Sattu : A thousand-year-old energy drink to beat the heat


Sattu is the powder of barley, maize, or gram.
Out of these 4, gram powder is most prevalent in North India.

Sattu and its preparations are a popular indigenous dish in North India, especially in Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh.


Making Sattu powder is actually really simple. Gram is soaked in water for a few hours. In olden times, women used to soak gram in water overnight to prepare sattu powder.

When gram gets well soaked in water, it is kept away for a while to dry up. After the gram gets dry, it is roasted
After this, it is ground into fine powder.
While grinding, cumin and black pepper are also added to it according to ones own taste. This powder doesn’t get spoiled quickly, so it is kept in a vessel.


Sattu is consumed either in the form of a solution or instead its powder is eaten by kneading and troughing it.
To enhance the taste, black salt or ordinary salt can also be added to it, finely chopped onions and green chilies are also added as required.
Red chili pickle and raw mango chutney make sattu taste even better in the summers.

Magadh (wikimedia )

Historians believe that the use of Sattu first came into practice in the ancient Magadha state of India (present-day Bihar).


In ancient times, Buddhist monks were determined to spread Buddha’s teachings not only in India but also in each and every corner of the world, as it follows these dedicated Buddhists had to travel long distances.

How Sattu became helped in the propagation of Buddhism.

During the Long walk (padayatra), all these Buddhist monks and nuns used keep sattu in-hand for consumption, so that if there were no alms on the way, or if there were no human settlements on the long deserted route, then the monks and nuns could satisfy their hunger by consuming sattu.

The ease of keeping and using sattu in travel made it popular among Buddhist monks.

Along with Buddha’s teachings, Buddhist monks and nuns also played a major role in the promotion of Sattu. An example of this is Tibet. At present, sattu is widely used in Tibet as well.

There is ample evidence of the use of Sattu in food items by the army of Veer Shivaji. At present, Sattu is also used as food by the Indian Army.

How did Sattu, synonymous with bravery, vitality, and struggle for thousands of years, become synonymous with poverty and helplessness?


Touching story of migrant labourers fighting against unemployment, poverty and hunger.

Some new cities in India, Calcutta now (Kolkata), Bombay now (Mumbai) were built by the British rulers in the early nineteenth century, soon all these cities emerged as new centers of economic activity.

Various types of buildings, residential houses, and factories were being constructed in these cities. At the same time, mass production in factories required many, many workers.
In such a situation, large scale migration of villagers from Bihar, Purvanchal took place .

In these cities, peasants, mill workers used Sattu as their main food item to save their lunch expenses and to avoid the hassle of cooking food, in such a situation, the local residents who were not aware of this food item considered this as the so called “food of the poor” and following this Bihar and Purvanchal started being reffered to as theSattu Belt.


Life saving Sattu solution in summer

Sattu and its preparations have always been popular in Bihar and eastern U.P .

Sattu Paratha, Makuni, Baati, Litti, all these are included in the menu of almost every home kitchen and restaurant.

But as soon as the summer season comes, the consumption of Sattu increases manifold.

It is also an irony that where dishes made from sattu like paratha, makuni, bati, litti etc are popular in winters, it is customary to eat sattu solution in summers, and knead it like flour.

As soon as the summer season starts, shops of , sattu sharbat can be seen at every street corner.

It is a belief that consumption of beverages made from Sattu protects one from heat strokes, so when the sun is so high that even the coal tar on the road starts melting, the solution of Sattu acts like a life saver for those who have to go outside and work in order to earn their livelihood.


What I’ve enjoyed most, though, is meeting people who have a real interest in food and sharing ideas with them. Good food is a global thing and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it!

~Jamie Oliver

In today’s era of globalization, foods and drinks cannot remain limited to a particular region.
No one would have ever imagined that the Indian dish Chicken Tikka would one day become the national dish of Britain.
Even here in Varanasi, (eastern UP) the holiest city of Hindus, Pasta, Macaroni, Noodles, Manchurian are eaten with fervor.

Dosa of South India, Idli is equally popular in North India today, Punjabi Chhola-Bhatura is popular all over India today. Similarly, the sattu of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh is also getting popular gradually.

Mr. Hiroshi Suzuki Ambassador of Japan visited Varanasi a few days back..

Mr. Hiroshi Suzuki Ambassador of Japan enjoying the dishes made from sattu.
Buddha had given his first sermon in Sarnath (Varanasi), if Sattu was not available at that time, perhaps Buddhism would not have been able to travel from Sarnath to Japan.

Thus we see that sattu and dishes made from sattu are not only tasty to eat, but this historical food item has also played a major role in the cultural expansion of India. Sattu’s role in spreading Buddha’s teachings to the whole world will always be remembered in history.

Author: nitinsingh

Postgraduate in International relations. Experience in writing in various journals, from BBC WORLD NEWS SERVICE to India's one of the oldest hindi daily. I like to write on international relations, religion, religious conflict. Social media has bridged the distance between writing and reading. Now writing is not just the expression of one's own thought, but also knowing the expression of people on various subject.

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