Saturday, May 19, 2018

Recipe of the month: Karnataka Speciality - Ragi Rotti (Finger Millet Pancake)

I'm back from my India sojourn! Home visits mean a lot to me - it offers a chance to reconnect with family, make new memories and recharge those drained out batteries 😊

This post is courtesy of my recent trip you guys. Since the past few visits home, I have had the pleasure of savouring these ragi rottis for breakfast. My mom has had some much-needed help in the kitchen since the past three years and hailing from Mysore, these women have re-introduced the rural staple ragi rotti to our Tulu Nadu tastebuds. Having not eaten much of this dish during my childhood, I have to admit, I have taken an immense liking to it now. 

Ragi rotti is a breakfast dish from the state of Karnataka, India. It is most popular in the rural areas of southern Karnataka. It is made of ragi (finger millet) flour. Ragi rotti in the native language Kannada, literally translates to finger millet pancake. While on the subject, don't confuse ragi rotti with ragi roti. The latter is more like a chapati with ragi flour incorporated into the dough. Ragi rotti on the other hand, is prepared in the same way as the more well-known Akki rotti. The ragi flour is mixed with salt and water and kneaded well into a soft dough. While making the dough, chopped onions, grated carrots, chopped coriander, cumin seeds and more can be added to enhance the taste. A few drops of oil is spread over a griddle (tava) and a ball of the dough is thinly patted over it to resemble a thin pancake (rotti). Again, a little oil is drizzled over it and the tava is cooked over medium heat till the rotti turns crisp. Ragi Rotti is served hot and is usually eaten along with coriander or peanut chutney.

So my mum's current cook is a kind, matronly woman from Mysore who makes really yummy ragi rotti. I've eaten them twice before and this visit, I decided that I would jot down the recipe and observe how she makes them. Compared to most ragi rotti recipes that I have come across, she adds an extra step by making a finely ground mixture of roasted chana dal, coconut and green chillies and mixing it with the rest of the ingredients to form a dough. Her reasoning is that it improves the taste and texture of the rottis. I concur! The rottis she makes are soft yet crispy and packed full of flavour. She makes a moreish chutney on the side and slathered with a knob of butter and my mum's fabulous filter coffee, this makes for one dynamite breakfast! 

I've said this before in my previous Instant Ragi Dosa post - ragi has high protein content, is a rich source of minerals, helps control diabetes, keeps weight in check, battles anemia, reduces 'bad' cholesterol and has anti-cancer properties. You don't really need to go looking for any other trendy and overpriced  'superfoods'. This ancient and cheap wonder grain does you a world of good and makes you feel full. This dish in particular is easy to make, nutritious, vegan, gluten-free and tastes wonderful too! That is checking all the boxes for even the most specific dietary needs, don't you think?

So I hope I have convinced you to give this dish a go, especially if you have never tried it before. Let me know what you think 😊

Ragi Rotti (Finger Millet Rotti)

Preparation time: 20 min
Cook time: 2-3 minutes per rotti
Makes 18-20 rottis
Serves: 6-7
Recipe category: South Indian/Breakfast dish
Recipe level: Intermediate
Recipe source: Pramila (aka our home cook) 

2 big red onions, finely chopped
4 cups ragi flour/finger-millet flour
1 big carrot, grated
2 bunches fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
1.5 cups hot water
Salt to taste
Oil or ghee, use as required

Grind into a fine paste (with no or little water):
1 fistful roasted chana dal/putani
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut
8-10 green chillies (or adjust according to required spice level)

Note: This recipe can be halved to serve 3-4 people


1. In a large bowl, add ragi flour, salt, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, chopped onion, grated carrot, chopped coriander and ground dal mixture. Mix all the dry ingredients well with hands.

2. Slowly add in little by little approx ~1.5 cups hot water and mix till a soft and smooth dough forms

3. You may use a banana leaf, aluminium sheet or a laminated sheet to pat the rotti or else, you can directly pat it on the griddle/tava you will be using to cook the rotti - the choice is yours. As you can see, we have used a appam chatti. The advantage of directly patting it in a tava is that you bypass the need to transfer the rotti from a sheet but the disadvantage is that you need to wait a few minutes for the tava to cool down a bit before you proceed. 

Which ever method you use, first make a ball with the dough, grease the banana leaf/sheet/tava with oil and pat the dough evenly and as thinly as possible in the shape of a circle. grease your fingers with oil / water if the edges break. You can make a hole in the centre of the rotti.

4. If you have patted the rotti on a banana leaf or sheet, gently transfer it to a hot tava and peel the leaf/sheet off. If you have directly patted it on the tava, put it on medium heat. Smear some oil around the rotti and cook covered until the rotti is golden brown and cooked through.You don't need to flip it and cook on the other side. 

5. Serve hot topped with butter with chutney of your choice and freshly brewed filter coffee. 

  • If you like, you can add a bunch of chopped dill to the dough along with the fresh coriander
  • You can also add grated ginger and chopped curry leaves to the dough if desired
  • To boil the water needed to make the dough, use a kettle or boil the water on the stove. A microwave will not cut it
  • Be careful when adding boiling water to make the dough. Use a spoon if necessary to avoid scalding your palms.
  • If patting the rotti directly in a tava, place a thick damp towel on the kitchen counter and place the hot tava on it and once cool enough to handle, carefully pat the rotti. Or you could use two tavas and alternate them


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