Written by Shanthini Rajkumar
Heritage flours have multiple uses. Jowar is a cereal which comes from the family of flowering grasses. Documentation talks of its origins in Africa and how it became popular in Asia, particularly in the Indian sub-continent.
Jowar / sorghum / cholam - this cereal is known by many names and did form an important part of the heritage Indian staple diet. It is a crop that grows well in times of drought so the farmer did get multiple benefits in growing jowar. The kernels were used in place of rice grains to eat with vegetarian side dishes. Another option was to make sorghum flour.
The grassy stalks became fodder for the livestock and it also allowed for the land to rejuvenate before sowing other crops which required more water.
Living in today’s health conscious India, many of us have had our share of millet based flat breads. Jowar rotis, solam dosai , sorghum and ragi bread are all variations of using the jowar flour to make a tasty meal.
The thing about flour is that when mixed with wet ingredients like milk, vegetable stock or even plain water it can be made into a paste which can also be used as a thickening agent. In Asian food, a mix of corn flour and water is known as a corn flour slurry.
Many native Indian recipes do have a history of using jowar flour slurries to thicken the gravy. It is a much healthier option than using chemically refined flour or white bread crumbs.
When choosing ingredients which add not just taste but up the health quotient of a dish, the meal is further balanced and leads to making good nutritive choice for home cooked meals
When we eat out at restaurants, it is nice to deviate a little bit and have an occasional indulgence. The body can handle that bit of indiscretion once in a while. The danger to health is more certain when we fail to make healthier choices with our home cooked meals.
A jowar kadhi is a delicious variation of a gram flour kadhi. Made with curd , turmeric, spices and jowar flour, the process is similar to that of a regular besan gravy but it does feel lighter on the stomach. The taste of the sorghum flour blends easily with most ingredients making it a very neutral option to add to gravies and soups.
A thin tomato soup can be made creamy without the addition of heavy cream or milk by simply making a jowar slurry, mixing it well with a ladle of the tomato base to avoid any lumps and then adding it back to the soup. This can gently be simmered on the stove until it thickens to the required consistency.
A meal like this made by using ingredients wisely is a win win for all. The home cook is satisfied with giving the family a healthy meal. And who doesn’t love creamy and thick soups and sauces.
It can even be added to make a white (bechamel) sauce or to thicken a coconut milk gravy. As we get more confident in stepping out of the Western mindset of ingredients and experimenting with our own, the possibilities of how and when it can be used are quite endless.
Here is a recipe for a Jowar Kadhi that we absolutely love making when there is not much time at hand, but not in the mood for simple dal.
For the Slurry Base
1 cup Yoghurt + 4 tbsp Jowar Flour + 1 Cup water
Rest of the Ingredients
1 Onion Chopped
1 Tomato Chopped
1 Green Chilli
10 Curry Leaves
2 cloves Garlic Chopped
1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Ghee
1 Red Chilli
1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Asafoetida
1 tbsp Green Coriander Leaves
Make a slurry with yoghurt , jowar flour and 1 cup water.
Add cumin powder, turmeric and salt into it and mix well. It should be smooth without any lumps from jowar flour.
Now heat a wok and add oil and fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, green chilli and then add curry leaves and garlic.
Saute it for a while and then add onions and light brown them.
Add tomatoes and cook till they are done.
Now add the jowar slurry and mix and bring it to boil as you keep mixing it.
Mixing will avoid the curdling and kadhi will be smooth.
Now add a tempering of ghee, cumin seeds and red chilli on top and garnish with green coriander and sesame seeds.
Source - https://recipedabba.com/blog/2020/12/28/jowar-kadhi-how-to-make-jowar-kadhi/
This is how recipe developments happen for gravy, inspired cooks are born and the Indian farmer also benefits.
Food connects us all. The choices we make matter across the length of the food chain...forever !