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Don't forget your own food!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Alpana Dhole is astonished to discover that a traditional food is described as Indian quinoa

I just had an astonishing encounter at an upmarket place (so perceived and so endorsed) in Mumbai. Someone was making 'Ragi/Finger millet salad' at a food place, live.

A group of ladies, from young to younger (!), had gathered around, discussing cereals and pulses, and what else could go in the salad or replace whole ragi. The ratio of male to female in the group was 1:9. The chef was a man and the dietician was a woman. Then someone said quinoa could replace ragi. Well, that was still fine. Suddenly I heard someone else saying, 'Hey, there is Indian quinoa'! Now that really made me wonder, so I paid more attention and the voice came—'yah, it's called amaranth!' That was too much!

The ancient native Indian food—one of the most nutritious foods, Rajgira-Amaranth—is being understood and recognised today by some people as 'Indian Quinoa'! The point is, let quinoa be quinoa; it has its benefits surely, but don't forget your own food and its proven merits! And don't refer to amaranth as ‘Indian Quinoa', not even in casual talk!

Food wisdom—knowing, respecting and eating native crops—pays well in the long run.

Alpana Dhole is an engineer, an artist and entrepreneur

Try this Include finger millet in your diet. Here’s a recipe

Finger millet pan cakes/Ragi dosa


  • Finger millet/Ragi/Nachni flour: 2 cups
  • Split Black gram/ urad daal (white or black either will do): 3/4th cup
  • Rice flakes/ poha: 1/2 cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Green chillies: 3-4 as per taste
  • Coriander leaves: 1 cup
  • Ginger: 1-inch, grated
  • Roasted cumin seeds powder
  • Roasted fennel seeds powder

Filtered non-refined oil or clarified butter (home-made ghee)


  1. Put water in ragi flour. Mix in a deep bowl until a thick paste is formed.
  2. Soak black gram/ urad daal in water for three to four hours. Then mix rice flakes in it and grind in a mixer until it turns into a thick smooth paste. Mix it with ragi paste and allow to ferment overnight.
  3. After the batter ferments, check the consistency and add water accordingly—one to 2.5 cups to make the batter smooth and easy to spread on the pan/tawa.
  4. Add cut coriander leaves, cut green chillis, grated ginger, cumin seeds powder, fennel seed powder and salt to taste. Mix well.
  5. Heat the non-stick pan/ tawa on a medium flame, spread a drop of oil to check if it is hot. Take the batter in a deep base spoon, around 1/2 cup and spread it on the tawa.

Tip Be gentle while spreading the batter with a spoon after adding it to the centre of the pan. Alternately make the batter slightly thinner in consistency and spread directly all over the tawa.

Now spread oil around the dosa/pan cake. Cover with a lid, let it cook on low flame. Open the lid and check with a spatula if it can be removed. Then reverse the side and cook on the other side.

Make as many as you need and relish with your favourite accompaniments, such as chutney/ salsa /sauces/ pickles/ curd/ marinades/ dry chutney and so on.

Nutritional facts Fermented food help build gut bacteria. Ragi comes with a goodie bag of multiple vitamins and fibre and helps control sugar. Remember moderation is the key.

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