RC Pune South holds soy milk workshops for rural women

Ranjit Pal, founder, Chetran Products, giving a mixie to a women’s group after the workshop in the presence of PDG Arun Kudale and the then president Sudarshan Natu.
Ranjit Pal, founder, Chetran Products, giving a mixie to a women’s group after the workshop in the presence of PDG Arun Kudale and the then president Sudarshan Natu.

For malnourished and undernourished children in India, cheap yet protein-rich soya milk, which can be made at home at one-third the price of cow’s and buffalo’s milk, can be a great boon.

This idea was mooted by Ranjit Pal, the founding partner of Chetran Products, to RI District 3131 PDG Arun Kudale. He took this idea to members of his club, RC Pune South, and suggested they launch a pilot project in rural areas.

The first workshop was held in ­February 2021 at Ambavane village near Nasarapur, through the tireless efforts of Dnyan ­Prabodhini’s Suvarna Tai. About 25 women anganwadi workers benefited from this training. These women are currently supplying soy milk to the students at the surrounding anganwadis. These women are compensated for their work through funds donated by Ranjit Pal, a retired bureaucrat from ­Maharashtra, to this club. He also gifted these women implements worth ₹10,000, and an additional ₹1 lakh to the club for this project.

“Till date, our club has conducted such workshops in 11 villages in several talukas. He has promised to give ₹20 lakh to our club to expand the reach of this project to benefit more malnourished children,” says Kudale.

These workshops, for between 10–25 women, are conducted in collaboration with the local gram panchayat office-bearers or the trustees of charitable organisations in the area. Club president Atul Atre and his team will be conducting 20 such workshops in different villages.

“While in service, he studied the food processing industry in Japan and while observing their family eating habits, he noticed that soybeans are widely used in food. Some babies or even adults cannot digest lactose in cow’s milk. Soy milk and other products can meet the protein requirement of human body at a lower cost than animal milk. ­Therefore, they are widely used in Japan, Pal noticed,” says Kudale.

Pal tried hard to convince the government to promote soybean products through consistent letters but to no avail. Finally, in 1990, in a home mixie, he made soy milk and tofu, based on the information gathered during his visit to Japan. He showed it at the Dorabjee Mall in a Pune camp. Dorabjee commented that the product would work well and gave him the first order.

According to Pal, soy milk is very easy to produce at home. This is the recipe.

Soak 1kg soybean seeds in 2 litres of water for 6 to 8 hours. Then grind it finely by adding water gradually until you make a 7-litre solution. Filter this liquid with a thin, fine-meshed cloth.

The milk thus prepared is ready for further processing like usual milk. This milk can stay good for a few hours if heated. The residue left on the straining cloth can be used in cooking or as cattle feed, so there is no wastage.

Adding curd or soy curd to the heated milk makes soy curd. Buttermilk, chakka or Shrikhand can be prepared from the curd, by adding preferred ­flavour. Tofu or soy paneer can be made by separating water from solids in the soymilk by squeezing 1 or 2 lemons’ juice to boiling hot soy milk. After about 90 minutes, the segregation of solids takes place. The water is squeezed out by using a press, forming a solid slab. The dried solid is tofu. This is a great alternative to regular animal milk cheese. When used in vegetables, many people do not recognise the difference in taste between regular paneer and tofu.

For the rural women soy milk production workshops are held in simple local language, and notes are given.

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