India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Wine & Dine
June 11, 2013

Brawn And Grain

Text by Sonal Ved. Published: Volume 21, Issue 6, June, 2013.

After yoga, breakfast and naps, the word ‘power’ is being increasingly associated with grains and seeds. Sonal Ved suggests non-boring ways to introduce these super foods in your diet

From waist watchers, nutritionists to Hollywood celebrities, fitness enthusiasts worth their salt are swearing by super foods. While it started out last year with recommendations for quinoa pouring in on us from all corners, the list of power grains and seeds that we must munch on has slowly increased to more than a dozen.

This tilt towards organic and natural food that hit the country sometime last year, not only introduced us to healthy dining and snacking options, it also revived our interest in ancient seeds and grains that had been long-forgotten. Take for instance flours and seeds such as millet, ragi, amaranth, chia, flax and others that played a significant role in primal Indian cuisine.

Luckily for gourmets, these ingredients are now being reintroduced in a more gourmet fashion, so what was doled out as rajgira chikki back in the days is now being served as a nutritive date and amaranth bar. Similarly, ancient flours such as nachni, millet, coarse corn meal are being used to create pancake mixes, cookies and other desserts by the city’s bakers.

According to Seema Jindal Jajodia, founder of Nourish Organics, “The words ‘super food’ stand for any ingredient that is power-packed with nutrients, is healthy for the system and is minimally processed before consumption.” The Delhi-based entrepreneur who dabbles with organic health bars, munchies, cereals and muesli, says that small bites of these ‘power’ foods go a long way.

“These nuts, seeds and grains not only satiate hunger pangs, they also come with added nutritional benefits such as omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, minerals, protein, magnesium, fibre and others that help in slowing down the ageing process, providing optimum energy, healthy skin, nails and hair,” says Jajodia.

Not to be mistaken with diet foods, power ingredients do not take pride in their weight management properties, instead focus on being healthy alternatives. Take for instance the handmade sunflower seed butter by Sain’s Market – a culinary venture by curator Neerja Mittersain from The Gourmet Compay. This butter made by lightly toasting organic sunflower seeds with a hint of cinnamon has a rich feel but not the calories and cholesterol contained by regular butter.

“While like everyday butter this concoction spreads well on toasts, scones, waffles and fruits – it has no animal proteins and is suitable for those with nut allergies and vegans,” says Mittersain. Apart from butter, she also stocks on whole seeds of sunflower, alfalfa, flax and pumpkin and recommends sprinkling them over salads, fruit bowls and churning them with shakes and smoothies for instant energy.

FLOUR POWER
Besides seeds and nuts, nutritive flours such as whole wheat, multigrain, ragi, oat, rye, spelt and others also go a long way in power-packing your meals. Doing the rounds are super flours such as almond meal, oat meal, pistachio flour and whole wheat that are used abundantly by founder Amal Farooque from SugarOverDose, a Santacruz-based bakery service. According to Farooque, “These flours, when baked, are more wholesome in terms of mouth feel and texture. They crumble well and are way healthier than refined flour.” Her menu therefore is speckled with desserts such as whole wheat lemon blondies and brownies, almond flour tea cakes and thumbprint cookies, oatmeal biscuits and pistachio flour shortbread.

Similar substitution is also seen at Kala Ghoda-based Pantry that uses red millet flour to make banana pancakes. And Nariman Point’s Suzette uses buckwheat atta to make golden crispy crepes.

WHOLE-WHEAT AND OATMEAL PANCAKES
Ingredients: Instant oatmeal, 3/4 cup; Yogurt, 1 ½ cups (plus 2 tbsp); Whole-wheat flour, 3/4 cup; Baking powder, 1 ½ tsp; Baking soda, ¾ tsp; Cinnamon, ½ tsp; Large egg (lightly beaten), 1; Melted butter, 2 tbsp; Jaggery, 1 tbsp; Fresh fruits and honey for garnish.

Method: Pre whisk yogurt and add oatmeal to it. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Add egg, butter, jaggery and leftover yogurt to it and mix the batter well. Heat a griddle over medium heat and brush it lightly with oil. Pour ¼ cup of batter on the griddle and spread it evenly to make pancakes. Cook the cakes for one minute on each side or until they appear golden brown. Serve hot with honey and fresh fruits.

ALMOND MEAL AND CRANBERRY SCONES
Ingredients: Almond flour, 2 cups; Rock salt, ¼ tsp; Baking soda, 1 tsp; Dried cranberries/blueberries, ½ cup; Orange zest, 1 tbsp; Egg, 1; Honey, 2 tbsp.

Method: In a large bowl, mix almond flour with rock salt, baking soda, cranberries and orange zest. In another bowl, whisk egg with honey. Add this to the dry mixture and knead it into a tight dough. Sprinkle additional almond powder on a work surface and roll out the dough into a slab of ½ inch thickness. Using a scone cutter, cut multiple scones out of the dough and bake them at 170 degree C for 15 minutes. Once baked, bring out of oven and allow it to cool for 5-7 minutes. Serve with choice of preserve or fresh fruits.

(Recipes courtesy baker Amal Farooque from SugarOverDose)

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