Moth Flour: Health Benefits, Nutrition And More

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What is Moth Flour?

Moth beans, also known as matki in India, is a flour made from moth beans which are widely used in Indian cuisine to make various forms of food items particularly roti, puri, paratha, idli, and various other food items based on the region. It is a small tan-coloured bean with an oblong shape. In some cases, its colour is also reddish-brown. This food item is an excellent source of protein and is also used in snacks, protein bars, protein powders, and baking mixes. It is also used as a food source for animals which includes chickens, fish, cows, pigs, and also reptiles. The flour is also high in vitamins and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and vitamin B. Recently, with the growing interest in alternative proteins and sustainable food sources, it has been gaining more attention in research and development as an alternative to traditional animal-based proteins.

Growing Moth Beans

Moth is a variant of legume that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is a very hardy crop that can grow in dry regions with relative ease. Moth can even grow on infertile soil quite easily as it requires minimal care. All these make it perfect for Indian weather conditions. 

Matki belongs to the family Fabaceae which contains many food species like mung bean, black gram, and moth bean. This particular food item has been underutilized despite its astounding nutritional portfolio. With greater awareness and increased health awareness, moth beans/moth flours have found renewed interest in the market. 

How Moth Flour is Made?

moth beans is powdered to make moth flour

Moth flour, as we know is made from moth beans which are harvested, cleaned, and dried before it is processed further. Once it is completely dried, the beans are ground into fine powder. The powder is sifted to remove any remaining impurities. It is then packed and sent to retail stores across the region. Please note, this process can be done both at homes and commercial establishments based on the user’s needs. There may be certain variations in the production process accordingly. 

Moth Flour is used to make various forms of flatbreads according to the user’s preferences. It is also used to make idli and dosa. Additionally, the beans can be soaked overnight and eaten directly or cooked as regular dal. It can also be roasted and fried and added to salads. Depending on the region, moth beans can be prepared in different ways based on the food habits of the user. Of late, moth beans are also used in making healthy snacks such as protein bars and other edible food items, particularly for those who are engaged in physical activities. 

Related reading: Dalchini: Evidence-Based Health Benefits

Nutritional Data of Moth Flour

NutrientPer 100 gm
Proteins24 gm
Fat1 gm
Sodium15 mg
Vitamin A2% RDA*
Calcium15% RDA
Vitamin C8% RDA
Iron40% RDA
*RDA- Recommended Daily Allowance

Health benefits of Moth Flour

moth flour can also be made from sprouted moth beans
Sprouted moth beans

Although moth bean/moth flour has been used in the Indian subcontinent for over millennia, its popularity has soared only in recent years with growing health awareness among people. Some of its health advantages are:

  • Rich source of iron. 100 gm of Matki provides 40% of the daily recommended allowance.
  • High concentration of phosphorus and calcium which is important for strong bones. It also reduces the risk of osteoporosis
  • Rich in zinc which boosts immunity and brain activity
  • It contains Vitamin B which boosts metabolism
  • Rich in antioxidants which wards off free radicals
  • Also helps in controlling cholesterol and minimizes cases of cardiovascular issues
  • Contains fibres that are good for metabolism and help in weight loss

Moth beans are also a natural source of retinol alternative. Its extract is used in the cosmetic industry to prepare various beauty products. The extract contains phenolic components like caffeic acid, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid, and kaempferol with strong antioxidant properties. Combining its ease of production and high nutritional value, this food item has shown promising results in terms of providing food security to underdeveloped countries. 

Side effects of Moth Flour

While there are no contraindications while consuming this food item. However, it’s best not to overeat. Just make sure to clean the legume if you are eating it as a whole or sift the flour before you make roti or any other food item with it. For those who have slow metabolism or issues with digestion, eat in small quantities just to see if it suits your system. 

Other information of interest

Moth beans have also been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for their nutritional properties. For vegans and vegetarians alike, it is a major source of protein which is usually a challenge to find in this form of diet. It is also gluten-free if we obtain it right from the source since commercial manufacturers can add various additional edible components which may or may not include gluten. There is also a common confusion at times where the moth flour/matki flours are confused with flours made from the larvae of a moth. Best we always check the packaging before we purchase it!

To sum it up, moth flours or matki are high in calcium, minerals, and proteins. It is a must-have in your kitchen irrespective of your dietary preferences. You can have it any way you like; you can have it whole, make dal, roti, curry, and also add it to various other food items. Ironically, its consumption even in India is relatively low considering its native to the Indian subcontinent. The best part is that it is much cheaper than its counterparts such as wheat which makes it perfect for feeding families belonging to the low-income group without compromising on the nutritional value of the food being consumed. 

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