Rye is a cereal grain that looks like wheat but is longer and more slender and varies in colour from yellowish-brown to greyish-green. It is generally available in its whole or cracked grain form or as flour or flakes that look similar to old-fashioned oats. Because it is difficult to separate the germ and the bran from the endosperm of rye, rye flour usually retains a large quantity of nutrients, in contrast to refined wheat flour.
Rye has a hardy, deep, nourishing taste and is the key ingredient in traditional rye and pumpernickel breads. Since its gluten is less elastic than wheat’s, and it retains less gas during the leavening process, breads made with rye flour are more compact and dense. Rye is available throughout the year.
In many countries, rye seems to have been relegated to a food for the poor, and as standards of living rose in different civilisations, the consumption of rye declined. Yet, in some food cultures, such as those of Scandinavian and Eastern European countries, rye retains an important position. Hopefully, as more and more people discover rye’s nutritional benefits and its unique taste profile, it will assume a more important role in our diets.
Rye is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of dietary fibre. It is richly endowed with non-cellulose polysaccharides, and has exceptionally high water-binding capacity which quickly gives a feeling a fullness, making rye bread a real help for anyone trying to lose weight.
Now, for a recipe.
Rye flour: 250 gm
Wheat flour: 250 gm
Salt: half tsp
Baking soda: quarter tsp
Vegetable oil: half cup
Water: 1 cup (or more)
Caraway seeds: 1 tbsp
Mix all the ingredients together and make a soft dough. Roll out thinly on floured surface. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on cookie sheets at 275 degree F for about 30 minutes.
Bholanath Jha is Chef de Partie, Taj Connemara