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The Ragi Revolution

Meet Eleusine Coracana - a crop that goes by many names. Maybe you know it as finger millet, or depending on where in the country you are, you may be more familiar with the monikers of ragi, or mandia (in Orissa), taidalu (in Telengana), Kodra (in Himachal Pradesh), Nagli (in Gujarat), Marwa (in West Bengal), or Soulfull (in your pantry)! We’re on a mission to integrate ragi products into your everyday diet in a simple, healthy and delicious way. So what’s the story behind our favourite superfood? Let’s go back in time and trace how we got here…

A grain pretty enough to set as your phone wallpaper

Ragi has quite the history.
It was born in Uganda in East Africa, where it was primarily grown in hilly areas. As per the historian K.T. Achaya, it made its way over the oceans to India around 1800 BC. The history books speak quite eloquently about this wondergrain, chosen for honouring poets through ragi, milk and honey concoctions. And why not? Quite befitting for a grain with such a beautiful rich reddish-black hue, pink when ground and purple when cooked, with earthy almost chocolatey undertones. Not to mention its many nutritional benefits. One must ask… Why did it then fade away as a staple grain? Why is it not as popular as wheat or rice? The reasons are complex, involving history, diet, culture and more, but could boil down to two main issues.

Why did ragi take a back seat?

1. A combination of western influence on diet and government policies impacted the growth of ragi. People wanted grain that could be used to cook bread, which ragi isn’t suited for because of its low elastic gluten properties. It was also a bit harder to cook and had a particular nutty taste, so people chose rice which was simpler and more neutral. It remained as a small scale crop grown by individual farmers, while large agro corporations chose to cultivate rice and wheat.

Observe the finger-millet plant, like fingers on a hand reaching out for a high-five.
2. And from there was born the second reason - Ragi faced a branding crisis. Nutritious, hardy, easy to store, filling - all these are excellent qualities for a grain to have but all things considered, it was widely dubbed a poor man’s grain. A famine-time food. A coarse food. And so ragi stayed out of the spotlight, biding its time until people recognised its multiple benefits again.

We are delighted to say… that time is now. Ragi is back, baby! People are freshly recognising the multiple benefits of ragi for nutrition, for taste, and for utility. And whether used in age-old ways by different communities across the country or more contemporary recipes and cuisines - ragi looks like it’s here to stay. Let’s look at a few ways in which it is eaten.

Traditional ragi recipes:

1. Ragi balls: This is the OG ragi dish, and the most common way it’s been consumed for decades. Native to Southern India, this is most commonly called mudde (in Kannada), sangati (in Telugu) or kali (in Tamil). Made from ragi flour and water and eaten with a vegetable or dal of choice, this is a simple and hearty meal.
Those are gorgeous, admit it.
2. Upma and halwa: An alternative to the more common forms made with rava or wheat flour, the ragi variant is delicious with the grain imparting its own woody taste to the dish, and is high in fibre.
3. Dosa: A classic. Made with ragi flour and eaten with accompaniments ranging from chutneys to curries, this started out as a favourite in the South and is now eaten across India. Soulfull’s Instant Ragi Dosa mix makes whipping up your own healthy dosa a breeze!
A dose of dosa for any meal of the day, that’s our kinda day.
4. Flatbreads - Call it a roti or a pancake depending on how fancy you’re feeling, both sweet and savoury versions are made in Jharkhand and Bihar. One layered form (called the thag roti) is made of wheat flour and stuffed with ragi and is especially eaten in Uttarakhand in winters to keep people warm.
Contemporary forms of ragi:
1. Ragi confectionary: Sky’s the limit here! Ragi biscuits, muffins, cakes! People are beginning to experiment with our dear old Eleusine Coracana and it is proving itself a marvelous addition to any form of snack.
2. Millet Muesli: With the addition of nuts, seeds and honey, ragi muesli is a fantastic way to start every day. Breakfast of champions, anyone?
Millet Muesli - putting the MM in YUMM.
3. Ragi Bites: Paired with dal and coming in delicious flavours like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, they are eaten with milk or straight out of the box.
Psst - this might just be our favourite product.
There’s no telling how ragi will evolve from now, and we’re looking forward to seeing how people find a way to use it in different recipes and cuisines. Try it for yourself, and start out by adding ragi to your diet through our different products!

Get your ragi on at https://www.soulfull.co.in/.

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