By Sharanya Munsi
Healthy eating may have become a millennium fad but the roots of it have long been present in Indian culture and its traditional food items. As liberalization and globalization opened the world to processed food, we forgot the very grains and millets sown and consumed by our ancestors. Ragi is one such traditional wholegrain that is once again being discovered as a superfood due to its high fibre density and high nutritional food. Ragi food items are once again in the limelight for being the perfect gluten-free alternative to regular items and are finding its place in menus of restaurants and cafes. So what exactly is ragi?
Ragi also is known as finger millet originated in Africa and has been cultivated there for the longest time. It is said to have been introduced in India 4000 years ago and. Ragi’s nutrition makes it widely grown in India and is a staple in diets of various regions of the country. While traditionally it was grown and harvested for consumption at home, ragi food items often find themselves available as pre-mixes or processed items.
What makes ragi a superfood?
Ragi as a small grain is too tiny to be polished which means it is largely available in its pure form without much processing. Ragi nutrition consists of amino acid methionine which is an important antioxidant that can play a key role in metabolism. Ragi food is a rich source of iron that can meet iron deficiencies and prevent the onset of iron-related ailments in children and elders alike. The versatility of the grain also makes it easy to be incorporated into the family’s diet. Make it a part of your atta composition or make pancakes out of it, the options are unlimited.
Benefits of ragi food:
1. Rich source of good carbohydrate: Carbohydrates, in general, may usually come across as a component best left out of the diet but our body needs it just as much along with proteins. The difference lies in making sure your diet takes in the right form of carbohydrate. In this regard, ragi’s nutrition content makes it an excellent source of good carbohydrate.
2. Helps control diabetes: Ragi is a gluten-free option to effectively control diabetes. The grain has polyphenols and dietary fibres. It is an excellent option for quelching hunger craving as it helps to maintain a healthy digestive pace by keeping you feeling full for longer.
3. Calcium storehouse: If you have a child who refuses to down that big glass of milk, here’s a solution to your woes of adding calcium to his or her diet, ragi foods. Ragi is a brilliant storehouse of calcium. It is easy to be incorporated in the diet due to its versatile nature.
4. Prevent anaemia: Iron is an element that may not be required by our body in huge quantities but it is crucial for smooth bodily functions. Our body needs it in small doses continuously to boost our hemoglobin levels.
Ragi’s versatile nature and malleable taste make it an easy food to be moulded into multiple recipes like chapattis, porridge, cookies, traditional dish Raggi Mude (steamed ragi balls), as a substitute for all-purpose flour in baking or desserts like modaks, the options go as far as your imagination. For enhanced flavour, you can also roast the grains before cooking to get a subtle nutty flavor.
Here’s a fun ragi recipe with a twist to try with children:
Ragi mushroom wrap
1. One cup of 100% Organic Sprouted Ragi Powder (First Food)
2. One cup water
3. 2 tbsp cooking oil
4. One cup washed and sliced button mushroom
5. ½ Cup sliced onion
6. ½ Cup grated carrot
7. ½ Cup grated cabbage
8. 5-6 Washed iceberg lettuce
9. 4 Cloves garlic
10. 2 Tsp oregano
11. 4 Tbsp mayonnaise
12. One Tsp chili flakes
13. 2 Tsp lime juice
14. 2 Tbsp melted butter
1. In a small pan heat the water, oil and 1 tsp of salt. Let this come to a bubble over the fire.
2. Slowly add the ragi powder over the fire. Once the whole powder has been added, remove from fire and mix thoroughly using a spatula to create a dough.
3. You may place the dough on a large bowl and continue kneading but be careful as it is still hot. This step will require some arm strength as ragi takes time to turn into a soft kneaded dough. You may add drizzles of water if you feel it turning too dry.
4. Once the dough is ready, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to cool before rolling it out.
5. Make small balls from the dough and gently roll them out using dry ragi powder. You can make them as thin as a roti.
6. Roast them on a tawa like you would for a regular roti. As soon as you remove the roasted ragi roti from the fire, generously brush butter on them to keep them soft for long.
7. In a cooking pan, melt butter and add chopped garlic.
8. Let the garlic roast and then add the sliced onion. Gently saute it till translucent.
9. Add the sliced mushroom to the pan and toss well to coat in all the flavour. Season it with salt and oregano. Cover and cook for a few minutes till the mushroom turns soft and discards water.
10. In a small bowl combine the shredded carrot, cabbage, mayonnaise, salt and lime juice. Mix it well to create a coleslaw salad.
11. Once all the parts of the wrap are created, time to assemble!
12. Take the roti on a clean surface, place a lettuce leaf on top and drizzle with salt.
13. Add a generous spread of the coleslaw salad on top followed by the sauteed mushroom along the centre of the roti leaving ½ inch space on both top and bottom.
14. Gently wrap the two sides of the roti on the filling and then roll it carefully while tucking in the corners.
15. Your wrap is ready, serve it with sides of chips or a spicy dip.