|Finger Millet grains of mixed color.|
Eleusine coracana, including African finger millet and caracan millet (koracan), / Raagi (Kannada: ರಾಗಿ, Tamil:இராகி/கேழ்வரகு, Telugu: రాగి) is an annual plant widely grown as a cereal in the arid areas of Africa and Asia. E. coracana is native to the Ethiopian Highlands. It is very adaptable to higher elevations and is grown in the Himalaya up to 2,300 metres in elevation.
- 1 History
- 2 Cultivation
- 3 Storage
- 4 Nutrition
- 5 Preparation as food
- 6 Common names for finger millet
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Archaeological excavations show that improved forms of finger millet were once the staple grain diet of southern Africa.
Eleusine coracana is often intercropped with legumes such as peanuts (Arachis hypogea), cowpeas (Vigna sinensis), and pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan), or other plants such as Niger seeds (Guizotia abyssinica).
India is a major cultivator of finger millet with a total cultivated area of 15870 km2. The state of Karnataka is the leading producer of finger millet, known as Ragi in the region, accounting for 58% of India's Ragi production.
Once harvested, the seeds keep extremely well and are seldom attacked by insects or moulds. The long storage capacity makes finger millet an important crop in risk-avoidance strategies for poorer farming communities.
Finger millet is especially valuable as it contains the amino acid methionine, which is lacking in the diets of hundreds of millions of the poor who live on starchy staples such as cassava, plantain, polished rice, or maize meal. Finger millet can be ground and cooked into cakes, puddings or porridge. The grain is made into a fermented drink (or beer) in Nepal and in many parts of Africa. The straw from finger millet is used as animal fodder. It is also used for a flavored drink in festivals.
Nutritional value of finger millet per 100g 
- Protein 7.6g
- Fat 1.5g
- Carbohydrate 88g
- Calcium 370mg
- Vitamins - A: 0.48mg
- Thiamine (B1): 0.33mg
- Riboflavin (B2): 0.11mg
- Niacin: (B3) 1.2mg
- Fiber 3g
Growing finger millet to improve nutrition
The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a member of the CGIAR consortium, partners with farmers, governments, researchers and NGOs to help farmers grow nutritious crops, including finger millet. This helps their communities have more balanced diets and become more resilient to pests and drought. For example, the Harnessing Opportunities for Productivity Enhancement of Sorghum and Millets in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (HOPE) project is increasing yields of finger millet in Tanzania by encouraging farmers to grow improved varieties. Finger millet is very high in calcium, rich in iron and fibre, and has a better energy content than other cereals. These characteristics make it ideal for feeding to infants and the elderly.
Preparation as food
In India, finger millet (locally called by various name including ragi and nachani) is mostly grown and consumed in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Maharashtra, Garhwal and Kumaon (Uttarakhand) and Goa. Ragi flour is made into flatbreads, including thin, leavened dosa and thicker, unleavened roti. Ragi grain is malted and the grains are ground. This ground flour is consumed mixed with milk, boiled water or yoghurt.
In India, Ragi recipes are hundreds in number and even common food stuffs such as dosa, idly and laddu are made out of ragi.
Western and Konkan Region
In Goa ragi is very popular and satva, pole (dosa), bhakri, ambil (a sour porridge) are very common preparations. Nachani Ladus are common in some families. In Maharashtra, bhakri (भाकरी in Marathi; also called ಭಕ್ರಿ bhakri in Northern Karnataka), a type of flat bread is prepared using finger millet (ragi) flour. Bhakri is called ರಾಗಿ ರೊಟ್ಟಿ (ragi rotti in Kannada) in Northern districts of Karnataka.
In South India
In Karnataka, ragi flour is generally consumed in the form of ragi balls (ರಾಗಿ ಮುದ್ದೆ ragi mudde in Kannada). It is the staple diet of majority of Southern Kannadigas, especially in the rural areas. The mudde which is prepared by cooking the Ragi flour with water to achieve a dough like consistency. Which is then rolled into 'balls' of desired size and consumed. Ghee with huLi, Saaru, saaru or chicken curry is generally served along with these balls. Mudde is broken with the fingers into small chunks, dipped in the saaru or the curry and swallowed without chewing.
In Andhra Pradesh Ragi Sankati or Ragi muddha (రాగి సంకటి in Telugu), which are ragi balls are eaten in the morning with a chilli, onions, sambar (lentil based stew)or meat curry and helps them sustain throughout the whole day and it keeps the body cool which is very useful as this area is located in tropical region.
In Tamil Nadu, it is called kezhvaragu or just keppai. It is dried, powdered and boiled to form a thick mass that is allowed to cool. This is the famed 'kali' or 'keppai kali'. This is made into large balls to quantify the intake. It is taken with sambar or thick spicy lentil soups flavored with tamarind extracts. For children, it is also given with milk and sugar. It is also made in the form of pancakes with onions and tomatoes chopped. Kezhvaragu is used to make puttu with jaggery/sugar and adai(by making a thick paste(sweet or salt is used) and tapping it flat on hot skillet). Apart from that its used for medicinal value for sinus and severe cold by applying (boiled kezhvaragu flour cooled to skin bearable heat) on forehead.
In Kerala, Puttu: Puttu is the traditional breakfast of Kerala, usually made with Rice powder together with coconut grating and steamed in a cylindrical steamer. The preparation is also made with Ragi powder, which is supposed to be more nutritive.
Central & Northern India
In Odisha the tribal and western hilly regions ragi or (ମାଣ୍ଡିଆ)Mandiaa is a staple food.The porridge and Pithas made up of ragi are more popular among village folk.
In Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, Maddua (मंडुआ) is made into thick rotis (served with ghee), and also made into dish, badi (बाड़ी), similar to halwa but without sugar. In the Kumaon region of northern India, it is called Maddua and is traditionally fed to women after child birth.
In South and Far East Asia
In Nepal, a thick dough made of millet flour (ḍhĩḍo ढिंडो) is cooked and eaten with the hand. Fermented millet is used to make a beer (jããḍ जाँड) and the mash is distilled to make a liquor (rakśi रक्शी).
In Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, Finger millet is called Kurakkan and is made into: Kurakkan roti: An earthy brown thick roti with coconut. Thallapa: A thick dough made of ragi by boiling it with water and some salt until like a dough ball, it is then eaten with a very spicy meat curry and is usually swallowed in small balls than chewing.
In the northwest of Vietnam, finger millet is used as a medicine for women when they give birth. A minority used finger millet flour to make alcohol (bacha alcohol is a good drink of the H'mong minority).
As Health Food
In southern parts of India, pediatricians recommend finger-millet-based food for infants of six months and above because of its high nutritional content, especially Iron and calcium. Home made Ragi malt happens to be one of the most popular infant food even to this day.
Holy Deity food
In Tamil Nadu, ragi is considered to be the holy food of Amman, otherwise knowns as "Goddess Kali". Every small or large festival of this goddess is celebrated with, women making porridge in the temples and distributing it to the poor and needy. This porridge is called Kuzl which is a staple diet in farming communities alongside raw onion.
Ragi Malt porridge is made from finger millet which is soaked and shadow dried, then roasted and ground. This preparation is boiled in water and given to children, patients, adults, etc. This is a good substitute for, and better than, Horlicks, Bournvita, Milo, etc.
Common names for finger millet
- Arabic: tailabon لدخن
- Chinese: 穇子 (Traditional), 䅟子 (Simplified), cǎnzi (pinyin)
- Danish: Fingerhirse
- Dhivehi: ބިންބި Binbi
- English: Finger millet, African millet, Koracan, Natcheny, Ragi
- Ethiopia: dagussa (Soddo), tokuso (Amharic), barankiya (Oromo)
- French: eleusine cultivee, coracan, koracan
- German: Fingerhirse
- Assamese: মৰুবা ধান maruba dhan
- Gujarati: બાવટો bavato; નાચણી nachni; નાગલી nagali
- Hindi): मड़ुआ madua/marua; मंडुआ mandua; मड़ुवा maruwa/maduwa; मंडवा mandwa; रागी ragi
- Kannada): ರಾಗಿ ragi
- Kumaon: maddua
- Konkani: नांचणी nanchani; नासणे/नाचणे nasne/nachne
- Maithili, (Bihar, especially in Mithila region): madua
- Malayalam രാഗി ragi;muthary/kuvaraku/kurumbullu/panjipul
- Marathi: नाचणी nachani; नागली nagali
- Oriya: mandia
- Pahari, Himachal Pradesh: कोद्र kodra
- Punjabi: mandal ਮੰਦਲ , mandhul ਮੰਢੁਲ ; mundal ਮੁੰਡਲ
- Rajasthani: nachani नाचणी ; ragi रागी
- Sanskrit: madhulika मधुलिका; mattakam मट्टकम् ; nrutyakundala नृत्यकुण्डलक
- Tamil: aariyam ஆரியம் ; iraki இராகி ; kel-varaku கேழ்வரகு ; kezhvaragu கேழ்வரகு ; kayppai/keppai கேப்பை
- Telugu: ragi రాగి
- Telangana region: tamidalu తమిదలు
- Urdu: mandwa منڐوا maruwa مڙوا ragi راگی
- Japan: 四国稗 シコクビエ shikoku hie shikokubie
- Kenya: wimbi (Swahili), kal (Dholuo), ugimbi (Kikuyu and Meru), obori (Kisii)
- Korea: 수수 susu
- Nepal: kodo कोदो ; maruwa मड़ुवा
- Nigeria: tamba (Hausa)
- Rwanda: uburo
- Sri Lanka: kurakkan කුරක්කන් (Sinhala)
- Sudan: tailabon (Arabic), ceyut (Bari)
- Tanzania: Mbege, Mwimbi, Wimbi, Ulezi (Swahili)
- Tibetan: bras ma du lun ga
- Uganda: Bulo
- Vietnam: Hong mi, Chi ke
- Zambia: Kambale, lupoko, mawele, majolothi, amale, bule
- Zimbabwe: Rapoko, zviyo, njera, rukweza, mazhovole, uphoko, poho
- "USDA GRIN Taxonomy".
- A.C. D'Andrea, D.E. Lyons, Mitiku Haile, E.A. Butler, "Ethnoarchaeological Approaches to the Study of Prehistoric Agriculture in the Ethiopian Highlands" in Van der Veen, ed., The Exploitation of Plant Resources in Ancient Africa. Kluwer Academic: Plenum Publishers, New York, 1999.
- Gibbs-Russell, G.E., Watson, L., Koekemoer, M., Smook, L. Barker, N.P., Anderson, H.M., Dallwitz, M.J. 1989. Grasses of southern Africa. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa, No. 58, National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Govt of India - Ministry of Agrriculture Report on Ragi harvest
- "Eleusine coracana - (L.)Gaertn.". Plants For A Future. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Alina Paul Bossuet, Nourishing Communities Through Holistic Farming http://exploreit.icrisat.org/page/sorghum/882/249. ICRISAT. Downloaded 26 January 2014.
- Rajasthan: by Gopal K. Bhargava, Shankarlal C. Bhatt,p 319
- Ragi is one of the important crop in the Indian state of Goa
- "Ragi". Tamilnadu.com. 8 April 2013.
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