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Rice Flour- Gluten Free versatility

The crunchy munchies are very tempting – time to unwind means a lounge chair in a balcony or verandah, hot tea and a bowl of muruku. Oh, the comfort of it all after a hard day’s work! The South of India is famous for many things- temples, kanjeevaram sarees, tri-diamond nose studs, idli-dosa and murukku (or murukus) of many denominations, sizes, shapes and textures. These crispies are usually made of rice flour, either solely or in combo with other flours like besan (chickpea flour).

You can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of the human race: who really thought up these delicious recipes? Who invented these mouth watering offerings of comfort? How did the humble seeds from a kind of grass evolve into these convoluted whorls of delight?

This grass is certainly greenest

Yes, Oryza sativa, the rice plant, is a kind of grass. Rice is the staple of almost half the world’s population and 90% of the people in Asia where it is the dominant crop. It is a high energy giver -100gm are the source of 130 kilocalories. Rice is rich in many vitamins notably of the Vitamin B group, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin and Vitamin B6. It is also a good source of essential minerals iron, magnesium, manganese, sodium and zinc.
All the goodness of rice is transferred to rice flour which is, essentially, powdered rice.

Truly fine flour

Rice flour is very finely powdered flour made from rice. You can make it at home if you have the time and are a big fan of do-it-yourself.

Wash and soak rice for at least 2 hours. Even an hour will do if you are pressed for time.
Drain the water and spread the soaked rice on a thin cloth to dry. Leave a little moisture in.
Powder in a mixer. Sieve.

Dry the fine rice powder on newspaper or it will spoil when stored. Store in an airtight container.
The coarser “rava” that is in the sieve can be used for other dishes.
The more sensible thing would be to buy ready- made rice flour of high quality from a trusted brand where the date of manufacture is a proof of freshness.

Rice flour, what for?

Rice flour is gluten free. In Southeast and Far East Asian cuisines rice flour is used to make rice noodles. In India rice flour is used extensively, especially in the South, in infinite ways.

Starting from Kanyakumari, Kerala style Appams and stew are a nutritious and delectable breakfast.

Going northwards along the Malabar Coast, our culinary journey takes us to Karnataka and the Akki rotti- flat bread made from rice flour and finely grated vegetables like carrots and chopped onions. Still at the Malabar Coast, try the Goan-Konkani dish koiloreo, a breakfast pancake to rival the appam.

Going northwards along the Malabar Coast, our culinary journey takes us to Karnataka and the Akki rotti- flat bread made from rice flour and finely grated vegetables like carrots and chopped onions. Still at the Malabar Coast, try the Goan-Konkani dish koiloreo, a breakfast pancake to rival the appam.

Let’s cut across to the east to Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh. Murukku, murukulu, jantikalu, chakralu…. these are all the various manifestations of the whorls within whorls which make up the deep fried snack. Rice flour is combined with urad dal flour or chana dal flour or used on its own depending on the recipe.

I can still remember the “maami” with her diamond studded nose and her Madisar Iyer style sari, dexterously whipping out the twisty murukkus by hand. It was fascinating – hot butter poured into rice flour, kneaded and her thumb and forefinger twisted and turned the dough into these “chakras” which were then deep fried to perfection. This is almost a lost art now.

Rice flour is also used as a good thickener, particularly because it is gluten free. It can be used in gluten free baked goods because its sandy texture adds to the crumbliness of shortbreads and cookies. The internet is flooded with recipes for desserts using rice flour.

Mirror, mirror on the wall…..

The craze for “fairness”, particularly in India, cannot be denied. If you want to be fairer and lovelier, rice flour is a great beauty aid.

Add enough milk to rice powder to make a thick paste. Apply this over your face and neck. Leave on for about 20 minutes before you wash it off with warm water. Great for de-tan!

Here’s another recipe for turning the clock back:
Make a thick paste with mashed banana and rice flour using a little castor oil. Apply over tanned or dry skin, especially on the delicate area around your eyes. Keep on for at least 20 minutes before washing off with warm water. This is good for tired eyes and skin and is pretty rejuvenating.

Rice has been much maligned in recent times. “No carbs” and “no rice” are a much chanted mantra but there is actually no basis for this. The human body needs the energy that carbohydrates generate and the multi-vitamin doses that rice contains. Anything in excess is harmful-as are extreme diets. Rice flour is easy to use and gluten free. India has reaped the benefits of a rice based diet for centuries.

Don’t throw away the baby with the bathwater because of some fads. In this busy times of multi tasking pick up a good brand of the flour to save yourself the soak-dry-grind-dry rigmarole.

Get creative in the kitchen.

Terra Greens Organic

Rice flour- Gluten free versatility

The energy giving and vitamin rich value of rice are transferred to rice flour. This versatile and gluten free fine flour can be used to make good cooking better.






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