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Is Khapli Atta or Emmer Wheat Gulten-free?

Is Khapli Atta or Emmer Wheat Gulten-free?

We are a nation of people who have grown up with wheat and rice playing a balancing role on the daily home menu. Suddenly the word ‘GLUTEN’ has reared its head and is considered to be the worst enemy of the human body. 

Emmer wheat in basket

Everyday search engines are turned to for more information on 

  • How to avoid gluten? 
  • What is gluten? 
  • What are symptoms of gluten intolerance ?  

The latest to join this line of seeking gluten information is to find out if heirloom wheat contains gluten or not

When there is a demand for knowledge, the world wide wine ensures that it matches the supply by throwing up so much information on the subject that one is left baffled and utterly confused.

Khapli wheat flour“CAN I "Can I HAVE MY ROTI?”

It is sad to watch as people are told that a food that is such a part of their culture can no longer be digested by their body. Unfortunately this has led to mass hysteria where everything available has to have a ‘gluten -free‘ tag to be considered non-alien for the body. 

To add to that we have rediscovered heirloom foods, Emmer wheat being one which is slowly leading the pack. 

Khapli wheat chapati & dough

Emmer wheat is gluten free or not!

The answer is somewhat simple and yet a bit complex.

  • Gluten is a protein which is present in all varieties of wheat. 
  • The common wheat or modern wheat which is widely used today is a modified version of the ancient wheat. 
  • That is one of the most important points of differentiation. 
  • When we say modified, it of course means that there has been tampering of the chromosomes which has led modern wheat to a food which is difficult to digest in the gastric tract.
  • Gluten contains glutenin and gliadin. 
  • Research (link below) has found that ancient wheat varieties like emmer, Spelt, Einkorn, Farrow etc contain a high level of proteins along with gluten. 
  • Modern wheat contains less proteins but a higher level of glutenin contents and an increasing ratio of gliadins to glutenins . 
  • This means that the gluten structure in modern wheat is much stronger and harder to digest because it is a result of the genetic modification of the wheat.
 Khapli wheat flour

 

The gluten in Emmer (heirloom ) wheat is naturally occurring which makes it easier to break down during digestion and not cause inflammation in the gut. 

Many articles related to wheat might suggest that emmer wheat has no gluten or low gluten but that information is not accurate. What we need to understand is the difference between naturally occurring gluten in the ancient varieties to the gluten which has changed in structure due to genetic tampering.

The proteins available in heirloom wheat varieties,

  • Emmer is an important part, are higher in content and easier to absorb and assimilate in the gut.
  • When kneading the dough made with Emmer flour, it feels so soft and makes fluffy chappathis which are light on the stomach.
  • Many people who had previously complained of discomfort, flatulence and indigestion when eating common wheat flatbreads are realising that they are able to easily digest rotis made with emmer wheat. 
  • It is nothing short of an emotional moment for indians who crave for a hot phulka off the tava to be deprived of such soulfood.

Unfortunately this study is yet to be acknowledged by doctors because most of them recommend a complete ban on wheat, citing that there is a gluten allergy.

Satyajit with Emmer wheat flour - TBOF founder and Modern Farmer

CONSUMING GLUTEN 

A gluten allergy is very real for those suffering from celiac disease. Eating any food with even the smallest amount of gluten is harmful to people with a chronic gluten allergy. 

That is where people need to be educated; 

1. To understand the difference between a medical condition involving a gluten allergy and feeling discomfort when eating modern wheat products.

2. We fail to realise that modern wheat is everywhere.

3.It is not just in parathas, cookies, pizza and cupcakes ,it lies hidden in ingredients like asafoetida, sauces, dressings and ready to eat foods.

Most commercial hing powders contain maida.

Buy less gluten flour

4. There is actually no need for it. It is mixed just so the expensive resin powder can be stretched and made into a free flowing condiment.

  • Ironically asafoetida is highly beneficial for digestion but when mixed with maida, right there is a conflict. Most of us fail to read the packaging. 
  • Pure asafoetida is a resin which is taken from the root of a plant. It is mixed with maida and xanthan gum before it hardens which makes it easy to be powdered. 
  • This is the frightful state of food contamination. 
  • In reality all we need to use is a mustard seed quantity of asafoetida. 
  • The shaker bottles of hing which are shown showering sprinkles (on popular cooking channels)are actually putting more of hard-to-digest gluten in food which doesn’t require it. 
  • This upsets the nutritive balance of dishes and leads to stomach problems.
5. The other hesitation to adopt emmer flour over modern wheat flour is the notion that heirloom wheat flour doesn’t rise as much as the cake flour.
  • There could be a slight difference but nothing that cannot be resolved by tweaking the recipe. 
  • There are so many ways to add airiness to flours. 
  • There are a new wave of bakers who churn out excellent (light as air) confections made from Emmer flour. 
  • Double sifting the flour , adding fermented agents like buttermilk, yoghurt, flax egg substitute, apple cider vinegar etc help the cake batter and bread dough rise higher. 
  • There’s always a way, all one needs is the will to stay on the path. 
  • Can make some lovely Ghee khapli Atta Shankarpali  
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UNDERSTANDING THE FOOD 

  1. Food science isn’t all about compounds and nutrition. It’s also a complex study of food pairing and understanding the inherent nature of foods. 
  2. Instead of a blanket ban on wheat we can help ourselves to not have to resort to extremes which can be taxing on the happy food quotient.
  3. Food is meant to give us joy while aiding the human body to function at optimum. 
  4. Fortunately there are players in the field who understand the need to contribute to a food chain where the customer is able to get the required information along with the authentic product.
Khapli wheat grain

Emmer wheat cultivation still occupies only a tiny percentage of the overall wheat cultivation. But,it is available ! The more we make a ‘noise’ of wanting Emmer flour products the faster will be the chain reaction which will encourage farmers to abandon modern wheat for heirloom wheat. And guess what, 

This is not just for gut joy but also matters for planet health. Win win? you bet !

Khapli wheat (less gluten grain)

 

References: 




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