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V.K. MODI, N.M. SACHINDRA, A.D. SATHISHA, N.S. MAHENDRAKAR1 and D. NARASIMHA RAO Department of Meat Fish and Poultry Technology Central Food Technological Research Institute Mysore 570 020, India
Accepted for Publication March 17, 2005

ABSTRACT Chicken curry, a popular traditional Indian recipe, was prepared by using deboned broiler meat chunks and spices. The product containing both meat chunks and gravy (1.0:2.5) was packed in polyethylene pouches, placed in waxed cartons and frozen and stored at -18 2C for 6 months. During frozen storage, the free fatty acid (FFA) values (as percentage oleic acid) and thiobarbituric acid (TBA) values (mg malonaldehyde/kg sample) increased in both meat and gravy. Meat and gravy pH were in the range of 5.76.0. Marginal decreases in shear force values (34.530.0 N) for meat and in viscosity values (199.4141.6 mP) for gravy were also observed. Similarly, the changes in Hunter color (L*, a*, b*) values were also marginal. Standard plate counts (SPC), spore counts and psychrophilic counts (log cfu/g) were 4.5, 2.2 and 2.1, respectively, in freshly prepared product and on storage for 6 months at -18 2C, the corresponding counts were 2.3, 2.4 and 1.6, indicating that the product was microbiologically safe. Sensory scores indicated the ready-to-use chicken curry was acceptable after storage at -18 2C for 6 months.

INTRODUCTION Quality attributes of food products are inuenced by several factors, such as ingredients, thermal effects, emulsication, acidication and interactive effects. Traditional Indian meat-based foods require many unit operations and longer preparation time. In order to minimize such drudgeries of processing in

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Journal of Muscle Foods 17 (2006) 141154. All Rights Reserved. 2006, The Author(s) Journal compilation 2006, Blackwell Publishing




the kitchen and to cater to the needs of the increasing population of working couples and single persons living alone, the demand for ready-meal products is growing in Indian and overseas markets. The most common meat preparations in Indian households are varying forms of curries with a profuse use of spices. Variations from product to product are affected by differences in the kinds of meat and spices, their relative proportions and the consistency of the gravy. A few products in the curried form are available canned. Metal cans impart an undesirable taste to the product during storage (Srinivasa Gopal et al. 1999). The tin plate for making cans is imported to India and is expensive (Srinivasa Gopal et al. 1999). Moreover, aluminum containers are of poor mechanical strength and prone to a high incidence of leakage through the seams (Srinivasa Gopal et al. 1999). Also, exible pouches suffer from other disadvantages such as poor seal strength, poor barrier properties and pin holing (Srinivasa Gopal et al. 1999). Curried products in polythene pouches can be frozen and supplied to markets (Anon 1984; Byrne 1986). The process for production of sh curry in exible pouch (polyester/Al foil/cast polypropylene) was standardized by Srinivasa Gopal et al. (1999). They observed no changes in product quality during storage for over a year at 30 2C. Changes in quality during chilled/frozen storage have been studied in chicken nuggets (Lai et al. 1995; Modi et al. 2004), Iberian ham (Martin et al. 2000), sh ngers (Reddy et al. 1992) and buffalo-meat burgers (Modi et al. 2003). A traditional method of preparation of chicken curry and changes in its quality during frozen (-18 2C) storage for 6 months after exible-pouch packing were examined for the present study.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Preparation of Chicken Curry Broiler chickens (68 weeks of age; n = 54), were dressed conventionally in the local market and then brought to the laboratory in six batches of nine birds each. On each processing day, the carcasses (1.121.18 kg each) were washed in tap water and deboned. The muscles (both leg and breast) were cut into chunks of 3 to 4-cm size. Five kilograms of raw meat chunks were mixed with 3 g of turmeric powder and 70 g of common salt and transferred to a stainless steel vessel, and 500 mL of water was added. The vessel was covered and at 9095C for 2025 min on a gas ame. The ingredient composition for preparation of chicken curry is given in Table 1. Sunower oil in a second stainless steel vessel was heated to 110120C, to which were added clove, cardamom and half of the sliced green chili. These were roasted for 12 min,



TABLE 1. INGREDIENT COMPOSITION OF CHICKEN CURRY Ingredients Raw meat chunks Onion Tomato Ginger Garlic Green chili Cardamom Cinnamon Clove Red chili powder Turmeric powder Coriander powder Coriander leaves Common salt Poppy seeds Rened sunower oil Weight (g) 5000 1750 1750 105 140 80 8 8 4 72 7 140 40 140 200 800

and onion mince (roasted to light brown), paste of ginger, garlic, coriander leaves and the remaining green chili were added and cooked for 56 min. Tomato puree, red chili, coriander, turmeric powder and salt were added and cooked for 5 min on a low ame. A paste of soaked poppy seeds was added and the mixture was cooked for 35 min. To this hot (8590C) gravy mix were added cooked meat chunks including cooked-out juice. This was further heated for 56 min to an internal product temperature of 8590C to obtain about 9.0 kg of the nal product chicken curry. The product was cooled to 3040C in 3040 min and the meat chunks and gravy were separated. The entire curry product was packed in polyethylene (300 gauge) pouches with 100 g of meat chunks and 250 g of gravy in each pack. Each sealed packet was placed in a wax-coated carton and subjected to freezing in a plate freezer until the product temperature reached -35 to -40C (125 135 min, Fig. 1). To ensure adequate temperature decline, the product temperature was recorded with a digital temperature recorder (Aptec, Chennai, India) using metallic probes inserted in the product. The frozen products were then stored at -18 2C in a freezer. The preparation of the product, packing, freezing and sampling for quality evaluation was repeated six times. Quality Evaluation The packets were removed at 0 (freshly prepared), 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 months storage from the freezer, allowed to thaw at 26 2C for 30 min and submitted to the following analyses.



60 40 Temperature (C) 20 0 0 25 50 75 100 125 150 Batch 1 Batch 4 Batch 2 Batch 5 Batch 3 Batch 6

20 40 60 Time (min)

Chemical and Physical Parameters The meat chunks and gravy were separated from chicken curry products and separately homogenized in a mixer for sampling. Proximate composition and NaCl contents in meat and gravy were determined (AOAC 1999) for freshly prepared chicken curry. For other parameters, the sampling was done from packets drawn periodically. Free fatty acid (FFA) (Modi et al. 2004) and thiobarbituric acid (TBA) were determined by the aqueous extraction procedure (Pikul et al. 1989) and pH by immersing a glass-calomel electrode directly into the sample using a pH meter (Cyberscan 1000, Eutech Instruments, Singapore). These were determined for meat and gravy separately. The gravy was lled in a cup for the Hunter color measuring system (Labscan XE, Hunter Associates Laboratory Inc., Virginia, USA) and L* (lightness), a* (redness) and b* (yellowness) values were recorded. The viscosity of the gravy was measured at ambient temperature (27 2C) by using a Rheology International viscometer (Model RI:2:L, Rheology International Shannon Ltd., Shannon, Ireland) using an ASTM No. 4 spindle at 400 rpm. For measurement of shear values, the meat chunks from the curry were cut into 1 1 1.5-cm strips and the shear values measured in a Lloyds Texturometer (LR5K, Lloyd Instruments Ltd., Hampshire, U.K.) in a 100-kg load cell, at a speed of 50 mm/min with a 1-mm thick blade.



Microbiological Quality The meat chunks of the chicken curry product were cut into pieces using a sterile knife and mixed with gravy. A 50-g sample of the mixture was placed in a sterile stomacher bag containing 450 mL of sterile saline (0.85% NaCl) solution and blended in a stomacher (model Seward Stomacher 400, Seward Medical, London, U.K.). The blended samples were then tested for standard plate counts (SPC), bacterial spores, psychrophiles, coliform, staphylococci and yeast and molds by pour-plate method as per APHA (2001) procedures. Sensory Quality The whole chicken curry product in a packet was thawed by holding at 26 2C and warmed in a hot pan (8090C) for 34 min. The coded samples were subjected to sensory quality evaluation by 10 in-house trained panelists using a 9-point hedonic scale (ASTM 1996; Modi et al. 2003). The mean score for each attribute (color, avor, mouth feel, consistency of gravy, meat texture and overall quality) was reported. Statistical Analysis The experiment had a completely randomized design with six replicates. Preparation of chicken curry in six batches on different days represented the replicates. Sampling month was included as a factor in the model. The mean values for all parameters were examined for signicance as a function of storage period by analysis of variance. When signicance (P 0.05) was observed, means separation was accomplished by Duncans multiple range test using STATISTICA software (Statsoft 1999).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Physical and Chemical Quality Characteristics The gravy portion contained more moisture, fat, ash and salt and less protein compared to meat chunks (Table 2). The fall in pH from 5.9 to 5.7 in meat and 6.0 to 5.9 in gravy portions (Fig. 2) during the 6-month storage period was marginal. Freshly prepared products had low FFA values (as % oleic acid), 0.29 and 0.25%, which gradually increased up to 0.58 and 0.56% for meat and gravy, respectively, during 6 months of storage (Fig. 2). The increase in FFA values in gravy was signicant (P 0.05) whereas that in the meat component was marginal. The latter is possibly because of large uctuations (replicate variations) in FFA values.



TABLE 2. CHEMICAL COMPOSITION (g/100 g) OF CHICKEN CHUNKS AND GRAVY IN FRESHLY PREPARED CHICKEN CURRY Chicken chunks Moisture Fat Protein Ash NaCl Mean SD (n = 6). 68.40 0.74 11.00 5.52 20.30 2.95 1.60 0.30 1.30 0.19 Gravy 78.90 2.54 15.40 2.76 3.80 1.24 2.200 0.024 1.70 0.27

An increase in FFA values in meat products because of lipase activity during storage has been reported by many authors; however, this increase did not increase rancidity in pork sausages (Fernandez and Rodriguez 1991; Zalacain et al. 1995), buffalo-meat burgers (Modi et al. 2003), fried chicken (Yashoda et al. 2004b) and chicken nuggets (Modi et al. 2004). Camire et al. (1990) reported no toxicological effects of increased levels of FFA. Fritsch (1981) reported that the products of hydrolysis of oils/fats have no adverse effect on the nutritional quality of foods. Oxidative rancidity measured by TBA values (mg malonaldehyde/kg sample) uctuated nonsignicantly between 1.5 and 2.4 for meat and 2.2 and 2.4 for gravy portions during the 6-month storage period (Fig. 2). This may have been because of very low temperature storage and the antioxidant effect of many spices (Abd-El-Alim et al. 1999; Pszczola 2001; Leal et al. 2003). Chicken nuggets (Lai et al. 1995; Modi et al. 2004), Iberian ham (Martin et al. 2000), sh ngers (Reddy et al. 1992) and buffalo-meat burgers (Modi et al. 2003) have reported marked (P 0.05) increases in TBA values during frozen storage. In fresh chicken meat, TBA values of around 2.0 have been reported after vacuum packing and storage for 7 weeks at 7C (Wang et al. 2004). Instrumental chromatic attributes measured for gravy using the Hunter colorimeter revealed nonsignicant uctuations in the narrow range of 42.0 44.6, 4.86.0 and 18.720.4 for L*, a* and b* values, respectively (Fig. 3). Although methods of processing (Pesek and Wilson 1986), packaging conditions (Alvarez and Binder 1984), degree of exposure to light (Kim et al. 2002) and interaction of ingredients (Osuna-Garcia et al. 1997) may inuence changes in visual color (reectance) of the products, in the present investigation, product color was stable during frozen storage for 6 months. Gravy had an initially high viscosity value of 199.4 29.23 mP, which reduced to 149.3 50.03 mP after 1 month of frozen storage. This value then remained almost the same during subsequent storage periods (Fig. 3). The



6.4 6.2 6.0 5.8 5.6 5.4 0 1




FFA (as % oleic acid)

1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

TBA (mg malonaldehyde/kg)

4 3 2 1 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Storage period (months) at 18 2C

FIG. 2. CHANGES IN PH, FFA AND TBA NUMBER IN MEAT CHUNKS AND GRAVY IN CHICKEN CURRY DURING FROZEN STORAGE (n = 6) Changes in pH, FFA of meat and TBA during the storage period were not signicant; FFA of gravy was signicant (P 0.05) during storage. FFA, free fatty acids; TBA, thiobarbituric acid.



Hunter color values (gravy)

50 40 30 20 10 0 0 1




6 Viscosity 260 210 160 110 60 Viscosity of gravy (mP)

Shear force 45 Shear force on meat (N) 40 35 30 25 0 1 2 3 4 5

Storage period (months) at 18 2C

FIG. 3. CHANGES IN SHEAR FORCE VALUES OF MEAT CHUNKS AND HUNTER COLOR AND VISCOSITY VALUES OF GRAVY IN CHICKEN CURRY DURING FROZEN STORAGE (n = 6) Changes in Hunter color, shear force and viscosity values were not signicant during storage.



reduction in viscosity after 1 month of storage could be because of the adverse effect of freezing on emulsion stability. However, the changes in viscosity values during storage were statistically not signicant, possibly because of large batch-to-batch (replicate) variations. The variation in timetemperature schedules for the preparation of chicken curry product might have caused this batch-to-batch variation. A marginal decrease in shear values (1.3%) for meat pieces in a curry was observed during 6 months of storage, indicating that the freezing and storage in frozen condition have little effect on the textural quality of meat in curry (Fig. 3). Microbiological Quality Freshly prepared chicken curry (before freezing) had microbial counts (in log cfu/g) of 4.5 0.40, 2.2 0.09 and 2.1 0.16 for SPC, psychrophiles and bacterial spores, respectively. Aerobic plate counts of 45 log cfu/g have been suggested as microbiological specications for cooked poultry products (Banwart 1989). Freezing markedly (P 0.05) reduced the counts (Table 3), as also reported before in meat and meat products (Rosset 1982; Narasimha Rao et al. 1998). Spore counts of the product during storage were in the range of 1.52.4 log cfu/g, whereas psychrophilic counts were between 1.6 and 2.1 log cfu/g. Staphylococci, coliform and yeasts and molds could not be detected in these products. Similar observations were made in cooked meat products during storage at lower temperatures (Jay 1992; Colmenero 1996). Low initial counts of bacteria and absence of staphylococci, coliform and yeasts and molds in the product could be because of thermal processing, hygienic practices followed during processing and antibacterial effects of spices (Grohs and Kunz 1999; Grohs et al. 2000). Spoilage occurs when the microbial population reaches 8 log cfu/g on the surface, at which point the meat product will have given off odor and slime formation is evident (Narasimha Rao et al. 1998). Sensory Quality Mean sensory scores for 0-day samples for all quality attributes were in the range of 8.38.8 on a 9-point hedonic scale. The scores gradually decreased (P 0.05) to 7.47.9 during 6 months of frozen storage (Table 4). Similar trends in sensory scores have been reported earlier in beef patties (Bullock et al. 1994), chicken nuggets (Modi et al. 2004) and egg loaf (Yashoda et al. 2004a). Greene and Cumuze (1982) reported that the oxidized avor in ground beef can be detected sensorily if the TBA values were in the range of 0.62.0 mg malonaldehyde/kg. However, in the present investigation, oxidized avor was not detected sensorily even when TBA values were around


TABLE 3. CHANGES IN MICROBIOLOGICAL QUALITY* (counts in log cfu/g) OF CHICKEN CURRY DURING FROZEN (-18 2C) STORAGE Storage period, m 0 2.2bc 0.75 1.5b 0.11 1.8b 0.13 2.2bc 0.27 1.6c 0.10 2.0ab 0.09 2.0bc 0.25 1.8d 0.11 2.1a 0.10 1.7c 0.24 1.9e 0.12 2.0ab 0.21 1 2 3 4 2.0bc 0.13 2.0e 0.12 1.9ab 0.09 5 2.1bc 0.23 2.2a 0.14 1.8b 0.06 6 2.3b 0.22 2.4f 0.14 1.6c 0.19

Fresh chicken curry


Standard plate counts Spores Psychrophiles

4.5a 0.40 2.2a 0.09 2.1a 0.16

Mean SD (n = 6). * Staphylococci, coliforms and yeasts and molds could not be detected. af Values with different letters in a row differ signicantly (P 0.05).


Storage period, m 2 8.6ab 0.38 8.2ab 0.26 8.1bc 0.20 8.2 0.41 8.2abc 0.27 8.4ab 0.20 8.4bc 0.20 8.0abc 0.32 7.8cd 0.27 8.1 0.38 8.1bc 0.38 8.3ac 0.41 8.3bc 0.26 7.9bcd 0.38 7.7d 0.26 7.9 0.58 8.0bc 0.45 8.2bcd 0.52 3 4 5 8.1cd 0.38 7.8cd 0.27 7.6d 0.38 7.8 0.52 7.9c 0.38 7.9cd 0.38 6 7.9d 0.20 7.6d 0.38 7.4d 0.38 7.6 0.38 7.8c 0.52 7.8d 0.42


Color Flavor Mouth feel Consistency* Texture (meat) Overall quality

8.8a 0.26 8.3a 0.26 8.5a 0.32 8.4 0.58 8.7a 0.41 8.7a 0.26

8.7ab 0.41 8.3a 0.26 8.2ab 0.26 8.3 0.52 8.5ab 0.32 8.6ab 0.20

Mean SD (n = 6). * Not signicant (P 0.05). ad Values with different letters in a row differ signicantly (P 0.05).




2.4 mg malonaldehyde/kg. This could be because of the masking of the avor by spices. In the current investigation, the chicken curry product was sensorily acceptable (scores 7.0) even after storage for 6 months at -18 2C.

CONCLUSION Chicken curry is a very popular traditional product in India. The product was prepared and stored frozen for 6 months. The product quality as determined by Hunter color and viscosity of gravy, shear values of meat and rancidity parameters in both meat and gravy as well as microbiological and sensory assessment of the chicken curry indicated that the product can be stored at -18 2C for 6 months without marked loss in quality.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors acknowledge partial funding from the Ministry of Food Processing Industries, of the Government of India, for carrying out this investigation.

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