|What is grain-free flour? Well this is a specific question regarding those substances that act like grains but are botanically not made from grains.Those who don’t eat wheat will benefit from this posting.
Specifically, these flours are useful for those who follow the special grain-fast called Ekadasi, which falls every two weeks as the moon enters it’s eleventh phase after the full moon and new moon. Ekadasi means ‘eleventh’.
Deven Pillay from Johannesburg wrote me: “A few years ago I attended your class held in Johannesburg. It was very informative and I now I feel have a better understanding of cooking methodology. Thank you. I would like to know what types of wheat substitutes can be used for cooking on the Ekadasi day?”
My reply: “Yes. Here’s my list of non-grain flours, some you may not have encountered.”
Amaranth flour: Milled from the seeds of the amaranth plant, this flour boasts a higher percentage of protein than most other grains, and has more fibre than wheat and rice. It is also higher in the amino acid lysine, which some food scientists believe makes it a more complete protein than flour made from other grains. Amaranth flour can be used in cookies, crackers, baking mixes, and cereals.
Arrowroot flour: The rootstalks of a tropical plant are the source of this flour, often used as a thickener for sauces and desserts; the finely powdered arrowroot turns completely clear when dissolved (giving gloss to sauces), and adds no starchy flavor. Because of its easy digestibility, it is also an used as an ingredient in cookies intended for infants and young children. I use it as a grain-free substitute to corn flour (cornstarch for all US readers).
Buckwheat flour: A common ingredient in pancake mixes, buckwheat flour is also used to make Japanese soba noodles. It is available in light, medium, and dark varieties (the dark flour boasts the strongest flavor), depending on the kind of buckwheat it is milled from. You can make your own buckwheat flour by processing whole white buckwheat groats in a blender or food processor.
Chestnut flour: This tan flour is made from chestnuts, the meaty, lowfat nuts that are often served as a vegetable. The flour is a little sweet and is traditionally used in Italian holiday desserts. Italian shops sell it.
Potato flour (potato starch): Steamed potatoes are dried and then ground to a powder to make this gluten-free flour, which is commonly used in baked goods for Jewish Passover (when wheat flour may not be used).
Quinoa flour: Higher in fat than wheat flour, quinoa flour makes baked goods more moist. You can make your own quinoa flour by processing whole quinoa in a blender; stop before the flour is too fine – it should be slightly coarse, like cornmeal.
Tapioca flour: Milled from the dried starch of the cassava root, this flour thickens when heated with water and is often used to give body to puddings, fruit pie fillings, and soups. It can also be used in baking.
Water-chestnut flour (water-chestnut powder): This Asian ingredient is a fine, powdery starch that is used to thicken sauces (it can be substituted for cornstarch) and to coat foods before frying to give them a delicate, crisp coating.
Below is pictured a complete feast of ekadasi-friendly dishes cooked at a session in Ljubljana, Slovenia a few years ago.
Succulent Gujarati Pumpkin Curry
Eggplant, Potato and Panir Cheese (“A Meat-Eater’s Delight”)
Crisp Ekadasi Cauliflower Fritters (Pakoras)
Buckwheat Poories (best ever)
Saffron Mashed Potatoes
Hot & Spicy Apple Chutney
Savoury Fresh Cheese Balls in Creamy Tomato Sauce (Malai Kofta)
Creamy Cardamom-infused Yogurt Dessert with Pistachios (Shrikhand)
North Indian Carrot Halava
Hot Spiced Tea (Masala Chai)
I also encountered flatbreads made from banana flour whilst in India. Last time I posted this information I received this letter from a reader:
“I also have some more flours used by Gujarati Krishna Devotees.
1) Ragigara (or Ragigaro or rajgira) flour – Very small – is a very small tiny seeds like yellow mustard seeds but much smaller. The seeds can be used to make popcorn and these popped seeds are used to make khir with milk and sugar. The flour is used to make halavah which turns out to be a brown and sticker than regular halavah. The flour is used to make vada, parathas, puris, rotis and small pakoras with mashed potatoes using herbs, ground black pepper and salt added. (note from Kurma: this is amaranth, as described in my list above.)
2) Singado flour. Pakoras are made using ground peanuts and mashed potatoes, little baking powder, salt and coriander leaves and ground black pepper. (note from Kurma: this is another name for Water Chestnut flour, as described above.)
3) Cassava grits and flour. (very starchy but sweet tasting roots). Boil the grits with 2 to 3 times the water. It turns into mashed potato consistency and any chopped vegetables can be added. These can also be used to make halavah and base for the Ekadasi Pizza. Boiled Cassava makes excellent subji with lots of fresh tomatoes. Boiled – sliced (one inch thick sticks) – Fried sticks sprinkled with black pepper and salt and a little lemon, make amazing chips that far surpass potato chips. Hope this helps. Gandhari Dasi”
Posted by Kurma on 2/3/11; 10:00:13 AM