India apes the West in every possible way. These changes can be seen emerging in many spheres of life including fashion, lifestyle or food. Thankfully, some ancient legacies still remain untouched. One such tradition that has passed down generations & followed even by the new age mommies feeding conventional food to infants & toddlers that our grandparents swear by. Ragi is undeniably & unarguably one of the best "first food for weaning babies". It is considered as one of the superfoods, that is a power house of Calcium, Iron & Protein that Indian mothers blindly trust. Since it is very affordable, gluten free & widely grown(commonly available) in India it is a favourite among all mommies.
It has 30 times more calcium than rice. Just in case you missed reading that, let’s re-iterate it! It has 30 times more calcium than rice & 10 times more fibre relative to other millets. It is a no brainer that Ragi reigns the pyramid of the “best toddler foods”. Quinoa & Ragi are the most preferred weaning foods for babies. While we have discussed about how to make Quinoa Upma earlier, we will elaborate on the "best ragi recipes for babies" in this blog post.
Ragi that’s also known as Kelvaragu (Tamil Nadu), Panjapullu or Kora or Kooravu (Kerala), Taidalu (Andhra Pradesh), Mandika (Karnataka) and Nachni (North India) is a super food that packs in hosts of goodness and health benefits for your little one.
Ragi or Millet as it is popularly known in English has a very distinct taste of its own. People of every age bracket can eat ragi and it is particularly beneficial to babies and toddlers as it contains nutrients such as calcium, protein, fibres, carbohydrates, iron and thiamine.
Feeding toddlers has never been easy. No one has escaped from the unkind world of toddler tantrums. And, we have read how to deal with a picky baby without bribing or begging
. If your child is over 1 year old, you can try these quick Tasty Rice Recipes For Kids
and Chatpati Recipes For Toddlers
Health Benefits of Ragi/Millet:
Ragi is a super food and there’s good reason for it too! Ragi contains high levels of Vitamin C that enable the easy absorption of iron. Ragi in its sprouted form can be very beneficial to a growing body as it is also low in fat and helps to keep the body cool too.
Ragi also packs in the following health benefits:
- Immunity Builder: Little children often fall sick; especially whenever there’s a change in weather or on occasions such as beginning of school and the like. Consumption of ragi can help in building up the immunity levels of your little one. More so even pregnant women can consume ragi to strengthen their unborn baby’s immune system in the womb.
- Maintains blood sugar level: Ragi is rich in fibres and these fibres help in lowering cholesterol levels and also maintain the sugar level in the body. Ragi consumption is ideal for those pregnant women who have gestational diabetes as ragi in its several forms can help to control the body’s blood sugar level.
- High Calcium and Iron content: Calcium and iron are vital to the growth and development of children. Also lactating mothers will find ragi to be a welcome addition to their daily meal plan due to its high calcium and iron content which in turn will improve the production of blood and rule out iron deficiency.
- Easy to digest: Ragi is light on the tummy, so is easy to digest by both kids and adults alike. Ragi is also a natural laxative which works at keeping the gut healthy. It has non- acidic and non-glutinous properties making it an ideal food choice for the little tummy.
- High on Nutrition: Children must be fed food that is high on nutrition and one that fosters healthy growth and development. Ragi prevents malnutrition and is an ideal weaning food that helps baby feel full and satiated.
- Feeling of fullness: The complex carbohydrates and glucose found in ragi are released very slowly in to the blood upon consumption without overloading the body in any form. This gives a feeling of fullness for a longer duration. Ragi thus becomes ideal even for adults who are trying to lose weight and eat food that is light, healthy and nutritious. In addition to this Ragi also contains Tryptophan (an amino acid) which helps to curb the appetite upon consumption.
How to make home-made Ragi sprouted flour?
Ragi flour that is beneficial to both kids and adults can be prepared right at your home too. Following are the step by step instructions:
It’s very important to ensure that both your hands and the ragi seeds that you are using are thoroughly clean. Wash the ragi seeds thoroughly until running water and thereafter with clean drinking water and soak them overnight.
The next afternoon drain out all the excess water from the ragi seeds. Take a perforated utensil and line it with a muslin cloth (you may also use a large handkerchief for this). Once water completely drains out from the ragi seeds put them on to this muslin cloth. Tie it up and place it in a warm place in the kitchen and make sure it stays there undisturbed for 12 hours to help it sprout well. During winters it may be a little difficult to sprout the seeds and in such a case keep it longer in a warm place.
The next day you will find little sprouts appearing out of the ragi seeds. Take these out of the cloth and spread them evenly on a mat/tray. These sprouts now need to be dried. You may either sun dry them or dry them indoors under the fan (I have a pigeon menace in my city so I dry the seeds under the fan). Make sure to completely dry the ragi and ensure there’s no moisture left in the sprouts.
Once the ragi is completely dry you will proceed to make flour out of it. To this end heat a large pan and add the dry ragi into it to roast the seeds well. Keep it on a low flame and keep stirring to ensure it gets evenly roasted. Let the roasted seeds cool down completely
The next step is to make the ragi flour. You may either make this at your home using a blender/mixie or even take it to the flour mill depending on the quantity you have on hand. If you are using a mixie make sure that it does not get overheated. Put the ragi seeds in to the mixie and add a little ginger and elachi powder to it (optional). Blend this well until you get a powder consistency. Ragi powder is now ready.
Let the powder cool down. You have to then put it into a fine mesh (the one you use for all- purpose flour) and sieve it well to ensure there are no lumps in your powder. This ragi powder can be stored in an air-tight container for use at any later time.
How long does the Ragi Powder last?
Home-made Ragi powder is a boon to mothers who are wary of using packaged foods for their babies. It is also a food item that can be cooked instantly, with several variations and can be made into a delicious recipe even as you hold on to your crying infant.
The home – made ragi powder is robust and can last you well for 2-3 months when stored in a clean, dry and air tight container. You can easily store it at room temperature with your other kitchen essentials. If however you want it to last longer or you have a larger quantity on hand then you may always put it into the refrigerator where it will stay good for 6 months. While doing this don’t forget to label the bag with date and contents.
You may come up with unique recipes that match your child’s taste buds using your home-made ragi powder. These recipes can be made wholly out of ragi flour only or you may mix other flours/ingredients to bring about variations.
Do share with us your recipes and creations and also your child’s reactions. Each child a unique set of taste buds and what appeals to one may not appeal to the other. But with a series of trail and errors you will definitely succeed at feeding this super food to your child. All the best and do let us know how it went!
Best Ragi Recipes For Babies & Toddlers
Ragi Porridge recipe made from home-made sprouted ragi flour:
You saw this one coming right? Ragi porridge is the easiest way to introduce this millet to babies. It is easy on the gastro-intestinal tract – just what your baby needs when it’s digestive system is not strong. Especially in summer this works wonders as it helps to keep the body cool. Once you have made the sprouted ragi flour at home you may use the same to make ragi porridge. Follow these step by step instructions for the same:
Homemade Ragi powder / sprouted– 1.5 tbsp
Water – 90 ml
Milk – 40 ml
Almond Powder – 1 tsp
Jaggery/Palm Sugar/Date Syrup – 1 tsp grated
Elaichi Powder(Optional) – A pinch
- In a saucepan add water & Ragi (powdered or sprouted & ground) & bring it to boil & mix well ensuring no lumps are formed.
- Add the remaining contents as mentioned & keep stirring for 5-6 minutes while it thickens.
- Take care to keep stirring in low flame to avoid burning at the bottom.
- Add more water if required to make the porridge a flowing consistency.
- Porridge is ready. You may also add 1 tsp of clarified butter to add to taste before serving to your toddler.
Ragi porridge is an instant recipe that’s made at home and is wholesome and contains no store bought ingredients. Even when you travel you may carry it along (can be easily cooked on an induction stove).
Depending on your child’s age you may make modifications in this recipe. If your child is less than 10 months old then you may not add milk to the porridge and adjust the consistency using water only.
If your child is older and not allergic to nuts and milk you may add almond/cashew powder or even dry fruits to the porridge to make it tastier and crunchier.
Crispy & tasty, ragi dosa is ideal for a quick breakfast or an evening snack post lunch. It is a versatile dish that can be seasoned with onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves & cumin seeds to enhance the taste.
Dosa Batter – 200ml or 1 cup
Ragi – 50ml or 1/4cup
Salt – To taste
Oil – 2 tsp
- Mix ragi & normal dosa batter in a bowl.
- Ensure that the batter is free flowing without lumps. Add water if required to make it pouring consistency.
- If you wish to incorporate the seasoning, take a saucepan & add the above ingredients (onions, curry leaves, coriander leaves & cumin seeds) to a tsp pre heated oil & sauté it until pinkish brown.
- Add this mixture to the batter.
- Pour the dosa as usual & sprinkle some oil for taste & to avoid stickiness.
- Flip it & cook on both sides until soft but crispy.[-=
- Ragi dosa is ready to be served with chutney or sambar.
Combining taste & health, Ragi Ladoo is one of the best possible snacks you can offer your toddler to satisfy the mid-evening hunger pangs. However, this recipe is not as easy as the previously ones. You need to get the right ball consistency to get that perfect yummilicious ladoos your kid will love. This recipe makes about 10-12 ladoos.
Ragi flour / sprouted ragi flour – 200 gm
Sesame seeds – 50 gm
Peanuts coarsely grounded – 50 gm
Jaggery or palm sugar – 120 gm
Desiccated coconut – 50 gm
Ghee – 2-3 tbsp
Cardamom powder (Optional) – 2-3 nos
- In a kadai, heat the ghee & add the grounded sesame seeds & peanuts until they are roasted.
- Then add desiccated coconut & cardamom powder and mix well.
- To this add ragi flour and grated jaggery.
- For a toddler, it is preferable to powder the mixture is a mixer or a food processor since it is easy to digest.
- Start binding together & roll them into round balls.
- Tasty ladoos are ready to serve.
Sometimes kids need a break from the monotony as well. Treat them with a dessert occasionally. Ragi Halwa with it’s goodness of ghee & sugar/jaggery is a true winner with skinny kids. It tastes best is it is consumed soon after preparation on the same day.
Ragi – 100 gms
Ghee – 2.5 tbsp
Milk – ½ cup
Water – ½ cup
Grated Jaggery – 50 gm
Cardamom Powder – ½ tsp
Almonds / Cashews powdered – 5 each
- Take a saucepan & heat the 25 ml water with jaggery. Stir until it completely melts & dissolves & keep it aside.
- Take a kadai. Add the ghee, ragi, almonds/cashews powder and cardamom powder. Keep stirring in low flame until it is cooked well. This will take about 5-6 minutes.
- Once it is cooked & there are no lumps formed, add the milk & remaining water & stir continuously for 3-4 minutes. Take it off the flame.
- The halwa becomes sticky. Add more ghee if required to smoothen the texture if required.
- Strain the jaggery to separate the dirt from the syrup. Once the dirt forms a residual at the base, add only the syrup to the halwa.
- Mix on low flame for 3-5 minutes.
- Ragi halwa is ready to be served hot.
Ragi idlies are one of the best foods for the little tummies which take time to build a strong digestive system. You can start feeding your baby Ragi idli at 6 months and above. As it is steamed & soft, it fits well with the “first weaning foods for a baby”. You can make around 7-8 idlies with the suggested quantity mentioned below.
(Note – This recipe is without using rice)
Ragi Flour – 150 gm
Urad Dal – 50 gm
Poha/Flattened Rice – 50 gm
Baking Soda(Optional) – A pinch
Salt – To taste
- Like preparing normal dosa batter, wash & soak urad dal for 6 hours.
- Wash and soak flattened rice for 2 hours.
- After soaking both for the stipulated time mentioned, grind both of the above in a mixer. First grind the dal then add poha to it & grind again till it becomes a fine paste.
- Then in a separate bowl mix Ragi & water till there are no lumps formed & ass this mixture to the batter.
- Add salt to taste.
- Let it ferment overnight.
- Next day, add a pinch of baking soda if you wish to.
- Pour the batter into the normal idli cooker & cook for about 10 minutes.
- Soft & fluffy idlies are ready to be gulped down.
Dear mommies, try these Ragi recipes for your baby & let us know if he/she liked it. We are delighted to hear back on any other recipe that your child cherishes. And we will publish it in our next blog. Happy Parenting! :)
A doting mom to an angel, Social Media Specialist & Professional Blogger. She loves to share her thoughts with other parents in the same turbulent boat. She absolutely loves & adores her family & is learning to strike a good work-life balance. When she is not writing, cooking or busy taking care of her toddler, she probably is dancing to some good desi music!