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The Making of Seitan July 15, 2008

Posted by live2cook in Basics.

“What are you doing?”, asked my DH wondering whether I had gone mad to put Roti dough in a bowl of water.

“I am trying to make Sietan”, I replied.

“What was that?”, asked DH, worried about being a guinea pig for yet another new venture of mine. 🙂

“It is just the wheat Gluten, the substance that gives the chewiness for wheat products. They call it Seitan in Chinese”, answered me.

“Chinese, Huh? So, you don’t have any story from your home town then”, smiled DH happily.

Well! until I finished making the seitan, I thought the same too. But the process and texture of seitan brought back some memories related to wheat gluten. So, here’s the story.

In my home town Thanjavur, most of the families don’t buy wheat flour. They will buy wheat grains and take them to the near by flour mill to get it ground to flour. Since it is cheaper and healthier they follow this routine.

In our home, me and my younger sister were given the chore of taking the wheat grains to the flour mill. It is 15 minutes walk from our home. Most of the time there would be at least two or three persons waiting for the grains to be ground. So, the chore used to take 1 – 1 1/2 hours including the walk back to home. There was a deal between me and my sister that I should carry the canister with grains to the mill and she would carry the flour back home.

Every time we start, my sister will take a handful of wheat grains and save it in her skirt pocket. All the way to the flour mill, she would eat couple of grains at a time and do the same during the wait in the mill. After a while the grains would have turned in to a chewy goo. She used to boast it as nature’s chewing gum. 🙂

After I pleaded couple of times to show me how she made it, she accepted to teach me the process she followed. But, with a fee that I should carry the flour canister back home too. I was eager to chew the nature’s chewing gum. So I accepted the deal. She taught me how to form the chewing gum by grinding the grains in mouth and swallowing only the milky saliva. Though it sounded easy, it wasn’t in reality. Believe me, if you are like me who gobble down everything that went in the mouth, you won’t get the grain ground to chewy substance.

Even after couple of trials, I wasn’t able to master the process like she did. But afraid of the carry back deal, I used to pretend that I got it and chewed my empty mouth more vigorously that it hurted for next couple of days. 😦

When I read how they separate the wheat gluten in the industrial machines, it sounded that my sister was doing the same in her mouth. yes, they grind the wet grain and mix into water. The slurry is mixed vigorously that the gluten separates from the starch.

When I made it at home, I found it so easy and thought if only I knew the process earlier how much carry back miles could have been saved. Hmmm! if only…….


4 Cups all purpose flour

Water to knead into dough


1. Mix the flour and water. Knead into a smooth dough. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.

2. Place a colander in a large bowl and place the dough in the colander.

Dough Placed in Colander

Dough Placed in Colander

3. wash the dough in running water. The water will turn milky.

Washing the Dough

Washing the Dough

4. When the water fills up to the rim of the bowl, pour the milky water in a sauce pan and follow the steps 1-3 again.

5. After the third time, the water will run clear. The substance that remains undissolved is gluten.

The undissolved Gluten

The undissolved Gluten

Save the milky water from first two washing trials. We will see how to use that in future post this week. I used the seitan to make Vegetarian Sloppy Joe Sandwich.



1. Rashmi - July 16, 2008

First, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for the detailed pictorial instrunctions on making seitan, I have always been daunted by the prospect of making it at home, and I have never really tried since it is available easily here, though ultra processed to resemble some meat or the other!
Now I can do it my way. Thank you!

The story is funny and sweet at the same time, so cool that your sis could make gluten in her mouth!

2. Alka - July 19, 2008

Hey thanks for stopping by,welcome to my rasoi 🙂
regarding ur query about alternative of khoya(mawa)then if possible kindly go to this link(i had this on my post too)http://www.bawarchi.com/features/feature5.html
U can find many alternatives given ,but i can’t assure u that those work as fine substitutes as i myself had never tried them
If u find sumthng suitable,and workable with good results ,then pls update me on that
And yes i love the detailed presentation of ur recipes…gr8 work
Thanks and regards

3. Zlamushka - July 20, 2008

This is great, for I have posten my seitan about a week ago 🙂 what a coincidence….

4. Mamatha - July 26, 2008

Your account of the trip to the flour mill made for an enjoyable read. Thanks for this detailed post on Seitan. I’ve only tried it at restaurants.

Love your posts.

5. zurin - November 23, 2008

That was very interesting! What do you use the gluten for? I like ur story with ur sister…it was sweet..

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