Meet This Grain: Kamut
This ancient treasure has been around for centuries and is considered to be the great-great granddaddy of grains. Find out how to cook this high protein grain, and why it’s back in fashion.
Kamut ( Triticum polonicum) is an ancient form of wheat whose name originated from the Egyptian word for “wheat.” The grain was grown until the mid-twentieth century by farmers who prized its rich, nutty flavor. After World War II, farmers switched to higher-yielding, less flavorful hybridized wheat, leaving kamut behind. Today, kamut is enjoying a resurgence and is once again grown around the country.
Kamut has a nutty flavor with kernels measuring two to three times the size of most wheat. The grains are light tan in color, while the flour is more golden than the typical wheat variety.
One cup of cooked kamut contains 251 calories, 2 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein. It’s packed with energy boosting B-vitamins including thiamin and niacin.
Although kamut is related to wheat, most folks with gluten allergies are able to tolerate it. If you’re turning to kamut as a wheat alternative, talk to your doctor or registered dietitian about how to go about introducing it into your diet and be sure to read the labels as some manufacturer’s do slip gluten in.
Kamut cooks up similarly to wheat berries and can be substituted for most whole grains in recipes (though the cooking time might vary, so check the package).
There are all types of goodies you can make with kamut grains and flour including pancakes, breads and salads. Kamut flour can be used in place of whole wheat pastry flour in equal measure. It can also be used as breading (it browns as and crisps nicely) or to thicken liquids (like in sauces) in place of wheat flour. Bob’s Red Mills sells kamut flour, or you can make your own by grinding uncooked grains in a food processor or spice grinder.
As it has a lighter flavor and finer texture than most wheat, kamut is used in whole grain cereals, baked goods and pastas— many can be found in health food stores, Whole Foods Markets and you may even see some of the more popular brands in your supermarket. Here are a few kamut-based products:
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio »