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Reduction in the dietary bulk of soya-fortified bulgur wheat gruels with wheat-based amylase-rich food

Chinnamma John and Tara Gopaldas



Protein-energy malnutrition is the most prevalent and widespread deficiency disease in India. The calorie deficits are very high. and the protein deficits are marginal in children 12 to 83 months old [1]. Supplementary feeding programmes are the most common form of nutrition intervention. The supplement for malnourished children under three years of age should be energy-dense and have good protein quality and quantity, adequate vitamin and mineral content, and acceptability, the last being the most important [2].

The supplementary foods soya-fortified bulgur wheat (SFBW) and soyabean salad oil donated by the World Food Programme to the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), India's largest integrated health and nutrition programme, have been found unacceptable by children in either a savoury cerealpulse preparation or porridge form (personal communication), but sukhada, a traditional sweet prepared from wheat flour, fat, and jaggery (unrefined brown sugar made from palm sap), is very popular. However, sukhada is a dry powder unsuitable for feeding to children under three years old [2]. A possible solution is to prepare it as a gruel resembling the traditional porridges used as weaning foods. A gruel thus prepared, however, has low energy density and high dietary bulk, because SFBW, being high in starch, forms a rigid, highly viscous gruel when cooked and thus it is generally not possible to obtain a gruel of more than 15% solid concentration with a consistency suitable for feeding young children.

Studies conducted in our department and reported earlier in this journal have shown that dietary bulk limits the amount of gruel a child 6 to 36 months old can consume per sitting (50-60 ml providing 40-50 kcal) [3, 4]. The intake of these gruels can be increased significantly (nearly doubled), however, by adding catalytic amounts (4 g% of total solids) of an amylase-rich food (ARF), a germinated cereal flour, to a hot, thick gruel [4]. Because of its high amylase content, ARF breaks down starch and therefore reduces the bulk of traditional cereal-based gruels.

The present investigation was undertaken with the following objectives:



Preparation of the ARF

ARF was prepared by steeping wheat for 12 hours, allowing it to germinate for 48 hours, oven-drying it at 50 C for 6 hours, devegetating it, and milling it to a mesh size of 60 BSS, based on methods proposed by Deshpande [5].


The SFBW was milled using three kinds of mill: (1) a hand-operated stone mill such as is available in every tribal and rural home and some homes in urban slums, (2) a commercial plate mill such as is available in every village, town, and city, and (3) a "Baby Prince" electric grinder, a smaller version of the commercial plate mill for laboratory use.

Viscosity measurements

Slurries of 10%, 15%, 20%, and 25% solid concentration were prepared, and ARF was added in place of SFBW flour at 1 to 7 g% of total solids, either before cooking or to the cooked hot slurry (70+4 C). Jaggery and fat were incorporated at levels of 100 g% and 10 g% (weight per weight) respectively. The hot-paste viscosity of all the slurries cooled to 45-46 C was measured with a Brookfield RVT model Synchrolectic Viscometer.

Feeding trials

The control gruel had a 20% solid concentration, with jaggery added at 100 g% and fat at 10 g%. The experimental gruel in addition contained ARF at 4 g% of total solid weight. Thirty children 6 to 24 months old were pair-matched for age and nutritional status, and one member of each pair was fed the control and the other the experimental gruel for three consecutive days. The total gruel served and plate waste were recorded, and the intake per sitting was calculated. The criterion for acceptability was that the subject should consume 60% or more of the first serving of 50 ml.


Results and discussion

The viscosity of the slurries increased with the increase in their solid concentration as shown in table 1.

TABLE 1. Effect of solid concentration on the viscosity of SFRW slurry

Concentration (%)





liquid, free-flowing






dough-like, non-spoonable

The 20% slurry, which was spoonable and could be fed to young children, was used to study the catalytic action of ARF added at I to 7 g% of total solids. Near-maximum thinning of the slurry occurred on addition of ARF at 4 g%, with insignificant 'further thinning beyond that level (table 2). The data thus indicate that wheat ARF, with its high amylase activity, can effectively break down the starch in a 20% SFBW slurry when added in very small amounts.

TABLE 2. Reduction in the viscosity of 20% SFBW slurry with the addition of wheat ARF at levels from I to 7 g% of total solids




























TABLE 3. Reduction in the viscosity of SFBW slurries by the addition of ARF at 4 g% before or after cooking

Concentration ( % ) Viscosity without ARF
ARF added before cooking ARF added after cooking
(centipoise )
( % )
( % )
20 22,400 1,210 95 1,130 95
25 55,400 2,840 95 3,900 93


TABLE 4. Effect of different methods of milling on the viscosity of 20% SFBW slurry and its reduction by ARF at 4 g %

  Approximate mesh size (BSS)

Viscosity of slurry (centipoise)

Viscosity reduction (%)
Without ARF With ARF
Hand-operated stone mill 80 25,000 1,980 92
Commercial plate mill 60 24,400 2,010 92
Laboratory-size electric grinder 60 22,400 1,210 95


The next experiment compared the effects of adding ARF at 4 g% to the 20% and 25% slurries before and after cooking . The addition of the ARF either before or after cooking brought about a similar reduction in viscosity. Even the sticky, doughlike 25% slurry acquired a semi-liquid consistency when the ARF was added at either stage. This makes preparing low-bulk SFBW gruels very simple. Even the unskilled anganwadi helpers (the lowest-level functionaries at the ICDS anganwadis, or service centres), with their limited resources of time and equipment, should be able to prepare them.

Table 4 presents data on the effect of different methods of milling on 20% slurry with and without ARF. The SFBW flour and ARF milled on a hand-operated stone mill had a significantly finer mesh size than that milled on a commercial or laboratory-size electric plate mill. However, neither the viscosity nor its reduction was affected by the method of milling. This suggests that this technology can be transferred effectively to the ICDS anganwadis in tribal or rural areas or in urban slums.

Since jaggery and fat are essential ingredients of traditional porridges, their effect on the dietary bulk and energy density of the SFBW gruels was studied (table 5). Although adding jaggery and fat resulted in considerable thinning of the gruel, ARF at 4 g% was required for maximum viscosity reduction to render the gruel suitable for feeding young children. The jaggery and fat. however, contributed significantly to the energy density of the gruel, increasing it two to three times.

TABLE 5. Effect of the addition of jaggery at 100 g% and fat at 10 g% on the viscosity and energy density of 20% SFBW gruel with and without ARF at 4 g%





SFBW flour



SFBW flour +      
jaggery + fat




SFBW flour +      
jaggery + fat      




Feeding trials were carried out using the low-viscosity, high-energy-density gruel made with jaggery, fat, and ARF (experimental) and the same gruel without ARF (control). The data in table 6 show that, although both gruels were highly acceptable (that is, they were consumed in quantities greater than 30 ml per sitting), the dietary bulk of the control gruel limited its intake per sitting. The children who were fed the experimental gruel ate significantly more of it and could take in two to three times as many calories per sitting as those fed the control gruel.

TABLE 6. Intake of SFBW gruels without and with ARF by children 6 to 24 months old

  Mean intake
Gruel (ml)
Control group a    
(gruel without ARF)

55 13


Experimental group    
(gruel with ARF)

125 39*


a. t value = 6.73.
* Significant at p<.05.

Thus, the addition of jaggery and fat increased the energy content per millilitre of the gruel, and the addition of ARF lowered the dietary bulk and significantly increased the intake per sitting. If a 25% solid-concentration gruel with jaggery, fat, and ARF - which would have a consistency suitable for young children (cf. table 3) and an energy density of 2.1 kcal per millilitre - is used, children 6 to 24 months old would need to eat only 190 ml of it to meet one-third of their total daily calorie requirements.


Summary and conclusions

The present investigation was successful in developing a low-bulk, high-energy-density gruel from SFBW, which, being similar to traditional porridges, was better accepted than the SFBW cereal-pulse food and porridge usually served to children through the ICDS programme. The wheat ARF used to thin the SFBW gruels can be prepared easily even by anganwadi helpers because of the simple technology involved.

The study showed that a similar reduction in the viscosity of 20% and 25% slurries can be achieved whether ARF at 4 g% is added before cooking or to the hot, cooked food, which further simplifies the procedure.

The various methods of milling the SFBW flour and ARF did not affect the initial viscosity of the gruels or the resultant reduction in viscosity on addition of ARF, indicating that this technology can effectively be transferred to tribal and rural areas and urban slums.

Adding jaggery and fat made the gruel palatable, reduced its bulk considerably, and increased its energy density significantly. The intake per sitting by children 6 to 24 months old increased two to three times when the thick, semi-solid 20% gruel was thinned to a free-flowing liquid by the addition of ARF at 4 g%. The 25% slurry without ARF was too thick and dough-like to be used for intake trials in the present study. However, a 25% gruel with 4 g% ARF has a pour-batter consistency and can be used for feeding.



We acknowledge the help rendered by Ms. Suneeta Deshpande in preparing the manuscript, and thank the World Food Programme for supplying 10 kilograms of soya-fortified bulgur wheat for the present study.



  1. National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau. Report on the nutrient intake of different demographic groups in ten states in India. Nutr News 1983;4(3).
  2. US Agency for International Development. Integrated Child Development Services. Project paper, India. New Delhi, 1983:386-476.
  3. Gopaldas T, Mehta P, Patil A, Gandhi H. Studies on reduction in viscosity of thick rice gruels with small quantities of an amylase-rich cereal malt. Food Nutr Bull 1986;8(4):42-47.
  4. Gopaldas T, Deshpande S, John C. Studies on a wheat-based amylase-rich food. Food Nutr Bull 1988;10(3):55-59.
  5. Deshpande S. Study on the effect of a wheat amylase-rich-food on wheat based young child foods. M.Sc. dissertation. Department of Foods and Nutrition, M.S. University, Baroda, India, 1987.

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