Since we are all at home in isolation it is a nice time to try out cooking some new foods. The discovery of Ragi flour was a very happy event for our family. It happened a few years back when I was in our local Indian grocery store and noticed the wide range of flours from grains I had not eve heard of. A surprising sight for someone living in wheat-centric Australia. I had at that point given up baking, as, after decades of making beautiful cakes and pancakes for my kids, we found out gluten was making one of our daughters very sick. In the pursuit of health for her, the rest of us had also started to see baked goodies with new eyes: high carbs and low nutrients. We stopped eating them. But then came this discovery of Ragi flour.
On that day in the rambling Indian supermarket, amongst the waft of spices, I noticed a flour called Ragi flour and started researching it on the spot (on my phone). It sounded like a mothers dream. Nutritious to the extreme and with a long list of health benefits! It was also gluten free. I took a bag home and started trying out recipes and was ecstatic (as foodies can get over an ingredient discovery) to find it also has a neutral flavour and makes fluffy pancakes and cakes. Interestingly it bakes up dark brown and always looks like chocolate but you get used to that.
Ragi is an ancient, finger millet grain and is a staple in South India. It is so small it is safe from the nutrient stripping but popular process most grains go through which is polishing to remove the germ and bran to get a white grain. Therefore, Ragi retains all three parts of the kernel – the bran, germ and endosperm and we get the entirety of its crazy nutrient content. It loaded with essential nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin D. It is packed with dietary fibre and abundant in polyphenols and vital amino acids like Methionine and Lysine. It also provides a dose of antioxidants, mainly Tryptophan and amino acids which are very good for mental health as they calm. In India Ragi is advised for diabetics as a substitute for rice or wheat, as it helps maintaining blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Since it is so rich in fibre it makes you feel very full.
A kilo of Rago flour costs around $3.00 a kilogram and that is by far the cheapest nutrient dense food you will ever buy! It can be found in shops that sell Indian foods. Sometimes even standard supermarkets have it.
My Sri Lankan friend told me Ragi flour has been part of her life forever and that she grew up on Ragi Dosa (pancakes) pretty much every day! She has been so sweet to buy me bags for gifts sometimes when our Indian shop runs out. Little did I know than a wheat-centric Aussie would actually bin all her wheat flour (plain, self raising, wholemeal etc) and now only stocking Ragi and Tapioca flour!
My daughter makes Ragi pancakes several times a week and she and I have developed this recipe over the last years. It is very simple so you can feed the tribe fast for a snack or a side at mealtime. In India people eat Ragi Dosa (their version of pancakes) most days, and at various meals. They also use Ragi to make many other things, like Ragi Balls, Ragi porridge etc. (Google and be amazed.) You can eat Ragi pancakes with sweet toppings or savory. (I have also developed a fluffy chocolate cake recipe with Ragi that I will share in another post soon.) When you google Ragi Dosa you can discover an endless supply of elaborate recipes by Indian mums! This recipe that my daughter and I have developed is a very easy version and I have named them after my daughter.
Elsa’s Ragi pancakes. Is GF and can be DF and vegan.
1 1/3 cup Ragi flour
1/2 cup Tapioca flour – it helps the Ragi in fluffing up.
1/4 cup sugar or a bit of honey (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder/soda
2 heaped tablespoons/60ml approx of coconut oil/coconut cream
1 – 1 1/4 cup oat/soy/almond/dairy/other milk
Cacao nibs – a small handful.
Cacao powder – a tablespoon or two.
Blueberries – a handful. These extras add fabulous texture and flavour and more health benefits.
- Mix ingredients well.
- Cover and let the mix rest for 15-20 minutes. Ragi flour needs a bit of time to soak up liquid (and the mix will always be wetter than a wheat flour).
- Fry in e.g. coconut oil. Flip when the surface has a lot of bubbles.
- You can eat with any topping like warmed up berries or coconut yoghurt. Otherwise some savoury toppings. How about a mild tomato chilli sauce and some basil?!
Enjoy and please tell me about your experiences with Ragi.