The first time I tasted jowar rotis was at a friend’s home. I thought ‘wow!’ When she showed me how they make them, I thought ‘double wow!’
The expert who was on the job was patting and turning and patting and turning….you get the picture! That spherical ball of dough became a plate-sized roti, roasted on an open flame to perfection. No oil needed. This sparked my interest in jowar and how creatively the flour can be used.
Sorghum bicolor is a member of the flowering plants in the grass family. We know it in India as jowar.
Jowar flour has been in use for many years in India. The Green Revolution resulted in the increased production of wheat. Flours made from millets like jowar were displaced by wheat flour in Indian kitchens. In recent times, however, there has been an increased interest in millets, and with this, jowar flour is slowly making its way back into Indian kitchens.
The benefits of jowar
Jowar is a crop that doesn’t demand the voluminous amounts of water like rice or even as much as it takes to grow wheat.
It is gluten-free and suitable for people with gluten intolerance.
It is high protein, cholesterol free and highly nutritious as it contains many essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
It is also a complex carbohydrate and takes time to digest.
All these qualities make it suitable for promoting heart health, controlling diabetes and watching weight.
Everyone has heard of and tasted jowar rotis. But there are many ways to use jowar flour. Here are some creative recipes:
#1. Jowar Dosa
Ingredients: 3 cups Jowar flour, 1 cup urad dal flour, 1 tsp fenugreek powder, 2 tbsp. curds, salt to taste.
Mix all the ingredients into a smooth batter. The consistency should be that of dosa batter. Add a little more water if required. Cover and allow to ferment overnight or for 10 hours.
Stir the batter, make dosas on a pan. Serve with the chutney of your choice.
#2. Toddler’s jowar special
Yes, you can let your precious toddler enjoy the goodness of this jowar special. You needn’t limit it to your toddler either. This soft and sweet concoction is ideal for the elderly who cannot chew on rotis. Nobody’s stopping you from enjoying it too!
Ingredients: ¼ cup each- jowar flour and mashed banana, 1 tsp ghee or oil, 1 tsp grated jaggery, ¾ cup of water.
Melt the jaggery in the water. Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan and sauté the jowar flour for 1-2 minutes on a low flame: take care that it doesn’t burn. Add the jaggery water and whisk well for 1 minute making sure that no lumps are formed. Remove from fire. Cool until just warm. Add the mashed banana. Serve.
#3. Jowar Appeys or Paniyaram
Ingredients: (for around 14-16 appeys) 1 cup jowar flour, 1 tsp Bengal gram, a few curry leaves, 1 green chilly chopped, 1 medium onion chopped, 2 tsp. oil.
- Add water a little at a time to the jowar flour in a bowl and mix well till you get a batter of dropping consistency.
- Heat a little oil in a pan and gently sauté all the other ingredients. Add to the batter.
- Grease the paniyaram plate and put it on the flame. Drop a little batter into each of the ‘holes’ (rather bowls?), sprinkle a little oil on the top, cover with a lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the paniyarams over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve with tomato or mint chutney or a spicy mango pickle.
#4. Baked Jowar-Dill puri:
Ingredients: ½ cup Jowar ¼ cup chopped dill leaves, ½ tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp red chilli powder, salt to taste, a little olive oil. If you don’t like dill, you can use fenugreek leaves (methi).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a baking sheet/ aluminum foil and place it on the baking tray.
- Make a tight dough with all the ingredients except the oil though you can choose to add a little oil when you are mixing the dough.
- Grease your hands and make small balls out of the dough. Flatten between your palms into puris.
- Place on the tray. Prick all over with a fork and bake for about 8-10 minutes.
- Flip the puris over and bake for another 8 minutes.
- Remove from oven. Cool and store.
- Hint: Keep watching so that the puris don’t get overdone. The baking time depends on the consistency /moisture content of the dough.
These puris will keep for 3-4 days.
#5. Eggless jowar-chocolate-peanut cookies
Ingredients: 1 cup Jowar Flour, 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter, 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, ½ cup peanuts, about 2-3 tablespoons of milk or as needed, a pinch of salt.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Dry roast peanuts. Cool and rub the skin off. Grind to a very coarse powder.
- Sieve the jowar flour and cocoa powder together.
- In a bowl, add the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
- Add the flour mix to the bowl and cream the mixture. Add the milk and mix thoroughly to a soft dough. Be careful with the amount of milk or the dough will not be of the right consistency.
- Make 20-22 balls out of the dough and press each ball between the palms of your hands into cookies.
- Place them an inch apart on a greased baking tray.
- Bake for 15-18 minutes. Take out of the oven and cool on a wire rack.
- The cookies may be soft when you take them out of the oven but will harden on cooling.
You can also add a little cinnamon powder if you like the aroma.
These are just five of the innumerable ways that you can use jowar powder. Making jowar rotis needs some practice and is a pretty difficult job. If you want to include this healthful flour in your diet, you can use it as a replacement for wheat or rice flour: only your imagination will limit your creativity.
With the rising popularity of jowar flour, it is available everywhere. Take care that you buy a brand that epitomises the best ingredients and choose jowar flour that is ORGANICALLY grown from seed to super bazaar counter.