The History of Sprinkles: From Traditional Podi to Global Cuisine Enhancers

Sprinkles, in their various forms, have been a part of culinary traditions across the world for centuries. Known for their ability to add flavour, texture, and visual appeal to dishes, these tiny but mighty ingredients have evolved from traditional uses to modern-day kitchen essentials in restaurants, chains, and supermarkets.

A fascinating example is the traditional Indian podi, a testament to the versatility and cultural significance of sprinkles.

The Origins: Podi – A Staple in Indian Cuisine

In India, podi refers to a variety of ground spiced mixtures used to enhance flavour. Traditionally, these mixtures were made from roasted seeds, nuts, and spices, ground together and stored for use throughout the year as a topping on rice.

Podi was not only a means of preserving seeds and nuts but also a convenient way of adding a burst of taste to simple meals like rice or vegetables. This concept of using a sprinkle to elevate food has deep roots in Indian culture and cuisine especially in Central and Southern parts of the country.

The Japanese Influence: Furikake

In Japan, rice sprinkles known as “furikake” play a similar role. These often include a mix of dried fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar and salt.

Originally used to improve the nutritional value of rice during the Taisho era, furikake has become an integral part of Japanese cuisine, adding flavour and nutrients to a staple food.

Check out Cheeky Foods’ own Furikake on our Japanese Furikake Product Page

Sprinkles in Western Cuisine

In Western cuisine, sprinkles have traditionally been associated with confectionery and baking – colourful toppings for cakes, cookies, and ice cream. However, this view has expanded to include savoury sprinkles, such as cheese powders, dried herbs, and spice blends, enhancing dishes from pasta to salads.

Talking of salads, check out our Japanese Salad Sprinkles product

Sprinkles in Modern Culinary Practices

Today, sprinkles are an essential element in culinary innovation, especially in quick meal serve restaurant chains, food trucks and grab-and-go shelves at supermarkets. Chefs use them not only for their traditional flavour-enhancing properties but also to add texture and that “Instagram” visual appeal to their creations.

For more information about Sprinkles, check out our blog “What is Sprinkle?”

The Business Perspective: Diverse Applications

For businesses in the food industry, understanding the diverse applications of sprinkles like podi and furikake can open up new possibilities for menu development and product offerings. A simple plate of rice can be enhanced in flavour, texture, nutrition and “Instagrammable” factor with a simple sprinkle. With their long shelf lives and ease of use, sprinkles, offer a way to differentiate products in a competitive market, appealing to consumers’ growing interest in global flavours and healthy, flavourful food options.

Sustainability and Health

Modern consumers are increasingly health-conscious and environmentally aware. Sprinkles made from natural, sustainable sources cater to this demand, offering a guilt-free way to enhance flavour. They can also be a part of health-focused diets, providing an easy way to add healthy fats and micro-nutrients without empty calories of sugar laden condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise or sauces.

The history of sprinkles, from traditional podi to contemporary global uses, highlights their versatility and enduring appeal. For businesses in the food sector, embracing the cultural heritage and modern applications of sprinkles can lead to innovative, appealing, and nutritious food offerings.

Understanding their historical roots and current applications can inspire new ways to delight customers and stand out in the market. Whether it’s reviving traditional recipes or creating new fusion dishes, sprinkles like podi and furikake offer endless possibilities for culinary creativity and business growth.

Let’s sprinkle some history, culture, and flavour into your offerings with Cheeky Foods! Get in touch to find out more and to chat to us about how we can help.

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Frequently Answered Questions

What are Sprinkles ?

Sprinkles are seasoning mixes of superfood seeds, spices and herbs that are an easy way to add flavour, texture and nutrition to everyday meals.

While a spice mix is usually used during cooking, sprinkles are ready to eat and can be added on top of finished meals to improve the flavour and visual impact of the dish.

A Sprinkle a day keeps the bland away. Sprinkles can be your chef’s new best friend to quickly add layers of flavour to a base recipe.
For example, the same base soup can be flavours with a Coconut Thai Sprinkle or a Japanese Shichimi Sprinkles creating two completely unique end dishes.
Our sprinkles are also premixed in the right proportions to cut down cooking time for your kitchen staff.

We only use BRC certified suppliers and contractors for our entire supply chain.
We also do positive release for evert batch produced ensuring full quality assurance.

Yes. With 5 years of development experience for some of the leading food manufacturers and restaurant chains across UK.
We can take your sprinkle/seasoning brief from an idea to samples and finally to production.
Please see more here

We take approximately 4 weeks for our bespoke service.
This includes collecting brief, creating 2 bespoke sprinkles and fine tuning your preferred one to a final recipe.
Of course, based on any specific requirements like specialised ingredients or delays in feedback can make the process longer.
Please see more details here

We usually take 4 weeks from acceptance of purchase order to delivery.
If your lead times are shorter, please do discuss this with us.

All our products are Nut Free. We offer Allergen Free alternatives to some of the usual commercial ingredients like our Gluten Free Crispy Fried OnionSesame Free Togarashi and Nut Free Dukkah.
To see our full range of allergen free opliions, please see here