Cajoling with ragi:
As a child, my mother tried to feed us the ‘healthy cereal -ragi’. As millets are highly nutritious. She made us ragi porridge, in the summers to beat the heat, by boiling ragi powder in some water, cooling it, then adding buttermilk and salt, to it. Well, as kids this tasted – so ‘out of the world’, for us. Even now, during the summers, my mother makes this ‘cooling and filling’ gruel in the evenings and both my parents sip it at a leisurely pace. Watching them follow this ‘simple’ routine, in an unhurried manner, gives me immense happiness and satisfaction!
In due time, my mother tried another variation, by replacing buttermilk with milk and adding sugar to it. Alas, our palates were not yet developed to appreciate the delicate and ‘enticing’ taste of this gruel, too. And all her efforts went in vain. We siblings simply refused to have any dishes made with this humble ‘superfood’. Nevertheless, my dear mother, did not give up. Finally after many trials, now, she came up with ‘ragi halwa’. This was one dish which we savored in the evenings, though requested her to make it only occasionally.
My experience with ‘ragi’ as a grown-up:
Growing up, I slowly realized the benefits of our ‘ancient forgotten’ grains. And try to include ‘ragi’ in my diet on a frequent basis. Thus, made the ‘humble’ ragi dosas, which can be had for breakfast or as a snack. These can be made quickly within a few minutes and paired with any chutney of one’s choice. I paired it up with tomato chutney.
The ‘delicate’ nutty taste of ragi is complemented and enhanced by the earthy flavor of coriander leaves.
It takes a seasoned palate to admire the delicate taste and goodness of these simple and rustic dosas.
There are many varieties of millets grown across the world and have been consumed, by various civilizations since ancient times, especially in East Asia and Africa.
Finger millet is known as Ragi in most parts of India. These tiny, red unassuming grains are referred as as nachani in Maharashtra and Mandua or Kezhvaragu in Tamil language. As per renowned food historian, K.T. Achaya, this grain is has a charming name in Sankrit, nrtta-Kondaka or the dancing grain. It is also referred as rajika (ragi from raga or red) or markataka.
Ragi is utilized to make some unique dishes across various states in India. Some of these dishes are: ragi barfi, ragi halwa, ragi dosa, ragi porridge: with buttermilk and salt or with milk and sugar. Botanically, it is known as Eleusine coracana.
Did you know?
India is the largest producer of millets in the world!
Benefits of this ‘tiny wonder’:
In summary, this ‘superfood’, is a rich source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin B and many essential dietary minerals like manganese. The ragi flour is popularly used as a weaning food – to start introduce toddlers to regular diet.
Wake up call:
In fact, the time has come to revive our ancient and local grains. And I am glad that many efforts are being taken to bring back millets in our cuisine, realizing the nutritional benefit of millets, in our everyday lives. Let us join in this movement by utilizing millets more often in our everyday diet.
For more information about millets, please visit: http://milletindia.org
As a matter of fact, writing a post on millets was in my agenda for a long time. Notable, I was immediately inspired to write this post, when I came across Monika Manchanda’s post (who writes, the wonderful food blog, Sin-A-Mon Tales), inviting readers to send their entries for the ‘The Millets contest’.