I am here today with a recipe for Ragi Roti, Karnataka-style finger millet flatbread that is completely gluten-free.
I have been thinking a lot about gluten-free foods, lately. I have met several people of late who have been following a gluten-free diet for themselves and/or their families, for various reasons. We have had interesting discussions about how wheat chapatis and bread used to form an integral part of their meals earlier, and how they quit these to move on to other gluten-free products. This got me thinking about the various gluten-free preparations that are possible in Indian cooking, and how I could help these families make something delicious and simple, which would fit into their dietary requirements. Coincidentally, a discussion on gluten-free foods started in our Foodie Monday Blog Hop group too, and I heartily agreed when Batter Up With Sujata suggested that all of us showcase #GlutenFreeTreats on our blogs this Monday. Hence, this recipe for Ragi Roti.
But first, let’s try to understand what gluten is and what exactly a gluten-free diet entails.
What is gluten?
Gluten is something that occurs naturally in certain grains such as wheat, rye and barley. It is what gives elasticity to dough made using these grains, helps food retain shape and texture.
Why does one follow a gluten-free diet?
Mostly due to medical reasons. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are two major reasons people are advised to go off gluten. There are also some who might not be diagnosed with these conditions as such, but prefer a gluten-free diet because it helps their gut. I have also come across women who have been recommended a gluten-free diet for relief from PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Going gluten-free has also been suggested for improvement in children with hyperactivity and/or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Here, I’d like to say that I’m neither a medical practitioner nor a nutritionist, just someone who’s trying to understand the various types of foods and dietary requirements of the world. I share this here, on the basis of my interaction with people and the reading I’ve resorted to, in the hope that this information will benefit someone.
What does going gluten-free mean?
Following a gluten-free diet means, very obviously, avoiding the whole grains that naturally contain gluten – wheat, barley, rye and the likes. Food made from these grains would need to be substituted with others that are entirely gluten-free – finger millet (ragi), pearl millet (bajra), or sorghum (jowar), for instance.
You would also need to closely check labels of processed foods, to understand if there is wheat or any other glutinous food included therein. For instance, wheat flour is commonly mixed with asafoetida, to make processing easier. Abstaining from gluten would also mean refraining from processed foods such as this.
Some foods might be gluten-free as such, but might be processed in a facility where foods with gluten have also been processed. There might be some cross-contamination in this case, that people following a gluten-free diet should avoid.
Some products like sauces, canned fruits or vegetables, malted milk products, pre-chopped fruits or vegetables, ice cream and mocktails should also be checked for gluten inclusion and/or cross-contamination.
Read more about a gluten-free diet in this Healthline article.
Gluten-free preparations in Indian cooking
Indian cooking in general uses several grains and flours that are gluten free. There are various preparations using gram flour, oats, rice, rice flour, ragi flour, jowar, bajra and the likes that are not only gluten-free but quite nutritious too. A simple step such as avoiding asafoetida in tempering can make various Indian foods completely gluten-free. You will find quite a few gluten-free preparations on my blog as well.
Ragi Roti or Gluten-Free Finger Millet Flatbread
Coming back to the ragi roti, let me tell you that this is a delicious flatbread. It requires very few ingredients and is quite simple to prepare, once you get the hang of it.
Ragi aka finger millet is loaded with health benefits, and this roti is a good way of harnessing them.
The recipe I share with you here indicates the way ragi roti is largely made in Karnataka. It is quite a popular food in the homes of Bangalore, as well as in Old Bangalore-style restaurants.
Ingredients (makes 7-8 rotis):
- 1-1/2 cups finger millet aka ragi flour
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup sour curd
- 1 medium-sized onion
- 2 green chillies
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
- Oil, as needed to make the rotis
1. Take the ragi flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste, cumin seeds, sour curd and chopped coriander.
2. Chop the onion finely and add to the mixing bowl.
3. Chop the green chillies and curry leaves very finely. Add to the mixing bowl.
4. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl together. Adding water little by little, form a soft dough. The dough will be a bit sticky – do not make it too dry.
5. Get a thick dosa pan nice and hot.
6. In the meantime, we will begin preparing the ragi rotis. For this, grease a piece of plastic or banana leaf with a little oil and place a small ball of the ragi dough on it. Using slightly wet fingers, pat it with your hands to spread it out till it forms a circle. If the roti breaks while patting, just seal the edges and continue to pat till you get a circle that is slightly thicker than a regular chapati. Poke 2-3 holes in the ragi roti, using your hands, to ensure even cooking.
7. Now, with lightly wet hands, gently loosen the roti from the plastic sheet/banana leaf, sliding it onto the hot pan. Make sure you don’t get the plastic sheet or banana leaf in contact with the hot pan.
7. Spread a little oil around the ragi roti and let it cook for about 2 minutes on medium heat. The roti should turn a slightly darker colour on the bottom. Then, flip it over and cook for about 2 minutes on the other side as well. Transfer the roti to a serving plate. Serve hot with coconut chutney or pickled onions.
8. Prepare ragi rotis from all the dough in a similar manner.
1. Making ragi roti this way requires a bit of patience and practice. Do not be disheartened if you do not get it right immediately.
2. Grated carrots and/or coconut can be added to the ragi roti dough too. Here, I haven’t.
3. You may mix some wheat flour with the ragi flour, to make the rotis easier to shape. I haven’t, here, considering I was to make a gluten-free preparation.
4. These ragi rotis are best consumed hot, straight off the stove.
5. I have included some tips to make the shaping of the ragi roti easier, in the above recipe. Please read the entire recipe carefully before proceeding to make the dish.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!