CHENNAI: Workers unload sesame seeds into large 400-kg oil mills and begin grinding the seeds. The wooden mortar begins to spin slowly while the wooden pestle stays still. Around 20 minutes later, oil begins bubbling and pouring out of a small tap in the side of the mill, into a large pot.
This is the scene at Farmily’s storefront and factory in Purasaivakkam, where they sell and make fresh, cold-pressed oil. It was opened in June last year and is run by Sri Sasi Rekha, an entrepreneur who recently won the Best Entrant award in the Food and Beverages category in Homepreneur Awards, Suyasakthi Virudhugal.
“I started this factory after the Jallikattu protest last year. My husband and I decided to take up seven things to be healthier, and eating better was an important part of that,” she said. Sasi Rekha manages the day-to-day operations, while her husband oversees the purchase of seeds and marketing.
The couple buys sesame, groundnuts and coconuts in bulk and grinds 16-kg of seed in their two mills for an hour to an hour and a half. They do this a dozen times daily, and produce around six litres of cold-pressed oil per session. The mortar and pestle used by them are made from walnut wood, which was used by our ancestors in making oil.
Because the oil is cold-pressed, it is pure, has a higher viscosity and retains most of the nutrients that would have been boiled away if they used a steel mill.
“My sister and brother-in-law are doctors, and they feel this is a healthier choice. I buy the seeds and grind it here. It is more convenient for me because you are forced to buy seeds in bulk, and I cannot store that in my house,” said Vijay N, a customer who has visited the shop since its inception. Farmily allows customers to bring their own seeds and grind them, as many have farms that produce such seeds, according to Sasi Rekha.
Once the oil is extracted from the seeds, the remaining cake still has some amounts of oil. Sasi Rekha said that their waste cakes have 10 per cent more oil than waste from steel mills, which extract every last drop from the seeds. These cakes are sold to the Karumari Mathamman Charitable Trust, a ghoshala and animal shelter to feed the cattle. “The cakes are fed to milking cows, as it helps them produce milk easier. These cakes have more oil and are much better for the cattle when compared to the ones we get from steel mills. We have 15 milking cows, and we find that giving them this food helps them produce more milk,” said Puroshakumar Rao, a worker with the ghoshala.
In an effort to discourage the use of plastic, Sasi Rekha offers `10 discount for customers who bring their own containers to transport the oil. Farmily also has a home delivery service and sells a variety of other products like asafoetida made from wheat, ground wheat, turmeric powder and turmeric facial masks, as well as kelvaragu and thinnai biscuits made from raw sugar.
They also sell peppercorns grown on their farm in Kodaikanal. Her two sons have a spoonful of sesame oil every morning, as it helps bone growth, and although they used to complain of the taste, she said that they now appreciate and prefer the oils their mother produces. For details, call 7299142288/99 or 26622500