Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) ‘Kuttu Ka Atta’ is a crop cultivated for its seeds which resemble a grain. Buckwheat is believed to have originated about 4000 year ago in Yunnan province of Southwest China. From this region, it began to be cultivated in Southeast Asian region, Central Asia, Tibet and then to Middle East and Europe. Interestingly, it is not a cereal grain because it is not derived from grass. Buckwheat is a seed, rich in various minerals and vitamins and is consumed in roasted form, called ‘groats’, as noodles and also as flour.
In India, buckwheat is commonly called Kuttu, Kathu, Ogle, Fafra or Bharesh. Out of 20 odd varieties of buckwheat world over, only two varieties are present in India. These are Fagopyrum tataricum and F. esculentum. Kuttu is grown from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, all along the Himalayan range at altitudes ranging from 1500 to 4500 meters above sea level.
Kuttu ka atta is also used during the festival season of ‘Navratri’.
Following table give the complete nutrient profile of buckwheat flour…
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||1,435 kJ (343 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||10 g|
|Thiamine (B1)||0.101 mg 9%|
|Riboflavin (B2)||0.425 mg 35%|
|Niacin (B3)||7.02 mg 47%|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||1.233 mg 25%|
|Vitamin B6||0.21 mg 16%|
|Folate (B9)||30 μg 8%|
|Vitamin C||0 mg 0%|
|Calcium||18 mg 2%|
|Iron||2.2 mg 17%|
|Magnesium||231 mg 65%|
|Manganese||1.3 mg 62%|
|Phosphorus||347 mg 50%|
|Potassium||460 mg 10%|
|Sodium||1 mg 0%|
|Zinc||2.4 mg 25%|
Buckwheat contains all nine amino acids which are building blocks of our body as they make proteins. An important amino acid, Lysin, is present in this flour which is missing from most other stable grain flours, such as wheat or rice.
It contains a lot of insoluble fiber which is crucial for maintaining digestive health and prevent a number of diseases such as cardiovascular and blood sugar.
How to Grind Buckwheat into Flour?
There are three ways in which the buckwheat can be ground to flour.
1/3. Using Hand-driven Grind Mill Stones, called ‘hath ki chakki’ in Hindi. The benefit with this is that there is not much of heat generation since power is not used. This prevents loss nutrition to heat.
2/3. Standalone Grinders-Only those grinders are good which are specifically meant for grinding food grain cereals. Juicer-mixer grinders attachments might not do the work satisfactorily.
3/3. Electric-powered mill- This is the one which is used to grind large quantities of ‘kuttu ka atta’.
While grinding it is desirable that same flour is grounded multiple times with mill being adjusted for finer flour grinding. It should also be noted that too fine grinding might result is creation of seed butter, just like peanut butter.
Preparations from Kuttu Ka Atta
A number of dishes are prepared using the buckwheat flour. It is used worldwide for preparing a range of local dishes, especially in Russia and China where it is grown to a major extent.
In India, it is customary to use it in making special ‘paranthas’, ‘pakoras’ or ‘puris’ during the festive season of ‘navratra’.
During this period, the people who observe fast are not required to eat cereal foods. This makes kuttu ka atta a viable alternative.
Kasha bread is another common preparation. It tastes like a cake. Pancakes are also made with this flour and eaten in breakfast or as a snack. People living in Southern states of India even make dosa with kuttu ka atta with stuffing of potatoes. Brownie can also be made with this flour along with chocolate and walnuts.
Potential Health Benefits of Buckwheat flour
1/7. Heart Health
Buckwheat flour is a rich source of flavonoids, such as rutin, which act as anti-oxidants. It reduces the activity of lipids which helps in maintaining flow of blood and do not let platelets to clot in large numbers. Rutin itself has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Buckwheat ‘Kittu atta’ flour is also a good source of magnesium which relaxes the blood vessels. This not only improves flow of blood and nutrients but also lowers the blood pressure. All of these are good for heart health.
Buckwheat also provides dietary fiber which is known to reduce the cholesterol levels in body. This reduces the blood pressure levels and health risks associated with heart, diabetes, obesity and stroke.
For people who are allergic to gluten, it is a good alternative since it does not have gluten content. Therefore, it prevents occurrence of allergies or reactions.
3/7. Improvement in digestion
Due to presence of insoluble fiber in buckwheat, intestines are able to perform better digestion of food. Also, due to a feeling of fullness, it prevents from eating too much with the result that the weight loss can happen.
Another compound which helps in digestion is Niacin and it is present in the buckwheat flour. It converts carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy.
4/7. Weight Management
Research has found that proteins present in diet are able to provide feeling of fullness or satiety. This increases the gap between meals as people do not feel hungry frequently. The calorie intake is reduced which helps in maintaining weight.
5/7. Diabetes Management
There are two type of carbohydrates. One is simple and the other is complex. The simpler ones are easy to break down while the complex ones take longer time.
Buckwheat flour is rich in complex carbohydrates, such as D-chiro inositol, which takes longer time period for breaking down. This slows down the process of digestion and keep blood sugar levels in check.
6/7. Protection against cancer
Buckwheat flour contains compounds which help in fighting against certain cancers. These compounds are antioxidants and phenolic. These help in preventing emergence of free radicals and inflammation.
7/7. Helps prevent gallstones
Due to richness in insoluble fiber content, buckwheat flour prevents creation of gallstones to a great extent. Since the insoluble fiber reduces secretion of bile, thereby reducing the digestion process, the chances of formation of gallstones are also reduced considerably simultaneously.
Side-effects of buckwheat flour
Buckwheat flour is generally safe to consume by all people. However, those who are allergic to buckwheat can have some adverse reaction, such as swelling of mouth but these are rare instances.