Flour has always been an integral element of Indian food fundamentals. It doesn’t matter whether the kitchen is from the North of India, from the South, from the East or the West; every homemaker depends in a major way on one core flour type for her daily preparations.
The interesting part is that most kitchens in modern India rely heavily on one particular kind of flour – like the Besan Flour or wheat flour or rice flour. What’s all the more disturbing is that due to the advent of western cuisine and fast-food influence, over independence and invisible dominance of some not-so-healthy varieties like the refined flour (also called Maida), have started showing some unpleasant effects.
Lifestyle diseases like obesity and blood pressure imbalance are on the rise. At the same time, deficiency of important nutrients is gaining widespread impact in every other household.
This is probably the best time to go back and go deep into the Indian history and its heartland. The core of Indian cuisine lies in a mix of different flavours and flours. Far-off villages and rural population of the country have for years been reaping locally-grown food and that includes a mix of flours that give them core strength and stamina to handle physically-intensive chores like farming, harvesting, forest livelihood, etc.
This is a wake-up call for urban eaters and it is high time we realise that just scraping by our daily food intake is not going to help us fuel our long-term health goals in any way. It’s easy and sometimes forgivable to miss important nutrients in the daily grind and fast blur of life. But sooner or later, small and big symptoms serve to remind us that our body needs everything in a good, balanced, multi-dimensional way.
To avoid one-dimensional food habits is the first step in striving towards that balance. Try to inculcate more types of flours in your daily diet. They not only supply essential fibre for the functioning of the digestive and renal system but also inject important vitamins and energy sources that the human body needs.
Having a good blend of organic ragi, besan, bajra etc in the daily dough of wheat and rice flour would further add to the taste and variety that every Indian dinner table desperately looks for. In fact, many interesting recipes are made better with the use of varied proportions of ragi, wheat etc., together and many vegetables and snacks turn awesome in a quick batter of good rice or besan flour. They range from Gujarati Dhokla, Rajasthani Baati or Rotla, Maharashtrian Thalipeeth, to South Indian Idli or porridge or Mudde varieties. Of course, you can also make delicious cookies or cakes out of the amazing mix.
Once you start developing a habit of using and mixing these flours in your routine, you can also start experimenting with many dishes and tapping organic variants that add more health to this energetic mix.
Ragi and Millet flours give strength, and other flours give stamina. They also aid strongly in weight loss and regulation of metabolism. Issues like cholesterol levels or diabetes can be readily wiped out with a prudent mix of various grains and flours in a good recipe.
They lack glutens that other flours have. They pack fibre that other flours lack. They are low in unsaturated fats. Their natural and unrefined characteristics set them immediately apart from the usual flours that are often consumed in a hurry or out of habit. They are best used in their natural form and thus need not be polished, which is what gives them a distinct place in the food system.
These healthy organic flours like besan and Rice Flour are also, now as easily available and as affordable as their not-so-healthy counterparts. They are not bland, can be whipped into any recipe and plus, go flexibly well with each other in various formats.
Full of nutrition and ripe with minerals, iron, calcium etc., this is the same multi-grain wonder that those western-world Granola bars provide. Why not pick something Indian and right within your arm’s reach for the same bundle of benefits?