Indian cuisine is unique, so are the ingredients. Our ancestors taught us certain principles of eating and conserving food which were religiously passed down to us by many generations. Food wastage is a strict no-no in the Indian households and over many years, we learnt how to whip up countless number of recipes with just one primary ingredient.
And if there is one such kitchen item, which can don many avatars be it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even as a snack – then that’s semolina.
Also known as Sooji or suji, this coarse product is nothing but the purified middling of durum wheat grains. Also Read: Wheat: 5 Nutritional Reasons Why You Should Add This Whole-grain Cereal To Your Daily Diet
Sooji also goes with another household name in India – Bombay Rava, a finer variety of semolina used extensively in the preparation of upma, rava dosa, kichidi, rava kesari and so forth.
Semolina is derived from the Italian word Semol (bran) with a suffix ‘ina’ and in Italy, it is a staple in the preparation of pasta. Indian food researchers claim that the word Semolina might have had Indo-European origins and was derived from Samita and Godhuma which means grind into hulled kernels.
In the US, it is known as Farina and it contains more gluten, less coarse and is a main ingredient in desserts, than in salty items.
Though semolina, sooji and rava are often considered the same in India, there are a few mild variations, depending on the texture and size of the granules. In European countries Semolina that looks pale yellow in colour is made from wheat and it serves as a base for other products like couscous and is an alternative to cornmeal whereas sooji is made by finely milling the durum wheat and may contain the traces of all-purpose flour or maida. Rava on the other hand is neither coarse nor fine, making it an all-in-one ingredient, irrespective of the dish.
Semolina or sooji or rava – it is all the same and there is no denying that it occupies a top slot in the Indian kitchen and its name finds a presence in the monthly grocery list, on par with rice and dal. These versatile granules are your time-saver on a busy day as they can be cooked into numerous dishes in a jiffy.
Nutrition In Semolina:
Semolina or sooji is rich in nutrition and is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals.
Calories: 198 calories
Carbs: 40 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Fat: less than 1 gram
Thiamine: 41% of the RDI
Fiber: 7% of the Reference Daily Intake
Folate: 36% of the RDI
Riboflavin: 29% of the RDI
Iron: 13% of the RDI
Magnesium: 8% of the RDI (Source: USDA)
Is There Any Difference Between Semolina, Sooji and Rava?
No, all these varieties are the same and are the by-products of wheat but texture matters.
Semolina is much coarser and is helpful in baking. Sprinkle it generously on the baking surface to avoid sticking and add 2 tsp of it to the cake mix for a crusty top.
Bombay Rava is slightly coarser and goes best with upma, rava dosa, rava vada and other South Indian breakfast items. Also Read: 5 Nutritious Breakfast Ideas To Kick Start Your Day - Listicle
Sooji is more of a processed version and suits the best for Indian desserts like halwa owing to its fine texture.
How is Sooji or Rava Made?
Semolina, sooji or rava are procured from wheat grains. Traditionally, it was made by hand by crushing the wheat kernels between the stones and sieving it but with the advent of modern flour mills the job became easier.
Each wheat grain consists bran, endosperm and germ and the first step include cleaning these kernels thoroughly to remove dust, stones and other pollutants.
After cleaning, the grains undergo tempering which toughens the exterior and separates the bran from the endosperm.
The endosperm is thus sent through milling machines for several times to separate the germ from the grain.
Finally, the totally crushed endosperm turns into all-purpose flour or maida while the coarse product is sooji.
How To Make Sooji At Home?
Before the advent of machinery and flour mills, making sooji at home was a regular affair with the help of milling stone. With very little effort you can also make rava at home and here’s how you do it.
250 grams durum wheat grains
Clean the wheat grains and dry
Add into a mixer in small quantities and pulse it
Once it reaches the consistency of a coarse flour, sieve it
You will notice coarse pieces stuck in the mesh, tap it gently on to a cloth and your rava is ready!
Store it in an air-tight container
Collect all that fine flour in a bottle and that is maida or all-purpose flour. Also Read: Which Is The Healthiest Flour For Weight Loss and Why?
Types of Sooji:
There are many different types of sooji available in India. Though the most popular variety is made from wheat, others include those milled from corn, raagi and millets.
Made from durum wheat, it is available in both coarse and fine textures.
Known as cracked wheat, this particular variety is made by milling raw whole wheat. This unrefined rava is high on nutrition, chewy to taste is available in different textures – large sized, medium and fine.
Bulgur Wheat Rava:
Another popular variety, Bulgur wheat rava is for diet-watchers and it is processed by toasting, steamed and cracking wheat kernels. Since, it is already steamed and partially cooked, it takes very minimal time in cooking.
Bansi rava or Chiroti rava is a popular variety from Karanataka that is brown in colour made by roughly grinding husked wheat.
Though not made from wheat, rice rava – is another quintessential kitchen ingredient which is made for using upma, uttappam and payasam.
Health Benefits of Sooji Rava:
In our fast-paced lives, eating healthy daily is a herculean task and that’s why you need semolina in your kitchen cabinet in ample amounts. Nutritionists recommend including this simple, humble yet super food in your diet at least twice a week for various good health reasons and trust us, it is not tough cooking sooji.
Semolina in fact cooks within 5 minutes and can be steamed in less than 10 minutes. Here are the nutritional benefits of sooji rava.
Any recipe made from semolina is an instant energizer owing to its rich carbohydrate content. Including recipes made from sooji rava in the breakfast stimulates metabolism besides aiding in weight loss. If you are one of those morning persons, with a regular habit of intense body workouts, make it a point to relish either upma, rava idly, dosa or other breakfast items for breakfast to keep going.
Sooji rava is a great source of iron and it is highly recommended for those suffering from low levels of iron or anaemia. Foods made from semolina aid in improving blood circulation. Also Read: Iron: Functions, Food Sources, Supplements, Deficiency and Toxicity
Supports Nervous System:
Nervous system plays a crucial role in our physical being and it is extremely crucial to feed the system with healthy foods. Poor functioning of nervous system can lead to vascular disorders, haemorrhages, and other critical infections. Owing to the presence of magnesium, zinc and phosphorous in considerable amounts, semolina aids in preventing various nervous disorders.
Sooji is best for those suffering from cardiac ailments and hyperlipidaemia. The zero cholesterol levels in semolina make it an ideal ingredient to include in the diet plan for patients suffering higher cholesterol.
Promotes Weight Loss:
Sooji is high in protein and fibre which can make you satiated for longer hours. A rich source of thiamine, folate and vitamin B, semolina kills those mid-day hunger pangs and aids in losing weight.
Semolina is a must-have for the new mothers as it promotes lactation by stimulating prolactin – a hormone responsible for milk supply. It is a traditional home remedy in Indian households to feed semolina cooked in ghee and jaggery to the mothers to boost lactation.
The glycemic index of sooji is 66, which means it falls under medium GI category but can still be consumed in moderate amounts by the diabetics. Add some veggies rich in fibre to the dishes made from sooji for the daily dose of fibre, protein and energy.
Semolina is rich in selenium an antioxidant that can prevent oxidation of DNA cells, thus averting the risk of various ailments. It also plays a crucial role in boosting the immunity.
Sooji being an excellent source of all vitamins and minerals makes it a wholesome food. The zero cholesterol and presence of trans fatty acids and saturated fats, low levels of salt make it a super food for all age groups.
Sooji Vs Dalia:
Both sooji and dalia are the by-products of wheat but what sets them apart is the method of processing.
While semolina is the final and processed version of it, dalia is just the finely broken wheat and is not refined. Interestingly, these products are used in preparing similar dishes be it upma, kichidi, halwa and even dosas.
Though sooji contains dietary fibre, the amount of same component in dalia is significantly higher at 1.3 grams for every half cup and it can meet up to 1/5th of daily requirement of iron intake. Patients suffering from arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) should make it a habit of including dalia in daily intake, thanks to its presence of magnesium which plays a pivotal role in regulating the heartbeat.
Semolina is a blessing, especially on a busy or on a lazy day. If you are in no mood to cook, mix some curd with tempering and pour batter as idlis. It is your best bet to satisfy those cravings for crispy dosas, vadas and even sweets.
Though there are many popular recipes made from sooji, halwa is the number one 1 choice of foodies.
Here we bring you two healthy Sooji rava recipes.
Sooji Halwa With Milk:
150 grams semolina/sooji/rava
100 grams white sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup water
½ cup ghee
½ tsp cardamom powder
A fistful of dry fruits including cashew, badam, raisins – fried in ghee
In a pan, add 2 tsp ghee and roast sooji on low flame till it turns aromatic
In a deep bottomed vessel, add sugar, water and milk and bring it to a boil
Stir in roasted sooji. Make sure no lumps are formed
Add sugar and keep stirring till sooji absorbs all the milk and sugar
After it thickens and starts losing the sides of the pan, add dry fruits, cardamom powder
Add remaining ghee, turn off the stove
Serve hot or chilled
Sooji or semolina is a coarse by-product of wheat which is rich in protein, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Ghee is a powerhouse of natural antioxidants, vitamins and is rich in nutrition that can aid in weight loss, make the skin glow besides boosting immunity. Dry fruits are heart friendly, that can trigger metabolic activity and fight inflammation. Also Read: 5 Foods To Beat Inflammation
200 grams sooji rava
½ cup sour curd
1 tsp green chilli paste
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp oil
1 tsp coriander, chopped
1 tsp fruit salt or ¼ tsp baking soda
Salt to taste
In a bowl, mix rava, sour curd, chilli paste and mix
Add water and make it into a dosa batter consistency and set it aside for 30 minutes
Add fruit salt or baking soda and give it a nice stir. Add water if required
Take a steel plate or a square shaped tin, grease it with oil
Pour the batter and steam it for 12 to 15 minutes
In a small pan, add oil temper it with mustard and sesame seeds. Add 2 tsp water
Carefully remove the cooked dhokla from the plate or tin and cut into pieces
Pour this oil on the cooked dhoklas and serve it hot with chutney or tomato sauce
Rava dhokla is a healthy breakfast item or a snack famous from Gujarat. Easy to make, it is loaded with nutrition as semolina provides necessary dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals. Curd soothes the tummy and eases digestion while mustard, sesame seeds soothe the stomach and prevent flatulence.
Side Effects of Semolina:
Though semolina is considered good for health without any major complications, it can sometimes induce certain health related issues. If you are allergic to wheat, stay away from sooji as it may trigger moderate to severe allergic reactions including cold, throat pain, headache to anaphylaxis – difficulty in breathing.
Since sooji is rich in gluten, it needs to be avoided by those suffering from celiac disease, constipation, recurrent abdominal pain. People with gluten sensitivity should eliminate it from their daily diet.
Semolina, sooji or rava is a by-product of durum wheat which is vastly produced and extensively used in different cuisines. While Italians use it in making different types of pastas, in India it is a staple on par with rice, dal and ghee. Loaded with nutrition including good amounts of dietary fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals and zero cholesterol, trans fats and sodium, semolina makes it an ideal food choice for the weight watchers. If you are looking for a breakfast delicacy that can keep you satiated for longer hours throughout the day, go for items made from sooji rava like upma, rava dosa, rava vada and even rava kesari to beat mid-day hunger pangs.However, people suffering from gluten sensitivity and allergic reactions to wheat items should exercise caution while relishing these items.