and, finally, completely dried into flakes.11 The resulting product is a convenience food of many potential uses. The flakes store well and hydrate quickly when dropped into warm water or milk. They can be used in many types of sweet or savory dishes. When deep fried, they burst into light and crispy products.

African grains are particularly suitable for flaking because they are small and soak up water quickly. But although the process is simple, it is seldom used today. The holdup seems to be purely technological: grain-flaking machines are large, expensive, and inappropriate for Third World use. Now, however, a simple, inexpensive machine capable of flaking cereals in villages has been developed in India.12 A unit has been installed in a village near Bhopal, and the people took to it and were able to operate it without supervision.

This type of invention could open up a new world for sorghum, millet, fonio, and other grains. More than 30 years ago, South African researchers mixed sorghum flour with water, then passed the slurry through a hot roller that both cooked and dried it. The resulting ready-to-eat flour proved very palatable and would keep for at least 3 months without deteriorating. Whole milk or skim milk (used in place of the water) produced a similar flour that was not only tasty but rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus. Processing costs were reportedly low.13

Extruding

Extruding is a variant of the flaking process. The moistened and half-cooked grains are squeezed out through small holes. It is how noodles and pastas of all kinds are prepared. It, too, improves water absorption and cooking quality. Noodlelike products can probably be made from all the grains highlighted in this report. The pearled grains are first soaked for a day or two, then drained, mashed, cooked, extruded, and dried.

Noodles prepared from blends of finger millet and legume flours are already being used in India to form nutritionally balanced foods that can be used as supplementary foods for malnourished children.14 When deep fried, they make excellent crispy products—said to equal those

11  

This is pretty much the basic process worked out by J.H. Kellogg in his kitchen in 1906. What resulted was the famous Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

12  

At the Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering in Bhopal. The machine consists of a hopper, four "large" rollers (112 mm x 230 mm). a smaller roller (88 mm x 230 mm), and a gear train to provide the differential speed needed to squeeze out the flakes. The whole unit is powered by a 2 hp electric motor, and the power required is only 150 W. The rollers are hollow and made of nylon to reduce weight and noise. The flakes come out as thin as 0.35 mm.

13  

Coetzee and Perold, 1958.

14  

Kumate, 1983.



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