Flour is an incredibly important part of Indian cuisines. It is used in making different kinds of bread, like rotis, parathas and many more. We Indians probably cannot survive well in a world without flour. In many regions of the country, flours are used in gravies as well and a wide variety of them are used to make oozing sweets and snacks that we simply cannot resist.
Focusing on more than one kind of flour is not a new thing. Our ancestors always consumed multiple flours available in their regions; rice flour, corn flour, bajra and many more. Although, most of the population in modern times do not keep varied options of flours in their pantries. So, before we start to explore the options of flours that are not wheat, we should understand why we need to eat them in the first place.
Why We Should Eat a Variety of Flours
As we discussed, if we depend so much on flour in our life, then we should not limit it just to wheat flour. To collect all the benefits, you must consume a variety of flours and you can try and make different recipes with them. If not, then you simply can cook and bake different Indian and foreign breads using different flours. Oat flour is a great option for baking a healthy fluffy bread and you easily can make roti out of millet flour.
Wholegrains are great for our bodies. They are rich in fibre, vitamins and essential carbohydrates. Although the ratio of each varies in all of them. In a nutshell, all of the whole-grains are very beneficial to the human body and we should not skip them if they are locally available to you. Now, as you ideally got to know about the importance of including different flours in your regular diet. Then, we can begin to discuss five easily available flours other than your regular wheat flour.
Top 5 Flours Other than Wheat
If you are someone who says that you cannot live without flour, then we completely understand. The role of flours in the Indian kitchen is extravagant. A lot of different flours are used all around the world, but we here have tried to enlist only the top 5 ones here. These are the ones that can easily be purchased from your local grocery stores or online:
1. Corn Flour
Corn flour, or Makki ka atta, is the second most commonly used flour after wheat. This flour can be found in many different variants but it is always better to focus on the ones that are locally available in your market. Whole corn-flour contains the hull, germ and the endosperm of the kernel and it is very commonly known as makkai throughout India.
Corn-flour can be found in yellow and white colour depending on the variety of the corn used. Its texture is almost similar to wheat four, but the plus point is that it is gluten-free and can be consumed by gluten intolerant people easily. Corn flour is rich in proteins, fibre, carbohydrates and fats and can be eaten with your favourite daal/sabzi or the best of all, sarso ka saag.
2. Rice Flour
As the name suggests, this flour is milled out of rice grains that can be used as a great substitute for your wheat or refined flour (Maida). Use it in gravies, sauces or any recipe that needs thickening in it. It can also be used to make rice noodles and some pancakes, such as South Indian appams. It is completely safe for the gluten intolerants or for the people who avoid gluten in their regular diets. Rice flour is higher in fibre, it enhances your liver functioning and cures your slow bowel system. It can also be beneficial to your skin.
3. Bajra Flour
Bajra is another commonly known flour in many states of India. It can be a very good and easy option to replace wheat flour in your diet. Bajra roti is a staple food for many Indian households, especially during winter. However, it can still be enjoyed all year long and is notably beneficial for your gut health and heart. It is rich in dietary fibres, phosphorus and iron. It is gluten-free and tastes amazing even with your regular food.
4. Ragi Flour
Ragi is a protein-rich grain. So, you can consider your ragi meal or roti trustworthy for your daily protein intake. It controls your blood sugar levels while also being incredibly good for the health of your heart. So, do not think twice about starting to stock your pantry with Ragi flour. But if you are having trouble adjusting to it, here are some easy recipes that you can try with ragi flour at home.
5. Buckwheat flour/ Kuttu
We all know this flour, as it is widely used in the religious feasts or for the fasting purpose. It is dark flour with a strong taste and smell milled from the grain of buckwheat, which, despite its name, is in no way related to wheat. So, you can easily eat it in any suitable way you like. You can bake cookies or cakes with buckwheat flour and it will make them healthier and better.
Our body is not made for just one type of food. Always keep a varied balance of produce in your diet and keep trying different whole-grains and flours to find the ones you like the most. Other than the above variety of flours, almond flour, oat flours and potato starch flours are also good options but as they are not easily available in India. But remember, it is important that you eat whatever is produced locally in your area. That will be the easiest way to gather nutrition for your body while also staying healthy and supporting your local community.
Frequently asked questions about wheat flour alternatives
What is a healthy alternative to wheat flour?
To collect all the benefits, we must include different types of flour as a part of our regular diet. Besides the usual Wheat Flour, you can also have Corn Flour, Ragi Flour, Rice Flour, Bajra Flour, or Buckwheat/Kuttu Flour as they are enriched with immense health benefits. This is the easiest way to get nutrition for your body and eat healthy. Just eat whatever is produced locally in your area because it is easily accessible, healthier, and supports the local economy as a whole.
Is corn flour better than flour?
Corn flour aka Makki Ka Atta is rich in proteins, fiber, healthy carbs, and fat, and it is the second most used flour after wheat flour. Although its texture is similar to wheat flour, but it is gluten-free, and thus can be consumed easily by people who are intolerant to gluten. This property makes it a great flour to include in daily diet
How to Pick Wheat Flour Alternative?
Corn Flour, Ragi Flour, Rice Flour, Bajra Flour, or Buckwheat/Kuttu Flour are some options that people can try to attain different benefits linked with each flour. Keep a mix and match of every flour, pick those which suit your taste buds the most, and prefer to buy those flours which are easily accessible in your area and produced locally. It not only helps you but also support the local community. Thus a win-win situation in terms of both.