We all make different variations of easy ragi pudding – cooking powdered ragi in water/milk with jaggery or sugar – an easy way to provide good nutrition to kids. This is a slightly more sophisticated, tastier, nutritionally beneficial custard made from whole ragi. It is soft and has a melt-in-the-mouth texture with the mild flavors of coconut milk and goodness of ragi. It is easy to make, uses minimal ingredients, has excellent nutrition and safe even for small children. Ragi is high in proteins and minerals. Since this sweet uses jaggery and not sugar, healthy amounts of it will not do any harm even to diabetics. Also, the use of minimal ingredients helps us enjoy the mild and natural flavors rather than multiple ingredients vying for attention. But what fascinated me most about this recipe is the use of jaggery and coconut milk rather than sugar and cow’s milk. The taste is completely different and mild when coconut milk is used. I would never even want to try the other version or think of shortcuts like using readymade coconut milk or ragi powder instead of grinding whole ragi. The custard tastes delicious only when made as described below. The soaking and grinding does seem like a lot of effort but trust me it isn’t and the taste will motivate you to make it again. The original recipe calls for extracting ragi and coconut milk separately but I have simplified it by grinding both together. This does not compromise the taste in any manner.
Whole Ragi / Whole Finger Millet – 1 cup
Grated coconut – 1-1/2 cups
Jaggery – 3/4 cups (adjust to taste)
Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
Water as needed
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Soak the whole finger millet overnight (or 8 hours) in plain water. Wash and drain the water.
Add jaggery to a cup of water and let it melt. No need to heat this as we will be heating all the ingredients together later. Just let the jaggery dissolve in room temperature water. Sieve to remove any impurities and keep aside.
Add the soaked ragi into the mixer jar along with grated coconut. Add small quantities of water and blend well. If you are adding whole elaichi, you can add it along with the ragi and grated coconut. Transfer the blended mixture into a muslin cloth. Squeeze the contents in the muslin cloth and extract the milk out of the blended mixture into a cooking pan.
This step needs to be done thrice to extract the maximum milk from the coconut and the soaked ragi. Add small quantities of water, blend the mixture well, and then extract milk by squeezing the mixture through the muslin cloth. You will end up with a pan of light pink milk extract. (If you have access to cows near your house, you may give them the pulp remains of ragi and coconut. They will love it!)
Add the strained jaggery water into this light pink milk.
If you are adding powdered elaichi, you may add now. Keep the pan on fire and stir continuously. Keep the fire low and cook slowly. Do not stop stirring.
You will notice that the mixture starts thickening slowly.
When the whole mixture thickens, turn off the fire. Let it cool. Transfer to small bowls / moulds and refrigerate for about 4-5 hours. Custard is ready to be served.
Recipe courtesy – Ragi-Ragini: Chronicles from Aji’s Kitchen by Anjali Purohit