FARRO — NOT FAR ANYMORE!
This is the story how I started making Farro-gyro. But before I tell you that story, there is one more story that is very important to be told. So here it is —
I love risotto. The chewy, the nutty, the gooey risotto. Risotto enriched with the goodness of pumpkin and artichokes, risotto flavoured with fennel and lemon, risotto laced with most exotic and unique cheeses, risotto made heavenly by the short grain Arborio rice, the risotto which is loved for its texture, its consistency , its presentation and its Italian DNA.
Someone once asked me,” What is it in a risotto that you love the most ? Is it rice or cheese or its nuttiness or the vegetables?
I answered wittingly,” When you see a painting and fall in love with it, are you able to tell what is it that you like in the painting the most? Perhaps, you will say it is all that this painting is what I like.”
Risotto is like a painting—just to be loved as a whole!!
However, in my heart of hearts , I always thought it was the short grain Arborio rice that makes risotto such a divine food .
But I was proved wrong when I happened to dine at an Italian restaurant in NewYork, I asked for risotto and the waiter suggested if I would like to have Farro risotto.
“Farro?” I wondered, “ Is it a nut, a vegetable, a herb, a type of cheese ?”
The waiter replied with a dignified and humble smile,” No madam, none of these.
It is actually a grain, a variety of wheat. Instead of rice, we will use Farro in your risotto. It is highly nutritious and mimics rice in its taste. Madam, go for it. If you don’t like it, its on us.”
I agreed to give it a try and trust me, I was bowled over. This new grain just flattered my palate. The undertones of nutty flavor , laced with a hint of cinnamon, an al dante texture and a bit chewy , it was divine with every spoonful.
In fact, then during the rest of my stay , I spotted Farro on many menu cards as a salad element and as an important addition to various mealy soups. One of the Farro salads was made with radish, kale and cooked pearls of Farro. It was simply awesome.
No doubt, farro was growing on me, slowly but surely.
What is Farro?
Farro is an ancient grain, a type of wheat, which originated some 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of Ethiopia, Iraq Egypt and Jordan. It has been found in the tombs of Egyptian kings and is said to have been eaten by Romans. However, it has been widely used in Italy and the name also sounds Italian. Though we refer to farro as if it were one grain, it’s actually three. There’s farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer), and farro grande (spelt). Emmer is the most common. it was also known as pharaoh wheat, since it was popular in Egypt before spreading to Italy.
-Farro is extremely rich in fiber, high in anti-oxidants, low in gluten and rich in vitamins especially vitamin B3, calciums and magnesium. A cup of farro has about 8 grams of cholesterol-lowering fiber. That’s four times as much as white rice and 3 grams more than brown rice.
-It helps in warding off cardiac and degenerative diseases .
-Whole grains like farro are smart carbs as they are full of minerals, including magnesium, which may relieve tension and menstrual cramps.
Farro’s complex carbs break down slowly, keeping your energy level stable. The grain also has cyanogenic glucosides, a type of carb that may boost the immune system.
Farro vs Quinoa
Farro has become so popular that it is giving competition to quinoa . It is less nuttier, softer and more tender than quinoa. It is closer to rice, so it fits a taste between rice and wheat. Now, with the revival of interest in whole grains, farro’s popularity has increased. .
There’s also the question of whether you should choose whole farro, which retains all the grain’s nutrients; semipearled, in which the part of the bran has been removed but still contains some fiber; or pearled, which takes the least time to cook but has no bran at all. I think for the home cooks, it is better to go for semipeared variety.
My foray into Farro
So as I checked my pantry, I found kodu millet, foxnut millet, pearl millet, amaranth enough to last me two weeks but I quickly wanted to add Farro to it.
I finally found Ferro flour made with emmer wheat at gourmet delight. I was exhilarated. While I have been using all sorts of flours made with millet and even quinoa but this flour brought back wheat to me,in a much healthier version. It is an amazingly versatile and forgiving flour, allowing itself to be used in multitude fashions.
I have been using it to make savoury pancakes, ferro hasbrowns, to make quesadilla, to make healthy vegetable rolls, and of course rotis and parathas.
-My favourite farro gyro—
Make a big farro roti
-Farro hashbrown— grate one big potato and add Farro flour in it , just enough so that potato shreds are bound together. Now, spread it on girdle with hand like thalipeeth. Cook it till it turns brown. Your Farro hash- brown is ready.