Finger Millet Power: 8 Maharashtrian Snacks Made With Nachni
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Locally grown in Maharashtra Nachni or ragi, is a regional favourite and is used in many homes to whip up nutritional meals. Nachni is also called Ragi and is commonly used in South India, especially Karnataka. It is quite a hardy crop and can grow in arid and semi-arid regions, making it particularly popular in drought-prone areas. Nachni usually has a short growing season, allowing for multiple harvests in a year. This makes it an economical crop for farmers to grow. It needs minimal fertilisers and pesticides, making it both environment-friendly and healthy.

The best thing about this grain is that it is delicious, versatile and has an impressive list of health benefits. Nachni, considered rich in calcium, fibre, and iron, can be incorporated into both sweet and savoury dishes. It is a great option for those with gluten intolerance. It is also often recommended for infants and the elderly because it is easy to digest and has high nutritional value. Nachni-based sweets such as Ladoo and Kheer are particularly popular as the goodness of nachni helps reduce the guilt of indulging in sweet treats.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nachni flour has a shorter shelf life compared to whole grains because of its higher fat content. It needs to be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. However, whole nachni grains can be stored for a longer time and ground into flour as and when needed.

Nachni Bhakri

Nachni Bhakri is a traditional flatbread made from nachni flour. It is a favourite in Maharashtrian households. To make the nachni bhakris, add a pinch of salt to the nachni flour and add enough water to make a smooth dough. Divide the dough into small, round balls and roll each one out into a thin, round flatbread. Cook the bhakri on a hot tawa until both sides are lightly browned and cooked through. These bhakris are usually eaten at lunch or dinner with chutney, curd, or a vegetable curry. They are high in calcium and fibre, making them good for bone health and digestion. 

Nachni Ladoo

Photo Credit: HomeCookingShow

Nachni ladoos are sweet balls made with nachni flour, jaggery, and ghee. They are quite simple to make. Heat a kadhai. Roast the nachni flour in ghee till there is a nutty aroma. Add the melted jaggery and mix well. Turn off the gas and don’t let the mixture cool fully. Shape it into small balls while it’s still warm. Add cardamom powder and nuts for extra flavour. These ladoos are an excellent source of energy and iron and help boost haemoglobin levels. They are also a healthier alternative compared to sweets with sugar.

Nachni Thalipeeth

Thalipeeth is a savoury multi-grain flat bread that includes nachni flour along with other flours like jowar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet), and wheat. It’s commonly eaten as breakfast in Maharashtrian homes. This multi-grain dish is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals and makes for a balanced meal. To make the thalipeeth, mix the four flours with chopped onions, green chilies, coriander, and spices, and add water to form a dough. The dough is not rolled out in this recipe; it just needs to be patted into a flat, round shape on a plastic sheet or directly on the tawa. Cook on both sides until golden brown. Thalipeeth is usually served with yoghurt or pickles.

Nachni Chakli 

While chakli is a hugely popular snack all over India, it is usually made with maida (flour). Nachni chakli is a healthier alternative to regular chakli as it is made with millet flour, which is high in fibre and essential minerals. Mix sesame seeds, cumin seeds, butter or oil, salt, and water with nachni flour and make a dough. Use a chakli maker to press out the dough into spiral shapes. Deep-fry the chaklis until they are crispy. Remove any excess oil by wrapping the chaklis in tissue paper.

Nachni Dosa 

Nachni dosas are thin and crispy. This version of the dosa is gluten-free and rich in calcium, making it a nutritious option for breakfast or dinner. To make this dosa, soak urad dal and fenugreek seeds, grind them into a smooth paste, and mix with nachni and rice flour. Let the batter ferment overnight. Pour a spoonful of batter onto a hot dosa tava and spread it thinly. Cook it until crisp. You can serve this with sambar and any chutney of your choice.

Nachni Khichdi 

Khichdi is considered a comfort food all over India and is traditionally made with rice and dal. Nachni Khichdi is a nutritious porridge made with nachni and a mix of vegetables. This one-pot meal is packed with vitamins and minerals from the vegetables and makes for a balanced meal with proteins, carbohydrates, and fibre. Cook vegetables such as carrots, peas, beans, and cauliflower in a pan, add nachni flour mixed with water, and cook until it thickens to a porridge-like consistency. Add dry spices such as turmeric, coriander powder red chilly powder and salt to taste. Serve hot.

Nachni Kheer 

Nachni kheer is a sweet, creamy dessert made from nachni flour. It is rich in calcium and iron, making it delicious, filling, and a less guilty indulgence. Nachni kheer is also very easy to make. Cook the nachni flour in milk until it thickens. Make sure you stir continuously so that lumps aren’t formed and the nachni doesn’t get burned. Then add sugar, cardamom powder, nuts, and raisins. This kheer can be served hot or chilled.

Nachni Sev 

Thin, short, crispy fried noodles made from gram flour are called Sev. it’s a popular snack in India that is either eaten by itself or sprinkled on dishes such as upma and chaat to add a crunchy element to the dish. While it is deep-fried, sev made with nachni flour instead of besan is a healthier snack alternative given nachni’s high fibre and nutrient content.  Make a dough with Nachni flour, salt, and water. Use a sev maker to press out the dough into thin strands directly into hot oil. Fry it until it is crispy and golden brown.