Let’s admit it. Fishes like mackerel, sardines and anchovy are high in nutritional content and even have certain medicinal values, even if you like it or not. However, the mere mention of these fishes will make many of us curl up our noses because of their pungent smell!
The Omega3 fatty acids found in sardines protect the heart; it also helps fight depression and works as a deterrent to Alzheimer’s and arthritis,” says Geetha Lakshmi of the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Kochi (CIFT). Unfortunately not many people are happy to include these in their menu due to their pungent smell. In order to popularize these nutritional fishes, CIFT has come up with many innovative products like chocolate fish cookies. A menu comprising chocolate chip cookies, momos, lollipops, sweet dumplings and fish burgers might sound too fanciful to be true. But you will soon see all these delectable items on the menu cards in the city hotels thanks to the CIFT initiatives. Hopefully it will remove the stigma attached to sardines and mackerel often considered as down market products that do not complement the modern lifestyle. The fishermen too will be benefited by this as it will increase the demand for these fishes.
The interesting part is that these fish products will not have the characteristic smell or the taste of mackerel or sardines, but these would taste more like chicken. CIFT succeeded in masking the awful smell of these fishes by adding a tinge of shrimp essence, which made it more tasty and flavorsome that will suit the palates of the consumers. The food products, being branded as Seafresh, Fishmaid, Fertyfish and Drish, are being manufactured by fisher women trained by CIFT.
The soft launch of these products has been done in the coastal belts and soon they will be introduced in the cities before moving into supermarkets and malls and even to the Gulf countries once CIFT finalizes the marketing plans there. So next time when you bite into a crispy fish snack, you wont be even able to make out that it was indeed made of sardine, something that you had kept out of your plates all your life:)! Hopefully these cheap and nutritious native fishes of Kerala will get a wider acceptance and recognition that eluded them all these years with this novel initiative.