At some point or the other, living in India most of us have visited farms or driven past while on a road trip. If one happened to be in the vicinity of a farm around mealtime, especially at noon, it would be hard to miss the sight of farmers sitting down to start their lunch. Hours of working in the hot sun leaves the body parched and sore. Their meals consist of light fare which is nutritious while adding enough hydration to see them through the rest of the day.
Eating traditional grains and lentils which are easy on digestion and also provide a balanced energy release is especially important in the summer months. Simple dishes like rice kanji, sattu porridge, buttermilk with rice are the foods which keep them fit and healthy.
Sattu atta or Sattu maavu is familiarly mentioned as a quick breakfast option or as a meal which is easy on the purse strings. A child who fusses over eating a substantial breakfast is made to quickly chug down a tumbler of a sattu drink because it is thought to be fuss free and healthy.
It is a native ingredient and spoken about in passing. The assumption is that it is healthy because there isn’t too much fanfare or decadent recipes using the sattu atta. But, it is so much more than that.
What if we told you that there is a huge difference between the Sattu atta which is a super food and the Sattu atta which is commercially packaged?
There is much to learn about our native ingredients than what is written on labels.
When brands here of an ingredient becoming more popular, the race starts to put their stamp on the product which is in demand.
What is it made of?
What are the traditional recipes?
What are the origins of this ingredient?
Very few brands will be able to shed light on authentic information.
At TBOF we want to empower our customers to make the best choices which come from access to authentic information and evidence. Sattu flour made at Two Brothers Organic Farms relies on the traditional ingredient which is the Harbhara Chana. The Harbara Chana is an heirloom variety of Chana. It is not a hybrid unlike the other chana dal varieties in the market. It is kept unpolished and grown in small lots in farms which understand the importance of eating native foods.
Sattu flour made from the highly nutritious harbara dal is one of the best foods that one can depend on for long term health. Being an ancient lentil it is easy to digest while being a source of insoluble fibre. It adds roughage and pulls in water for easy digestion.
Having a sattu atta meal satisfies the body’s daily requirement for iron, magnesium and manganese. It is also low in calories which means one doesn’t feel lethargic afterwards.
The harbara chana dal is roasted and then stone-ground to make a fine powder which looks exactly like a whole grain flour. The colour is very earthy like a pale nutshell beige because of the original colour of this native dal.
Our Indian summers are made bearable because of the many summer coolers we chug down to keep ourselves cool. The all too familiar drinks are undoubtedly the chaas, tender coconut water, lassi , aam panna, ganne (sugarcane) ka juice, mosambi juice, watermelon juice and of course the nimbu sharbat. For those who may have not tasted the Sattu drink, it will come as a completely unexpected surprise because it is so simple to make and tastes unbelievably refreshing.
The recipe is part of the Indian heritage and it uses seasonal ingredients like green mango mixed with mint, lemon, black salt and cool water from the earthen matka. It is a drink to be relished under the shade of a large tree while feeling grateful for a planet which keeps on giving.
As one gets comfortable cooking with the Sattu atta, the versatility of this ingredient is what makes it more pleasurable to have in the kitchen. It can be added to khapli flour to make rotis; with dosa batter to add a bite of nuttiness and also used to make cookies and halwas. When home cooks know the potential of an ingredient it automatically finds its way into favourite family dishes.
And why not… we have to rely on ourselves to ensure that everyone in the family is treated to food which is tasty and also ensures long term well-being.
The Sattu atta can be treated like or as a replacement for commercial gram flour (besan), for example. It can be used for binding tikkis or kebabs, stuffed chilla, delicious panjiri or even a crumble topping for seasonal fruit. The options are only as limited as your creative recipe mind will allow.
When discovering the benefits of heirloom foods and reintroducing them to our urban diets today the onus of responsibility lies with us to share the information that we have learned. We have to remember that the health of a nation or people of the world is not determined by a small cluster or community. One pandemic has the capacity to show its ugly head and bring humanity to its knees.
The lockdown was a revelation of sorts and people flocked to their kitchens to bake bread, knead dough, be frugal in their usage of gadgets and try their hand at old fashioned cooking. If we are to stay on the smart path where we learn from past experiences, embracing ingredients which point us to strengthening our immune system while simultaneously allowing farmer owned brands to succeed is the way to secure ourselves from collectively facing calamities in the future.
When setting down a sattu porridge on the table it is so very important for us to teach our child that what lies in that simple bowl of goodness is also ‘wealth’ of a different kind. It is about investing…in ourselves and in the future of our planet.
Cheers to health the Sattu way !