Bake it with millets

From ragi chocolate brownies to amaranth almond-walnut cakes, Jumana Huzefa is known for her diet-conscious, nutritious desserts
Ragi chocolate brownies
Ragi chocolate brownies

CHENNAI: When Jumana Huzefa and her husband joined a running group in 2013, they decided to switch over to nutritious eating options. The coach and their friends stressed on the importance of health supplements that can transform their fitness journey and make it easier. It’s been seven years and there’s no looking back. “My hometown is Kolkata and that means I have a sweet tooth. Secondly, I’m a Bohra Muslim. Growing up, my mother and grandmother doled out sumptuous traditional snacks like samosas and haleem every other day in the kitchen.

There was a phase of binge eating. When we joined the running group, we had to refrain from eating most of them. It was challenging in the beginning but now our palette has adapted to healthy options,” says Jumana who moved to Chennai after her marriage in 2003. She calls herself an accidental cook. Born and raised in Kolkata, even a Home Science class did not motivate her to cook. She moved to Pune for her higher studies. Being the eldest sibling, she had the responsibility of taking care of her three younger brothers. Whenever her mother was away from home, she’d try out new recipes in the kitchen. “I experimented the maximum when I was left with my brothers.

They had to eat all of it — whether it tasted good or bad. I transformed after having my own children. I started baking for them and developed a passion for cooking,” she says. Granola bars, cookies, pies, tarts, muffins, bread and savouries — name it and she can make all of them without refined white sugar. Pastries with gluten-free flour are her specialty. “I started experimenting healthy baking options from 2016. I baked my first batch of brownies with finger millet in chocolate flavour. People often get sceptical of how baked products can be made out of healthy alternatives without trying. One might not get the perfect texture and taste in the first attempt. It requires patience and practice. After multiple efforts, you will develop a liking for it to the extent that it will become hard to differentiate from what you make with regular flours,” says Jumana who took six months to perfect healthy baking. 

The home baker uses flour options such as millet, amaranth, ragi, maize, quinoa, water chestnut and bajra. Based on trial-and-error, she decides the combination of flavours that go with the type of flour. Alternative sugar options are coconut, cane, and palm sugar. The ingredients are available at select gourmet markets. “Each flour has a texture and taste. I mix ragi and chocolate together. Likewise, amaranth has a coffee shade to it. I mix it with almond and walnut. While maida and wheat give a spongy texture and lightness to the cake, millets can be dense,” says Jumana whose cranberry granola bars are famous among her family and friends. She makes snacking choices like crackers and multi-grain bread loaf. “Not only desserts, but also our regular food has millet as the base. We look forward to a sustainable future with better eating options,” she says. For details, call: 9840597452 or follow her Instagram page: J’s bakes

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