Sunday, January 7, 2018

Back to some basics and alternative grains - Ragi Rotti

Are you all now well versed in writing 2018 in the year column :-)? I am not, it usually takes me over a month before I start to hear the warning bell ring in the head telling me that a new year has come. But I am noticing that with each passing year and the rarity of hand written notes, it is taking me longer to get used to writing the new number. Ready or not, here is 2018 and well on its way to being a entire week old too. Hope the new year is treating you well and vice versa. I hope you are all keeping up your resolutions for "a better you" if you are the resolutions person. Mine are more 'make it today, break it tomorrow' types :-)
I alluded in my last post that I was doing some experimental cooking, some of it was driven out of necessity. Growing up I had never heard of the nut allergies or gluten intolerance that seem to be so prevalent now. I am a person that grew up eating and enjoying everything vegetarian and edible. On one of the regular annual visits to the doctor where I was whining about that eternal problem of the expanding waist line, she suggested (I think more in the way of getting me off her back than anything) that I stop eating any wheat or wheat products. Looking at my incredulous look she made it sound more gentle than it had the first time by saying that I might want to reduce the wheat in my diet. Thinking back, I am convinced that what she was really telling me was to cut down on the portions and start spending some of those calories by way of exercise :-).
I get it that the medical professionals have to be political in some of these situations and make their professional advice sound less harsh and not as a personal attack on how I choose to live my life! The risk of being overly diplomatic especially with people like me is that their advice gets misconstrued to my personal advantage which is exactly what happened here too. I took what I liked from her expert advice, discarded the rest and twisted some of her advice to what I wanted it to be :-). Poor doctor and then I go back to her again in a year with the same complaints!! I remember the elderly doctor we had in Mysore when we were little kids, I am sure he had no such qualms about sugar coating his treatment or dispensing his advice gently. He infact had pushed the needle into my arm when nammamma had taken my feverish little brother to him for check up and I had simply toddled along side. Why he was giving a shot for a common clue is a question I have asked my physician sister, but..:-). We both survived the experience without any lasting harm :-)
So buoyed by my physician's advice, also because I have been seeing many friends and relatives start talking about gluten allergy and intolerance, I came home resolved (see what I mean by me being a resolute person, I have these multiple resolutions going all through the year and don't need Jan 1st to tell me it is time) to eat less gluten, cut down on bread and wheat in other forms. Instead of taking my doctor's advice for what it was, I decided to erase wheat out of my plate and replace with something else that was equally delicious (and possibly have the same effect since I wasn't reducing any quantity!!). That is how I landed on my other favorite grain aka raagi or finger millet. This is called poor man's food in many rural areas in India especially rural Karnataka. I love raagi mudde and so does DD. Give us both a platter of hot raagi mudde and pour  ladles of spicy bassaru, we will happily GULP it. But BH is in a different category. GULPing is what he cannot do and chewing a raagi mudde is not a pleasant experience. So, I usually make rice on days we have raagi mudde at home.
I will be honest that when I first tried my hands at raagi rotti, the edges tore and there were cracks all over the rotti surface, not a beautiful presentation. But over multiple trials I have perfected the ratio of water to dry flour and some kneading techniques to roll out a puffy, layered and perfectly soft rotti. Here is the recipe with all my tips and tricks written down. Oh, before I go on I want to clarify that rotti is not the 'pat on a griddle' type of rotti (ofcourse you can make raagi rotti similar to akki rotti which is one of the dishes that gets instant attention because of its popularity in Karnataka) but this one is more like 'rolled flat with a rolling pin' type of roti/rotti. BH fell in love with these soft rotis, so now we make this very often at home. It works perfectly for any meal of the day and stays soft even when it gets cool making it a great candidate for lunch boxes or travelling. I have made this for dinner and carried left over in my lunch box and they remain soft.

After all the elimination of wheat and re-introduction of raagi, if you thought I will be posting a Before and After picture, it is not happening. Mainly because Before is still the same as After :-). The expanding waist line is not going anywhere except in circles. That is a story for another day.
But all jokes aside, raagi is traditionally considered a super grain and also due to its low glycemic index, it is released slowly into the blood stream making it a great food choice for diabetics as well. If you are looking for gluten free options but love your rotis and leavened breads too much, this is a great replacement for the wheat rotis that are so common. One of my little nephews was recently diagnosed with Celiac which instantly removes wheat and all gluten sources from his plate :-(. It is plain hard for the mom to tell him he can't have his favorite pooris in lunch box anymore. We made these raagi rottis when he came home last time and my little nephew loved these hot off the griddle with a smear of tuppa (home made ghee/clarified butter), brought a big smile to the mom's face and made the aunt's day :-).

Note on pictures - As you can clearly tell these are pictures from different days, it goes well with any kind of side dish. Also there are 2 different batches of raagi hittu or flour and the color in one is brown-pink while the other is darker tending towards black but both tasted delicious.

What do you need to make raagi rotti? 
Makes 5 standard size rottis
1 cup water
3/4 cup raagi flour + 1 Tbsp for dusting
1/8 Tsp salt (optional, skip it if you prefer)
2 Tsp oil (divided use)

How do you make raagi rotti? 
  • In a sauce pan, add water, couple drops of water and salt (if using) and bring it to a gentle boil on medium heat.
  • Add dry flour as the boiling starts and reduce the heat to low. 
  • Do not touch the flour at this point, let the water continue to boil and soak the sides of the dry flour. 
  • Once all the dry flour looks wet, with a stick of a strong ladle (I use the wood churner called kadegOlu), starting from the center of the heap using a circular motion, mix the flour with the water briskly so there are no lumps and everything comes together. 
  • Switch off the stove, cover and let it rest for 2-3 mins, this dough doesn't have to get cooked completely as in raagi mudde since it gets cooked again on the griddle. 
  • Take a wide plate and add a tsp of oil and scoop out all the dough on to the plate and leave it for just a minute so you can handle the dough with your hands. 
  • Knead the dough using the palm and fingers of your hand as you do with wheat flour dough for rotis/bread for about 3mins to get a soft, non breaking pliable consistency. 
  • Break the dough into equal sized portions and roll them into balls. 
  • Use a wet paper towel to keep the remaining dough balls moist while you are working on one rotti. 
  • Take a ball on your rolling surface, dip it in dry flour, flatten it slightly and using a rolling pin roll them into a uniformly thin rotti. Use a light hand and you will see this dough spreads easily into shape. Use dry flour to dust as needed.
  • Heat a flat griddle/tawa and shake off any extra dry flour from the rotti and place it on the hot tawa. I always roast these on medium flame to give it time to cook. 
  • Once the underside of the rotti starts to get some bubbles, turn it over. Cook on both sides until you get light brown spots on the surface. 
  • This rotti puffs up easily with a gentle press with a soft cloth or a flat spoon. 
  • Take it out and smear a light dab of ghee before serving. 
  • These stay fresh and soft for a day. Serve it with any dry or gravy side dish of choice.
  • What I have described above is one way of making lump free dough. If you feel uncomfortable with this here is an alternative way to ensure no lumps are formed: Mix a Tsp of flour in the cold water along with drops of oil and salt and bring it to boil. Lower heat and start adding dry flour in spoonfuls and continuously mix until all the flour is used. Proceed with the next steps in the recipe instructions above. 
  • 3/4: 1 ratio works well for most batches of flour, sometimes it make take a couple of spoons more or less depending on the quality of flour. Pics show the consistency of the dough, the idea is to get there by adjusting the water as needed. 
  • If the dough feels very soft and watery when you have used up all of the 3/4th cup, add a bit more dry flour, mix it in cover and cook. If the dough feels very tight while mixing the first time, add a couple of spoons to make it softer. 

1 comment:

NamsVeni Pothas said...

ragi roti has wonderful taste and healthy.