Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Soaked Wholewheat Rotis - What's the idea behind soaking?

It all started when I read the book 'Nourishing Traditions' by Sally Fallon. An online friend from one of the forums I belong to, told me about this and I went looking for it in the library. It is a book that really challenges the politically correct nutrition... What I read there, shocked me, surprised me but mostly, overwhelmed me. And then life intervened in the form of newborn and I promptly forgot all about the book.

After a few years, I recently came across a forum which discussed Traditional foods (hereafter referred as 'TF') and WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) and the book 'Nourishing Traditions' (hereafter referred as NT) by Sally Fallon. Weston Price had done extensive research in the methods, traditions practiced by all the ancient cultures around the world. Sally Falon's NT is based on the research findings of Weston Price. She is the founder of the WAP Foundation as well. The more I lurked on this forum and the more I read some NT blogs, the more curious I became. This time, it wasn't an author who was telling me what to do, but by real people who incorporated all those traditional nourishing practices and sharing what they did and how well it worked for them.

The first thing that piqued my interest was soaking. We soak beans and sprout beans at home often - to get rid of the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors and toxins and to increase its nutrient density. And also for easier digestion. We also use sprouted flours once in a while. But the book and the NT based blogs that I read suggested me to soak any wholegrain flour that I use, anywhere in my cooking - pancakes, muffins, breads, just about any dish that uses wholegrain flours! Not just grains, soak the flours - they said. Why? Read on...

Phosphorus in the bran of whole grains is tied up in a substance called phytic acid. Phytic acid combines with iron, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc in the intestinal tract, blocking their absorption. Whole grains also contain enzyme inhibitors that can interfere with digestion.

Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, Overnight soaking, and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important predigestive process in our own kitchens. Many people who are allergic to grains will tolerate them well when they are prepared according to these procedures. Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon, Pg 25

Read more about soaking here, here and here.

I saw kimi make soaked crackers... the dough didn't seem to go bad. Lindsay's Soaked pizza, soaked bread, Kimi's soaked muffins, soaked cookies, soaked pancakes .... Hmmmm. What about our rotis? Aren't they made of wholewheat flour? Is all that phytic acid preventing my attempts to get healthier?? I wondered... I wanted to try making soaked rotis. How would they taste? Like cardboard? Or like those javvu chapthis served at hostels? Would they be sour? Would they be weird? Would the dough get mold? And then decided a cup of Atta is well worth this experiment and went about giving it a try.

To my surprise, it was very easy to roll the dough out for making the rotis. Second thing, the rotis were very soft! The third surprise also came on the same day. Every time my DH ate rotis, he'd get acidity. And had to drink milk which made him feel better. But this time, with the soaked rotis, NO acidity problems!! None... whatsoever! Since then, this is how we make rotis at home. I've also made Kimi's soaked crackers, created my own soaked pancakes, the soaked oats dosas, created my soaked yeasted wholewheat bread (yeasted as opposed to sourdough), etc and I really see the benefits of soaking. That soaked bread was the best ever bread baked by this novice baker. And then, I even read about Peter Reinhart's methods of baking Wholegrain breads, involved soaking a biga and starter for 1-3 days to get really good bread! Makes sense to me, now!

The word 'Soaking' usually makes us visualize water standing on top of the soaked stuff. But here it just means you make a dough like you normally do and leave it alone at room temperature for minimum 8 hrs. Avoid salt while soaking as it meddles with the phytic acid neutralization. I don't add salt to my rotis at all. I like the sweetness of the wheat flour as it is. But if you want to add salt, add it later, after the 8 hrs period. Just sprinkle a bit over the dough and knead it in. I've noticed that soaking for 8-10 hrs is plenty for a roti or a chapathi. But if I soak for more, say 18 hrs, the texture of the roti changes to soft naan like texture but with a pita like hole inside, esp. when I make the phulka/roti that puffs up on a grill. I call that my No yeast-pita!!

If you have access to sprouted wheat flour and use that for making rotis, then you don't 'have to' soak it. All the phytic acid has been neutralized already. But you can soak it for an hour or two if you wish so. Soaking does give an elasticity to the dough and makes rolling out very easy. Sprouted wheat flour also makes a great flour to use while rolling out the rotis.

NT Soaked Rotis
Wholewheat Atta - 1 and 1/2 cup
Water - somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 cup (depending on the flour)
Plain yogurt - 1 tbsp (See note ***)
Oil - 1 tbsp (I use olive oil)

Note *** You can substitute with lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar or whey (water that stands out in the homemade yogurt) The acid in the whey/yogurt/lemon juice helps in the neutralization of the phytic acid.

1. Make a dough, like your normally do. Knead for 2-3 mins. Put it in a container and cover it with a lid. It doesn't have to be airtight. (I use a casserole pan with a lid as my 'soaking' pot!). Leave it on the counter. NOT IN THE FRIDGE. The first 8 hrs have to be at room temperature. You can then store it in the fridge or make rotis

2. After 8 hrs, knead it for a minute. Use as little flour to sprinkle on the counter as you can (or use any sprouted grain flour for this) and roll the dough into rotis. And make rotis on a hot tava.

3. I usually make Rotis / Phulkas (puffed rotis) using the grill this blogger uses and it turns out puffed up every single time! And sometimes I make them as Chapathis (cooked on the tava with some oil).

The Chapathis freeze beautifully. After I make the chapathis, I put that on top the grill (which is not on the stove top.. I just use it for the ventilation it provides at the bottom) and pile the chapathis on top of it as I go. After all the chapathis are done, I let them cool completely and pack them in ziploc bags (squeeze as much air out as possible). If I will be using within a day or two, I put it in the fridge. Else it goes in the freezer. Whenever I need, I take a few from the freezer, peel them from each other (they come off, easily) and leave it on a plate on the counter for 5 mins. Meanwhile I put the tava on the stove top and let it get hot. It takes very few mins to warm the chapathis on the tava.. You can use the oven too. I have stopped using microwave to heat things up. But you can use that to warm the chapathis if you wish so.

I also noticed that these NT style soaked rotis make an awesome kothu roti or kothu parotta.

Variations to rotis
High EFA rotis - Add 1/4 cup of flax seed meal to the wholewheat atta while kneading. ( If you are using it everyday, use less, say about 1-2 tbsp per person, lesser for kids.
Low carb roti - Substitute half cup of besan to half cup of flour
Herbed/spiced rotis - Add crushed, dried herbs like kasuri methi, dried cilantro leaves, spices etc

I wouldn't add freshly grated veggies or greens to this dough, because they tend to make the dough very moist after some time.


mona said...

Whole wheat rotis are always a little bit difficult to roll. All this is new to me, thanks for sharing the info, loved going through it.

Anonymous said...

May I know the specific brand of whole wheat atta that you use? Thank you.

indosungod said...

Kay, thanks for this great post. I have realized that letting the dough rest for a few hours make the rotis soft. DD says that the rotis I make these days are so soft and tasty. I started using whey after you said and that has helped a great deal too.

Kay said...

Mona, soaking the flour helps to roll out the roti easier.

Anon, I don't have a specific brand, I just buy whatever wholewheat brand Atta is available preferably chakki fresh. I don't like Golden temple or Pillsbury. So I avoid buying those. I like Annapoorna WW atta and Nature Fresh. But I don't find it in the Indian stores consistently. Right now, I'm using Swarna brand Atta. It says stone ground, but it is really fine atta.

Kay said...

Glad it worked out for you too, Indo! :)

TNL said...

hey Kay!

I loved this post of yours with the interesting links.....I always let my chapati atta does make a tremendous difference! thanks for the info....


Bong Mom said...

My Mom does this to store the dough for later use, she doesn't know the benefits yet :)
She also wraps the dough with a dampened cloth or kitchen tissue.

Bong Mom said...

Happy Tamizh(?) New Year to you and your family

Kay said...

Glad you liked it, Trupti! Love your new name. :)

Thanks Sandeepa! Moms do know better, don't they?

Bong Mom said...

We add flax seed powder to the dough, maybe 2 tsp or 3 to dough that makes say 15 rotis. Is that ok ? Why restrict it to 2 days ?

Kay said...

Sandeepa, I just meant to say don't overdo. Check this out.

I'll add it to the post as well.

Beyond Curries said...

Hi Kay, that's a lot of helpful information. Actually my mother has been following this method of preparing the dough the previous night and preparing the chapathis the following day for quite sometime now. But she didn't know that it had so many benefits. It's more of time managment for her because she is working. It's interesting to know that it has added nutritional benefits as well. Will let her know this.

The movers came yesterday and the house is empty. Will call you on Monday. Is morning around 10 ok for you?

Kay said...

That's wonderful that you mom does this all the time. Moms do know instinctively, eh!

Sure, Monday morning 10 is good, Madhu.

Indira said...

Excellent post dear Kay. I have been doing it for ages but didn't know all the health benefits of dough rest. I think I'm going to tap my shoulder for once,:) for doing something good.

Love the new look of the blog. I see that you have added feed updates on the sidebar. May I skip the email-subscribe thingy for Mahanandi, please. Don't like to spend time updating the blog code. Too much hard work.:)

Kay said...

That's wonderful, Indira! Here's another pat on your back. :)

Sure, you can skip the subscribe through mail part. I just did this template change last week - thanks to Indosungod! and this latest post link, is really useful to me!

Deepika said...

Hi Kay. Came upon your blog link quite by accident when viewing google analytics. I was so touched to see that you had added me to your blogroll. Thanks so much!

I love your blog ... you've put so much info in it. Now that's one more link to add to my own list. :-)

Take care, Kay!

Deepika said...

Yes, you had left a comment at the time on my ragi recipe post; I remember. Unfortunately I hadn't been able to do much of a follow up.

I've tried 'soaking' the chapatti flour just like you suggested and it seemed to work well, the first time round, at least. This idea is very helpful to me when I have to pack lunchboxes in the morning ... now I just need to make the dough the night before. Saves a lot of morning time.

Thanks Kay.

Kay said...

No, don't worry about it, Deepika! I'm so glad to have found you!

About the roti dough, once you figure out the atta:water ratio for a soaked roti, it will be consistent every time.

Vani said...

SO interesting.. gotta try that!

Kay said...

Vani, do try it.. simple yet so good for the body.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this informative post Kay. Only recently did I find out about Weston A Price and his book "Nutrition and Physical degeneration", have requested it at the library.


Kay said...

mamatha, that book is available for free as an online book. I'm very busy this weekend. Will add the link here soon.

jh said...

Great post. Nourishing Traditions is one of my favorite books-completely revolutionized so many of my ideas regarding food. Thanks for profiling this specific topic. I think that paying better attention to how we eat grains can really increase all our health.

Boda weight loss Blog

Kay said...

I agree, jh! And yes, That is a great book!

The eternal salesman said...

I found this post at 3 am this morning. Was woken up by acid churning in the stomach. Cause: Rotis in dinner last night. I have this for i dont know from when! Whether it is bread, roti or any form of wheat i need to have ranitidine ready next to me in the night. What is the cure apart from the obvious of quitting wheat?