Sprouts are good for you. I’m sure you already know that. Do you make your own sprouts or choose to pick them up from the supermarket? Most of us are under the impression the sprouting grains and seeds at home is a laborious task requiring skill and time . Not true. All you have to do is try it once. You’ll see that all it takes is a few rinsings that take barely a couple of minutes. It’s not only easy but gives you a wider choice of seeds and grains you can sprout at home at your convenience rather than buying from the small selection available at stores.
The shelf-life of sprouted grains is normally 3-4 days and with store-bought sprouts it is very common to find a layer of slimy sprouts at the bottom of the container or tray, no matter how good the refrigeration. It’s a big incentive to make your own at home, fresh and crisp. I find it hugely satisfying to see life burst forth from hard, seemingly lifeless grains. It’s a little hard to explain but quite fulfilling – I experienced a similar contentment while growing a kitchen garden and even while tending to my sourdough starter.
There’s quite an amazing array of things you can sprout. Cereal grains like corn, wheat berries, oats,quinoa; millets like foxtail, sorghum, barnyard millet, finger millet, kodo and pearl millet, seeds like buckwheat, amaranth, chia, sunflower, pumpkin etc and of course dried beans and legumes of all kinds. Mung or moong beans are probably the most common among them.
Why Are Sprouts Good For You
- To digest carbohydrates and proteins, our system needs proteolytic enzymes. Our bodies have to make these when we don’t eat foods containing them. Sprouts are a great source of these enzymes that we need to kickstart and power our digestive systems.
- Less than 3-day old sprouts are dense with as much as 100 times glucoraphanin (a cancer repelling enzyme) compared to other vegetables.
- Fibre-rich sprouts provide vitamins A, B and K, niacin, thiamin, potassium, copper and a host of other minerals and nutrients to the body.
I like sprouts because they offer a healthy of transforming a salad into a filling meal that digests in no time. They make a satisfying yet light lunch or dinner and are versatile enough to be combined with most vegetables, fruits, sauces and oils. You may not eat a large quantity at a time, but mixing them up with other vegetables is a good way of incorporating them in your diet. Just remember not to cook your sprouts too much because too much processing erodes the nutrition level. Steaming them lightly for a salad is what I do.
I have sprouted moong (mung) beans, black chickpeas and seeds, but I had never tried sprouting millet before. I decided to try with sorghum. Jowar, as sorghum is known in India, is a hardy grain that has been cultivated and eaten here since ancient times. Sorghum flour, milled from regular sorghum and from sprouted grain is used to make rotis or porridge in many parts of the country.
Sorghum is a nutty, iron-dense, fibre-rich, gluten-free grain. It contains hardly any saturated fat and provides a good amount of fibre and protein and small but significant quantities of calcium and niacin. It’s also thought to contain anti-cancer chemicals and prevent heart disease. It may be seen in the trendy health food section of stores now, but sorghum has been around for a long time, providing affordable nourishment to the masses.
How To Sprout Sorghum (Or Any Other Seed / Grain)
1. Sorghum, like other millet contains phytates which are nutrition inhibitors – they prevent the effective absorption of nutrients. Soaking sorghum for 8-10 hours helps remove phytates as well as flatulence causing elements. It also hydrates the grain for germination. Since I live on the coast, where it’s warm, I soaked my sorghum for 8 hours. I washed the grains and changed the water twice in that period. You can soak the grains for upto a day in cold and dry conditions. Make sure to change the water every few hours.
2. Once hydrated, I drained out all the water, transferred the grains into a clean jar with plenty of room for them to grow. I place a piece of dampened muslin on the mouth of the jar, tied it tightly and put the jar inside kitchen cupboard away from sunlight. You could even tie the grain in a damp cloth placed in a container. The cloth should be damp, not wet; otherwise the grains will start rotting. Alternatively, you can use a sprout maker easily available in stores.
3. Leave them to germinate for 6-7 hours. At this time tiny shoots can be seen emerging from the sorghum (if you live in a cold place, this might take a little longer, so don’t worry). Rinse the grain quickly in clean water and repeat the previous step.
4. After the next 6 hours the sorghum shoots would have lengthened into sprouts. Now store the sprouts in a clean, airtight and dry container in the fridge for upto 2 days. They may keep longer in dry climates. Watch out for slimy texture if your sprouts have stayed for too long. Discard them because they can harbour salmonella.
Since millets such as sorghum have a hard, nutty core, I prefer to steam them for 20 – 30 minutes so that they are semi cooked but still crunchy. The salad itself is straightforward – some sauteed spinach, olives, toasted almonds, fresh tomatoes, chopped coriander and feta tossed together and drizzled with an extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and paprika dressing. You could use whatever vegetables you have on hand and any other dressing of your choice. I scattered the salad with chunks of creamy feta, so I went with a simple vinaigrette. Crunch, creaminess, tartness, heat, salty bits…are all accounted for in this wholesome and healthy salad. It would even be a vibrant part of a mezze table or an outdoor barbeque salad bar.
- 200 g sorghum grains
- 1 big bunch spinach
- 15-20 almonds, blanched, peeled, halved and lightly toasted
- 10-12 green olives, halved
- 1 fat garlic clove peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsps fresh coriander, chopped
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 100 g feta
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsps lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika or red chilli flakes
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- Steam the sorghum sprouts in a pressure cooker or steamer for 20-30 minutes and cool.
- Blanch the spinach in hot water for 5-7 minutes, drain completely and chop finely.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and throw in the spinach and chopped garlic. Saute for 7-10 minutes till all the moisture has dried up. Cool.
- Put the sprouts into a large salad bowl. Toss in the olives, almonds, chopped coriander, spinach and tomatoes and mix lightly to combine.
- Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a separate bowl.
- When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing over the salad and dot with chunks of feta (if using).
- Prep time does not include time taken for soaking and sprouting sorghum.