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Welcome to the world of alternative flours

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With allergies and health consciousness, alternative flours are growing popular amongst masses. Sapna Sarfare finds the truth from the myths to understand the flours’ importance

Every other second, we hear of healthy alternatives cropping up. With allergies and all sorts of health issues cropping up, choosing alternative options is but natural. These days, people are opting for alternative flours as quite a few have gluten issues or these flavours are good. They are slowly growing in importance in every part of the globe.

Check the alternatives


There are quite a few alternative flours getting attention. Prosenjit Motilal, Operations Manager, The Protein Bistro, Notices Oats Flour, Coconut Flour, Chickpea Flour, Almond Flour, Quinoa Flour and Brown Rice Flour are getting a lot of attention, these days. “Alternative flours are beneficial since these flavours are good. Coconut flour has fewer calories, low fat but more carbs and fibre, and a low glycaemic score.

Finely ground almond flour is made of blanched almonds, and is therefore light in colour & texture. It doesn’t contain any gluten and is a good source of vitamin E, iron, manganese, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Oat flour is grain-free flour and if gluten-free oats, is also gluten-free flour. It also has more moisture, making it an ideal option for cookies and quick breads. Chickpea flour is high in protein, fibre and iron, and is naturally gluten free. It is an especially good choice for baking pizza crusts and breads.”

 According to Chef Atul Shankar Mishra, Head Chef, Hotel The Royal Plaza, New Delhi, Multigrain Flour, Rai Flour, Sunflower Flour, Chia Flour, Gold Coin Flour are some healthy flour rising in popularity. “They are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Chia flour is excellent source of omega 3 fatty acid as well as dietary fibre. Sunflower flour also reduces risk for heart disease.”

On popularity mode

There is no smoke without fire. Chef Atul feels people are becoming health conscious these days with more awareness regarding health issues via social media. Hence, such flours get popularity.

Prosenjit talks about the heavy reliance of Indian cuisine on flour, beginning chappati. “While many start their day with wholesome and filling parathas or chillas, rotis make customary appearance in our lunch boxes and dinner table. Despite the availability of plethora of grains and millets, the importance of wheat has remained undisputed. It is only now that the food enthusiasts are turning their attention to the mind boggling variety of grains and millets. Thus, evolved the concept of multi grain flours! Today, the demand for these flours is gaining popularity. More people are becoming aware of the importance of including different flours in their regular diet.”

Chef Surajbir Singh, Cuisine Trainer, Under One Roof Hotel Consultants, feels that gluten-free diet removes proteins from wheat and related grains. “The rise of this diet has two reasons behind it. The first is allergy. With advancements in medical science, more people are coming to the front about having celiac and gluten disorders. The second is as a fad. But recent research suggests that the elimination of gluten from a healthy person’s diet increases their chances of cardiovascular diseases so the gluten-free fad has plenty of opinions, but there is no concrete scientific research to support it.”

But he finds it difficult to say about the popularity in depth. “I came across a research that there has been a 12% increase in gluten and celiac disorders in the past decade but the research couldn’t ascertain whether that was due to greater awareness and people coming to the front about it, or a general increase in the disorder. Parallel to this is the fad/diet quotient but it’s not really a negative thing. We’re working with a client developing a range using ragi and even besan.”

Know the dishes

Yes, there are popular dishes which use alternative flours quite liberally. Prosenjit recalls Coconut Flour Bread, Coconut Pineapple Cake, Coconut Flour Doughnut, Gluten Free Oat Wrap, etc.

Surajbir recalls breads, cookies and pasta as commonly found items with alternative flours. “In pasta, usually semolina or rice replaces maida or wheat. Substitutes for breads and cookies include oats, millet, gluten free brown bread made with rice, potato and tapioca, almond flour, flax seed flour, corn, chickpea flour, buckwheat, amaranth, rice, sorghum (jowar), quinoa, mixed nuts, and of course, the combination of these to produce gluten free mixed breads.” But he feels one cannot substitute directly and we have to adjust the quantities.

Coconut Flour Pancakes

INGREDIENTS

4 Eggs, beaten and set aside

1 cup Cream or Coconut Cream

1½ tsp Vanilla Extract

½ cup Coconut Flour

2 tbsp Coconut Sugar

1½ tsp Baking Soda

¼ tsp Sea Salt

Ghee/Coconut Oil/Butter, for cooking

Method

Mix eggs, cream, vanilla together. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine coconut flour, coconut sugar, baking soda and sea salt. Slowly mix wet mixture into dry mix. Heat the griddle or frying pan to medium heat. Add ghee, coconut oil or butter. Make pancakes using 2 tablespoons – ¼ cup of batter at a time. Small pancakes are easier and will be less likely to fall apart when removing. Cook for a few minutes on each side. The pancakes should be slightly brown and dry on both sides. Serve and enjoy!

  • Recipe courtesy Prosenjit Motilal

Sunflower Bread

INGREDIENTS

150 gm Atta

150 gm Sunflower Flour

10 gm Yeast

5 gm Salt

5 gm Breakfast Sugar

2 gm Bread Improver

5 gm Cow Butter

15 gm Stater

60 ml Water

Method

Mix all the mixture in the dough mixer. Keep the mixture to rest for 10 minutes. Put the mixture in the bread mould and keep it for proofing 15-20 minutes. Then bake it in 190-degree pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Your bread is ready.

  • Recipe courtesy Chef Atul Shankar Mishra

Gluten Free Almond Biscotti

INGREDIENTS

2 Large Eggs

¼ cup Maple Syrup

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/3 cup Coconut Oil

1.5 tsp Almond Extract

1 tbsp Orange Zest

3½ cup Ground Almond Flour (Not Almond Meal)

1 tsp Baking Soda

Cinnamon – 2 Tsp

½ cup Slivered Almonds

1/8 tsp Salt

Optional Toppings Include Orange Zest, Chocolate or Sea Salt

Method

Preheat oven to 220 degrees and lay parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Mix together eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract, almond extract and orange zest in a bowl. Set aside. Next, place almond flour, baking soda, cinnamon, slivered almonds and salt in a large both and slowly mix together with a hand mixer. Add the first round of ingredients to this mix and mix again. Finally, add coconut oil and mix until everything is combined. Split the dough in half and form into logs about 4 inches wide and slightly less than an inch thick. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Once cooled (and wait for it to totally cool), cut into thin slices into small biscotti. Reduce the oven temperature to 175 degrees. Place all slices on a cookie sheet and back in the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on how crunchy you would like your biscotti. Remove from oven, let cool for half an hour.