There is more to carbs than just rice. The humble potato made into our 'carb' scene a few years ago, albeit for political reasons, but our passion for rice remains as strong as ever. The fact that escapes our mindset is that grains, even in the Bangladeshi context, are not limited to polished rice.
Consider husked rice, which is not only a healthy alternative but also appeals to the need for variation in our palate.
Even in our neighbouring countries, the daily carb intake constituters a wide range of crops, that includes wheat, barley, maize and others. As more and more super stores are opening up, the local consumers are being introduced to varieties of grains for their daily consumption.
This week Star Lifestyle zeroes in on the countless grains that are available it the market, serving as a rich source of carbohydrates.
Although you will probably not get all of them under one roof, an extensive range of grains are now available at the Gulshan 1 market, Shoshya Probortana and most super stores. You can also opt to bring some of the rich-carb wholesome grains from your next foreign trip.
So we present: A carb overdose!
Hello, Whole Grains!
There is considerable debate about the effects of carbohydrates on our health. Low-carb diets came into limelight during the 1970s and gained tremendous popularity in the 1990s mainly due to the book 'Dr. Atkins' Diet Revolution' that advocated for the replacement of high-carb food with more fats, proteins, and low-carbs to treat growing obesity. However, many experts insist that carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet. To strike a balance, they suggest choosing carbohydrates full of fiber, such as whole grains.
Nutrition-consciousness is still very low in Bangladesh. Traditional diet largely consists of white rice and white bread that are stripped of beneficial fiber and other nutrients, such as iron and Vitamins B1 and B3, during processing and cooking. Nutritionists suggest the following alternatives to white rice that are also rich in carbohydrates:
Brown rice (also known as 'lal chaal')
Brown rice retains several vitamins and dietary minerals, such as magnesium, which are absent in 'enriched' white rice. Fatty acids and essential rice bran oils add to its nutrient value. Brown rice has a nutty flavour. While it takes longer to cook, its nutritional value makes it desirable. Studies associate about two servings of brown rice per week with lowered risk of diabetes. Variants of brown rice are the fragrant brown 'basmati' rice and the red rice that cooks slightly faster and is loaded with more iron and zinc.
Amaranth (also known as 'kiwicha' or 'daanta beej')
Originally cultivated in Mexico, amaranth is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. It is also a good source of vitamins A, B1, and C. It has a distinct, grassy flavour. Many prefer to consume amaranth with other grains or use it as an ingredient in baked goods such as muffins and tortillas, apart from savoring it as a hot breakfast cereal. Studies suggest that amaranth is a promising source of protein and can substantially benefit those with hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.
Quinoa (also known as a variant of 'daanta beej')
Quinoa too has its roots in the South American region. It has been dubbed as a 'super-food' as it contains all nine essential amino acids. Its protein content is higher than that of brown rice and many other whole grains. When cooked, quinoa has a fluffy consistency and a nutty flavour. It can be served as a substitute for rice or incorporated into vegetarian meals, such as grain-based burgers. Remember to soak the grains before use or to run them under cool water. Available in plenty of colours, tan and red quinoa are most commonly found. What's more? The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has declared 2013 as “The International Year of the Quinoa.” This year seems perfect for a change, no matter how short-lived, in your diet.
Barley (also known as 'jober daana')
Barley holds a central place in traditional Middle-Eastern diet. It contains eight essential amino acids and is packed with fiber, selenium, phosphorous, copper, and manganese. The more refined forms of barley, such as scotch barley and pearl barley, consist of fewer nutrients. Barley has a chewy texture. It can be conveniently added to soups or used as morning oatmeal. Barley is known for regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, especially for post-menopausal women. Barley biscuits and breads are ideal as light snacks. However, since barley contains gluten, it is not suitable for people with intestinal disorders.
Millet (also known as 'jowar' and 'bojra')
Millet is quite popular in the African and South Asian regions. The small, round, yellow grains of millet provide an ample supply of Vitamin B3. Additionally, half cup of millet is roughly equivalent to 3 grams of protein. Unique from all other whole grains, its texture varies with the method of cooking. If left undisturbed while cooking, it turns light and fluffy. With a bit of stirring, you get a creamy consistency similar to that of mashed potatoes. Millet is best served with beans or combined with honey. Millet is gluten-free. However, people with thyroid diseases are advised to refrain from consuming it in large quantities.
Apart from the ones mentioned in this article, there are many other whole grains available in the grocery stores.
Shashya Prabartana offers a variety of red rice. Kalo Jira rice is also available here at around Taka 138 per kg. It has outlets in: 2/8 Sir Syed Road, Mohammadpur; Deshi Dosh Level 7, Shop 10, Bashundhara City; and House 123, Block E, Road 19 (Old 13) Banani.
Unimart offers organic Kashwa Jhum Binni brown rice priced at Taka 99 per kg and organic Hardighi Aoush brown rice for Taka 85 per kg. Unimart also stocks 'branded' packaged rice by Best. A small packet of Best's Jhum Binni brown rice will cost you Taka 120, while the black rice is priced at Taka 130 per packet. Unimart, the first hypermarket of Bangladesh, is located at Gulshan Centre Point, Road 90, Gulshan 2, Dhaka, and remains open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Also, make sure you visit kitchen markets across the city as they offer a wide variety of whole grains at very reasonable prices.
Whole grain recipes
Brown rice risotto with shrimp
Servings: 6 (1 cup per serving)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup short grain brown rice, dry
2 cups vegetable broth, low sodium
1 tsp rosemary
3 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
¼ tsp saffron
1 pound shrimp, raw
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
In a large saucepan, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic. Add rice and cook quickly for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add ½ cup vegetable broth to brown rice and then add rosemary, parsley, and saffron. Mix well. Cover and gently simmer.
Gradually add the rest of the broth as liquid is absorbed (rice should be tender, about 30 minutes). While waiting for the rice, bring one quart of water to a boil and cook shrimp until pink. Add ¼ cup cheese a few minutes before rice is done. When cheese is melted through, remove from heat.
Add the shrimp to the rice and toss until mixed evenly. Top with remaining cheese and serve.
Recipes from: eatright.org