Flour mill – should you buy one?

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If the roti you make at home tastes nothing like the ones you were accustomed to having in India, blame it on the flour (atta). Golden wheat ground to perfection is the key to a perfect roti. Find out if investing in a flour mill is worth your time and money!

Note – WonderMill sent me a grain mill to play around with and I loved it so much that I decided to share my experience with you.

A cup of Homemade Whole Wheat flour in a measuring cup.
Whole wheat flour made in WonderMill

Every trip we take to India reminds us of things we don’t get here in the US – hanging out with our families, family weddings, Natural ice- cream and freshly ground chakki ka atta (wheat flour from a flour mill) for those delicious, soft, melt-in-your-mouth rotis.

Despite knowing all the tricks and trips to make a soft and puffed up roti, there is little one can do to improve the taste, as that factor depends on how fresh your whole wheat flour is – something we have little control over.

That’s why rotis made abroad don’t taste the same as the ones in India.

What’s the difference between store bought flour and homemade flour?

If you are wondering like many do, why to go through all this effort when flour can so easily be bought in a store, here are some very compelling reasons why:

  • Wheat berries maintain their nutritive value until they are milled into flour. The fresher the flour the better it is. During the conventional milling process, some of the nutritive value of the wheat berries is lost, especially if the wheat bran and germ is discarded to make the flour last longer. 
  • The millers often have to store the milled flour before they can package and send it to the stores. They also need to increase the shelf-life, so they need to add preservatives and chemicals to the flour.
  • It is far easier to store grains than flour. The grains have a seed-cover called bran, that protects it from going rancid. The wheat berries can be stored at least until the next sowing season, and often longer, with proper storage.
  • The flour components change during storage. The flour starts losing some of its nutritive value immediately after milling and continues to do so over the period it is stored. Millers often fortify the flour with vitamins and anti-oxidants, but I personally prefer my nutrition to come from natural sources.

I too like all other Indian Americans struggled to recreate the same taste and texture of roti. I tried many different brands of whole wheat flour; created my own by mixing several different kinds of whole wheat flour, but the success was limited and unsatisfactory, that is until I heard about WonderMill.

I met the folks behind WonderMill Grain Mill at a conference and I enjoyed chatting with them about India, Indians and our love for chakki ka atta. They very generously offered to send me a WonderMill (a compact grain mill) to play around with. I was ecstatic – I could grind my own grains and have freshly made flour available on demand. Yoo-hoo! 

Before we talk about how the rotis turned out let me give you a quick 101 on flour mills.

What is a flour mill?

For anyone who grew up in India, a flour mill (or a chakki) is something we are very familiar with. Some of us can remember going to a neighborhood flour mill, lugging 10 pounds worth of wheat berries to get it ground. The person doing the work would be covered from head to toe in this creamy white dust of wheat flour, would take our bag and dump it all in this huge machine that would span his tiny shop. Depending on how busy he was at that time, you could get flour instantly or you would have to return back at a later time.  

Then came an era of home flour mills. These were smaller versions of the commercial flour mills that started getting popular in the 90’s. A few families invested in their own home flour mill to grind flour as well as masalas (spices) at home. These flour mills were pretty large and I remember they took up a lot of space. When working, they made a deafening noise, alerting the entire neighborhood, that you were grinding flour at home. In comparison, the flour mills found in the US occupy less space and are quieter.

How is flour made?

The process to make flour at home involves investing in a grain mill, buying grains, and storing the grains/flour properly. Let’s chat through the process step by step.

Which flour mill is best for the job?

Making Whole Wheat Flour in a WonderMill
Making Whole Wheat Flour in a WonderMill

Having seen what the home mills were like in India, it was a pleasant experience to use a mill that was just as good at grinding the perfect atta for rotis, while being so much more efficient. Here is why I love WonderMill:

  • Easy to set up –  only 5 parts in total.
  • Easy cleanup – It does not spew flour all over the place. No mess to clean up after you are done.
  • Versatile mill – Allows personalization of flour from super fine to coarse. It is versatile and can grind a variety of grains, seeds, and legumes. Perfect for gluten-free flours. 
  • Preserves nutrients – Grinds at a temperature that does not destroy the nutrients of the wheat berries
  • Fast and powerful – It comes with a 1250 watt heavy-duty motor designed by LG that can grind 100 pounds in an hour. You can also safely turn it off anytime during operation
  • Low maintenance – no gaskets to be replaced, no small parts to lose
  • Comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

You can not only make whole wheat flour (atta), you can also make your own rice flour, besan (chickpea flour), oats flour and many more. Check out all the grains that you can grind in a WonderMill

Here are some helpful links for you to read up before you decide to buy WonderMill

Where can I buy WonderMill? – Make sure you buy WonderMill from trusted retailers only. You do not receive warranty protection if you buy this grain mill from Non-Authorized sellers. 

Where to buy whole grains?

I shop at the grains section at Whole foods. You can buy it online from Bob’s Red Mill or in bulk from Amazon as well. The grains last for a long time if stored in an air-tight container away from direct heat and moisture.

How to make flour at home?

This helpful video from the manufacturer’s of WonderMill will teach you how to make the most of your WonderMill in about 10 minutes.

Here’s a quick recap of the video along with my tips

  1. To make whole wheat flour for rotis, bread setting is recommended but I prefer the pastry one for really fine flour.
  2. Make sure you turn the mill on and is running before you dump the grains in.
  3. You’ll need a test run and discard flour the first time you use it. So make sure you stock up on some cheap grains (not organic).
  4. Keep the mill running for an extra second or two after the all the grains are in. Switch it off in a few seconds when you hear a higher pitch sound. This ensures all the flour makes it to the canister.
  5. Unplug the power cable from the outlet and tap the canister a few times before opening up.
  6. Snap on the storage lid or use the flour immediately.
  7. Clean up the mill using a pastry brush after use.

Note – The hopper capacity is about 6 cups and the canister can hold up to 15 cups.

How to store flour?

Make only as much flour is needed –  Whole wheat flour goes rancid (smells bitter) fairly quickly as it contains the oily germ. For best results use within a week but you can store them for as long as a month. Store flour in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place.

That’s why having a grain mill like WonderMill comes in handy – since you can make flour as much as you need.

Homemade-Wheat-Flour

Results of using homemade wheat flour on Rotis

I know you want to know – did the roti taste great? I’ll answer that in a minute before that let me quickly share my observations

  1. The whole wheat flour was darker in shade compared to the store brought one and as was the resultant dough.
  2.  You’ll notice a difference how the dough comes together – it is not difficult but it doesn’t come together as easily as the store-bought ones. By that way, I used a stand-in mixer to make my chapati dough.
  3.  Rolling process – It was easy to roll. To get tips on how to roll out perfect rotis, check out my post here.
  4. Taste difference – The rotis were phenomenal. Nothing like any rotis I have tasted before. Dare I say, it was even better than the ones I had in India.
Process of making whole wheat flour
Rotis from homemade whole wheat flour

I hope this was helpful to you and if you want to shoot me a question about WonderMill, leave a comment below. 

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9 Comments

  1. Hi,
    You can buy wheat from online .I recently purchased wheat and other grains from Azure standard and they have a pick up location so you don’t have to pay for delivery charges. They also have organic grains and prices are very reasonable. As per my research hard white wheat and durum wheat are best for Indian roti.

  2. Thanks for the helpful post. Can it be used to grind super fine masala powders that includes mix of grains such as pepper, red chilli like the ones we get in india.

  3. What kind of wheat berries did you use?
    I tried soft white wheat tonight, but it didn’t have enough elasticity in the dough.
    I added 2 cups white bread flour to increase the gluten, but still stiff.

    1. Hi Deleme – I used the one from the Whole Foods grain section. That’s the only one they have. Let me check the label the next time I am there and I’ll let you know.

  4. Thank you for the article is answer every question I was looking for as I am looking for a grain mill. The India American thing made a huge difference on my view because I was trying to find this same thing.

  5. Hello Anu,

    What variety of wheat did you use for the flour?
    Hard white or durum? And where can I buy the wheat berries?

    Thank you.

    Best,
    Priya.

    1. Hi Priya –

      I buy it from Whole Foods. They have only one type of wheat berries. Let me check the next time I buy and I’ll let you know.

      Thanks,
      Anu

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