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This is just a collection of some Indian vegetarian recipes that I've been trying out and info I've been researching into in my ongoing and never-ending quest for a better balance at life, while dealing with Type II diabetes in my family. Things don't always work out, but hey, that's life, and we can only strive to make it better. Every small victory makes it that much easier. We take each day as it comes.

Fortified Chapatti -- My daily Indian flatbread

Bread, made of whole grains, is an essential part of an Indian diabetic diet. Often, it is necessary to shun rice because of its carbohydrate-rich composition, which can spike blood glucose to unacceptable levels.

Breads can be made from various different flours: whole wheat flour, refined or white flour, jowar or pearl millet flour, ragi or finger millet flour, cornflour, oatmeal, and so on. They can be leavened or unleavened, flat or rounded, toasted or grilled or baked or fried. Amazingly, unleavened bread dough can also be cooked directly on coals or toasted directly on the stove flame, as seen in Indian cuisine. Any additive can be added to enhance flavor -- fruits, vegetables, cheese, spices such as cinnamon, caraway seeds, anise, sesame seeds and so on.

The good thing about bread is that it can be stored for some length of time, unlike rice or lentils which spoil rather quickly once cooked. Bread dough also freezes very well, so leftovers can be stashed away in the freezer for future use. Even stale bread has its uses in soups and puddings.

Because of its lengthy storage properties and nutrition, bread could be easily and creatively used to feed homeless and poverty-stricken people around us. In the event of famines, bread and water is certainly not something to sneer at, no matter what history says.

I feel the humble chapatti would be a good representative of Indian cuisine at every strata of society. This simple and everyday recipe is my entry for the World Food Day Event jointly hosted by Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast and Ivy of Kopiaste. This event is their idea of trying to bring the world a little bit closer via the blogging community.

World Food Day celebrates the birth of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the organization was founded on October 16th, 1945. The theme for 2008 (World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy) is appropriately focussed on the climbing food costs that keep good food out of the reach of 923 million undernourished people the world over. Because of global warming, this crisis is only going to escalate in future years. Every creature on this planet has a right to food. Let us join hands and try to make a difference, in our own small way, to the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves.

Chapattis can be had plain with curds. They can be eaten with pickles, chutneys, simple cooked veggies and lentils, or elaborate curries. So it is a perfect Indian recipe to dedicate on World Food Day.

The fortified chapatti is a whole wheat flat bread I make everyday for my family and I include flours of good quality proteins which I stack within arm's reach in my kitchen. I add a spoon or two of all the additional powders along with the whole wheat, which is the main ingredient. These are the additional flours I add:
  • Wheat bran: I add this to increase the insoluble fiber content in the bread. Constipation is a common complaint, especially in the elderly and those afflicted with longstanding diabetes or chronic digestive problems.
  • Wheat germ: This is something I need to buy and store in bulk because very often this is missing on supermarket shelves. Since it can turn rancid easily because of its oils, I only buy small packets that I can use within a short duration. once opened This flaky portion of the wheat grain is rich in vitamin E and many minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium. It has high-quality proteins.
  • Rajgira/Amaranth seed flour: This flour is rich enough to be used as a substitute to wheat and rice on fasting days. It is rich in lysine, an essential amino acid, and when combined with another grain such as corn or wheat, the amino acid balance is very nutritious. Though common in the Indian household, this humble grain actually originated in the Aztec nation of South America. For more on its colorful history, click here. I use both the readymade flour and the puffed seeds which I grind to a powder.
  • Soybean flour: This is a common ingredient in the kitchen; no need for any introduction to this. It is a rich source of proteins and of folates. It does contain trypsin inhibitors (trypsin being an enzyme active in protein digestion), so I use a brand that makes flour from preheated beans that destroy this element. I don't use more than a spoon or two of this flour since soybean is not particularly agreeable to us.
  • Psyllium husk powder, fenugreek seed flour and chickpea flour: This combination is found in Marico's Saffola Functional Food pack for diabetics. I add no more than two spoons into my chapatti dough, because I do add the above flours too. Psyllium seed husks (also called ispaghula) is a neutral natural fiber that swells when dissolved in water. It is not digested in the human body, and hence is of great use as a bulk fiber to relieve constipation and diarrhea. However, good fluid intake is a must when adding this to the diet. Methi seeds and chana dal are rich in fiber, protein and minerals; they aid in slowing the release of glucose in the blood.
I store all these flours in separate opaque glass jars, ready at hand, along with whole wheat flour.

To make chapattis to feed six people (as per the event rules), about one-and-a-half glasses of warmed filtered water would be required. In this I dissolve requisite salt.

I add a spoon or two of each of the above flours and powders. I then add whole wheat flour and knead the dough.

I don't really measure out the whole wheat flour. I just add flour as needed and knead the dough until it takes on a smooth and elastic texture. I also add a teaspoon of oil to aid in the process.

I let this dough rest for about half an hour and then separate this into small lime-sized balls (for this measurement of water, roughly 25 balls of dough would be possible) which I roll out flatly into a thickness of roughly 2 millimeters with my rolling pin. I toast both sides of each rolled-out dough to a golden brown on my iron griddle using a drop or two of oil if needed. I serve this with the side-dish of choice.

To vary the flavor, one can add caraway seeds/ajwain, sesame seeds, cumin/jeera seeds, a pinch of cinnamom powder, chopped or dried fenugreek leaves, chopped cilantro, etc, while kneading the dough.

Updated on October 16th (World Food Day):
Click here for the astounding array of dishes across the world to commemorate this day.


Ivy said...

Hi Deepika and thanks for submitting a recipe for the WFD. Your flatbread sounds delicious.

Bellini Valli said...

This is a perfect dish to feed many Deepika. Than you so much sending this to our conga line of dishes for the World Food Day Event!!

TS said...

I like experimenting with different flours in my chapatis too...I like the new attas with soy flour in it, it makes the chapatis so soft!

The Spice who Loved me

Sangeeth said...

perfect flat breads thr! round! i never get them round!

Deepika said...

Val and Ivy, I am deeply honored to participate in your thoughtful food event.

I agree, TS! Variety is the spice of life. :-)

Thanks, Sangeeth. Took me sometime to get the hang of it too, you know!

Bellini Valli said...

Today is World Food Day. Come on over and join the party Deepika. Thank you so much for all your heklp in spreading the word on this global issue. Now...let's DANCE!!!!!

Jude said...

Awesome healthy recipe.. Nothing like the smell of freshly baked indian flatbreads in the kitchen.

Rumela said...

Thanks for sharing so much information on chapattis. It was great to know that I can make chapattis using a wide variety of flours. using different flours will give the chapattis a distinct taste and flavor.thank you for shearing your post.


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