Gluten free for over four years, Delson and Aarina share their mouth watering flavours, at the House of Grain
By Alexia Fernandes
FROM A VERY young age Aarina Alphonso suffered from a rare kind of arthritis called Seronegative spondyloarthropath. Over the years she tried a number of treatments but was left disappointed. Then, following a suggestion from a friend who suffered from a similar condition, Aarina went off gluten and noticed a number of changes within a span of two to three months. “On reading more about it, we learned gluten consumption caused symptoms similar to what Aarina had,” says her husband Delson roche. In 2012 the couple went completely off gluten and has been since.
On a trip to Australia they found that gluten free food was quite commonly available at most bakeries, hotels and restaurants. “We noticed the kind of awareness they had and felt the lack of understanding back home in Goa,” recalls Delson. Gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, is also hidden in many food that we consume. With such poor awareness about gluten sensitivity in India, a person suffering from gluten intolerance may not even be aware of the condition, its symptoms or what triggers it.
“Goa has similar issues with insensitivity. There are tourists who may want to come to Goa but hesitate perhaps because there isn’t so much of gluten free food readily available,” Delson explains. Putting these together, they decided to try and produce gluten free food at home to cater to people with health concerns or just anyone willing to switch to a healthier diet. They began with ‘House of Grains’ in March 2015 and the response since, has been great.
“We started with wraps and came up with a variety of five different grains. We have a special wrap called the ‘Navrathna’ which is a nine grain wrap. From wraps, we slowly introduced breads. Again we had a variety of nine different flavours. We also started with cookies and perhaps in a month or so we intend to start with cakes.” The duo constantly uses research and feedback from customers to improve their products. “Whenever there is a product that is ready to be produced on a larger scale, we immediately introduce it. Every month or so, we bring in a new product or two new flavours at a time.” Delson says.
Aarina comes up with some of the most innovative recipes, while Delson compliments these with mouth watering flavour combinations. With scrumptious flavours of bread like honey, coconut and banana bread, dry fruit, herbs and cheese, and multigrain; they don’t compromise on flavour at all. The special herb and cheese bread has a blend of basil, thyme, oregano, fenugreek leaves, and sage and is laced with gooey cheese and cashew nuts for that extra savour.
The soft flatbreads called ‘Navrathan’ is made from nine organic whole flours – white sorghum, red sorghum, pearl millet, buckwheat, white pea, red rice, white rice, white amaranth and finger millet, and despite combining nine different flavours are well balanced in flavour. “We also have products that are completely made from local ingredients like our Ragi bread is made from ragi, coconut jaggery and cashewnuts all grown in Goa,” adds Delson.
Serving gluten free food, House of Grain assures you their facility is gluten free too. “Eateries that serve gluten free food use the same facility to make food with gluten and cross contamination is inevitable,” Aarina explains. House of Grain offers a healthier alternative which is free from any gums, starches or eggs whites unlike other places.
About 90-95% of food available at supermarkets is heavily saturated with gluten. Since a majority of population is accustomed to eating such foods, switching to gluten free might be a very different experience. “We try different millets which has its own unique flavour. These taste very different regular from wheat or maida. I find them rather flavourful and colourful, but I think it depends on each individual.” Delson admits.
Promising a 100% organic and gluten free food, House of Grains sources its millets and whole grains directly from small farmers that grow organically across the country. “We get our grains from all over India. Our wheat is from the Himalayas, we get our rice from Southern India, Jowar from Pune and Jaipur.” Aarina says. These are milled at home and have a longer shelf life as compared to flours. Since their current clientele is small, comprising of mainly gluten intolerant people and the few health conscious folks, they sell directly to clients which ensures all their food is always delivered fresh.
“Our greatest challenge is how many people will be willing to challenge themselves to adapt to such different taste. We can only exist if people are buying from us, so that I see as a greatest challenge.” says Aarina. “I definitely think awareness will come to India and eventually Goa. People are getting health conscious already, so I think definitely it will happen,” adds Delson.
House of Grains currently has its delicious savouries available at People Tree at 6 Assagao in Goa. For this festive season, House of Grains has Goodies Baskets with gluten free Christmas sweets like date and walnut rolls and guava cheese locally known as ‘Perad’ are available at People Tree