Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Gritty Grits family


    These days cereals from the west ,like grits, oats and quinoa (the next super grain) are abundant in super markets.
                       Let us pick up this good looking vacuum packed pack of grits today. Hominy grits as they are commonly called in the south of US are made from alkali treated hulled corn which is crushed coarsely to a grade thicker than polenta. Grits are used as breakfast porridge but the combination of shrimp and grits has caught the fancy of many American chefs, making it a culinary icon in the Corn Belt. Grits add a wonderful element of crunch and creaminess to any dish.              

               In my travels to Gujarat, Rajasthan & parts of Maharashtra, subconsciously looking for this crunch and creaminess, I developed a lot of respect for the lesser known old Indian grains specially the wide variety of millets and their multiple uses. In greater India, variants of wheat and cereals have been dated to 8000 BC with millet production in Mehrgarh around 6000BC. An old underdog is the finger millet or Nachni, as its commonly known in Gujarat and Maharashtra where it's used for porridges, bhakris and rotlis. High concentration of methionine makes nachni a valuable grain. In fact the porridge-like use of amaranth, nachni, ragi and the panicums mixed with ghee and/ or milk lend a creaminess and an unforgettable texture, to die for!!!!
   This humble cook would like to put forward two requests here :
1. To the homemaker - to soak the millets overnight to allow easy cooking.
2. To the food processing industry - to create semi processed and fast cooking versions of these Indian grains to get them the much deserved place in an urban Indian kitchen.


Nachni and Grits-coated onion rings



Ingredients :
Onion rings 1 ½ onion
Refined Flour 3 tsp
Oil to fry
Salt to taste

For the batter :
Finger Millet Flour ¼ cup
Soaked grits 3 tbsp
Grated Coconut 2 tbsp
Salt : to taste
Red Chili Powder 1 tbsp
Curd 2 tbsp
Baking soda 1 tsp
Oil 1tbsp

Method:

1. For the batter in a bowl mix finger millet flour, grated coconut, salt , red chili powder, curd, water, refined flour and baking soda. Then add some oil and keep it aside for 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Apply salt and refined flour on the onion rings.

3. Coat the onion rings in the prepared batter and fry them in hot oil. Serve hot.
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