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The joys of jowar

Twenty years ago, jowar was a fairly common ingredient in South Indian kitchens, especially in September and October months, when it was used to make kanji and chollam.

Published: 01st September 2021 06:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st September 2021 06:52 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: 20 years ago, jowar was a fairly common ingredient in South Indian kitchens, especially in September and October months, when it was used to make kanji and chollam. But this tradition seems to have been lost, leaving jowar extremely underutilised in this part of the country. “Jowar is very tasty. You can make a variety of foods such as garlic rotis, pizza bases, crackers, sponge cakes and multigrain bread,” explains Dr Preeti Raj, co-founder and chief nutritionist at Wootu Nutrition Pvt Ltd. While jowar has retained its popularity to some extent in north India, there are many reasons to bring it back into south Indian kitchens, she suggests.

For gluten-free diet
Much like the rest of its millet family, jowar is a gluten-free food, which makes it the perfect alternative to wheat for those who are on gluten-free diets or gluten intolerant. 

Alternative for diabetics
While comparing wheat and jowar, we notice that the glycemic index of the latter is only 62 while the former is 72. A lower glycemic index means lower absorption of glucose. Additionally, the presence of tannins in the millet increases the time taken by the body to absorb glucose, so it doesn’t require more insulin. “A 2015 study even showed that the gene for Type I diabetes and gluten intolerance is the same. Thus, those with diabetes are also likely to be glucose-intolerant, making this a better alternative for diabetics,” explains Dr Preeti.

Aids in weight loss and digestion 
A rich source of fiber, like jowar, is the key to avoiding overeating and ensuring healthy digestion. Fiber provides heft to the food allowing the person to reach satiety quicker. It also puts pressure on the digestive system, relieving the body of constipation and improving digestion. Fiber is also known to reduce blood pressure and risks of cardiac diseases.

Improves bone health
Osteopenia (low bone density) is a common problem seen in many patients in and around Chennai, says Dr Preeti. Osteopenia at the age of 35 can lead to osteoporosis (bone disease resulting in brittle bones) at the age of 45, she adds. An intake of 50 grams of jowar daily can prevent this possibility since it is a rich source of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus — the last two are essential in absorption of calcium.

Reduces possibility of anaemia
The presence of copper and iron in this millet allows the body to produce more red blood cells and improves overall blood circulation, which in turn reduces the chances of anaemia. Including one cup of jowar in your diet can significantly help in this case. It can also be prescribed to those with celiac disease.

Workout preparation
Switch the sugary energy bars for a snack containing jowar to prepare for your workout. A healthy dose of protein, carbohydrates, and niacin, jowar provides better endurance to athletes, runners, swimmers, bikers, etc.

Jowar Rava Idli 
by Krishnakumari Jayakumaar
INGREDIENTS
Jowar rava: 1 cup
Sour curd: ½ cup
Coriander leaves
Ginger: a small piece
Ghee: 1 tsp
Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
Urad dal: ½ tsp
Chana dal: ½ tsp
Cashew: few
Batter PREPARATION
Grind the jowar rava to a coarse powder and then soak it into sour curd for 3-4 hours.
METHOD
Check the batter and add in some sour curd, if required.
To the batter, add coriander leaves and grated ginger.
In a tadka pan, heat ghee and add mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, and cashews. Add this to your concoction.
Mix well and add the batter to a greased idli stand.
Cook idlis as usual and once done, serve hot with some sambar.

NUTRITIONAL BREAKDOWN 
(per 100g)
Carbohydrates: 77g
Protein: 8.4 g, Fiber: 6.6 g,
Fat: 3.3 g, Iron: 4.1 mg



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