Indian kitchens are a treasure trove of amazing ingredients without which our cuisines taste bland, insipid and less on nutrition. It is a common sight in our families to find a quick substitute for each ingredient – like cumin for fennel, lemon for tamarind and even hing for that pungent garlic taste.
One of the indispensable must-haves in our kitchens are different types of flours. In case, if you lack wheat flour to roll rotis, add a fist full of millet powder or all-purpose flour for that extra soft texture.
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Various types of flour obtained from crop plants like rice, wheat, lentils like chickpeas are used in the preparation of staple desi dishes including rotis, parathas, upma, dosa, idli. Powdered flour is also used to make sweets and savouries like halwa and kozhukattai on festive occasions.
Flour was traditionally made by grinding grains or lentils by hand, using a mortar and pestle and then gradually was done in a mill to obtain large amounts of produce at a quicker pace. However, today, preparation of flour is a largely machine-based process, that crushes and pound the grains, dried lentils, or millets using water, high-powered rollers and purifiers.
The most commonly used Indian varieties of flour include atta, maida and besan, but there are many more such as rice flour and ragi flour. All of these are used for distinct purposes, to prepare customary Indian recipes and confer numerous health benefits. They contain carbohydrates and calories, for constant energy supply, besides fibers for regulating digestion. Also Read: Which Is The Healthiest Flour For Weight Loss and Why?
Read on, to know more.
Different Varieties Of Flour And Their Nutritional Content
Atta is traditionally used for making Indian flatbreads such as rotis, chapatis, parathas, pooris and phulkas.
Atta is a finely ground powder made from wheat crops and contains the endosperm, husk, bran and the germ layers of the plant.
Being rich in calcium, atta supports strong bones. It also possesses significant amounts of iron, for healthy red blood cell synthesis.
Maida is a staple ingredient used for preparing fluffy tandoori items like naan, bhatura, luchi, kulcha, as well as for baking purposes like muffins, cakes and cookies.
Maida is, in fact, a residue derived from wheat, comprising only the endosperm portion of the crop and is then refined and bleached.
Maida contains noteworthy levels of carbohydrates and fats, which help in weight gain as well as growth and development of body tissues, However, it is not recommended to consume maida on a daily basis as it is very acidic, giving rise to inflammation and also increases bad LDL cholesterol levels in the system.
Rice Flour/Chawal Ka Atta:
Rice flour is a must-have in desi kitchens and is widely used in standard Indian dishes like kozhakattai, pooris and rotis are made from rice flour. It adds crisp texture to your deep-fried bajjis and is also used to thicken the consistency of vegetable stews in Southern India.
Made from crushing rice kernels, rice flour is usually divided into wet flour and dry flour, depending on the consistency. Next time, you bite into crunchy Murukku or that South Indian fritter, do not forget to thank rice flour.
Rice flour is a very healthy option for those suffering from celiac disease, as it is gluten-free. It also supplies ample amounts of B vitamins, for proper metabolism and nervous system function. Also Read: Gluten-Free: 5 Food Groups You Should Eat For A Healthy Gut
Besan is a popular flour used extensively in a wide range of sweets and savouries.
Made by pounding dried chickpeas, to produce a soft flour with an earthy scent, besan flour comes in handy if you want to roll masala rotis, steam dhoklas and is often a substitute of rice or wheat flour to adjust consistency.
Besan is high on protein content, thus ensuring robust muscles and healthy development of vital organs in the body. It also provides a host of essential minerals such as magnesium and phosphorous, for fortified bones, besides folate for maintaining optimal red blood cell synthesis.
Finger Millet/Ragi Flour:
Ragi flour is an ideal substitute for those looking to add a healthy twist to the staple dosa and idli preparations made from rice-dal based batter.
This flour variant is highly nourishing, as it undergoes minimal processing, thus conserving all essential nutrients. It is made by crushing the dried ragi grains to form a fine, smooth powder.
Ragi flour is high on protein and carbohydrates and is often given to babies and children in the form of porridge, as a weaning food and for optimal development of body weight and height. It also helps regulate blood pressure levels, as it possesses generous amounts of potassium, besides calcium for making bones sturdy and robust.