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Slices of health

Bread has come a long way from a humble loaf to a healthy food


BREAD. UNTIL not so long ago, it came in just about four varieties. White. Brown. Sliced. Plain. Today, what was once the plebeian staple of the breakfast table has a staggering variety of forms. The humble loaf has transformed itself into something of a delicacy. It can be healthy (wholemeal, ragi), it can be exotic (sourdough, pumpernickel), it can be stuffed (spinach, carrot), it can be spicy (garlic, masala) and it can be flavoured with anything from rosemary to poppy seeds.

In keeping with the changing face of the loaf, Chennai has begun to offer a mind-boggling variety of breads. Many of them are made with an eye on health buffs. According to Anu Abraham, corporate chef of Hot Breads, the Chennai market has taken to breads because of a greater consciousness about dieting and health. Breads made out of whole wheat, ragi or cereals become an important choice for the health-conscious, particularly those keen on improving their diet.

Susheela Swamy, who delivers homemade bread, makes a fair share of her loafs out of soya. "Soya has protein value and helps to regain energy." She also specialises in whole-wheat and high fibre bread. The latter, which helps to reduce the calories and sugar, is targeted at senior citizens and diabetics. "I hope to start making multigrain bread containing wheat, corn and maize," she says. This is the latest fad.

Dr. Tusna Park recommends whole-wheat brown bread because of the lower glycaemic index. She also recommends soya bread. Soya is considered mandatory for the treatment of those who have high blood (bad) cholesterol and patients susceptible to heart problems. However, she believes that much of what passes as soya bread does not contain enough soya.

If exotic bread is your choice, a great place to shop is Naturally Auroville at Nungambakkam. Sesame brown, sourdough and pumpernickel (black bread) arrive every week from Pondicherry. The outlet also stocks other varieties for the health conscious.

La Patisserie at Taj Coromandel offers a whole range that includes brown, wholemeal, oatmeal, masala, multigrain, Mexican and darkmalt. Care for vegetables in bread? Like it flavoured with spinach or carrot? If you do, then Sweet Chariot at Ispahani Center, Nungambakkam, is just the right place to visit. Also available here are fruit, garlic and masala bread.

Chef Santhanakrishnan of Marmalade says bread is both a health and convenience food. Marmalade Bakers and Confectioners have whole-wheat, brown, oat, poppy seed, garlic, foccaciou bread and French loaf on display. Of them, the foccaciou bread is unique as it is flavoured with rosemary and other herbs.

Try it out

HERE IS a recipe for those who want to eat bread everyday by Dr. Tusna Park:

Ingredients:

150 gm of whole wheat,
150 gm of soya flour,
A pinch of salt,
One teaspoon of good quality dry yeast.
2 tps of sugar

Method:

Put the dry ingredients together in a pan and mix well. Add a raw egg (optional). Take 300 ml of water with a wooden spatula and add it to the dry mixture till you get a thick consistency. (thicker than cake but not as firm as chappati dough). Grease a baking tin with oil and place the dough in the tin and let it stand for three hours. It will rise. Bake it in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Do not eat more than 3 slices at a time.

Note: Serves 3 will give 50 gm of soya per person/per day.

MALAVIKA LAKSHMAN

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