Oats for breakfast, Indian style

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Oats, the old breakfast staple, are given an Indian twist 

oats.Indian Link

Many many years ago in India, when my dad decided he wanted to switch to oats for breakfast, my mum set about sourcing it for him.

Many shopwallahs had not heard of it. One of them who had, told my mum that as far as he knew, oats were something that were fed to horses.

I was reminded of this story when I read the following quote. Samuel Johnson once said, oats are eaten by people in Scotland, but in England, they are only considered fit for horses. A Scotsman’s retort to this apparently was: “That’s why England has such good horses, and Scotland such fine men!”

My father continues to eat oats for breakfast to this day, adding seasonal fruits – never sugar – to get rid of the blandness. And when I cook myself a bowl on winter mornings here, my kids call it ‘Nanaji’s breakfast’.

Of course, they don’t know that Nanaji would shun my version of oats – filled as it is with shredded coconut, dried papaya and toasted macadamia – as too fancy and rather unhealthy! He would be pleased to know though, that I have lately switched to a more ‘wholesome’ (read plain) version.

While I cook my grainy oats in the microwave, my daughter prefers to put hers in ANZAC cookies – which are simply to die for when eaten fresh out of the oven (thanks, taste.com.au!)

Oats are a common winter breakfast cereal for the cholesterol-conscious. They are a great source of soluble fibre which acts like a sponge during digestion, soaking up and removing cholesterol from the body.

Other than lowering cholesterol, oats are also known to help fight cancer, particularly colon, breast and prostrate cancer. As a source of carbohydrates, they help cure fatigue and insomnia, as well as depression.

(I learnt recently that the grainy flakes of oats can also be used as a skin scrub. Filled with lubricating fats, oats are used in body moisturizers and soaps. They can be used as a natural cleanser to remove dirt and oil from the pores of the skin, leaving it soft and moist. For a soothing face mask, mix 2 tbsp oatmeal with 2 tbsp hot water and ½ a tbsp of honey – apply, let dry and then wash off with warm water).

What else can you do with oats other than put them in breakfast cereals and in cookies? Read on!

 

Oats and Rice Flour Dosa

  • 1 cup oats, rolled or quick
  • 1/4 cup semolina
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 cups water
  • Green chillies to taste, finely chopped
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves

Mix together in a bowl oats, semolina, rice flour, coriander leaves and water.

Set aside for about 15 minutes.

Heat oil in a small pan and add in mustard and cumin seeds. When they begin to splutter, add in green chillies and curry leaves. After 10-20 seconds, pour into dosa batter and mix.

Heat tava/dosa pan. Pour in about a bowl of batter and spread in a circular fashion. Pour a little oil round the sides.

When it is cooked enough to come off the pan with a spatula, turn it over gently and cook on the other side till done.

Serve hot with chutney of choice and sambhar.

 

Oats-Buttermilk Dosa

  • 2 cups oats, rolled or quick
  • 2 tbsp cooked rice
  • Buttermilk or yogurt, enough to soak and cover the oats
  • Green chillies to taste, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Pinch asafetida
  • Water
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped

Mix rice and oats in a bowl and cover with yogurt/buttermilk. Let soak for about half an hour. Then transfer to a blender and process.

Add salt, asafetida, green chillies and coriander leaves. Add a little water if consistency is too thick.

Heat tava/dosa pan and make dosas the regular way. Note, the dosas will not be crisp but soft.

Oats and Moong Dal Dosa

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups green moong dal
  • Green chillies to taste, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Grated carrots and/or finely chopped capsicum, to taste
  • Oil

Soak green moong dal for about four hours or until soft. Drain. Add oats and green chillies and process into a smooth paste, adding a little water if required.

Add salt and coriander leaves, grated carrots and/or capsicum and mix. Make dosas the regular way.

Serve hot with peanut chutney.

 

Oats Dosa with Urad Flour

  • 1 cup urad flour
  • 2 cups rice flour
  • ¼ cup oats
  • Salt to taste

Soak the oats in about ½ cup of water.

Mix the flours along with sufficient water and run it through the blender once as the urad flour tends to form lumps.

Add salt and set aside to ferment, overnight or more as required.

When ready, check consistency – add more water if required.

Make dosas the regular way. Serve hot with chutney of choice and sambhar.

 

Oats Upma

  • 1 cup oats, rolled
  • 1 onion
  • Green chillies to taste, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Coriander leaves for garnish
  • Veggies of choice – potatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, cauliflower – all chopped fine (optional)
  • Peanuts or cashewnuts (optional)

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, chana dal and urad dal. When the dals splutter, throw in the onion slices.

As they begin to turn colourless, add in ginger and green chillies. Stir, then add all the other veggies and nuts, if using. Stir briefly to combine.

Add two cups of water, salt and turmeric and mix well. Allow to come to a boil, then introduce the oats. Mix well and cook till oats appear done – ie, all the water is absorbed.

Decorate with coriander leaves, and if you feel like it, drizzle some ghee over.

You could make the upma with oatmeal as well. Dry roast oatmeal first till the raw small disappears.

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.
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