diet and Diet Reform


Table of Contents



About This Book

Written by : M. K. Gandhi
Edited by : Bharatan Kumarappa
First Edition : 5,000 copies, July 1949
ISBN : 81-7229-062-4
Printed and Published by : Jitendra T. Desai
Navajivan Mudranalaya,
© Navajivan Trust, 1949


Chapter 58 : Useful Suggestion

The method now in vogue of first grinding grain into flour and then making chapatis or bread out of the flour is wasteful. The defects of the method are as follows:
In the process of grinding in mills at a high speed, the properties of protein, starch, cellulose and mineral salts are altered while the fat content is lost, as in the process the flour gets hot. In the preparation of dough of workable consistency, the flour absorbs only half the quantity of water to its own weight, with the result that starch does not swell and in turn makes the food only partly nutritive due to insufficient proportion of water. In the East, the dough is rolled into shapes called chapatis and puris which can either be cooked or baked, but are fried with ghee or oils, and in so doing only a skin forms on both the sides. In the West, the dough is mixed with yeast for the preparation of spongy bread, but this too is neither fully nutritive nor hygienic as claimed, as the vitamins together with other constituents of food value are destroyed by the alcoholic fermentation due to the action of the yeast. Hence, the food prepared with this age-old process is neither tasteful nor hygienic, nor fully nutritive nor easily digestible, and even for partial digestion needs a large quantity of digestive fluids, like bile, gastric juice and pancreatic juice. That a sick person cannot be fed with this food is a popular recognition of this fact. Even biscuits cannot be said to be better. Again, not being easily digestible, it causes constipation, the cause of all disease. Besides, before the preparation of dough, the flour is sieved to remove bran, which means a loss. The flour being liable to easy attack by microscopic germs, it cannot be stored for a long time and considerable loss occurs in transport and use, all of which make its use uneconomical.
All these defects can now be surmounted with the pro­cess developed after extensive experiments conducted with a view to increasing the nutritive value of cereals, particu­larly wheat, bajri and jower, so that the food made out of these cereals can impart immense health.
According to this new process, a known quantity of wheat with about three and a half times water by volume, i.e. one pot of wheat and three and a half pots of water, or 1 lb. of wheat and 4 lb. of water, is hydrated by gradual boiling, with or without the addition of a tea-spoonful of sugar or jaggery under low heat, keeping the lid on if an ordinary pot is used. Prior to heating, if wheat is steeped in water for about 12 to 18 hours, fuel will be saved. In case a pressure cooker is employed, the ratio of wheat and water should be one to one and three- quarter by weight. The proportion of water to be used varies according to the quality of wheat. In so cooking or boiling, about 2 lb. of water is removed by evaporation and starch, bran and other constituents swell by absorbing water, and wheat becomes meaty. In this manner cooking or boiling should be continued till only a little water is left, which too will be absorbed by the wheat when it cools. Heating should neither be continued till water is completely evaporated for then hydration will not be sufficient, nor should the water from the pot be thrown out, for if removed it means a loss of soluble constituents of wheat. When wheat is cooked completely, which can be seen either from its swollen state or by pressing between the fingers to determine the softness, a little salt may be mixed with it to impart taste.
Wheat so cooked should then be masticated or ground to a paste, which can be accomplished with the aid of mincers, or by grinding on a masala stone, or pressing with two wooden pieces. With the use of pressure cooker, wheat inside will be digested to a pulpy dough of workable consistency. The paste so made can be made into shapes like puries, chapatis and biscuits by the known method, and fried with known fats or oils, for consumption.
In places like Bombay where at times grain cannot be had but only flour, one may first make a dough of the flour as usual when making chapatis, put the dough in a piece of cloth and hang it over a pot of boiling water till the dough gets completely cooked with the steam. Chapatis should then be made out of the cooked dough, following the usual process.
The advantage of this new food is that by it about fifty-five per cent wheat is saved — forty per cent by the absorption of about one and three quarter times water, ten per cent by retaining bran, and five per cent by elimina­tion of wastages. This means that a month's provision will last for two months. Actually, with this process, the volume of wheat increases to two and a half times, i.e. one pot on cooking becomes two and a half pots. This means that from a quantity of flour required to make four chapatis with the old process, ten chapatis can be made from the same weight of wheat with this process, without altering the thickness and size.
Besides, the food is more tasteful, hygienic, and nutritive and easily digestible as the known and unknown constituents of food value are retained and evenly distributed. As such, its consumption will add a marked amount of weight. Moreover, being easily digestible, it can be fed even to sick persons. Also, the process will facilitate stor­age of wheat, bajri, jowar and like grains for a longer time without decay, and will save wastage in transport of flour. Moreover, it will dispense with flour mills.
Above all, this method will mean food for all. The adoption of this activated food in India will save every year about 8 to 12 million tons of wheat costing approxi­mately Rs. 300 to 450 crores at the rate of Rs. 360 per ton and a similar quantity of valuable bajri and jowar. As such it will eliminate the present scarcity of cereals and will make the future bright for our famished people.