Food historians say that roti originated from Indus valley civilisation 5000 years ago. Roti has such prominence in India’s cuisine that a meal would be considered incomplete without a roti. Part of being Desi is appreciating Asian staple foods like roti or chapatti or as the Videshis call it ‘wheat flatbread’.
How good these rotis taste especially when served right from the kitchen, fluffy-puffy in appearance topped with a drizzle of ghee. On the nutrition front, the whole wheat flour based plain roti is rich in selenium, vitamin E and fibre which lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Do you love eating rotis but are afraid of gaining weight?
Let’s talk about making the plain roti much more nutritious, delicious and filling. These healthy alternatives to roti can be tried as a part of balanced Desi diet in appropriate quantities. All of us deal with children being fussy about food or health problems like constipation in children. These roti variations can form a part of kid’s lunch box or a toddler’s meal to provide them with essential vitamins and minerals along with fibre to maintain their intestinal health.
GO GREEN ROTIS
Green seems to be the ‘in’ color when it comes to food these days. Why not extend that green love to our staple rotis. Saag, the Indian moniker for green leafy vegetables, forms an integral part of various regional cuisines in the country. While a daal-vegetable combination or stew is commonly prepared, the addition of these leafy wonders to the must have in a meal- roti has been explored very less. Chopped or pureed Green leafy vegetables like amaranth leaves (chaulai ka saag), fenugreek (methi), spinach (palak), coriander (hara dhaniya), mint leaves (pudhina), spring onion (hare pyaaz ) can be added to the whole wheat flour while kneading and rolled out as green rotis. This will enhance nutrients like iron, vitamin C, beta carotene (form of vitamin A in vegetarian sources), potassium and many other important minerals. While methi and palak top the charts when we talk about greens there are many others which aren’t given enough credit. Nutritional research shows that amaranth leaves reduce cholesterol levels, treat anaemia, help in diarrhoea and prevent diseases like cancer and thus I started my list with addition of ‘chaulai ka saag’ to our cherished rotis.
MIXED FLOUR ROTIS/ MULTIGRAIN ROTIS
For everyday Roti multigrain atta can be prepared at home or adding various flours like oatmeal flour, bajra, ragi, Bengal gram (kala chana) flour, corn meal flour, soy to the usually used wheat flour can transform roti to a miraculous food item rich in iron, calcium and phosphorus. Bajra is extremely rich in calcium and iron and has been associated with improving bone health. Ragi is very high in fibre and iron and can be easily digested even by infants. Adding these flours alternatively to the rotis will make them good for bone health, healthy teeth and help in increasing haemoglobin.
Adding roasted flax seed (Hindi- alsi ke beej) powder to wheat flour rotis to make them rich in fibre, antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids can be wonderful option. Omega 3 fatty acid (alpha linolenic acid) protects us against heart disease, arthritis, asthma, diabetes and cancer. Flax is a very rich source of both soluble and insoluble fibre which has a cholesterol lowering effect, stabilises blood sugar, and aids digestion. Flax seed is high in phytochemicals, lignans- these components promote fertility, reduce peri-menopausal symptoms, prevent breast cancer and diabetes.
Niger seeds (black til) and sesame seeds (white til) can also be added to rotis to make them rich in calcium (from white til) and iron (from black til). Melon seed powder mixed into roti flour occasionally will impart a nice nutty flavour to rotis.
MEDICINAL SPICY ROTI
Some Indian spices have a lot of known medicinal qualities like wound healing, prevention of cough and cold, aiding digestion, prevention of heart disease. These are turmeric powder, black pepper, cumin seeds (jeera), aniseed (saunf), ajwain, dried kasuri methi. Adding these will help you make nice, aromatic and spicy (not hot) rotis as compared to plain ones.
No meal is complete without a balanced serving of carbohydrate and protein. This roti will provide both from a single food item. So, this could be a quick fix meal or the go to meal. Adding protein rich foods like cottage cheese (paneer), tofu (soy paneer), cooked green gram daal (moong daal)/red gram daal (masoor daal)/ tuar daal will make the roti rich in protein.
About the Author:
Venus Ratnani– is a Clinical Nutritionist based in Delhi.
(Views expressed in the article are author’s personal).