Long before the Green Revolution supplanted traditional crops with paddy and wheat across India, there was Ragi, Jowar and Bajra. Ragi, Jowar and Bajra were traditionally cooked up in a likes cakes, pancakes or unleavened breads especially in places whose natural constitution made only one crop of a water sucking variety like rice in a year possible. They constituted the much needed dietary fibre content in the Indian spread.
Ragi or Finger Millet is associated with the labour classes – in a typical feudal set up the lady of the master’s house prepared ragi based foods for the farmers who worked on their lands.
As a baby, I was a snob at the other end of the spectrum – I hated canned cereals preferring traditional Kanji or Porridge. No I wouldn’t settle for anything less than Ragi Malt – a concoction of Ragi, Jaggery and Milk that I was fed daily.
Fortunately, a generation after the Green Revolution made ragi “unfashionable”, the grain seems to be picking up pace as a health fad. Elaboration of Ragi’s goodness cannot be missed in modern media – superior in mineral and fibre content as compared to rice, a health grain for the diabetic, food that digests slowly, food that can be grown with environment friendly practices, food that is cooling – ragi is now being heralded as the “wonder grain”.
Kezhvaragu (in Tamil) or Ragi Dosa is a preparation from Kongunadu’s cuisine. Describing Kongunadu is difficult but you can vaguely think of it as the stretch from Coimbatore, Nilgiris, Pollachi to Erode, Salem and Dharmapuri.
Here’s the recipe:
Preparation Time: 20 minutes (includes soaking), Cooking time: 5 minutes, Yield: 10 – 12 Dosas/ Pancakes
- Ragi # – 2 cups
- Grated Coconut – 1 cup
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Fresh Coriander – 3 twigs
- Curry Leaves – 4
- Green Chilly – 1 no.
- Jeera/ Cumin – 1tsp
- Oil – 1 tbsp
- Water – 4 1/2 cups (approximately, this will vary with how much water the flour soaks)
*cups= 225ml, approximately 8 oz
# Ragi flour doesn’t stand for long – so I suggest buying in fresh small quantities for best results.
- Soak Ragi flour (Millet flour) in some warm water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Grind the Coconut, Green Chilly, Coriander, Curry Leaves, Jeera and Salt in a blender.
- Add this to the soaked Ragi flour (Millet Flour) and mix well. Add water to bring to Rava dosa batter consistency. Note: This will be somewhere between butter milk and dosa batter or fresh cream consistency.
- Dust a broad skillet or tawa with 1/2 tsp oil and heat it for 30 seconds. On a high flame pour the batter from outside towards inside to form a round. Cook on a high flame. Turn and cook the other side on a high flame. Reduce flame to low and turn and cook for a minute. Take out dosa on to serving plate.
- Repeat for remaining batter. Refer to Rava Dosa making technique to get lacy, crispy dosas.
Alternatively, one could make these like soft Uthappams
- At step 3, mix water enough to bring to to dosa batter or fresh cream consistency.
- Pour a ladle full in the center of a tawa on a medium flame. Cover and cook for 30 seconds on a medium flame. Repeat for remaining batter.
This recipe was handed down to me by my mother in law, Vasantha Ayyaswami – who makes many other dosas of Kongunadu in varying styles – having lived in Coimbatore for many years. So technically speaking, I have been introduced to this as part of Kongunadu’s cuisine.
But then I don’t see why people on the Karnataka side of the border would not be indulging in this Ragi delicacy. After all when I mixed the batter together, I was greeted by a very prominent almost musty smell of Malnad – if you have ever treated your nostrils to the fresh dew on earth from a mild early morning drizzle, you know what I am talking about. I must warn you that it’s a smell that refuses to go.
To further the argument, if you look at the ingredients closely, its almost like neer dose or pan pole. I can almost imagine obscure homes in remote bits of Shimoga cooking this up. For the record, google led me to one more person who seems to think of this as Pan Pole – Manjula at Dalitoy!!!
So Asha, do you think this could pass off as Ragi Pan Pole or Ragi Neer Dose?
Coming to think of it, I am sure your “toothless” Thatha must have savoured these besides the standard Mudde.