Last week, while ideating for and curating a menu for a Super Foods Festival with chef Ashish Singh and others at the capital's Cafe Delhi Heights, when I insisted on including sattu (roasted Bengal gram flour) in the list, everyone was mighty surprised! But we ended up with two dishes made from sattu in the menu.
That's because convincing them was easy enough once I began recounting the multiple benefits of this ubiquitous yet completely understated, uniquely Indian superfood.
Not too long ago, people were aware of how good this ingredient is, and that is why it was eaten every day (and still is in parts of Bihar, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, UP and West Bengal).
Sattu chokha. Photo: Steaming Pot
Folklore has it that it was a favorite food of Shivaji when he was engaged in a full-scale guerrilla warfare against the Mughals and their allies.
Today's generation though has decided to simply ignore it, as most tag it as the poor Indian's protein. That's painful! In fact, I just don't get it - protein is protein.
And in our country, where most of us don't manage to score enough of it, this is an extremely self-defeating mindset to carry. We badly need a marketing blitz for this power-packed India's oldest instant food, so easily available all around us.
Or maybe package it attractively and get a club to sell it to the youth.Meanwhile, I feel that spreading information about it might also open eyes and minds and bring it back on our plates.
It's truly the super super food
It provides instant energy, and is a brilliant source of good quality vegetarian protein (100 grams of sattu deliver close to 20 grams of protein).
It packs a lot of fibre (close to 22 grams), most of which is insoluble fibre - which is great for our gut and helps cleanse the stomach and detox the body.
It is a wonder food for those who are suffering from gas, acidity and constipation too. Plus, it is a low glycemic index (the glycemic index ranks foods on how they affect our blood sugar levels) food, so it is good for diabetics, and being low in sodium, sattu works for hypertensives too.
Also has calcium (yes, it's good for our bones), iron, manganese, magnesium and vitamin C and A.
Sattu sherbet is a super summer cooler. Photo: Aajtak
In addition it is an effective antidote to sweltering summer time heat, as it is naturally cooling.
It is calorific though (100 gm gives close to 400 calories), but then even if you have 2 tbsp (25 grams) it will only give you 100 calories, which is not much for the benefits it delivers (5 grams of protein and fibre each).
It's a win-win with sattu always! Another big benefit is that this food has no expiry date - it stays good for a really long time.
Eat more of it
Original method of making sattu involves dry-roasting Bengal gram in sand (the way originally peanuts were roasted), then straining with a sieve and pounding the roasted gram to a powder.
Traditionally, it has been made with Bengal gram, but some people add chickpeas for a twist in flavour.
In Punjab, barley sattu is more popular.
But today, you don't need to do the hard work, sattu powder (both Bengal gram and barley) is easily available commercially.
Plate Sattu Kachori for a delish option. Photo: Independent blog
It is a very versatile ingredient and can be eaten in multiple ways. The easiest and most popular is to make a sattu sherbet, which can be had either sweet or salted.
If you like it sweet, just mix the jaggery powder and the sattu together, and then blend with some water to form a smooth paste.
Add chilled water to it, some lemon juice and mint leaves and you are set. Want it savory? Skip the jaggery, add a pinch of black salt and chaat masala instead and your instant energy drink is ready.
We are serving the sattu sherbet with a twist at the Super Foods Festival by pairing it with another super food - coconut water - to boost its electrolytes content even more.
It's delish! You can pair it with buttermilk too, to boost the protein even further. That too tastes super.
But that's not all, you can eat it too. The famous litti of Bihar and Jharkhand is made with sattu. Plus you can make sattu stuffed roti / parathas, upma, or even porridge and ladoos with it.
Littli chokha is the perfect blend of sattu and vegetables. Photo: Aaobihar
Have you ever tried sattu parantha with chicken curry? Must try! It can even be made into balls (mix some honey, ghee, and sattu together and shape them into balls), and added to curry.
I remember eating sattu and onion ke pakode in a friend's house long back. Ingenious!
A lot many people earlier would just mix sattu with just sugar and water (or state and a pickle) and their favourite breakfast would be ready in a jiffy.
Try it: it'll keep hunger pangs and cravings completely away till lunch time.
In many households (those who are aware of its importance), 2 tsp of sattu is mandatory for every child every day; helps build their muscle mass.
Actually, sattu is our very own wholly natural and safe protein powder, perfect for good health and weight loss.
And it's incredibly delicious too. About time it got its due.