Remember chomping the chunky, cheese-bellied soya cutlets your mother deep fried and tossed up sizzling hot? Most of us called it the vegetarian-chicken mince, the commando saviour from the plant kingdom. The humble soya bean has now been sassed up to make inroads into our plates in more ways than one.
“Soya brings with it more protein than any other plant-based source. It comes with micronutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and magnesium and is, therefore, a preferred choice by vegetarians,” says Mumbai-based dietitian Sarika Nair of SlimnHappy.
“To enhance its healthy consumption, you can bring in various pre-cooking modifications. For instance, the best way to consume soya is by sprouting soya seeds. By sprouting, you increase the nutritional value of soya and also denature the anti-nutrients present in it. Another fabulous way of maximising on the nutritious value of soya is to have fermented soya,” she explains.
The soya bean (or soybean) originated in South East Asia, and was nourished by Chinese peasants on home soil before it sprouted in Japan and beyond. This explains the invention of the fermented soya bean paste flavouring in miso; tofu—the bean curd prepared from soya milk; and tempeh : fermented and dehulled soya beans in solid form, in Indonesia. Of late edamame, the crunchy green Japanese soya bean, has clawed its way up the popularity sweepstakes. Coupled with the rapid growth of vegetarianism across the world, the bean has hopped up with aplomb onto the redesigned menus.
THE COOK OFF
Walk into the Japanese hangout, Hello Guppy (pan-India), and the rather uncommon soya bean hummus and sesame lavash woos your palate as a rich swirl topped with olive oil and pine nut drizzle. Chef Vikram Khatri's preparation infusion of soya bean has won applause from all. “Since it is high in protein, you can balance it with any other food you are serving. This makes the dish rank high in the nutrition quotient,” he explains. Khatri has gone on to knit the soya into small plates in the form of fresh soya bean pods, soya bean croquettes and soya bean sheets (mamen nori). The versatility of soya makes it compliant with different methods of preparation, including pounding, boiling, steaming, crushing and rolling into flour for an added nutritional punch.
Though the health benefits are undeniable, cooking with soya demands a fair share of constraints for coming up with flavourful preparations. Chef Sareen Madhiyan, head chef at Tappa, Mumbai says, “While cooking soya, you must stay away from salt and acidic ingredients like tomatoes or lime. Salt and acids harden the bean skins. If you must, add these ingredients to the beans just before they are almost entirely cooked. An additional tip to be kept in mind while cooking unflavoured textured soya protein, is that it assumes the flavour of other ingredients mixed with it.
This makes it a superb buffer in certain dishes.” When you tuck in the beans as a snack or in the mains, it is important to remember that an overdose can magnify health issues. Soya should not be eaten regularly as it contains estrogen-like compounds called isoflavones. These can impair female fertility and thyroid function,” warns Nair. Chef Madhiyan adds that soya products are sometimes mixed with wheat flour, so one must read the ingredients on the package and opt for only 100 percent soya. Additionally, it’s important to glance through the content to look for the carbohydrates and sugar quantity used.
Apple Cinnamon Milkshake >>
❖ 1 Apple
❖ ½ Teaspoon cinnamon powder
❖ Honey as required
❖ 250 ml Soy milk
❖ Peel and chop the apple
❖ Grate about a spoonful of apple and leave it aside
❖ Blend apple cubes, cinnamon, honey and milk till its thick and no chunks are left
❖ Mix grated apple and sprinkle cinnamon and serve
❖ Soya kernels
❖ Raw white onion: 2 pcs
❖ Chopped onion: 1 pcs
❖ Tomato chopped: 2 pcs
❖ Garlic clove chopped: 2 no
❖ Tofu: 100 gm
❖ Soya chop: 1 pcs
❖ Oil: 100 ml
❖ Chopped green chilli: 2 no
❖ For soya mixture, heat oil and add chopped
onion, tomato and green chili. To this
mixture, add Indian spices. Cook this
and keep aside
❖ Scoop out the white onion. Fill it with soya mixture and put in pre-heated oven at 180 C for 8 minutes
❖ Cook and keep aside
❖ Marinate soya chops with yoghurt, red chilli powder, garam masala and salt. Cook in pre heated oven for 4 to 5 minutes
❖ Cut tofu in one inch thick slices and marinate with yoghurt green chilli and salt
❖ Cook on a hot griddle until marks are seen on them
❖ Present in plate with some rocket lettuce and raw mango on the soya chops.
At Tappa, Kamala Mills, Mumbai