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Mahatma Gandhi


57. Saving Cereals

In view of the present cereal shortage in the country, certain experiments on diet were tried in Maganwadi. The following results which have been tested at Maganwadi will be helpful to save cereal consumption to some extent.

Rationing authorities in certain places are distributing atta instead of cereals and as the cereals employed are of lower quality there is a suggestion of adding calcium salt to the atta to make it more nutritious. We would suggest an addition to the atta of 15 per cent of cleaned ground-nut cake.

This will have many advantages:

1) There will be an outright saving of 15 per cent in cereals.

2) The protein content of the atta will be practically doubled.

3) There will be no increase in the cost; if anything it may scale down the cost.

4) The ground-nut cake is very rich in vitamin B complex particularly in vitamin B1.

There is no danger of the cake powder getting rancid as in the proportion in which it will be present in the atta, the anti-oxident property of the atta will be effective to check any hydrolysis.

Only good fresh seeds should be taken, cleaned, by hand-picking and passed in bullock-driven ghani presses. The extraction of oil being by cold process no nutritious ingredients of the ground-nut are lost. The oil is pressed out leaving only about 10 to 11 per cent in the cake. The cakes are broken into small pieces and dried in the sun. The cake so treated will remain quite fresh for at least one week and retain its flavour. They get bone hard and can be cracked to a fine meal in a pestle and mortar. This meal can be fed in the hand chakki to pulverize and bring it to atta consistency.

The 15 per cent of its addition will mean in the normal diet a daily consumption of less than 1½ chhataks. There is no difficulty in making the preparations of the atta. It retains all the good points of the whole cereal atta plus a special nutty flavour which makes food all the more tasty. This flavour may be very negligible when only 15 per cent of ground-nut-oilcake atta is added and only on a larger addition can the taste be fully appreciated.

The cake contains over 50 per cent of high grade protein.

Scientific experiments elsewhere have also established high grade digestibility coefficient of ground-nut protein. It ranks with the microbial protein of yeast and closely approximates animal protein as found in milk, eggs and mutton.

After many experiments we have come to the conclusion that 1 to 2 chhataks of ground-nut oil-cake can be easily digested and taken along with cereals making the preparation more palatable. The cake bits are soaked in water and in two hours or so they disintegrate forming a uniform paste. This paste can be mixed with atta and made into chapatis. The proportion of 1:5 is quite good. The paste adds to the flavour of the dal or vegetable, if cooked along with these. It is very tasty when used in the preparation of dalia or porridge with cereals half and half or even without that.

Such use of ground-nut cake will release some of the cereal needed and will be a very good health-giving food.

Sweet Potatoes:

Sweet potatoes are rich in starch and can form a good substitute for cereals. These should be cooked over steam. If cooked with water, almost all the water should be allowed to evaporate, for, otherwise much of the mineral salts will get dissolved in the water and would have to be discarded with the water.

Sweet potatoes can be taken mixed with vegetables, milk, curds or in any other convenient form. If at any of the meals, cereals are to be totally substituted by this, a little more of sweet potatoes should be taken on the weight of the usual consumption quantity of cereal.

Harijan, 6-4-1947