Ragi, flaxseed, jaggery, ginger, sesame seeds - you might wonder what these utterly healthy ingredients are doing in a cookie! You might even think it's a complete madhouse of an idea. Ragi / nachni / mandwa / finger millets have been an Indian superfood well before everyone and their uncle started pestering relatives abroad to get them boatloads of quinoa for their daily consumption instead of rice. India, being the world's largest producer of millets, it's high time we showed some respect for our own grains, rather than scrambling after every latest food trend in the world. Ragi, like most other millets, formed a part of prehistoric Indian meals, then completely ignored and considered downmarket in the years that followed, where the rich ate rice, and now slowly the awareness of these prehistoric grains as being nutritional powerhouses is coming back.
For those who haven't tasted ragi flour, it does have a coarse texture and wont feel as smooth as a refined flour in your mouth. The coarseness comes from the fiber content in ragi. Among all millets, ragi has the highest calcium content (370mg/100g). Its calcium content is nearly 10 times that of wheat (41mg/100g) and 35 times that of rice (10mg/100g).
Sesame seeds, not only make these cookies look pretty, they are also rich in calcium and good fats, and with flaxseeds rich in omega-3, this is one uber-healthy recipe, perfect for your kid's lunch box treat or with your afternoon cup of tea. If you've baked cookies using traditional cookie recipes, you'd know that most of them call for 1-2 sticks of butter, upto 250 grams! Here, you get 20 biscuits with just 3 tbsp butter. You can, by all means, try substituting butter with ghee, for a richer, deeper flavour.
Regarding flaxseeds, their nutrients are only absorbed if the seeds are powdered. You get powdered flaxseed in several supermarkets (Nilgiri's in Bangalore) and health food stores. If you don't find them, get the whole seeds, lightly toast 100 grams flaxseeds and powder it in the mixer. Keep in airtight container in the fridge.
Recipe for Ragi - Ginger Biscuits
Time taken - Under 30 minutes
1/2 cup ragi flour
1/2 cup maida
2 tbsp skimmed milk powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
5 tsp powdered jaggery
1/2 cup crystal sugar
2 tsp flaxseed powder
1 tsp dried ginger powder (sonth powder)
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger*
1/2 tsp chai masala or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
3-4 tbsp cold milk
1 tbsp black sesame seeds + 1 tbsp white sesame seeds (or entirely white)
- Preheat the oven at 180 C.
- Keep a baking tray ready, lined with silicone mat or a greased tin foil or parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients except butter and milk, until well combined.
- Add the butter pieces and with finger tips rub the mixture together until it feels like bread crumbs
- Add milk 1 tbsp at a time and knead gently till it comes together like a dough.
- Divide into 20 equal balls, rolling each between lightly greased palms. Gently press each ball on the sesame seeds laid out on a plate, only on one side and place the flattened ball, sesame seeds side up, on the baking sheet, leaving a little space between each cookie, for they'll expand.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180C until the tops are browned. Cool and store in air tight container.
*To get finely grated ginger for salad dressings, tea and ginger cookies, store the cleaned ginger roots in a ziploc bag in the freezer. They stay forever, don't get soggy and when grated, give finely powdered fresh ginger.