Ragi or Finger Millet- the humble and nutritious millet


Ragi or Finger Millet`s nutritional value was unknown to many until recently. Malted Ragi is the best weaning food for babies.                                                                                             

                          Ragi or Finger Millet Flour and Ragi Seeds

Thanks to the aggressive promotion by the Indian Government, dietitians and nutritionists, this poor man`s food now graces the rich man`s breakfast table too for it`s nutritional value. 

This once humbly priced millet is now priced on par with wheat and rice. 

Ragi, like all other millets, is not a water-intensive crop and that is why it is grown mainly in drought-prone areas providing food and nutrition to poor farmers and their families. This no-fuss, hardy millet doesn`t cost much to grow since it does not require a lot of water to grow and also it does not require a very fertile soil.

Tradition is that it is inter-cropped with pulses where millets are harvested first and the pulses nitrogen-fix the soil. After all the crops are harvested, the land is left for grazing to goats and sheep. The constant litter from these animals enrich the soil and thus the soil is prepared and enriched with little effort for the next crop. 

Nutrition-wise, it is rich in calcium and iron.

Malted ragi cooked as a porridge with milk is the best weaning food for babies. 

 

TO MALT RAGI

1. The seeds should be first soaked in water for 12 hours or overnight and then the water should be drained out completely.

2. Sprout this either tied-up in a muslin cloth or in a clean and covered stainless steel vessel for 48 to 72 hrs, sprinkling a little water if necessary, although this may be necessary only if the weather is very hot and dry. 

3. After it has sprouted fairly enough, dry it out completely by spreading it on a dry, clean cloth, preferably in the sun.

4. Then dry roast it in a hot pan till you get a light, roasted aroma and cool completely. 

5. Powder this into a fine powder in a dry mixer/blender.

6. AS A WEANING FOOD FOR BABIES, you can also powder the roasted ragi along with an equal volume of Fried Gram or Roasted Gram (also called Putana in India) for added protein and also flavour, (babies too can be pretty fussy on taste) and then pass it through a muslin cloth to get an absolutely fine powder. The leftover residue can go back into the mixer/blender and powdered again and passed through the muslin cloth again repeating the process. 

This fine powder can be cooked as a porridge with milk and water and given to babies from the age of 4 months onward as a weaning food. 

 

TO MAKE THE RAGI PORRIDGE, bring half cup of water to a boil. 

*Mix 2 tsps of the ragi or ragi-putana powder in quarter cup water and mix well and add this to the boiling water and stir it constantly to avoid forming lumps. Add more water if required. Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 1 minute. 

*Add milk to get the desired consistency. 

*It can be sweetened with a little sugar or jaggery. 

*You can vary the proportions of ragi powder, milk and water as desired. 

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