This post was originally submitted to BeBetsy from Vijitha of Spices and Aroma who was previously a contributing writer.
Finger Millets are one of the oldest known foods to mankind. Every summer break when I visit my grandparent’s village, there will be one breakfast dish made with it every week. It could be ragi idly (steamed cakes), dosai (crepes), uthappam (pancakes), sevai (noodles) or chapati (Indian breads).
My grandfather has friends who are farmers and he will share insights about the harvest, growing season, principle of crop rotation and how to make compost during meal time. Some information went over the head and some stayed etched in the heart forever.
One thing that I remember about finger millet was their short growing time. They can grow into a mature plant within 70-80 days or may be less than that. He would add that rice and wheat needs more water and improved soil fertility for better yield while millet grows well in dry, arid lands.
Isn’t that a wonderful opportunity for farmers from dry part of the world to cultivate, grow and make money?
We should all eat more whole grains like millet, quinoa, barley to encourage and support those farmers. In fact if we force the nature by changing the cropping patterns all our natural reserves will dry up fast and Mother nature will act against us. So lets respect the biodiversity in nature and eat foods based on the location and weather patterns.
Finger millets are highly nutritious, gluten free and so easy to digest. I feed my son finger millet porridge / ragi kanji, a dish made with flour of the sprouted grain for breakfast every other day. It should be well cooked before feeding it to kids. I re-created my long lost relationship with it during my gestational diabetes period. Finger millet breaks down to sugar very slowly and doesn’t spike your blood sugar drastically. It slowly works in your body and hence it’s a perfect ingredient for those with type 2 diabetes to explore with.
Makes 10 small patties
1 cup finger millet /ragi flour
1 medium sized sweet potatoes – boiled and mashed
1/4 cup fenugreek leaves – finely chopped (optional). You can also use drumstick/malangai/ morunga keerai leaves too
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder + more if you like it spicy
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt + more as per taste
1/2 cup cilantro – finely chopped ( I used little more as we love its flavor)
1 tablespoon water (if needed only)
1/4 cup olive oil for cooking
1. In a clean bowl, add ragi flour, mashed sweet potatoes, fenugreek leaves, spices and cilantro. Using hand, mix them well. The water from the cooked sweet potatoes are enough to knead them into a dough. If its still dry, start by adding very little water and move you way up. Roll them into balls (equal size).
2. Heat a large sauce pan on medium-low flame, drizzle 1 tablespoon oil along the edges such a way that the saucepan is covered with streaks of oil. Remove each ball and press them between your palms, just like the way we do for a veggie/meat patties. Mine were about 1 cm in radius. Place them over the sizzling hot pan one after the other without much crowding and cook for 8-10 minutes on each side. Remove over a kitchen towel and serve hot with any store bought sweet-spicy chutney like peach or mango.