Bhubaneswar: ‘Torani’ of Pakhala, which we slurp up merrily, can give energy and boost immunity. Pakhala has long been called the most humble probiotic dish, but now a study conducted by AIIMS-Bhubaneswar has substantiated it.
The simple preparation includes water being added to rice and left overnight to ferment. “Microbes present in water rice chew the complex carbohydrates and create end products like short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). When we drink the ‘torani’, the SCFA present in it reaches the cells and gives us instant energy. These also promote anti-inflammatory responses with the synthesis of protein from the cells and protects us from viruses like COVID-19 which causes uncontrolled inflammation in the lungs,” said Balamurugan Ramadass, additional professor of biochemistry and head of the Centre of Excellence for Clinical Microbiome Research (CCMR), AIIMS-Bhubaneswar.
Balamurugan said since the COVID outbreak, he has never missed his glass of ‘torani’ (500 ml) before leaving home for work and have been advising everyone in his building to do so.
It was his interest in microbes and how the intestine works as a major immune apparatus that prompted him to scientifically document “pakhala” and its anti-inflammatory properties.
“Like yoghurt, Pakhala too matures into a microbial concoction. We collected samples of ‘torani’ from around 20 households of different socio-economic status from urban and rural areas of Khurda districts. That was around the end of 2019. The real work began in 2020,” he said.
Balamurugan said the microbial culture revealed the presence of lactobacillus in it. “Lactobacillus present in ‘torani’ promotes secretory immunoglobulin that fights local infection, particularly in lungs and intestines, while the SCFA molecules have anti-inflammatory properties in good proportion,” he said.
This food and drink can help prevent malnutrition, he added.