Also Known as
Nachani, red millet, finger millet, nachni
Ragi is an extremely nutritious millet, that resembles mustard seeds in appearance. Finger millet is especially valuable as it contains the amino acid methionine, which is lacking in the diets of the poor who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice or maize meal. A grain rich in protein, calcium, fibre and iron, ragi has traditionally been used across the world in varied food products.
The hull of the ragi grain is indigestible and therefore the grain is usually hulled before use. This process does not remove or damage the germ, and hence the nutritional content is not lost. The grain is then used as is, decorticated, ground into flour, or malted and ground into flour, which is used to make porridge, laddoo, chowder, ragi mudde, and some savoury snacks too.
Realising its health benefits, nowadays people have started mixing ragi with other grains like rice and wheat for preparing traditional dishes like idli, upma and rotis.
How to Select
• Ragi is commonly available in millet and flour form.
• It is available in various pack sizes, and in bulk.
• Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the millet are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness.
• Whether purchasing millet in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture.
• By combining ragi with rice in the right proportions you can make tasty and healthy ragi idli, dosa, upma, etc.
• Ragi is very popular as an infant and toddler food.
• To prepare ragi porridge for infants, first soak the required quantity of ragi in water, and grind it. Filter the ragi milk and heat it with a little ghee and salt or milk and sugar till it comes to the required consistency.
• Roasted ragi, mixed with sugar powder, elaichi and ghee can be used for making Ragi Ladoo.
• Ragi becomes a dark brown colour when cooked, and children may not like it. In such a case, at least mix ragi with other staples to make sure they get at least some amount of this wonder food.
• Make a simple porridge by boiling a paste of ragi flour, adding milk along with your favourite fruits, nuts and dry fruits.
• Ground millet can be added to bread and muffin recipes.
• Ragi halwa is truly a delicacy, while ragi adai is a lip-smacking savoury snack.
How to Store
• Store the millets in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place, where it will keep for several months.
11 Health Benefits of Ragi
1. High in Protein: One cup of whole Ragi (100 grams) gives about 7.3 grams of protein. Very good source for Vegetarian.
2. High in Fiber : One cup of whole Ragi gives about 11.5 grams of fibre. This fibre will keep you fuller for a longer time and avoid you from binge eating.
3. Gluten Free : Great healthy option for those who are intolerant to Gluten. Ragi flour, is far more healthier to use in Indian Breads like Whole Wheat Roti. Try Ragi Roti
4. Good for Diabetics : Being a whole grain, it creates a much lower surge in sugar levels compared to Ragi Flour. Ragi is rich in Magnesium which improves insulin response by lowering insulin resistance. Having very low magnesium will result in the pancreas not secrete enough insulin to control our blood sugar.
5. Relieves Constipation : Ragi being rich in insoluble fibre helps easy digestion and hence relieves constipation. Insoluble Fibre does not dissolve in water and goes through your stomach without being processed helping other foods move through your system and out. Insoluble Fibre keeps you healthier with a better digestive system.
6. Good for Heart : Ragi is rich in Magnesium. 100 grams of Ragi have 137 milligrams of Magnesium which is 50% of your recommend daily allowance (RDA). Magnesium helps maintain nerve function and normal heartbeat.
7. Lowers Cholesterol : Being high in Fibre, Ragi reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the effects of good cholesterol (HDL)
8. Good for Endurance : Being high in fibre, protein, lowering blood pressure means more RBC (red blood cells) to give energy. All these factors enhance performance of endurance athletes like runners, swimmers and bikers. Note that Ragi is a whole grain and they are always more healthier than its powdered form which is Ragi Flour.
Rich : Ragi has many antioxidants which help fight the body against infections.
10. Rich in Calcium : Once up Ragi has 344 mg of Calcium which is 35% of RDA ( Recommended Daily Allowance). Calcium is a mineral that makes bones stay strong. The human body consistently remove small amounts of calcium from our bones and that has to be topped up with Calcium rich foods.
11. Good for Toddlers : Jowar, Ragi and Date Porridge is a wholesome food that will keep your Baby & Toddler satiated and active for at least a couple of hours.