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Showing posts with label recipe for elderly folks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label recipe for elderly folks. Show all posts

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Janta Ruti : Just do'ugh' it !!

Sometime back in 2013 when I was experimenting with foods meant for my ever-hungry toddler, I discovered the 'Janta ruti', a kind of bread popular in Odisha. It was tasty, easy enough to chew, and light on the stomach too. Plus it made a perfect pair with the boiled veggies (read 'Santula' minus the 'chunka' or tempering). It became a part of our menu and stayed that way. And incredibly, it's most salient feature remained overlooked. 

But everything changed a few months back when I was reading up on research papers about gluten. Or rather how to minimize the formation of this unavoidable protein that has been haunting quite a few people. Honestly, going the sourdough route or switching to 'Gluten free' flour isn't an option for everyone. Or even switching to 'ghar ke chakki ka atta' or 'home processed flour' if I have to put it in the Indian context.

But why this growing dissent with 'gluten' which has always been present in wheat? Gluten intolerance may also have become fairly common because of changes in the way wheat is processed. Earlier, wheat was harvested, shade dried, washed down, and sun-dried before making it to the local chakki where it was ground and distributed. But increased demand has led to manufacturers bypassing all the steps between threshing and processing. Most of the packaged wheat is not properly shade dried and sun-dried - the two processes that broke down gluten (or rather glutenin as gluten comes into the picture only when after the flour is hydrated ) into smaller particles.

Preferences also play a role here. Demand for white-looking bread or 'roti' has led to the market being flooded with certain varieties like durum which have higher gluten content in comparison to varieties like 'Emmer' or 'Kaphali' which have lower gluten but are much darker in color. In spite of this selective breeding, the gluten content has remained constant over the last 120 years, although the composition of the gluten has changed slightly. While the proportion of Gliadin fell by around 18 percent, the proportion of Glutenin rose by around 25 percent. 

While it is tough to dismiss the external factors, the formation of gluten has a lot to do with how the dough is manipulated. Everything from the amount (and temperature) of water added to the dough, to the kneading technique (damn!! there are so many of them) and duration of kneading to the usage of shortening agents( term used for fats that coat the gluten components and prevent them from forming lengthy chains resulting in a flaky crumbly texture) plays a definite role.  

Somewhere in the middle of processing it all, it struck me. I was seeing the 'Janta ruti' through the lens of my newly acquired understanding. It ticked all the boxes. Temperature, hydration, and fat. The boiling water denatures the wheat proteins, limiting the formation of gluten. This makes the dough soft but not stretchy(read 'hard to tear'). Second, the hot water gelatinizes the starch allowing it to absorb more water. This makes the dough smooth and supple and a lot easier to work with. As a bonus, it stays soft long after it has cooled down. The fat, though in a limited amount, prevents the linkage of gluten strands and ensures that the dough doesn't turn sticky. Hence one ends up with a dough that is easy to work with and the end product (roti/paratha) stays soft and fresh for a longer duration. Best part? It is that it is just so much easier on the digestive system (and the jaws too).

There are two versions made in most Odia homes, a sweeter one with fennel and a little khand/sugar and a savory one with carom(ajwain) seeds. The preparation process and the rest of the ingredients remain the same. A few people also add a little milk while preparing the dough for the sweeter version.

Sometimes the dough is also deep-fried instead of being cooked on a tawa or griddle. These pooris, also called 'khali poori', are extremely delicious but soak up a lot of oil. They are eaten during fasting.

Check the recipe for the Janta Ruti (sweet version) - HERE

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Janta Roti

Does the name sound a little odd ?? Hindi speaking folks would confuse it with 'Junta' or the masses. So, is it a roti (indian bread) meant for the masses ? No, it is nothing of that sort. 'Janta' in odia loosely means 'pre-cooked'. The flour is cooked in hot water/milk to form a sticky mass. This is allowed to cool down before it is kneaded into a smooth dough which is then fried/baked/steamed. Most of the 'Pitha's' like Manda, Kakara, Arissa, or Poda pitha are prepared this way. The pre-cooking helps in easy chewing and digestion. Hence it is the preferred food for elderly folks and infacts who are just being introduced solid food. Even people who are recuperating from fever/jaundice/upset stomach can be given this 'roti'.

While many of my Odia friends may be knowing about it, still I would love to share the recipe as it is a very useful one. Read on -

Preparation Time - 20-25 mins ( For about 1 cup of flour, will vary with quantity )

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup water (plus a little more might be required as different wheat varieties absorb different quantity)
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tsp ghee
  • 2-3 pinch salt
  • extra flour for dusting
Preparation - Boil the water in a wok. Add sugar and 1/2 tsp ghee to it.

Dissolve 1 tsp of flour in 2 tbsp of water. Add this to the boiling water .

Then slowly add the remaining flour while stirring continuously. Cook for 4-5 minutes till the mass feels somewhat tight to move around. Remove from flame and allow to cool down completely. (it will be very sticky at this point.

Transfer the cooled mass to a working surface. Dust the surface with flour and drizzle 1 1/2 tsp ghee over the dough. Knead the dough till it forms a smooth mass.

Pinch small portions from the dough. Shape them into smooth balls and flatten slightly.

Dust the working surface with more flour and roll out the balls into small circles or rotis.

Heat the tawa and place the roti over it. Cook on medium flame till you can see small bubbles coming up on the surface of the roti. Flip it over and cook on the other side. The roti will swell up.Remove from tawa after 1 minute.

Repeat for the remaining rotis.

Serve with dalma and santula ( or dal and subzi ). These rotis stay soft for a very long time.

Note - One can also brush a little ghee on the roti while cooking on the tawa or immediately after removing.

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