When I started working in health industry. I followed lot of diet plans and experimented with different food. I did (and still continue to do) a lot of research on different types of food and their impact on different body types. At the same time, I am always interested to know more about the food that I grew up with. Coming from India, and especially from a region where the divide between rich and poor is too great, I have seen people spending a lot on food. And on the other hand, the poor eating the very basic, but often, nutritious food. Looking back, its not that the farmers, or the labourers were malnourished. Rather, their basic and simple food provided them instant source of energy, rich in nutrients, to provide them the energy that they require for doing heavy manual work.
My grandparents were landlord and had a lot of farm land and orchards. At any time, there were many workers working on the farm, ploughing, harvesting, lifting heavy sacks of crops from the field to the storehouse etc etc. The workers were mostly poor and their diet very simple. In the morning they would have a simple diet of yogurt and Poha (flattened rice) with Gur (jiggery) and lunch was always Rice, Lentils and vegetables. Most of the workers carried a small bag of sattu (see below). In between their heavy physical labour they would mix sattu in water, put some salt for taste and drink it. Or they made dough balls from sattu and water and ate it with a jug of cool water.
Sattu was just not a poor man’s diet. Even we used it at home. My mum used to make a drink by mixing Sattu in chilled water and put lime and a pinch of roasted cumin seeds for taste. We also used to stuff Parathas (fried flatten bread) with a mixture of Sattu, fried onions, mint and spices. In India, medical practitioners routinely advise patients or people recuperating from surgery to drink sattu as it helps in gaining weight quickly and speedier recovery.
What is Sattu?
Sattu is made of roasted black channa (gram) flour. It is equivalent to whey protein, it is a good source of vegetarian protein and is easily digested. It helps calcium to be absorbed more efficiently and is a very good source of magnesium. Sattu is a good source of fibre and iron too.
It is an excellent drink for babies, people with obesity, osteoporosis, adults, recovering from surgery, post workout drink, and for elderly. 4 tbsp of sattu (60 grams) contains as much as 20 gms of protein.
How to drink this?
I sometime drink it between my meals. For me it works great as a post work out drink too.
I mix 4 spoon of sattu in plain filtered water or sour milk or coconut milk with some sea salt and roasted cumin seed or cinnamon, coriander, lime. Sometime I make dough balls of sattu in coconut oil, water, fennel, green chillies and sea salt. I eat the balls which is a good source of instant energy. I am not big fan of sweeter version but you can make a drink sweet with jaggery or coconut sugar.
Where to buy
Most shops selling Indian food items would have sattu powder. You can easily make sattu from roasted gram. Just put it in a grinder and grind it till it is a coarse powder. A pack of sattu or roast gram roughly costs £3.00 and is sufficient to make sattu for 15 days’ worth protein drink.
I am dedicating this blog to all those farmers, labourers, worker in those country who have survived in very minimum but some of the tricks they know better than us.
Health can be maintained easily by not spending much , do not get tricked by all expensive drinks in the market. You can make your own in your blender anytime and enjoy. If you are interested to know more about sattu, you can read further here: