FREEVILLE, N.Y. – You may have seen it on shelves in Green Star and Wegmans amongst other yogurt brands, but That Indian Drink is unlike any of its probiotic neighbors.
The Indian Milk and Honey Company, founded in 2012, is the brainchild of one couple who had grown tired of working in the corporate industry in New York City.
Ipshita Pall and Amrit Singh were both working in the city at the time That Indian Drink was inspired. Pall had a career as a world-class chef with fine dining locations in NYC and Chicago. Singh was working as a consultant when he moved to Ithaca to attend Cornell University to study agriculture economics.
After the birth of their son, Birjyot, in 2012, the couple moved to Ithaca. Tired of working in the corporate setting, and fed up with reading food labels with unknown ingredients, Singh and Pall set out on their venture to create a new product.
“(Pall) really wanted to create something with a clean label,” said Brian Lampman, who is in charge of business development at Indian Milk and Honey Co.
Lampman said the name of the company came from the melding of cultures.
“(Pall and Singh) both grew up in India,” Lampman said. “Milk and honey in India means the land of abundance – here in Upstate NY, we are abundant with so many resources, especially with the dairy industry.”
Later that year, Pall and Singh began experimenting recipes for lassi, a yogurt-based beverage which originated from South Asia and a drink the two had both grown up with in India. The couple, who describes the area as ‘the silicon valley of yogurt,’ sourced all of their milk from local farmers.
The two rented a small production space in Romulus, making small batches of lassi by hand and distributing them at smaller locations like the farmers market and Green Star.
In 2014, the couple grew their company by building a plant in Freeville.
“We took a different approach by putting ourselves in a position to grow first,” Lampman said. “We built early, invested in the plant and grew with our demands.”
Now, the company distributes to over 500 locations on the east and west coast. It started with three flavors, but Pall and Singh have recently developed two additional flavors.
“It takes about a month to develop each recipe –each one really has a story behind it,” Lampman said. “(Pall) is always thinking about the recipes, she does a lot of mental preparation. Once she’s in the kitchen, she likes to combine the exotic with the familiar.”
The five flavors include raspberry cinnamon, mango rosewater, blueberry cardamom, apple beet, and cranberry orange.
“(Pall’s) favorite U.S. Thanksgiving tradition is that families all have their own cranberry sauce recipe,” Lampman said. “The cranberry orange lassi with rosemany is way for her to bottle up that concept.”
Lampman added that the raspberry cinnamon lassi was a way to combine seasons – the summer fruit with the traditional fall flavor was Pall’s idea in extending summer into fall with the flavor of the beverage.
In addition to the unique flavors, That Indian Drink offers even more – a clean label with no more than six ingredients. Lampman said that because of the quality of the ingredients, the product has a 13-week shelf life, significantly higher than other yogurt products.
“We use zero preservatives or stabilizers of any kind,” Lampman said. “The big thing is that we use whole fruits – once you start using purees, the shelf life starts to drop.”
He added that there are over 15 billion probiotics in every bottle, which is higher than most kefirs and other probiotic beverages. In addition, because of their use of whole fruits, That Indian Drink also has a healthy level of fiber, also unusual to find in other drinkable yogurt products.
“We match good ingredients with good intentions,” Lampman said. “The philosophy behind developing each flavor is different – the culture of working here is so rich, it’s always rewarding to come in every day and sell the product.”
Keep a lookout for more products from the Indian Milk and Honey Company – they are currently looking into the production of ghee, a clarified butter traditionally used in South Asian cuisines.
Featured image courtesy of the Indian Milk and Honey Co. website.