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Ragi, jowar, bajra, etc.


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#1 Veena

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Posted 03 July 2008 - 11:39 PM

I have been looking for locally-grown ragi in Goa to take back with me to the United States. Unfortunately, most of the stock sold by the small farmers is so fresh that it needs to be dried in the sun for a few days if it is to last a while. Tired of playing hide-and-seek with the sun, and with my departure just a few days away, I might just end up buying something from the larger stores. Anyhow, I wanted to find out whether any formal body exists in India, which performs research and promotes the use of ragi. In the process, I stumbled upon this excellent article. I had never imagined so many varieties.

Seeds of hope

Among Somashekar's priced collection is Iyyana ragi, a variety which had vanished from the region and Somasekhar feels proud to have brought it back to the village. Then there is dodda ragi, local to Kollegal forest villages, which is sown on the edge of the field as the bitter taste of its straw keeps wild animals away.

Then there is majjige ragi and the mudde (ragi balls) prepared from this variety is mixed with buttermilk and consumed to maintain ideal body temperature. Idli and dosa prepared from this variety are also very delicious. Konakombina ragi, local to Chitradurga and Tumkur districts, has long ears in the shape of buffalo horns. This is a rare variety and rotis prepared from this variety are very tasty. Bili ragi is a summer crop and highly suited to tank irrigation. The ear heads are cream in colour and are very attractive. Kempu thene ragi has reddish brown ear heads during the flowering stage and the entire field looks as if it is on fire. The other varieties on the plot are kari ragi, unde ragi, nati ragi, gutte ragi, jenu bunduga, gutte kelagina ragi, sanna kaddi ragi, picchakaddi ragi, yadaga ragi, kolimote ragi, jeenu mude ragi, pattana ragi, karibunduga ragi and so on.



Suresh, can we reproduce the entire article here, in addition to the link, so that it is not lost if the website is unavailable later for some reason?

Veena

#2 Suresh Hinduja

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Posted 04 July 2008 - 10:05 AM

Veena,
That's a fascinating linked article and to think that I have passed through Mandya many times.
I'll take a look at this place the next time and try a give a detailed report. Maybe I can inveigle member Ravum to join me on this field trip. :wub:

I'm not comfortable about reproducing the entire article here as I have advised other members to refrain from doing so in the past. I have copied and archived the article for myself and suggest other interested members do so also. I cant think of another solution that may be an acceptable practice, what do you think?
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#3 Chetan

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:05 PM

We just got a new cook at home , she is from Dharwad (north karnataka) and cooked jolada roti for us.

Here are some pics of it being made in the process.

The jola flour getting read to be made into dough

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Hot Water will be poured into the flour

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#4 Chetan

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:09 PM

The jola dough in the process of being made.

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The flour being beaten by hand , this is the original way of making it , as some of you pointed out this is not followed much these days.

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#5 Chetan

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:13 PM

On the Tawa :

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As seen above a moist cloth is used to remove the dry atta from the jolada roti. (This is essential so that the rotis remain soft for a longer time)

#6 ravum

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 09:44 PM

excellent work chetan

this is very similar to the mahashtrian way of making it ...only they would sprinkle the top of the roti with water instead of wiping it with a damp cloth.

is this finally cooked on an open flame like a phulka?

#7 Chetan

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 02:23 AM

Added a video of the jolada roti being beaten by hand... in case some one 15 years down the line has forgotten how it was done. :rolleyes: .This sound reminds me of my gandmothers place , by mid afternoon or late evening this could be heard and we knew lunch / dinner is getting ready.Since we are on this topic how many of you think its a good idea to stat a topic of sounds and food....whn you hear something what food does it remind you of?

#8 Chetan

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 08:59 AM

excellent work chetan

this is very similar to the mahashtrian way of making it ...only they would sprinkle the top of the roti with water instead of wiping it with a damp cloth.

is this finally cooked on an open flame like a phulka?


Yes ravum , finally its cooked on an open flame.

#9 Sekhar

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Posted 25 August 2008 - 05:16 PM

The audio in that video is more than music for me! Sublime! :rolleyes:
Thanks Chetan.


Yes ravum , finally its cooked on an open flame.


As far as I know, from where I come from, it's finished on the tava itself.

Though, I do remember the soft variety, wheat and jowar, done entirely on a open wood flame.

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#10 Gautam

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 12:49 AM

Ravum & Veena,

Since both of you are interested in the "whys" of cooking, understanding the millets, the grain and the recondite process of milling that leads to a wide variation in the finished products will engage your interest. You might find The Handbook of Cereal Technology, 2nd edn, Karel Kulp & Joseph G. Ponte (eds.) Marcel Dekker, 2000, very very fascinating; pp.162-63 & Table 11 are concerned with sorghum. There are other very relevant chapters of pearl millet, bajra [Pennisetum] etc. that also bear close study, to say nothing of wheat, that will change the way you approach the way you look at various flours and cook with them.

This might encourage you to experiment with creating millet based whole-grain loafs. Not only are are these more nutritious, they are useful with respect to the affluence-induced hyperglycemic epidemic afflicting India. At the other end of the spectrum, the demand for white flour "pao roti" has been displacing traditional breads [as I have been observing in my own lifetime] in the diets of the rural agricultural worker and the urban low-wage worker who does hard physical labor.

Personally, I favor Indian flatbreads above all else, but for some reason. I found in my village, a strong reaction against these, because from 1964-68 we had been forced to consume US red sorghum and red wheat owing to grain shortage. That milo & wheat, under Publc Law 480, had been of animal feed quality. Anyway, people migrated away from the thick -red-heavy to the airy-pillowy-white with vengeace a soon as they had a chance beginning 1974-75.We just had emerged from an unbelievably brutal civil war, 1969-75, which still is being played out at Singur and Nandigram and elsewhere, but for a while there was the peace of the dead.

[A little tea shanty came up under a huge pipal tree, turned into a bus stop, started sellng bread, biscuits and tea. Da laborers, bathed ad hair combed, would gather in the evenings on the way home for a cup of tea plus biscuit, the latter putting quite a dent in their daily wage. But such wasthe power of tha biscuit to empower, to bring a sense of dignity, a sense o being metropolitan, being with-it as you sat and discussed weighty affairs [and in Bengal, they were guaranteed to BE weighty affairs, plangent with deep politics, lf, ethics, the Universe, et.al.] But the gravitas devolved upon THAT BISCUIT. A cup of tea, only, left you shorn of grace, bereft of the wherewithal to participate in the spirit, the inner conclave.]

Needless to say, the white flour bread is deficient in EVERY POSSIBLE RESPECT, be it protein, minerals, beneficial fiber, et. al. from the whole grain bread it replaced. So is the tea that accompanies it. This is part of a larger mental attitude on our part, one that leads the Indian govt. to term the millets "coarse grains" following the Americans who consider it animal food. The millets are the finest of grains, especially in physical size!!!!!! Anyway, if bakers like Ravum create delicious whole breads and make them "fashionable", the mindless affluent Indian crowd will follow whatever the international trendy set are supposed to be eating or consider worthwhile at the moment, be it olive oil or goose excrement. For a hundred years, they smeared olive oil on their babies' bottoms!Suddenly this ae crowd now has discovered its oragnoleptic properties purely because a white-skinned person has told them it was good. Never on their own steam, mind you! God forbid they could ever exercise good taste or independent judgement!

So here is a chance to exercise independent good taste via sorghum wholemeal flour breads. Also through Sorghum popcorn, that we have been using for centuries: and what array of new delicacies can we invent from popped whole Sorghum? The popped grains themselves could be ground into a flour, coarse or fine, and be transformed into interesting things with or without SORGHUM SYRUP, peanuts, other nutritious foods like popped paddy [unhusked rice], sesame, amaranthus seed [popped =allegria], copra [high fiber].

SORGHUM SYRUP

This is another product that Indian cropping systems and our fresh-water situation dictates we must use in conjunction with palm sugars, in place of cane or beet sugar. Sorghum syrup comes from certain varieties of sorghum that channel their photosynthetic reserves into juicy, sugar-rich "stems" rather than an abundant seed set. Before seed maturity, green stems are stripped & crushed to express juice, just like cane, same equipment, only more easily. Sugar Content of varieties 12-23%, but we focus primarily on the 14-18% range. The syrup has chemicals like aconitic acid that makes it very expensive to remove & clarify into crystal sugar, but is a very pleasant, light-tasting liquid brown gur.

With the help of foodwriters, SORGHUM SYRUP is what the rich & about-to-be morbidly fat people in affluent India should be consuming. They eat/drink so many highly flavored sweetmeats, payasams, pongal, chais/kapi etc. that this sweetener would serve as the perfect healthy substitute for white sugar. Take puran poli or banana stems stewed with gur, mango or other pickles made with gur: use SORGHUM SYRUP. That aconitic acid serves as a subtle but potent hypoglycemic aid when computed over hundreds of doses of sugar bombs!!

There have been VERY FARSIGHTED & saintly workers in INDIA, NARI, NIMBARKAR AGRICultural Research Institute, Maharashtra, [ I don't remember the words of the acronym correctly but the acronym is correct!!] researchers backed by people who had faith in their vision, doing what US scientists said was not feasible!! Breeding sorghum to produce both grain & syrup! Inspired by their effort, China today also is creating similar cultivars (and tormenting India on every front!) Anyway, bringing in US sweet sorghum lines, NARI bred "MADHURA" the most famous of the dual-purpose cultivars. Rockefeller Foundation funded some of that effort.

It is time that our own tycoons who talk incessantly about CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY put their money where their mouth long has preceded them by light years. They need to realize that agriculture is the default employer of multiple tens of millions without demaning any infrastructure or SEZs. Uncomplaining of immene misery, it is these same poor sods that are putting money into the pockets of the urban rich, be it through the purchase of a matchbox, a candle, a cellphone, or anything NOT grown on their farm. But so shortsighted is the Indian industrial class that they cannot nourish the goose that lays the golden eggs. The great philanthropic trusts and research efforts for the public weal founded by industrialists in the USA are conspicuously absent in India's supposed great leap forward.


Wide INTERGENERIC crosses need to be implemented [yesterday!!] between the millets and related wild grasses. This was done between Bread and Drum wheat [Triticum aestivum & T. turgidum on the one hand and Rye [Secale cereale] and Barley [Hordeum vulgare] on the other, plus several other related grases. Two important cereals were created, the first food crops ever to emerge that were not initially developed by our Neo-lithic ancestors! The more significant one is the wheat-rye cross, Triticale. The second, wheat-barley, Tritordeum, is still emerging into its potential. Wide crosses are difficult and initially hopeless efforts that pay off in the long run. Where is the Indian business house with the nobility o spirit or vision to undertake such a venture? I hear so much about giants entering the retail prodce trade. They must have all manner of consultants, Have they ever stopped to consider how much real good they could achieve, to their public image and to the nation, by considering paths by which they could really assist the very poorest as well as themselves?

#11 Veena

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 07:56 AM

Chetan, thanks for the photos and video. It brought back memories of one of the
most memorable meals I had when I was in India. I had made a pit stop at ravum's
place during a flying visit to Bangalore. It was the last week of my long stay in India
and while I was eager to return to California, I suddenly felt a regret for all the
unexplored culinary matters that had just slippped away with the days. One of this
was learning from ravum the art of perfect jowar bhakri the Marathi way. Well, within
fifteen minutes, not only did I get my demonstration and had taken photos, I was eating
bhakri made with freshly-milled jowar. The bhakri was so good that it needed no other
accompaniments or embellishments than a fiery garlic-chilli dry chutney.

Fast forward to California: I have identified a flour mill to purchase for my kitchen, but
found no local sources of whole jowar. The jowar flour from the Indian stores is worse
than sawdust. California is one of the major growers of sorghum, but I am told it is for
animal feed. Even whole ragi is not available in the Indian stores. I have seen millet
in some of the local health food stores, but I am not sure it is the same as the bajri
that we get in India.

Gautan, thanks for the excellent post. Sorghum syrup in baking sounds like a great idea.
However, I have not seen the syrup in local stores here. Perhaps, one of these days, I'll
just have to bite the bullet and mail-order.

Veena

#12 Gautam

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Posted 07 September 2008 - 09:27 PM

Dear Veena,

Those who are interested in flours, home flour milling, the nature of grain, wheat, sorghum etc. would profit from looking through/studying:

1. Handbook of Cereal Technology, 2nd edn. Karel Kulp & Joseph G. Ponte (eds.), Marcel Dekker, 2000. Pp. 162-63 are especially instructive about sorghum.

2. Wheat Flour Milling, 2nd edn. E.S. Posner & A.N. Hibbs. American Association of Cereal Chemists, Inc. 2005.

These two texts sit near me and are an eye-opener for those who need to negotiate the complexities of flour and wheat grades in North America and Europe. They are quite unsatisfactory dealing with wholemeal or chapati flours or any cereal milling not traditional to the western societies. Since Maize & Sorghum form such an important part of the animal feed industry, there are detailed chapters. White sorghum, i.e. bereft of tannins, are entirely suitable for human food. There may be differences in chapati-making quality, or other Indian traditional uses, among strains of white sorghum, but all are excellently edible.

From the first book, one can learn what the various grades in trade are [very important] and how to order in bulk and from where. Successful milling can be learnt in detail as well. Sorghum syrup is a product of the south, but there is a huge resurgence of research in the sweet sorghum varieties in the Northern Tier, driven by the pernicious quest for gasohol. Even in India, when we dashed our heads against stone for such research, nothing happened, save for the greatness & goodness of NARI. Now that GOI has specified that 5% of all gasoline should comprise ethanol by volume, suddenly there is huge research interest in sweet sorghum.

I think that this is criminal. The reasons forwarded that the plant produces both grain and alcohol, thus does not compete against humans, is ASININE & FALSE. Sheer biological error, compounded by the thermodynamic nonsense of ethanol in gasoline. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Nobody understands or cares, anyway, so long as they can go to their clubs and have their drinks and kababs.

India alone contains fully ONE HALF of the world's malnourished children, under5, perhaps even over 5!! This is not counting Pakistan, Bangladesh & Nepal, other danger spots for vulnerable age groups. For our government & pseudo-griculural "experts" to spout such nonsens shoud be identified as 'crimes against humanity' and prosecuted as such in international courts. This isthe reason why I have stopped writing here any more: becase why thrust my viewpoints on anyone? And the gravity of the situation is so staggering that it feels feels difficult to participate somewhere where the purpose is the celebration and even fetishization of food by the affluent.

This is not a value judgment on anyone or any group. However, as someone active 24/7 on the issue of hunger in India in practical ways, plant breeding, crop development, cropping systems, my mind is assaulted with a continuous stream of the worst forms of hunger issues that we and I remain utterly incapable of affecting. Every year we watch starvation for 3 months in some river island, char and northern districts of Bangladesh. Only very recently, with the Army in de facto charge, has there been a kick-in-the-pants change forced upon the officials to provide the needed with alternative crops like maize etc. that will prevent this. When rivers flood and leave sand over rice fields, people used to starve. Now that same army group has whipped those lazy oficials to provide the alternatives, e.g. watermelons, sweet potatoes etc. Here is where we can be of immense help, advising, providing the highest quality, the best types for those conditions, asking them to grow millets in the Bangladeshi winter for a change (instead of irrigated rice) and see the results. We can't provide the administrative structure but the expertise, once a healthy structure is in place.

Right now, eastern Bihar is in bad shape. Sand has been deposited over many good fields. Instead of chest-beating, use that as an opportunity: even use the standing water caused by the changed course of the river immediately to put into place highly effective cropping systems. But not by asking the mediocrities who rule the roost everywhere in Indian officialdom and whose irresponsibilty caused this catastrophe in the first place.

#13 Chetan

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 08:36 AM

Welcome back Gautam da. Its been a long time , nice to see you in form too :) .

#14 Gautam

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Posted 08 September 2008 - 10:16 AM

Hi Chetan!!

By form you mean crazier than ever?!! When may I borrow your intellect, considerable energy and networking skills to get the sugar date palm project moving, in Karnataka at least? Am dead serious, you know! Can you tell me why these Indian billionaires, or even the ordinary wealthy, are so averse to agricultural philanthropy? We are not asking for any money. We are saying, sponsor a graduate/undergraduate student at a good institution of your choice to do an advanced degree in molecular biology & molecular genetics, save that the research subject will be the sugar date palm, just as people use tomato or rice as plant models when studying.

Dear Veena,

Curious about your choice of flour mill. Chetan, you can jump in here as well, with your experience with the Indian brands of home mills. Which have you found durable and efficient? Some Indian millets like bajra, pearl millet, are very nutritious yet go rancid even 4-5 days after milling, stored at room temperature. if cost was no object, this laboratory mill would have been my choice:

http://www.hosokawa.co.uk/acm.php

Hosokawa Air Classifier Mill - Mikro ACM

a pin mill

#15 Veena

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 11:25 AM

Dear Veena,

Curious about your choice of flour mill.


This is the one I will most likely end up buying. I also liked this model, but from this blog review, I found
that it does not mill beans (I want to have the option of milling soybeans). However, I will probably not buy
it until I have located a steady, local source of sorghum, which I want to use for bhakri flour and for making
thalipeeTh bhazaNi (a roasted mixed-grain flour). I don't feel motivated enough to buy a mill just for chapati
flour, which is so easily available here.

Veena

#16 ravum

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Posted 09 September 2008 - 12:19 PM

Gautam, great to listen to your wisdom again!!

You are right about many of the ills plaguing indian agriculture - the policy makers are asinine in many cases. Awareness about agriculture and how the produce gets to the table is also abysmal compared to the Us and EU contries. A case in point -lead in Coriander.

South India at least has made some strides towards sensible and ecologically safer agriculture. Am glad to tell you that some of the tomatoes you so generously shared with me have borne fruit, have shared the seeds with farmers in North Karnataka through Sahaja Samrudha.

They do grow some (not all ) their varieties through ARI . Some of the traditional rice varieties (GAndhasale for eg) are outstanding.

Flour mills do heat up the flour , unlike stone grinding. Do the flours turn rancid more quickly because of this?

I've noticed that even wheat flour tastes noticeably bitter 2 weeks after milling in a 100% wholewheat bread. In a chapati, its not so obvious.

#17 Sekhar

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Posted 26 April 2009 - 08:15 AM

Not sure what it is called elsewhere in India, but this predates the Bun-Chai, Puri-Sabji.. for breakfast, in humble homes all across Telangana (AP).

This summer, we have decided to have a glass of of Ambali before we leave home.

The recipe is simple enough (for/in USA), Ragi flour, water, salt, some heat, perugu/home made yogurt, little bit of yesterday's rice. Not refrigerated, actually a liitle bit of sourness (not fermentation) is preferred.

Edited by Sekhar, 26 April 2009 - 08:20 AM.

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