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Thumbs up to ragi, the unsung millet
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Thumbs up to ragi, the unsung millet

A breakfast item, a crisp snack and a dessert recipe that Happiest Health presents here are only a delicious sample of what one can conjure up with the versatile, nutritious but neglected cereal, ragi aka finger-millet
two spoons of ragi
Representational Image | Shutterstock

Finger millet, popularly known as ragi in most parts of India, is considered one of the functional millets and a staple food. It is often used as an early baby food as well as for the elderly as it is easy to digest.

In addition to macronutrients like , protein and fibres, ragi is packed with micronutrients calcium, magnesium, methionine, lysine and amino acids.

Sakshi Gandhi, a nutritionist from Universal Diet Academy & Clinic, Mohali, Punjab, lists the many benefits of ragi.

  • It keeps the satiety or the feeling of fullness for a long time
  • help with weight loss as it has an essential amino acid called tryptophan which reduces appetite and gives a feeling of fullness for a long time)
  • maintains blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for diabetics
  • It is gluten-free: it can be useful for those with gluten intolerance
  • It has low fat and is rich in unsaturated fat
  • It is a good source of calcium, which improves bone health
  • Sprouted ragi l fulfils Vitamin B12 needs
  • It keeps the body warm and is regarded as a winter food
  • It is helpful in constipation (as it is rich in fibres)

Does ragi suit all?

Who should avoid ragi or seek medical advice before including it in their diet? Here is a check list.

  • Those with kidney issues like kidney stones, acute kidney failure, or those undergoing dialysis
  • Those with hyperkalemia or increased levels of serum potassium, as ragi is high in potassium

Ragi is also not recommended for dinner as it takes a long time to digest.

Here are three tasty and nutritious recipes with ragi provided by Jayashree T Rao,  food blogger and recipe developer from Ballari, Karnataka

Ragi idlis on a wooden plate with chutney
Representational Image | Shutterstock
  1. The breakfast: Quick ragi idli

The regular South Indian idli is a fermented cake (or dumpling)

made with a batter of rice and black gram. Here is a quick variation of an idli.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of finger millet flour
  • 1 cup semolina (i.e., sooji/ rava)
  • 1 cup sour curd
  • fresh coriander (finely chopped)
  • salt (as per taste)
  • water as required
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • OPTIONAL: 1 carrot, washed, peeled and grated
  • 1 onion, chopped fine

The preparation

For the batter

  • Take ragi flour and semolina in a wide bowl
  • Add salt and curd to it, mix well to a smooth, `dropping’ consistency, and keep the batter aside for at least half an hour
  • Prepare a seasoning: crackle some mustard seeds in hot oil; add cumin seeds, cashew pieces, a few pieces of red/dry chilis and a few curry leaves
  • When the seasoning cools, add it to the ragi-semolina batter
  • Optionally, add the cut vegetables and chopped coriander
  • Mix some water to adjust the consistency

For making  idlis

  • Heat water in an idli steamer as recommended and put it on a low flame.
  • Add and stir in baking soda to the batter (this is normally done just before cooking); and pour the batter into the idli plates/moulds.
  • Steam the plates for 15 minutes on a moderate flame followed by five minutes of cooking on a low flame.
  • Check to see if the idlis are done; Turn the stove off.
  • Let the idlis cool in the moulds for 5 minutes; carefully ease the idlis out of the moulds.

Rao mentions some pointers to keep in mind:

  • The curd should be sour
  • Soon after adding baking soda, put the batter in the mould and keep it to steam
Ragi halwa
Photo by Dr Chetana BS
  1. The dessert: Ragi halubai/Finger millet fudge

Ingredients

  • 1cup ragi, whole grains
  • 1cup jaggery
  • 1cup fresh coconut, grated
  • 2tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 5cups water
  • 1/2teaspoon cardamom powder
  • Cashews for the topping

Method of preparation

  • Soak ragi for five hours
  • Drain the water and grind ragi and grated coconut fine, occasionally adding a little water
  • Strain this liquid through a sieve to get clear `milk’
  • Grind the residue again with some water and strain it further
  • Make jaggery syrup by adding a cup of water to jaggery in a pan and cook it on low flame
  • Let it cool. Strain the jaggery syrup to remove any
  • Heat the jaggery syrup and the clear extract of ragi  on a low flame
  • Add some ghee to it and keep stirring continuously
  • Add cardamom powder once it becomes a thick mass, without sticking to the pan). Mix it well and allow it to cool for  five minutes.
  • Grease a plate with ghee. Spread the cooked ragi fudge on the  and let it
  • Cut it into small squares, garnish them with roasted cashews

Note:  Pick and clean the ragi grains well before use. Wash it multiple times with water.

ragi chakli kept on a olate
Image provided by Chef T Jayashree
  1. The crisp savoury: Ragi chakli / chakkuli

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ragi flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup roasted gram flour
  • 1 tablespoon hot oil
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required for mixing
  • Oil for frying

Preparation

  • In a bowl, take ragi flour, rice flour, gram flour, chilli powder, sesame seeds, salt and mix well.
  • Add butter to this and mix it well into the flours with fingers. Make a pliable dough with a little water. The dough should neither be too hard nor too soft
  • Heat oil in a frying pan
  • Grease inside a chakli mould and put some dough and press it to make roundels or chaklis
  • They can be pressed directly into the oil, or made on butter paper and gently slid into the oil
  • Deep-fry the chaklis to golden brown colour uniformly on both the sides. Use tissue papers to drain excess oil. Store the cooled chaklis

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