Robotic Cooking is Here and Indian Innovators are Making it Happen

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An appliance flowing from Indian brains is made and marketed from abroad and Indians have to pay twice as much as the rest of the world to buy it

Popular atta kneaders

Wonderchef, the appliance brand promoted by celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor, launched its most elaborate kitchen tool last week. They call it “Nutri-Pot, your personal kitchen robot”. It is in essence an electric cooker, with temperature and pressure presets for preparing 18 different dishes from rice, pulav, biryani, dal, chole to veg curry, soup, sambhar, baby food and even cake.

The cooker can be set for delayed operation and a recipe book authored by Kapoor and nutritionist Nahad Khilji suggests many more dishes the Nutri-Pot can handle. A 3-litre version costs Rs 4999 and a 6-litre version is Rs 6999.

In this era of small apartments and families where both spouses go to work, every second in the kitchen counts and appliances like this sell as much by word of mouth and social media, as through retail stores and company showrooms. A similar 6-litre machine from the Philips-owned Preethi costs Rs 5024 while Kent, Usha and Mealthy have products in the same price bands. The Smart Chef from Vitek, with some 23 presets and a higher power requirement (1700 watts) is available for Rs 13,000 and can also do atta kneading.

Atta kneading machines

In fact, preparing the dough for chapattis, atta kneading, is generally considered the most time consuming cooking task in Indian kitchens, especially if families demand chapattis in dozens. Which is why there are specialist atta kneading machines, which can also prepare the dough for baking bread at home.

Bajaj, Kent, Sharp, Vitek are some popular brands and good deals are to be had at online sites like Amazon and Flipkart in the range of Rs 6000 to Rs 8000. With manufacturers frowning on price undercutting, many of these machines misleadingly called “Atta and Bread makers” (they don’t make bread, only the dough for bread) are available with good discounts in multibrand retail outlets too.

Robotic roti maker

Rotimatic Fully automatic Roti maker

But there is an Everest among the summits that automatic cooking appliances aim for: the challenge is to completely automate the entire chapatti making process. Okay you have the atta kneaded. But who is going to roll the chapattis and bake them on the stove?

Indian innovation has conquered this peak too: the world’s fully automatic chapatti maker otherwise known as Rotimatic, the robotic roti maker was launched some 18 months ago by a Singapore-based startup, Zimplistic, co-founded by Indians Pranoti Nagarkar and Rishi Israni. It is truly automatic: you pour water and atta or maida into the unit, add salt to taste and sit back. Hot rotis, puris, wraps, pizza bases, even Mexican tortillas soon spill out at the rate of one a minute.

Pranoti holds 37 patents for the process and though only launched in Singapore and the US initially, then in Middle East, UK, the Scandinavian countries, soon earned Zimplistic a $20 million turnover. It sells for US $1000. It has not been available in India — till recently, but finally on Amazon India, it can be bought for Rs 1.35 lakhs which is almost twice the dollar equivalent of the international price.

There’s irony for you! An appliance flowing from Indian brains is made and marketed from abroad and Indians have to pay twice as much as the rest of the world to buy it. Any inventor-co-founders listening?

This story is submitted by Anand Parthasarathy. His rich experience, reporting ACE (Appliances and Consumer Electronics) stories encompasses working 15 years with The Hindu as its IT Consulting Editor. He is a qualified instrumentation systems engineer who has worked for 20 years as a scientist on numerous defence R&D projects, and as a project manager for surface-to-air missiles at DRDO.

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