Durum wheat botanically known as Triticum turgidum, used extensively in preparing various types of pastas, macaronis is the second most cultivated species of wheat in the world, after the common variety. Amounting to only 5% to 8% of global wheat production, Durum wheat, according to biologists was developed by artificially selecting the domesticated, hulled, tetraploid wheat strains that were being cultivated in Central Europe and North East, since 7000 BC.
In Latin, the word Durum means ‘hard’. This particular variety of wheat is tetraploid with 4 sets of chromosomes for a total of 28, compared to hexaploid – with 6 sets of chromosomes. Durum, though high on protein content is not considered strong enough for making regular breads.
A major part of Durum produced today is amber in colour, with grains sporting deep orange colour owing to the presence of extra carotenoid pigments. But what gives pasta made from Durum wheat that beautiful yellow tinge is the endosperm. When milled, this endosperm turns into tiny, grainy semolina for using extensively in making pastas and breads. Though red Durum is also cultivated, it is used only for feeding livestock. In India, the production of Durum wheat amounts to only 5%, and is used for making sooji. It is also known as Durum semolina flour.
Culinary Uses of Durum Wheat:
Dry pasta, that is commercially produced and available in the market in usually made from Durum wheat. Using this particular variety for making pasta was first described by Ibn Washiya, an agriculturist from Cairo in 10th century.
In Italian households, Durum wheat is mixed with other variety as a combination of soft and hard dough. Husked and coarsely ground Durum wheat is a staple in North African and Mediterranean countries for making traditional dishes like pilafs, flat round breads, bulgur, pizzas, tortes, soups and even puddings.
Durum Wheat Vs Whole Wheat Vs Maida:
Wheat kernels contain three parts – bran, germ and endosperm. While bran consists of hard layer of the outer grain, filled with minerals, antioxidants, germ offers vitamins, minerals, fat, protein and small amount of carbs. Endosperm, which forms the largest part of the grain is made up of carbs and protein.
In whole wheat flour, bran, germ and endosperm stay intact, giving it a rich nutrient profile. Besides B vitamins, this flour also contains ample amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, phytochemicals.
The nutritional profile of this particular variety depends on how it was processed. Durum wheat is not only high on protein but also low in gluten. Whole wheat durum flour contains more vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals than compared to white durum variety.
Full refined flour may offer greater shelf life, works splendid with baking goodies but is not a healthy food choice. Low on fat, fibre, vitamins, minerals when compared to other two varieties of wheat, maida is in fact a unhealthy version of wheat flour.
Durum Wheat Benefits:
Low Glycemic Index:
Believe it or not, the glycemic index of Durum wheat is just 47, making it an ideal food choice for those suffering from diabetes. It is easily digestible, yet absorbs into the body at a slower rate, making you feel satiated for longer hours. The next time, you are relishing a bowl full of pasta, do it guilt-less!
Protein plays a major role in maintaining our overall health. Made up of amino acids, protein keeps each cell in the body active and going. Eating dishes made from this variety of wheat aids you in weight loss, repair, build muscles and tissues, trigger metabolism, maintain structural framework and ensure fluid balance.
High in Folate:
Durum wheat is a rich source of B-complex vitamins including thiamine and folate. If you are a vegetarian, chances are high you might be deficient in Vitamin B. This particular vitamin is crucial for maintaining healthy vision, regulate liver function and for maintaining glowing skin and hair. Include Durum wheat in regular diet for staying energetic, strengthen the nervous system and for regenerating red blood cells.
Maintains Kidney Health:
Consuming foods that are high on potassium but low in sodium, leave a positive impact on kidneys. Durum wheat is loaded with potassium that helps in regulating high blood pressure, flush out excessive salts and keep renal organs healthy.
This unique wheat variety gives you 17 grams of calcium and 47mg of potassium for every 100 grams that help in protecting the density of bones. Besides the presence of zinc, phosphorous also ensure strengthening of bones, muscles and play a crucial role in maintaining the functioning of central nervous system at its optimum level.
Wheat is general is recommended as a part of diet plan for those suffering from cardiovascular diseases. If you are bored of rotis and craving for pasta, eat it unapologetically with Durum wheat. As discussed earlier, being rich in potassium keeps makes this variety an ultimate choice for the heart patients too, as it greatly supports the functioning of heart. It maintains electrolyte balance between cells, maintains fluid, and regulates heart rhythm, besides bringing the high blood pressure down.
Durum wheat variety just like whole wheat is rich in fibre. It can be part of your daily diet for improving gut health, prevent constipation and also for better absorption of nutrients in to the blood.
Antioxidants For Health:
Consuming Durum wheat ensures a daily intake of a great amount of minerals, antioxidants and iron, the body would require. Antioxidant rich food fight free radicals, thus preventing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. The presence of selenium strengthens immunity to fight against various bacterial and viral infections.
Is Durum Wheat Healthy?
Durum wheat is certainly a healthy choice and is getting increasingly popular on par with whole wheat across the world. Being rich in protein, antioxidants, an array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants Durum wheat can be a part of your daily diet. It is tasty, nutritious at the same time and most of the dry pastas available in market are made from this variety.
Loaded with protein, fibre, this is also an ideal choice for those on weight loss regimen.
How Much Gluten in Durum Wheat?
Durum wheat is high in protein and gluten. It contains 27% of wet gluten, which is extractable and approximately 3% higher than the regular whole wheat.
Durum Wheat Recipes:
For us Indians, Durum Wheat is not a staple but it is gaining popularity in our kitchens in the recent times. Though we love our rotis soft and chapatis, it’s time to welcome Durum flour in our daily diet, owing to its immense nutritional benefits.
Durum Wheat Paratha:
2 cups of Durum wheat flour
2 cups boiled and mashed vegetables – potato, carrot, peas, broccoli
3 tbsp. oil
¾ cup lukewarm water
½ tsp salt
In a bowl, mix both salt and wheat flour till combined well
Add oil and give it a good mix. Slowly add little water, mashed vegetables and stir it with finger tips
Continue adding water, till the dough releases gluten and comes together
Knead it on kitchen surface for 10 minutes, until it turns soft, supple
Let it rest for ten minutes
Pinch small balls of the dough, roll into a roti with rolling pin
Put it on the hot skillet, cook both sides till the roti turns brown, and bubbles form
Serve hot with curry, curd and pickles
Durum wheat is rich in protein, vitamins B, K and E. It is also a powerhouse of potassium, zinc and dietary fibre. Adding vegetables makes this dish nutritious choice for those on weight loss. Carrots provide ample amounts of Vitamins A, K, calcium and iron. Adding potatoes gives some starchy content besides Vitamins C, B6 while gives protein, iron, potassium and fibre. Green peas too provide copious amounts of Vitamins A, K, C and thiamine.
Durum Wheat Bread:
2 cups fine Durum Wheat flour
1 tsp yeast
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
3 tsp curd
In a bowl, pour warm water, add yeast and let it prove
Take a large bowl, add wheat flour, mix in yeast, salt, sugar and curd. Knead till turns soft
Make it into a dough, allow it to prove for 2 hours
Knead again and let it rest for 30 minutes
Bake it for 20 to 25 minutes, in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree Celsius
Durum wheat bread is a healthy choice for breakfast, as it keeps you satiated for longer hours. It is also ideal for diabetics, owing to its low glycemic index. Rich in protein and loaded with vitamins, consume it with peanut butter to stay energized for rest of the day.
Durum wheat rich in protein, dietary fibre is safe to consume. However, it is not recommended to those with gluten intolerance. The presence of gluten in this variety of wheat can cause gut problems. Make sure it is processed well to enjoy the benefit of all its nutritional content. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor or nutritionist to know if it is safe to include in regular diet plan.
Durum wheat also known as pasta wheat or macaroni wheat is second most produced crop after regular variety. Used extensively in European, Middle Eastern cuisine and is a staple in Italian households for pastas and pizzas. Loaded with impressive nutritional profile, Durum wheat offers protein, dietary fibre, vitamins B, K, E besides zinc, potassium, and thiamine. Ideal for diabetics and for those on weight loss regimen, recipes made from this wheat variety not only taste good but keep you healthy!