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Toxic beans make perfect cutlery for curry scoop

Toxic beans normally used in cattle feed could form the basis of the perfect scoop for curry, the nation’s favourite food. Scientists have discovered the best way to treat these beans for use in food stuffs.

Scientists in Pakistan used vetch flour, made using treated beans, to create a protein-enriched chapatti with the perfect characteristics for scooping up curry. By supplementing chapatti dough with vetch flour they produced a bread that is tearable and pliable enough to fold into a strong scoop, reports Lisa Richards in Chemistry & Industry. Adding 20% vetch flour also increased protein content by nearly 30% (JSFA , DOI 10.1002/jsfa.2481).

Flour made using the beans could provide a cheap means of improving the physical and nutritional characteristics of many food products for use in the developing world. 60% of the vetch crop is presently used as cattle feed. Because it contains a neurotoxin, beta-N-oxalyl-L-alpa-beta-diaminopropionic acid, which can cause muscle weaknesses, it must be treated before it is used in food.

Salim-Ur-Rehman and colleagues at the Institute of Food Science and Technology, Pakistan investigated the best method for preparing Indian vetch for use in foods. They found that steeping in hot water for several hours was the most effective method for toxin removal. They say the flour could be beneficial in South Asia, where people are poor and chapatti is a stable.

Vetch flour has also been used in the manufacture of ice creams and tofu.

Lisa Richards | alfa
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