Cool nutmeg infused gelatinous diamonds covered with droplets of condensation. This is the evocative image conjured when hearing the words ghau nu dhoodh, in my mind. Traditionally served up as breakfast, it is an essential ingredient in an old school rural Parsi diet centered on wellbeing. Ghau nu doodh, also known as dry cream of wheat, is an extract of wheat germ (Triticum vulgare L.). The extract contains lipids, proteins and the sugars of wheat. Studies have shown that its benefits aid in skin and hair conditioning, cell regeneration activity, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Every so often, a large bag of a soft, lumpy white handmade powder would arrive from my grandmother’s ancestral home in Navsari, Gujarat. Generations of her family have been eating ghau nu doodh in multiple forms of preparation primarily for internal strength during the winter months. It has also been passed down as a regenerative food (back strengthening) for young mothers after having undergone the rigours of childbirth. The traditional steps in making ghau nu doodh require the grains of wheat to be soaked in water for two days. The water-sodden grains are ground and hung in a muslin cloth until all the milk from the wheat is collected. The extract dries into hard rocks that are pounded and powdered ready to use.
In its simplest and purest protein-rich form, it can be eaten as a delicate jelly. It is, however, also used in more complicated Parsi preparations such as ‘vasanu’ (an amazing power bar of 50 odd ingredients). Mithais, such as ice halwa, are also made with ghau nu doodh.
You won’t necessarily find ghau nu doodh in your neighborhood supermarket. You might have better luck finding it in a local ingredient ‘Kirana’ store, or in homes still specializing in these ancient recipes. But you must give it a try! It is an undiscovered bone and muscle building power food.
Ghau nu Dhoodh – Nutmeg and Chilgoza Jelly
The beauty of this preparation lies in its delicate flavour with the consciousness of eating something incredibly good for you.
- 2 tablespoons of ghau nu doodh
- half a teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
- sprinkling of chilgoza (pine nuts)
- 2 teaspoons of sugar (moderate to your liking)
- 1.5 cups water
- Add a cup of water to the ghau nu dhood.
- Stir, stir, stir.
- Let it rest for 5 mins.
- The impurities will rise to the top while the powder settles to the bottom. Discard the top half.
- Add 1.5 cups of water to the rinsed power and heat on a medium flame, stirring constantly.
- Add the sugar and nutmeg.
- Keep stirring till the mixture thickens.
- Once thickened, pour into a shallow tray.
- Sprinkle with chingoza and let it set in the fridge for an hour.
- Serve cool.
Bear in mind that it has a very delicate flavour, which can be enhanced with other ingredients such as a splash of rose water. A personal favorite is ghau nu dhoodh set with fresh blueberries.