In India, we’re not new to the concept of sprouting. Given the variety of grains and legumes that are indigenous to the country, we have grown up eating Moong sprouts in Koshimbirs, Chana sprouts in Sundals, and a plethora of sprouting grains are used in curries and rice dishes across the land with subtle changes in spices and souring agents. Ancient wisdom has led us to believe in the nutritional benefits of sprouting our grain, a concept that the western world is only recently warming up to.
Taking the concept of sprouting a notch higher is the idea of using flour milled from sprouted grain. The most obvious virtue of sprouted flour is the fact that the whole grain is utilized—for instance, once the whole grain of wheat has been sprouted, it is dried and then milled in its entirety—germ, bran, and endosperm—the whole grain. Unlike in regular flours, there is no de-husking, sieving or other refining method involved. This ensures that we consume the grain in its wholesome goodness—as it was meant to be. The fiber content of the grain is, therefore, kept intact, and is in perfect balance with the protein or gluten content of the grain thereby reducing the chances of gluten intolerance.
Another essential advantage that sprouting offers is in its neutralization of phytic acid. Phytic acid tends to hamper the absorption of a host of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Upon sprouting, the enzymes present in the grain break down the phytic acid and allow your body to extract the maximum benefit from the grain.
An interesting way to understand the benefits of sprouted grain and flour made from it is this—when a grain is germinated, it is on its way to becoming a plant—like vegetables, which are more easily digested by our body than grains. Sprouted grain also increases the activity of beneficial organisms such as lactobacilii, which are known to aid digestion. You will notice that you do not feel unnaturally full or experience flatulence when you consume sprouted grain flours.
The very action of sprouting grain also helps to break down the starch content in it; this makes it easier on digestion and proves to be a more advantageous carbohydrate component for diabetics and people with chronic digestive disorders.
In terms of flavor, flours made from sprouted wheat or millets tend to be nuttier and the earthiness of the Ragi or the creaminess of wheat gets accentuated manifold thereby making your dishes richer in flavor. Baked goods made from sprouted flour also tend to be lighter in texture.
Does all this science talk make the application of sprouted flour in everyday cooking more challenging? Do cooking methods need to change? Does one have to plan ahead if using these flours? Absolutely not. Simply replace your everyday grain or refined flour with sprouted grain flour and you will notice that your breads (Indian and otherwise) have a softer texture, your porridges are creamier, and your cookies nuttier.
Here are a few ideas:
- Sprouted Split Wheat (Dalia) as a substitute for rice, couscous or quinoa in Salads and Pilafs
- Sprouted Semolina (Wheat Suji) to make creamy “Polenta” as well as in traditional Indian preparations such as Halva, Laddoo, Upma, etc.
- Sprouted Finger Millet (Ragi/Nachni) Flour to make Flatbreads, sweet and savoury porridges, crackers, cookies, and cakes
Stay tuned to our blog for recipes using sprouted grain flours!