Fermented food offers health benefits and tastes pretty good too
Monday, Jan 28, 2013 11:38 am
In the past four months, Iíve taken on a personal challenge to get more creative in the kitchen and try recipes outside the norm for me (read: pasta, meat and potatoes, sandwich).
Actually, this kick started about three years ago when I bought a cookbook with healthy recipes and I decided then and there I would cook them all. That was in 2010, and the book has more or less collected dust since then.
But, four months ago I started again, and to date, Iíve successfully tackled some pretty interesting meals including fish tacos, raw tacos and chicken curry.
Raw tacos were one of the more intense projects because it involved cutting up a few different nuts into very tiny pieces.
But, nothing really prepared me for the longest and hardest meal I decided to make in the middle of a work week: dosas.
Dosas are Indian cuisine and are sort of like pancakes, which points to why this was the hardest recipe to make.
I fail at having to flip anything in a pan: eggs end up a mashed pile of hardened yoke and burnt whites and pancakes become shreds.
I knew this would likely happen with the dosas, but I really wanted to make them. A few online articles said they are a good source of protein and amino acids and gluten free.
Plus, I havenít backed down from a recipe yet and I wasnít going to let these pancakes break me. Thankfully, I had time on my side to figure it out.
The dosas are made with rice, lentils and water that has to soak separately for eight hours before blending them together. It then involves a fermentation process that takes 24 hours.
While this ground paste sat, covered above my fridge, I debated my flip technique and chose the long spatula with no slots so I could get most of the pancake on the spatula for an easy flip. I decided to use the plug-in griddle to cook on instead of the frying pan so Iíd have room to manoeuvre the pancakes as they would inevitable flop around once I started to move them.
I was also wondering how uncooked fermented rice and lentils forms into a batter that is easily spilled onto a griddle and whether Iíd eaten fermented food before.
Apparently I have and they are more common than I thought. Fermented food includes things such as yogurt, pickles, sauerkraut and vinegar and are a source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
A fermented drink which is gaining popularity is Kombucha tea. Itís a fizzy, fermented sweet tea with live bacteria that Iíve been guzzling after yoga without realizing exactly what it was and the health benefits that come with fermentation.
Local naturopathic doctor, Kin Yan Leung, said fermented foods contain good bacteria such as probiotics which help with digestion. He said some foods, such as fermented wheat germ, has been shown to increase white blood cells.
This was all great news to know that my meal was not only another recipe to tick off my list, but that it was healthy as well.
And my dosa-making abilities werenít a total disaster, after making 30 of them, I got the hang of it. As for the batter, the water pooled on the top and the lentils and rice sank more to the bottom, but scooped and poured onto the pan well enough.
And the filling ó potatoes and peas topped with sambar (more lentils, with spices and vegetables) ó made for a delicious meal.
Increasing fermented foods may be a good idea but Leung warns about going overboard. He said, like everything, fermented foods should be eaten in moderation noting that some cultures that eat a lot of fermented foods, have higher numbers of gastric cancer recorded.