ADVANTAGES OF INCLUDING A COMBINATION OF CEREALS IN THE MENU
Cereals are the main source of energy in Indian diets contributing 70 - 80 percent of daily energy intake of majority of Indians. The major cereals consumed in India are rice, wheat, jowar, bajra and ragi.
Rice is the staple diet of South Indians. However, rice among the cereals is a poor source of calcium and iron. Whole wheat is a fair source of protein and fibre.
Although rice contains less protein when compared to other cereals, its protein quality is better than that of other cereals.
Ragi is rich in minerals especially calcium. Millets including ragi are rich in minerals and fibre. Inclusion of millets will help in making up deficiencies of some minerals in the diet besides providing bulk to the diet, particularly rice based ones.
The nutritive value of cereals varies with the part of the grain used. All whole cereals furnish starch, protein, iron, phosphorus, thiamin and fibre but refined cereals lose part of these nutrients during the milling process.
A judicious combination of different cereals in the days diet will help to meet the nutrient requirements.
For example wheat dosai, rice flakes payasam, ragi adai and broken wheat uppuma can be included in the menu instead of rice-based meals alone. Batters used for idli and dosai and doughs used for chappathis can be prepared using a combination of cereal flours. This will contribute different nutrients to the days diet.
ROLE OF CEREALS IN COOKERY
Cereals form the staple diet and contribute to most of the calorie requirement and half of the protein requirement. Cereals improve the quality of pulse protein. They are excellent source of starch and B vitamins. Cereals also contribute to satiety and are used to prepare the main dish. No meal can be made without cereals.
Cereals are used as thickening agent, e.g. corn flour in custards, corn flour in white sauce, macaroni in soups.
Cereals are used as coating agent, e.g., maida paste in cutlets or bread crumbs in cutlets.
Cereals are used in sweet preparations, e.g., rice, payasam, wheat halwa.
Malted cereals are used in the preparation of beverages and weaning foods.
Cereals products like corn flakes and rice flakes are used as ready to use foods.
Fermented foods made from cereals are used as breakfast foods or snacks, e.g., idli, dhokla.