one of my most favourite pantry ingredients.

Pepsico plant visit, KolkataThey’ve got the spice mix and product bang on! With 30 snacking options, Kurkure forms an iconic part of Indian food culture, a deep connect & nostalgia since being introduced in 1999. This entirely indigenous brand, made with trusted kitchen ingredients like rice, oil, corn, gram & spices, Kurkure has constantly re-invented itself to sustain its relevance to Indian culture and the Indian ethos. Yet the story is more than the plant producing snacks. It’s the larger picture of social responsibility that appealed to me, and that made the visit so worthwhile.pepsico-plant-visit-kolkata-2With the popularity of Kurkure, came many myths about the ingredients, about how good it might or might not be! One trip to the fully automated snack plant in Dhulbari proved otherwise. Prepared most hygienically in a state of art plant, it hits the spot for comfort food with the right spice blends and flavours. All ingredients in the Kitchen of lays are carefully sourced, efficiently managed and well stocked. It has now entered the traditional namkeens area which is proving to be equally popular!Pepsico plant visit, Kolkata

Pepsico plant visit, KolkataAnd then there is the Kitchen of Lays. Another heartening story right from the potato being germinated up to the chips that get sealed into bags, it’s a fascinating adventure. Overcoming challenges like a not a well developed supply chain, small land holdings, marginal farmers, loads of wastage etc, the company offers community support especially to farmers right from word go offering careful handling and the right variety of seeds. India is the only country outside of the US, where potato germ plasma and mini tuber are grown in greenhouses in Punjab. To help farmers minimize losses due to vagaries of nature, the company offers weather forecasts in collaborative farming to 24K farmers in the country. The partnership offers a 360 degree of engagement with best agronomy practices, soft loans, crop insurance, high quality seeds for better yields etc.Pepsico plant visit, KolkataTo think that much and more goes into the making of a mere pack of chips is a somewhat enlightening experience. Following the journey of the humble potato from a germ plasma to the fryer was fascinating. It makes the picture real, a story that comes alive with community collaborative farming, sustenance, social responsibility, good practices, the right potato and an efficient system. An automated system that works with precision, infra red sensors that pick out the slightest anomaly, dedicated happy workforce … and of course happy customers.Pepsico plant visit, KolkataSustainable growth, community development and minimizing the impact on the environment is worthy of praise! We were fortunate to experience the facility first hand. Right from very passionate hands on managers, spirited workers, an efficient management system, the fully automated plant operates impressively. What amazes is that PepsiCo’s growth in India has been guided by a philosophy of “Performance with Purpose”, the goal to deliver top-tier financial performance while creating sustainable growth. 06-1In practice, Performance with Purpose means providing a wide range of foods and beverages from treats to healthy eats; finding innovative ways to minimize their impact on the environment, providing a safe and inclusive workplace for employees globally; and respecting, supporting and investing in the local communities where they operate. For instance, in 2009, PepsiCo India achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first business to achieve ‘Positive Water Balance’ in the beverage world, a fact verified by Deloitte Touché Tohmatsu India Pvt. Ltd. The company has been Water Positive since then.
Pepsico plant visit, Kolkata
The Kaizen quality and productivity initiative where everyone is empowered, motivated and encouraged to add value contributes to safety, quality and productivity. With initiatives like that and three planks of renewable energy systems in place, for eg rice husk that generates steam to heat oil, or then frying that gives flash steam than runs a system to generate electricity, it’s hard to look at the packet of Lays or Kurkure the same way again. They just mean so much more now!

Photo courtesy Karan BhujbalThank you for opening your home and hearts to us Pepsico India!
{Photo courtesy Karan Bhujbal}

Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle “There is a lot of food culture that goes on in the home and in the community in non-traditional ways. Food is a lot more than restaurants.”
Eddie Huang

Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird’s Eye Sweet Chili Pickle. These turned out to be crackers with a bite. Paired with the sweet chili pickle, they got just the right kick as well, some smoked Gouda on the side to balance the heat from the pickle. Both the crackers and the the pickle have much in common, other than the long name of course! Both earthy and rustic, both from local produce, they have a combination of flavours that compliment each other. The taste undertones are complex but subtle, individual ingredients in each that compliment the preparation. The good thing is that they pair together beautifully too!

Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili PickleSay millets to me and a part of me shudders with fear, while the other part of thinks happily this might be the time for me to ‘step out’ and be millet confident. I’ve had a LONG unsteady relationship with millets, more hate than love. In the past I have found them uninspiring, sandy, gritty and rather unrewarding to work with. Yet a recent contest on Commeat which focused on millets made me sit up and take notice. Couldn’t figure out why it had everyone so excited.MilletsThus began a small journey. Though only a few weeks old, I am fast covering ground. Picked Madhuli’s brains as she does a load of creative food with millet. I pestered her SO MUCH that she just mailed me many bags of different varieties.Then I shifted gears and pestered Ruchira, my other millet inspiration. She put me onto making the yummiest millet khichadi ever. So I bravely ventured further on my own, and here is my first experiment, millet crackers. Flavoured with my fave ingredients, garlic and rosemary, I threw in some sesame seeds too!Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili PickleMuch reading online tells me that roasting the flour before using it reduces a characteristic mustiness the flour has. Did just that. Looked and felt like sand, or rather EARTH! Which gave me an idea. I decided to pair these earthy rustic millet crackers with this Lovilovi and Bird’s Eye Sweet Chili Pickle from Place of Origin.On the onset, might I warn you that the flavours just explode in your mouth. Not for the faint-hearted, this intriguing pickle tempts you to dig in. The heart wants more yet the mouth is on fire! Smoked or herb cheese on the side balances it off!Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili PickleMade from the Lovolovi plums and the bird’s eye chilies that grow wild in the coffee estates of Coorg, The Earth Reserve’s Sweet pickle is a must-have for all who love combination between sweet and spicy. One of the most piquant chilies and tartness of the berries combine to bring you a flavor that has a spicy kick but not mouth burning and you can still taste all the individual flavours. This pickle looks good, tastes good and provides you a versatile usage. Liven up a burger, serve with a cheese board or cold meats, spice up sausages, mix in to mayo…

Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle
Based in Scotland of India – Coorg, The Earth Reserve brings to you homemade products with a passion for bringing wholesome food to the table without any added colours, flavours, synthetic preservatives, taste enhancers or pectin. Free from harmful pesticides or any other chemical sprays, the ingredients are instead sprayed with the nourishing rains and mists that the hills of Coorg are blessed with. Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle With its natural heritage and colourful history, India is the birthplace and home of a number of cuisines. The environment, soil, climate and history contribute to unique recipes made with locally sourced produce. Accordingly, every town in India is famous for select foods or food producers. As human beings, it is natural for us to have a strong emotional connect with the food we eat. Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle There will always be some food products which trigger fond memories of familiar hometown flavours and gastronomical experiences – it could be the sweetshop from across the street from where you grew up or a confectionery in that hill station that you went to one summer. Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle This pickle hits ‘thta’ spot and more! So if you make crackers like these, to set your world on fire with this fabulous pickle, PlaceofOrigin.in is the answer!!
Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
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Crisp, earthy, flavourful and gentle, these Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers are a great wholegrain savoury bake. They are good on their own, and really good when paired with a dip , maybe cheese as well. Paired with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle, they got just the right kick, with some smoked Gouda on the side.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers
BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list
Print Recipe
Crisp, earthy, flavourful and gentle, these Rosemary Garlic Sesame Millet Crackers are a great wholegrain savoury bake. They are good on their own, and really good when paired with a dip , maybe cheese as well. Paired with Lovilovi and Bird's Eye Sweet Chili Pickle, they got just the right kick, with some smoked Gouda on the side.
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2-4 people 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings: people
  1. Gently roast the ragi with sesame seeds over low heat until lightly coloured. Cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 180C.
  3. Place all ingredients except water in bowl of stand mixer.
  4. Mix on low speed, then add 50 ml water to make a soft firm dough. Add a little more water as required. Knead the dough until smooth for 2 minutes.
  5. Roll out as thin as possible between two sheets of baking parchment, cut into desired shapes, then transfer to baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they turn brown on the edges and feel firm.
  7. Cool completely, then transfer t an airtight container.
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“This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun”
Julia Child

Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted ChickpeasIt’s Diwali, the festival of lights, India’s biggest festival and one that literally lights up the length and breath of this beautiful country. That this time of the year is hectic seems an understatement; I race to keep up with holiday baking. For today, I went a little sweet and some savoury – Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted Garam Masala Chickpeas

LampsOh, I bought some lamps. Actually got these lamps for myself after buying some for Finla {bottom of this post}. Her better half was visiting India for a music fest and I asked her what I could send. Her wishlist had Diwali lamps if possible! I ordered some for her, then got really tempted and got some for ourselves too. I loved the rustic metallic look!

Almond Chocolate SquaresThis is the best time of the year in North India. The nips in the air, winter is beginning to make itself felt. It’s time for soup, for breads, for baking; generally time to tuck into food without feeling too guilty. I was short on time as always yet wanted to bake something. These little squares hit the sweet spot without being too sweet or too buttery. Nice balance of flavours and quick, convenient holiday baking.

Almond Chocolate SquaresThese got made FAST! They’re an adaptation of a simple recipe I’ve had scribbled for ages, passed down by a friend. Of course I added my little twist adding whole almonds to the digestive biscuit base. I love the texture that nuts add. Maybe hazelnuts would work nicely too.

Almond Chocolate SquaresLack of time and I had to fast track. Instead of waiting for the bake to cool completely and then pour melted chocolate over the top, I sprinkled the chocolate chips over the warm bake. Worked well. I do this quite often when I bake Oat Energy Bars. It’s always a happy feeling to see how beautifully dark chocolate melts gently on warm bakes!

Almond Chocolate SquaresNothing like a quick fine slicing of almonds and pistachios over the melted chocolate to dress up the bites. A slicer comes quite handy at times like this unless of course you have the luxury of sliced nuts on hands. I don’t!! Roasted Chickpeas It’s nice to think up something savoury to meet the sweet. Savoury is my weakness! The Philips AirFryer continues to call my name and fuel my imagination with creative ideas. I’ve done roasted chickpeas in the oven before, so thought  that they might come out well in the AirFryer too. Why ever not? Roasted Chickpeas Good idea! Great idea! I do chickpeas from scratch here {we are not a canned chickpea country}. It isn’t cumbersome though does require a little planning like an overnight soak. {At this time I would LOVE to be a chickpea … I’d give an arm and a leg for an overnight soak! Oh my weary bones…} Roasted Chickpeas Once you have cooked chickpeas, toss them in EVOO, then spice them as you like. I did one batch with garam masala, salt and a dash of lime juice. YUM! The second batch was with a mix of garam masala, dried mint, cinnamon, red chili powder and roasted cumin. I’d love to do a garlic or chipotle, or maybe a honey garlic. How about smoked paprika? Roasted Chickpeas These came out CRISPY good from the AirFryer in about 20-25 minutes, a few shakes in between. An oven would do the same job at 200C for about 45 minutes, with some shaking up too.  Both teens had a go at tossing them high in the air and playing catch with the mouth. The dog was obviously HAPPY as she got all the missed catches. She LOVES chickpeas – soaked, boiled and now crispy garam masala too! CocoHope you enjoy these recipes. Both are relatively fuss free and very quick, great additions to the holiday table! Do you have quick fun filled holiday baking recipes that light up your lives? I would LOVE to hear about them! Have a wonderful holiday baking season!


Recipe: Biscuit, Almond & Chocolate Squares your picture

Summary: These little Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares hit the sweet spot without being too sweet or too buttery. A quick holiday bake using staples from the pantry.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 85g whole almonds
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 400g condensed milk {1 tin}
  • Topping
  • 100g dark chocolate, chips or chopped up
  • slivered nuts to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.  Butter the sides of  a 8 X 8″ square baking tin, and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. Place the biscuits and whole almonds in the jar of a food processor and process until you get a sand-like crumb meal. {Thermomix: Speed 7, 20 seconds}
  3. With the processor running on slow, pour in the melted butter, followed by the condensed milk. It should all come together in a sticky glob … something like flubber. Don’t be tempted to taste it now, as the danger is that you might not stop eating. {Thermomix: Reverse Speed 2, 20 seconds}
  4. Transfer to prepared tin, level out with an offset spatula or butter knife, and bake for about 20 minutes / until slightly firm to touch. It will set as it cools.
  5. Leave for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the top. It should melt in 5-7 minutes. Smoother it uniformly over the top, scatter slivered nuts, cocoa nibs, sprinkles etc over the top and let it cool completely.
  6. You might need to refrigerate it for the chocolate to set.
  7. Cut into squares and serve.

Recipe: Roasted Chickpeas
your picture

Summary: Crisp, healthy and addictive, these are a great addition to holiday snacking!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 250g chickpeas, soaked overnight , cooked, drained
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp red chli powder
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. AirFryer
  2. Preheat the AirFryer to 200C for 5 minutes. 
  3. Toss the chickpeas in olive oil, then in the spices to coat well. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  4. Transefer to wire mesh basket, set the timer to 20 minutes. Shake the basket after 10 minutes, then once again after another 5 minutes.
  5. Check to see if they are crisp, else give them another 5 minutes.
  6. For the oven, bake at 200C in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir a couple of times}


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