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Ragi Makes the World Go Round

In Recipes on 3 February 2017 at 8:00 pm

In between sessions at the Human Rights in Childbirth conference a young woman approached me and said, “Are you Amma?”  Not quite believing my ears I looked startled.  “From Ask Amma?” she continued.  Turns out, she learned to make ragi porridge right here on Ask Amma and her daughter enjoys it to this day.  What music to my heart!

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When it comes to ragi, our enthusiasm knows no bounds!

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10-grain idlis

In Recipes on 19 March 2016 at 9:34 am

We’ve made idlis and dosas with little millet, kodo millet, proso millet, pearl millet, foxtail millet, finger millet and even made them with teff, which it turns out, is also a kind of millet. Oh, and of course we have made them with paddy rice.  (Our millet-farming friends insist on calling what generally goes by the name of rice, “paddy rice” to distinguish it from some of the millets which in the local language are actually called varieties of rice, e.g. సామ బీయ్యము or वरी चावल (little millet rice),  కొర్ర బీయ్యము (foxtail millet rice), सामक चावल (barnyard millet rice).  In this case the term “rice” is used not as a name for the grain but for the whole form of the grain, as opposed to cracked grain (ravva), flattened grain (poha) or flour (atta).

I made idlis using all 11 of these ingredients - 10 grains plus 1 legume.

I decided to make idlis using all 11 of these ingredients – 10 grains plus 1 legume.

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Teff Idli and Dosa!

In Recipes on 13 February 2016 at 3:11 am

Sometimes our millet dosas remind us of injera, a traditional Ethiopian dish we ate a few years ago when visiting friends in Boston.  Khiyali and her friends enjoyed chanting, “eat the plate!  eat the plate!”   The injera was the edible plate on which the various toppings were served.  After tearing off pieces of injera and scooping up the steamed and stir-fried vegetables, the rest of the plate, which had absorbed some of the flavors from the toppings, was fun to eat up all by itself.

Out of curiosity I bought a bag of teff at David’s Natural Market when I was in Maryland but did not get around to finding out how to make anything with it.  By the time I left for India the bag was still unopened so I brought it along with me.  When I searched for recipes for injera it seemed I needed teff flour and not whole teff.  Of course this grain is so tiny it is almost like flour but anyway that gave me the free pass to try using it like all the other grains in my collection – to make dosas!  How different could they be?

Teff and Urad

Teff and Urad, ready to get soaked.

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Ragi Idli and Dosa, Take 3

In Recipes on 30 January 2016 at 9:44 am
Tri-Millet Idli - made of Ragi, Sama and Proso millet along with Urad (Black Gram).

Tri-Millet Idli – made of Ragi, Sama and Proso millet along with Urad (Black Gram).

In Ragi Idli and Dosa, Take 1, I tried using whole ragi (finger millet) to make the batter used for idli and dosa.  Since I’d never done nor seen any one do it before, I used part ragi and part rice along with the urad (black gram).   Pleased with the results, I tried using only ragi and urad in my next attempt, Ragi Idli and Dosa Take 2.  To my pleasant surprise, this batter also rose well and produced tasty idlis, albeit heavier than even my usual idlis which, being always whole grain, tend to be denser than white idlis, just as whole wheat bread is less airy than white bread.

Now that I have made idlis and dosas using  just about every kind of millet I have been able to get my hands on – little millet (sama), kodo millet (arikalu), proso (varigalu), pearl millet (bajra) and finger (ragi), I thought, why not mix them up? Read the rest of this entry »

Whole Ragi Idli and Dosa, Take 2

In Recipes on 14 January 2016 at 5:20 pm

¡Si se puede!  I exclaimed when I saw the dough the morning after grinding it.  It had risen.  At last I could report to the naysayers, who thought that whole ragi and whole urad couldn’t be trusted to make a good idli, oh yes they can!

ragi idli with sambar

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Ragi Idli and Dosa, Take 1

In Recipes on 8 January 2016 at 12:03 pm
Mix 1 part sprouted ragi flour and 2 parts water, bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Video

Ragi: Not only for porridge. (Video)

Soon after I arrived in India, I visited Balaji in Chennai and met the folks of the Tamil Nadu Science Forum which took Balaji by storm (or was it the other way around?)  There I heard Ambarigi, Shanthi and other workers talk about the value of sattamavu, or ragi, sprouted and ground and easy to make into porridge. They focussed on encouraging parents to prepare it for young children and asked us and other well-wishers to help promote it by sponsoring a year’s worth of sattemavu for a family in need.  This Ravi and I did and later started a program to distribute ragi in Srikakulam as well.  It was not until six months after our daughter was born that we bought the stuff to make and eat ourselves.

As it turned out ragi porridge was an instant hit and we have been making it ever since.  I didn’t venture further in the millet department until a couple of years ago when I started using every variety of millet I could find.  Ragi, or finger millet was a regular part of our diet in the form of porridge.  What to do with the other kinds?  I tried them out in idli and dosa batter and they were great.  Soon I was making idlis and dosas out of Proso MilletKodo MilletLittle Millet and Pearl Millet (bajra).  I also made pulihara out of Foxtail Millet.

But what about Finger Millet?   Read the rest of this entry »

Bajra-kodo idli

In Recipes on 18 December 2015 at 2:19 pm
Bajra-Kodo Idli

Bajra-Kodo Idli

Picked up some bajra (సజ్జలు | pearl millet) from the Farmers’ Market and thought, let’s see if we can make idlis with these too. Since it was my first time trying it I used some millet as well.  I didn’t use any rice.  My proportions were:

1 cup bajra (సజ్జలు)
1 cup kodo millet (ఆరికలు)
1 cup urad (మినువులు)

Soak in water for 8 hours, grind to a smooth batter, allow to rise overnight, add 1/2 tsp salt and make idlis as usual.

I will take pictures next time I make bajra idli and update this page with step-by-step instructions.   Meanwhile,  for a detailed description and pictures of the process see any of the following:

Bajra from Paryavaran Mitra (at Farmers' Market) and Urad from EcoFresh (via Chembur)

Bajra from Paryavaran Mitra (at Farmers’ Market) and Urad from EcoFresh (via Chembur)

Proso Millet Idli and Dosa
Kodo Millet Idli and Dosa
Swanky Little Millet Idli & Dosa
Whole -grain idli and dosa

 

Fall Colors! Sweet Potato and Collard Green Stew with Millet

In Recipes on 30 October 2015 at 3:21 am

My sister came across this dish at a lunch club that she joined in her old office — members took turns preparing lunch for the whole group.  Reminds me of my co-op in Madison.  Like most of her preparations this was beautiful and bursting with flavor.  Unlike most of her fancy dishes, however, this looked like something I could make!  She even threw in a few ingredients without measuring them 🙂 and Khiyali, host of the Young Person’s Cookery Show, even got to help.  I watched.

The dish was called African Peanut Stew.  The name conjured up colors of lush forest green and robust orange with accents of nutty brown … and sure enough we stirred these up in the pot and beheld the dish before us.  We made some variations to the recipe posted at Budget Bytes, (but all within the budget).

What a great way to eat different leafy greens – we made it with collard greens, but one could try other greens as well.

Stew made of collard green and sweet potato served with millet.

Stew made of collard green and sweet potato served with millet.

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Black Gram Matters

In Recipes, When on 1 September 2015 at 2:04 am

Since when are idlis white?

Not more than a few generations.    And if you look at all things that have become white over the past century, one by one they are regaining their color.   White bread, white pasta, white flour, white sugar, white rice are now recognized as more or less empty calories and are being replaced by their whole counterparts, on the brown to black side of the color spectrum.  It is time for idlis to do the same.

Soaked Urad - bursting out of its skin!

Black Gram (Urad): Soaked and ready to burst out of its skin!  Urad or Black Gram attracts wild yeast from the air.  As it ferments, the yeast makes the batter rise.

What are idlis made of?  Black gram and rice.   Or black gram and millets. Read the rest of this entry »

Amaranth Dosa and Waffle

In Recipes on 2 August 2015 at 10:53 pm
See the bubbles that have formed as the dough ferments.

See the bubbles that have formed as the dough ferments.

Look at that bubbly batter!  I was thrilled when I opened the oven this morning to check whether my dough had risen and indeed it did!  Marvellously.  It was my first time soaking, grinding and fermenting amaranth and to be on the safe side I used equal parts of amaranth, rice and urad dal to make batter for idli and dosa.

Use equal parts of rice, urad dal and amaranth.

Use equal parts of rice, urad dal and amaranth.

The recipe is quite simple. Read the rest of this entry »

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