Restaurant gets a taste for lupins

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

It might be an iconic WA pulse but lupins are getting a decidedly Indian flavour this weekend.

The health benefits of lupins - widely touted as a new super food - have been well documented but despite its unique properties that can help with obesity and diabetes, the pulse is yet to take off in the everyday cuisine of Australians.

However, a group of volunteers at the well known Annalakshmi Restaurant on the Swan River in Perth have taken up the challenge - and their spatulas - in a bid to bring lupins to the masses.

It all started when Coorow Seeds food science officer Shyamala Vishnumohan approached those at Annalakshmi to see if they could incorporate lupins into some traditional Indian recipes to showcase how the pulse can be used.

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"Past research efforts have been focused on making junk food healthy using this unique, exceptionally nutritious ingredient," Dr Vishnumohan said.

"For example, there has been a lot of work done in commercialising lupin chips or cookies but you can't ask a health consumer to eat more of the cookies or more chips.

"The innovation behind this project is putting lupins into everyday diet - where those interested in cooking can go to the shop, buy the ingredient and adapt it in their own kitchen.

"About 85 per cent of the world's lupin production comes from WA and it's so unfortunate that Australia has the least pulse consumption in the world.

"We have something at the doorstep but we are not making use of it because there has been no proper application.

"This is where Annalakshmi comes in - to show what you can do with lupins."

SMV Annalakshmi culinary science co-ordinator Mallika Jegasothy took the project on board and with a team of about 15 women came up with a wealth of Indian-inspired recipes that incorporate lupins.

She said the first part of the challenge was understanding the unique properties of lupins.

"That's when we started to have a bit of success," Ms Jegasothy said. "We have a 7000-year history of cooking but ... this is a nice opportunity to grow with a new grain and bring it to a different level."

On June 9 Coorow Seeds and Annalakshmi will present dishes cooked with lupins, as well as a cooking demonstration at the restaurant.

Dr Vishnumohan said the demonstration would also be an opportunity for people to interact with researchers and dispel some of the myths about lupins.

"While our eyes lie on the international market, we need success stories in our own land to showcase it," she said.

"Indians are all over the world and I think this is a springboard to showcase the potential of lupins to Asian markets in the long term, based on the success story we have achieved in our own country."

Reservations for the lupin showcase are essential and can be made by calling 9221 3003 during trading hours. The dinner will be served from 6pm, Saturday, June 9, with the cooking demonstration at 7pm.

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