A bowl of dal, a couple of rotis and a dollop of pickle on the side - comfort food for maharaja and man-in-the street alike! While people may fantasise about the food of their dreams featuring rich curries and biryanis and exotic vegetables from faraway places, when it comes to the crunch, nothing satisfi es the palate and soothes the soul like a simple just-like-mothermade- it dal scooped up with a melt-in-themouth piece of roti.
Our mothers and grandmothers knew something that dietitians are now propounding – that legumes and pulses accompanied by whole grains should form the nutritional base of our meals. Legumes, which include lentils, beans and peas, are a good source of calcium, phosphorous, Vitamin B and iron. They are also rich in dietary fi bre, which helps lower cholestrol. For vegetarians, legumes are the most important source of protein as they contain more protein than any other plant food. While detractors may claim that the quality of protein is not as good as that provided by fi sh, chicken and other meats, combined with the proteins in grains they provide a protein which is as good as that provided by any non-vegetarian food. Which brings us to the importance of rotis in our diets. Especially those made of whole grains, which provide us with dietary fi bre, minerals and proteins. They take longer to digest, leaving one with a feeling of fullness which prevents us from overeating. High-fi bre foods are believed to decrease the risk of colon cancer and other diseases affecting the gastrointestinal tract.
Here are some tips for cooking dal and rotis:
• The pressure cooker is the dal’s best friend – it is the fastest way to cook dal and also helps to preserve its nutrients.
• Salt and souring agents like lemons, tamarind and tomatoes prevent dal from cooking – they should be added after the dal is cooked.
• Soak legumes overnight and rinse before cooking to reduce the fl atulence associated
with eating them. Asafoetida added while cooking also has the same effect.
• Leafy and other vegetables added to dals increases their taste and nutritional content.
• Most rotis can be half-cooked in advance and re-cooked just in time. Cool rotis and
layer between sheets of greaseproof paper till ready to heat. If planning to freeze rotis, wrap them in foil.
• Place rolled out puris in the refrigerator for ten minutes before frying. They will consume less oil and be crisper.
• Use a kitchen towel to wipe off residual fl our that accumulates on the tawa after frying two or three rotis.
• To reheat rotis in a microwave oven, wrap them in a paper or cloth napkin and place in the microwave with a bowl of water. The steam will prevent the rotis from drying out.