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Also Known as
Rawa, sooji, rava
Semolina is a very gritty, coarse type of flour, usually made from durum wheat. It comprises the nutritious heart (endosperm) of the grain, which is left behind when the fine flour is sifted after milling.
Internationally, durum semolina is commonly used in the manufacture of pasta because of its high gluten content, which gives the pasta its pleasant taste and ensures that it retains its shape during the cooking process.
In India, many more varieties of semolina are available, made from soft wheat, maize, rice, and other grains; this will be mentioned in the packaging. Here, semolina is used to make upma, idli, halwa, kheer and other dishes.
How to Select
• Semolina is milled to various degrees of coarseness, and fine, medium and large grained varieties are readily available in grocery stores.
• Check to see whether the semolina you are buying is made from soft wheat or hard wheat (the durum variety) – the former will be good for upma, idli, sweets, etc., while the latter is what you need for gnocchi, pasta and home-made couscous.
• Semolina is used to make tasty upma, rava idli, khichdi, and desserts like halwa and kheer.
• Sautee traditional seasonings, green chillies, ginger, onions and tomatoes, add some rava and required water, cook till the mixture leaves the sides of the kadai, and voila, upma is ready for breakfast!
• Cook ghee-roasted semolina with a little milk and water, desired amount of sugar and pureed fruits, to make a tasty fruit halwa!
• Add a little semolina to puri dough to make the puri stay puffed for longer.
• Semolina can be used as an alternative to corn meal to dust the underside of fresh pizza dough to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
• In bread making, a small proportion of semolina added to the usual mix of flour produces a tasty crust.
• Semolina is traditionally associated with baked milk puddings too.
• Semolina is popular in North Western Europe and North America as a dessert, boiled with milk, and sweetened. It is often flavoured with vanilla and served with jam.
• Italians use semolina ground from hard durum wheat in the manufacture of gnocchi, and pasta (when it's sprinkled on to prevent sticking).
• It is also employed to make couscous, soups and dumplings and can be substituted for some of the regular flour in cakes and biscuits to give a crisp, crunchy texture - especially scrumptious with shortbread.
• Semolina is commonly used in the manufacturing of pasta and gives the pasta its pleasant taste and texture, but can also be used quite effectively to thicken stews, as a base for soufflé, as a hot cereal or as a cooked meal on its own. Cooked and dried, it is used to make couscous, which is cooked like rice.
How to Store
• Store in a cool, dry cupboard, preferably in an airtight container.
• Flour is always readily available so it should only be brought in quantities that will last a maximum of two to three months.
• If it is necessary to store flour for extended periods of time, keep it in the freezer.
• It is better not to mix new flour with old if you are not using the flour regularly.
• Make sure the containers are airtight to prevent infestation by the flour moth or beetle.
• Semolina is high in protein, very high in complex carbohydrates and fairly high in potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and fibre, with some iron, zinc, manganese and copper.
• Being a low-fat, high carbohydrate food, it offers a lot of energy for active and energetic people.
• It is low in cholesterol and sodium and fairly high in fibre, and can be safely incorporated into a well-balanced diet.
• Notably, it contains potassium, which supports good kidney and heart function and the smooth functioning of other muscles; phosphorus, required by the body to metabolize energy; magnesium for healthy muscles, bones and nerves; calcium for strong bones; and zinc to boost the immune system.
• It is high in vitamin E and contains a fair amount of B-complex vitamins (especially folic acid).
• Because semolina is made from durum wheat and not the softer wheat that goes into bread, it is digested more slowly and has a low glycemic index, which is good news for people wishing to control or reduce their weight and blood sugar, and especially for diabetics.