Ragi/Finger Millet is one of the most original Indian superfood.Unlike its counterparts-oats, chia seeds,brocolli and the most recent quinoa that have influenced the current popular culture, Ragi’s origin can be traced back to traditional Indian kitchens. Ancient Sanskrit scholars had mentioned Ragi as ‘Rajika’,which was domesticated and cultivated by ancient men in the Indian Peninsula.
I learnt about this Millet only in my 20s, as it wasn’t made in our households, except as the sweet porridge for the toddlers. Toddlers are fed Ragi porridge almost everyday, that after two/three years, most of them just run for their lives at the smell of it😀.
The younger population of our country are becoming unhealthy, either due to obesity or malnutrition. Junk foods have become integral part of their day-today lives.Calcium,protein and fibre are the nutrients most of them lack in their growing up years, resulting in many deficiency related diseases growing up and health scares in the later years.
Nutritional value of Ragi:
65–75% carbohydrates 15–20% dietary fiber 2.5–3.5% minerals
provides 328 kcal energy per 100 gm
It is called the ‘king of calcium’ among cereals, as it has the maximum calcium content.Guess what, it aids in the weight reduction too!😀
Water scarcity is the major problem, farmers face, due to the late monsoons with the ‘Rain God’ having a no-show almost every year in most parts of the country.Ragi is the sustainable crop that can be grown even in the drought ridden areas throughout the year.So, in addition to providing nutrients- calcium;minerals;fiber and carbohydrates, Ragi also helps rural development,as it aids in sustainable land use and relatively easier post-harvest management.
Ragi is the integral part of many households down south.Ragi can be used to make ragi sweet and salt porridge-commonly known as ‘koozh’,ragi balls/laddu,ragi dosa/idli,ragi biscuit,Kerala ‘Puttu’, rotis and vermicelli.
‘Ragi koozh’ is made during regional ‘Amman thiruvizha’ (temple festivals of Goddess Durga) in Tamil Nadu and is served as ‘prasad’.The salted porridge is made the previous night, fermented, and served with buttermilk and salt.The final product has many variations and additions-shallots, chillies, raw mango and coconut pieces, pickle/chutney to better the already delectable dish😋. These festivals are celebrated during peak summers and ragi koozh/porridge is the best ‘natural coolant’.
Let us make this super natural and super-sustainable superfood, part of our daily diet in some form and not wait for the westerners to reintroduce it to us in a glossy package.