As per Boston Globe: “cooking food with baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate) can indeed damage a number of nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, riboflavin, thiamin, and essential amino acid.”

 No wonder rice, bread, idly or Dhokla that has cooking soda/baking soda added to it gives a bloated feeling. Also Vitamin deficiency is high among Indians who are not cautious about the food that they eat. Yet restaurants and bakery are stocked with Bread that are leavened using Sodium Bi-Carbonate. Supermarkets are stocked with instant Idly and Dhokla mix which has enough alkaline bicarbonate to chemically destroy most of the nutrients and leave with pure starch in the food. To resolve this problem Arishtam has launched two products: Sourdough for making gourmet bread/pizza/pita etc. and Idli Bater Koji for making naturally leavened fluffy idly/dhoklas.

The benefit of fermentation are manifold:

  1. Fermentation produces a lot of enzymes, Vitamin B, Vitamin K which increases the nutritional value of the food.
  2. They break down complex starch and proteins into amino acids and simpler nutrients which are easy to digest and absorb. Hence increasing biologically available nutrients.
  3. The fluffiness comes from the metabolism of starch to make CO2. Hence it actually reduces the calorific value of the food and makes more nutrients per unit of dough/batter available for absorption.4. The Sourdough & idli koji is a one-time investment and can be reused for generations. Also, they are able to make good idly, dhoklas, and bread in winters when normal wild fermentation fails. 
  4. Next time before you add baking soda to your meal, give our cultures 4 hours (bread & Idly) and 6 hours for Dhokla to do its magic. I am sure you will not be disappointed.

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21 years of experience in Home Brewing and author of Arishtam (India's first homebrew Guide Book).

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